Slap Bass Lessons
These Slap Bass Lessons will assist any beginner bass player to learn the Slap and Pop Basics. Slapping and Popping on a bass guitar adds a powerful percussive like sound to your playing. It doesn’t matter what style of music you play (or plan to play) – Every bass guitarist should learn the “Slap and Pop” technique. This technique is fairly easy to learn, and can increase a bass players versatility big time. The great thing about the slap and pop is that it really will not matter what type of bass guitar you have – if it’s a bass guitar, you can learn these slap bass lessons and basics…
I will break it down into two parts – The Slap, and The Pop. This is the fastest way to learn this technique. Take your time, practice the first parts before moving on to the next part. Get it right the first time, and these slap bass lessons will have you “Slapping and Popping” like a pro in no time…
The Slap (Slapping) – Step One
The “Slap” is the first basic element of this technique that should be learned. The slap is just that, you slap the string with your thumb (basically thump the string with your thumb). When performing the slap, you will use the bone part of your thumb to strike the strings – mostly the “E” and “A” strings, and sometimes the “D” string. The placement (positioning) of your thumb is very critical to proper slapping technique – position the side of your thumb to “slap” the string. Once you slap the string you should take your thumb off the string quickly. Beginners have a tendency to not let their thumb “bounce off” the string (which can result in a muffled type sound).
The Slap / Notes:
1. Your hand and wrist should be relaxed.
2. The wrist should turn (similar to that of a door knob). The “Wrist” Video Clip – Click Here!
3. Slap the string, and let your thumb bounce off the string. The “Slap” Video Clip – Click Here!
4. Practice the act of “slapping” the string until you start getting a good solid thump. The “Slap” Exercise Video Clip – Click Here!
5. The more you practice your “slapping” the faster you will develop the “callous” on your thumb. Keep in mind that your thumb will hurt at first, but will heal over time.
The Pop (Popping) – Step Two
The “Pop” is the second basic element of this technique that should be learned. I am not sure why they call it the “pop” because what you are really doing is “plucking” the string. The pop is when you slide your finger underneath a string and “pull” it away from the fret board, and when you let the string go, the string snaps back and strikes the fret board (making a popping sound). Beginners have a tendency to pull the string too hard, which can actually break the strings if you are not careful. Bass players use either their index or middle finger to “pop” with (whichever finger is the most comfortable for you). Popping is usually used on the higher pitched strings – the “G” and “D” strings.
The Pop / Notes:
1. Try not to pull too hard on the strings. The Basic “Pop” Video Clip – Click Here!
2. The “Pop” is more like a “Pluck” than a “Pop”
3. Use either your index finger or your middle finger to do the pulling (whichever finger is the most comfortable to use).
4. Practice the act of “popping” the strings until you start getting a good solid popping sound.
The Slap and Pop – Putting them both together…
Once you have practiced both the “Slap” and the “Pop” separately – you should now be ready to put them together. The key to being successful at the slap and pop is getting your hand ready for the next slap and pop (your hand should be in a good position, and ready to go).
Try these basic exercises to practice putting the slap and pop together…take each exercise and practice it until you are comfortable with it, then move on to the next exercise.
Video Clips that are also in our Bass Lessons Section…
Slap and Pop / Notes:
1. Take your time, make sure you can play it correctly at a slow speed, before you start trying to play at a faster speed.
2. Basically it’s all in the wrist (motion and positioning).
3. Try to keep your thumb “parallel” to the string.
4. Once you are comfortable with both the slap and the pop, start to experiment with using different combinations of strings, etc (don’t limit yourself to what is shown on this slap bass lessons menu page).
5. Start listening to bass players that are famous for the slap and pop, it will give you some ideas…
6. Practice, Practice, Practice… You may think you have it down, but do you really have it down? It has to be fluent, smooth, and played with feeling… So keep practicing!
Practicing the “Slap and Pop”
Octaves – Experienced bass players will agree that octaves sound really good with the slap and pop technique – this is because it is very common to “slap” the lower notes and “pop” the higher notes, and octaves can easily fit into bass lines. If you are a beginner, and you are not familiar with octaves, then check out this video clip and handout in these slap bass lessons.
Drummers / Drum Tracks
Put these Slap Bass Lessons to work once you are feeling real comfortable with the slap and pop and want to increase your skills – you will need to either start jamming with a drummer or with drum tracks. Either will work, but the live drummer will allow more versatility. Drum tracks work quite well also, and are much more convenient.
Here are a couple of drum tracks to practice to…
There are plenty more drum tracks if you want them…
A Little History, Players, Other…
Funk bassist Larry Graham is credited with inventing the slap and pop technique on the electric bass guitar. The story as I read it somewhere is that he was trying to “emulate” a drum set while his band was looking for a drummer (something like that). Larry Graham played with “Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, and Graham Central Station” (to name a few).
The slap and pop technique is used in many genre’s of music – some of the most recognized players are:
Victor Wooten – Bella Fleck
Flea – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Bootsy Collins – Funkadelic, Parliament
Louis Johnson, Stanley Clarke, Les Claypool, Marcus Miller, Fieldy, Mark King, and Tony Levin to name a few…
BASS GUITAR SCALES INFO HERE!