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Slapping, slap bass, Slap & Pop
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Bass guitar

On bass guitar, "slap bass" usually refers to a percussive playing technique most commonly used in funk, disco, soul, jazz, Latin, pop, and many other genres. The style sounds much more percussive than regular fingering of notes with the plucking hand, and is also usually louder and more distinct than the sound of a bass guitar played with the usual plucking techniques. The slap sound comes from the combination of two elements: striking the string with the side of the bony joint in the middle of the thumb, a harder surface than the pads of the fingers (used in plucked fingering); and intentionally allowing the vibrating string to come into contact with the metal frets, producing a "tony" or buzzing sound that is normally avoided in plucked/fingered bass.

In the slap technique, the bassist replaces the usual plucking motion of the index and middle fingers with "slaps" and "pops". In the slap, the bassist uses the bone of the thumb joint to strike the lower strings (usually the E and A, and occasionally D, strings) near the base of the guitar's neck. In the pop, the bassist will use the index and middle fingers of the plucking hand to snap the higher-pitched strings away from the body of the bass, causing them to bounce off the fretboard; this produces a prominent buzzing tone with a sharp attack and more high-frequency vibrations than present in plucked bass. The bassist can play many notes quickly by rotating the forearm, alternately slapping and popping: during the pop, the hand moves away from the fretboard, "winding up" or getting in position for the next slap. The slap and pop techniques are commonly used with pull-offs and hammer-ons with the fretting (left) hand, to further increase the rate at which notes may be played. Ghost notes, or notes played with the string damped, are also commonly played in slap bass to increase the percussive feel of the technique.

The invention of slap on electric bass guitar is generally credited to funk bassists Louis Johnson and Larry Graham.Graham has stated in several interviews that he was trying to emulate the sound of a drum set before his band had found its drummer.

Some internationally recognized rock bass guitar players known for their use of slapping in their playing include P-Nut (311), Larry Graham (Sly and the Family Stone, Graham Central Station), Marcus Miller (solo artist, Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Luther Vandross), Prince, Louis Johnson (The Brothers Johnson, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson), Bootsy Collins (solo artist; Bootsy's Rubber Band, Funkadelic, Parliament, Praxis), Mark King (Level 42), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Jayen Varma (India), Les Claypool (solo artist, Primus), Fieldy (Korn).


For a longer list, see List of slap bass players (electric bass).

Variants

There are numerous variants of the slapping technique.

Some bassists use other fingers of the strumming hand to achieve this sound, such as bassist Abraham Laboriel, Sr., who uses his thumb to pop the strings, and his other four fingers to slap the strings. Bassist Victor Wooten uses alternating slap and pop patterns fast enough to produce the equivalent of a drumroll on the bass guitar. While Funk fingers invented by progressive rock bass player Tony Levin create a similar sound by using a hard surface to strike the strings and intentionally cause string contact with the fretboard. Instead of applying the usual slap bass technique, Indian bassist Jayen Varma plays bass like the percussion instrument tabla.

The slap technique bears some resemblance to tambour, a percussive technique used in flamenco and classical guitar, although the tonal quality produced in this technique is quite different from that of a slapped electric bass.

 

 

 
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