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How To Play Slap Bass

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Slap is a great skill to have as bass player. Join Marcus as he explains the basics of playing slap.

What's In This Session?
  • Introduction (0:00)

  • Play slap bass like you’re playing the drums (0:40)

  • Three basic techniques (0:53)

  • Slap (1:11)

  • Pluck (2:12)

  • Slap & pluck example (3:00)

  • Slide & hammer-on (3:16)

  • Conclusions (4:02)

The Full Transcript
"Hey everybody, we're gonna talk about slap bass today. I love slap, it's so effective, it works really well across different genres of music, specifically when we're talking about worship music. We use slap bass and funk or gospel style songs, and today we're just going to go over the basic techniques of slap and how you can use it effectively in worship music. So slap bass is probably the most rhythmic way to play your bass. You kind of want to think of it like you're playing the drums. Your slap which is your thumb is kind of like the kick, and your pluck, which is your index finger is kind of like the snare. So there are three basic techniques to remember: you've got the slap with your thumb, the pluck with your index finger, and the slide and hammer on with your left hand. So basically your slap sounds like this, pluck is like this and slide hammer on looks like this. Alright let's talk about the slap. So when you're using the slap, itโ€™s all about the wrist. You want to get your thumb level with the string, alright. and I like to slap right on the edge of my neck, right down here, just so there's a nice contact point there. So what you want to do is get your your thumb nice and level, and you just pop it in with your wrist. Make sure you when you're doing this using the bony part of your thumb right here to make the contact. It might take a little while for you to get used to that, but just practice. Take some time right now, pause the video, and just start slapping right in the edge of the neck. One other thing to note with the slap is: when you're slapping, you donโ€™t want to just make your thumb stay down. It's kind of like bouncing. It's kind of like jumping off a trampoline. So make sure your thumb bounces back up to where it came from. Now on to the pluck using your index or your middle finger, whatever is more comfortable for you. Basically what you want to do is: you want to make a hook shape with the finger. So I like to use, I actually go back and forth but I like to use the index finger for this. It's usually on the way up after you slap, so it sounds like this. So basically when you pluck, you want to keep your your plucking finger as close to the string as possible. You don't want to pluck far away, you want to keep it close so you can get back there quickly for next pluck, and it's less work for your right hand. Keep a note your left hand is gonna be moving all over the neck, back and forth, as you get good at this, but you want your right hand to be nice and close so that you don't have to think about it. It's just right there, ready for that musical pop. So here's a really quick example of a slap and pluck on an octave scale in G. So the next part of playing slap bass is the slide slash hammer on. You know, you can use either a slide or a hammer on or both in a sequence to make your musical point. Here's an example of a slide: you slap the first note, you slide it up to the next. And here's what a hammer on would sound like if you want to use it together: you can do maybe a slide on one octave and then move it to a hammer on with the next octave. It would sound like this. So slap is one of those techniques that might take a little bit more work on your part to get you playing in a song and a worship set. So as you go through this video, don't be afraid to stop and rewind and go over the individual techniques one by one. Remember, we're working with a slap with your thumb, the pop with your middle or index finger, and a slide slash hammer on with your left hand. So work on those individually, put them together, and then start trying it in a song and see how you do. It's been a pleasure working with you today, I hope you learned something new."