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Barking Spiders

What have you got against slap bass?

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I don't have anything against funk, it's just not my cup of tea.  Slapping just grates on my ears though.  Having said that, I do recognise that to master slapping to a high level no doubt takes a lot of skill - it's just not my cuppa though.. 

As others have said, slapping often seems to be the preferred option of demonstrating bass gear on YouTube - if it isn't there at the beginning it usually appears sooner or later, which is when I hit the 'back' button.  As I said, I have absolutely nothing against funk, but that also seems to often be the preferred style of playing to demo gear.  Each to their own and I'm sure many enjoy it very much.

What I do find mildly frustrating though is that other people, especially non-musicians, are often of the view of that slapping is what bass playing is all about and is the mark of a good bass player.  I don't know how many times friends have sent me links to 'look at this amazing bass player' only to find five minutes or so of tedious rattle and clank.  Again, as others have said, to me it's often the equivalent of someone showing off shredding on a guitar - 'look at me'.  It just does asolutely nothing for me.

I really don't have anything against slapping per-se but I just wish it didn't seem to be so ubiquitus in the bass world when in fact it is just one more technique that can be used (sparingly?) in some styles of music.

Each to their own, but the OP did ask.

Edited by inthedoghouse
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1 hour ago, ubit said:

Slap fits just right in some songs. Red Hot Chilli's for example. Aeroplane just sounds right with that slap passage.

And what a great song it is too. 

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I don't really listen to funk but I can appreciate most of the bass playing and players that do it. But what I really don't like is the pulled octave sound, it's an awful, abrasive sound to my ears and when there's load of them in quick succession it sounds like a tumble dryer full of cutlery. Combined with the excessive use of ghost notes, the guys who play that machine gun slap style leave me cold and I can't listen to it for more than a few seconds before moving on. But as has been said, used in moderation and done tastefully it can sound great. 

And is it just me who thinks it all sounds the same when you're watching a YoutTube clip of a new piece of gear that you're interested in? The guy or girl slapping the bass to death makes it sound like every other slapper, it may well just be me but I can't hear any differences or nuances when gear is demo'd like that.  

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I hate that it is automatically associated with funk. Slap is not funk. Funk is about space. Slap is, unfortunately, used by many as an opportunity to play more notes than they should and, therefore, is the opposite of real funk. Used sparingly, slap is fine. Abused as it is by seemingly 95% of those with twitchy thumbs, it is an aural abomination.

Edited by Doctor J
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I came pretty close to putting a bit of slap on one song of the album my band recorded recently, but chickened out and used a growly fingerstyle near the bridge instead. Though I'm flatwounds + small valve amp and no tweeters, so it would have been more of a 70s Chuck Rainey slap sound!

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Slap is often the quickest way to display your lack of musicality. 

The difference between those who can play slap musically and those who can't is a lot bigger than finger style or pick playing

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The bass solo in Call Me Al is sublime! Slap when done right is great.

 

 

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I like well thought out and executed bass slap. It is the people who only know how to slap on E that is grating. We all have to start somewhere though, so not overly bothered

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The subtle differences in slap technique in one short tutorial

I prefer the second demonstration. 

 

Edited by oldslapper
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I one bought a slap bass instructional DVD, by Ed Friedland.

He's very good at it.

But he admitted that he has never ever been asked to play slap bass with a band.

And neither have I.

The DVD is still in it's plastic wrapping. :)

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3 hours ago, Barking Spiders said:

I know there are lot of BCers who say they hate slap bass  but don't say why. For my money at the highest level it's the most challenging technique to master. Is it because haters don't like funk and so have a thing against slap n' pop or have they only heard it in rock songs where it might be inappropriate? Is it because they've heard it  (badly) overplayed in guitar stores? Thing is most well known players (within the bass world) have different approaches e.g. Marcus Miller's style differs from Louis Johnson's so it's understandable if people like one player's approach over another's.

 

I think part of it may be that it's an easy technique to do badly, yet it retains this aura of "wow, amazing" around it for those who don't play. So it can grate a bit, both the mediocre playing and the undeserved "adulation".

Another thing I've noticed is that it looks as though the most vociferous anti-slap opinions, in forums, come from people who can't or won't slap, so there may be an element of subliminal envy (not that there's anything to be envious at all, if you wanted to you would be able to slap, no question...)

But perhaps, the biggest factor is that it's a technique that's prone to be abused. There's a tendency to shoehorn slap patterns at speed when -to me- it doesn't really fit the song. There are times for fast and furious slap, and times for slow and tasteful slap. If all you do is repeat fast slap patterns from the beginning till the end it's all very yawn-inducing. A bit like 'guitar shredding' in the 80-90s. When guitar gymnastics take precedence over *music* then it's going to get a bit tedious after a while. When Yngwie Malmsteen released his first album I loved it. I still do. Very tasteful even when he goes into a million notes per second mode. Fast forward a few albums later and it just seems a compilation of cliches, with a few great tracks interspersed with derivative filler.

 

Edited by mcnach
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1 hour ago, Bassybert said:

when I see someone demoing a bass and that tinny, percussive sound isn't something that sits well with my ears.

Many people seem to think you need a top heavy sound for slap when in fact the opposite is true. A good bottom end sounds great when slapped! 😉

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3 hours ago, knirirr said:

To my ear, slapping is not a pleasant sound; that's it. I've got nothing against funk.

Ditto

Love funk, but old school, and even been in a funk band.

There's almost no slap tunes i enjoy, apart from  Bowie's Ashes to Ashes (  Bowie live at the BBC in 2000 with Mark Plati taking over slap duties on a  Stingray is awesome )

Mark King is also pretty good at it, but the rest i can live without

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The only thing I have against slap is the sound of it. Even in the hands of a master it just sounds like a novelty parlour trick to me.

I can't think of a piece of music that I love that has slap in it.

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3 minutes ago, gjones said:

I one bought a slap bass instructional DVD, by Ed Friedland.

He's very good at it.

But he admitted that he has never ever been asked to play slap bass with a band.

And neither have I.

The DVD is still in it's plastic wrapping. :)

I've got that one and very good it is too. I'm a big slap fan but I get exasperated with all these 'professional' bedroom slappers on their YT channels who seem more focused on showing off their machine gun thumbing and fitting in as many ghost notes as possible. Problem is they don't seem to know how to create a groove.

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19 minutes ago, mcnach said:

Another thing I've noticed is that it looks as though the most vociferous anti-slap opinions, in forums, come from people who can't or won't slap, so there may be an element of subliminal envy (not that there's anything to be envious at all, if you wanted to you would be able to slap, no question...)

 

 

I don't count myself a vociferous anti-slapper but there isn't an ounce of envy in me against those who want to play slap.  It's just not for me and I have never tried to, or will ever, try to play that style.  It isn't in any of the styles of music I listen to and certainly isn't required in the originals band I'm in.  The only thing I wish is that it wasn't so ubiquitous in bass demos and so often seen as the mark of a good bass player.  Each to their own though.

Edited by inthedoghouse

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Everything in moderation.  Whilst the music I regularly play is mostly not suited to the technique I would love to be able to incorporate it in moderation were I better at it.

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1 minute ago, inthedoghouse said:

I don't count myself a vociferous anti-slapper but there isn't an ounce of envy in me against those who want to.  It's just not for me and I have never tried to, or will ever, try to play that style.  It isn't in any of the styles of music I listen to and certainly isn't required in the originals band I'm in.  The only thing I wish is that it wasn't so ubiquitous in bass demos and so often seen as the mark of a good bass player.  Each to their own though.

 

Admittedly, it may just be based on a couple of individuals I've come across that somehow left an impression in me. They were most definitely insecure and envious.

I think it's mostly how it gets abused, much more than anything else.

There was a song with one of my bands that I was always a bit ashamed to play. It is our own song. When we were jamming it one day, for a bit of fun, we added a new outro section and I slapped on it. I did nothing much beyond straight root/octave patterns, but the band thought it was fun and they asked me to play that for the future. That's ok, but the singer often pointed to me when it came to that part as "look at him now!" as if it were something special... and everytime it happened I just wanted it over. Yeah, it went down well, but I didn't like being put in a place where it looked like I was trying to impress... Eventually we dropped that part as it would easily take 3-4 minutes and we'd rather play a new song instead. I think right now there's just one song left that I slap on for the choruses, but that one is cool (I think), nothing flashy or anything, just adds the right change in dynamics.

 

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5 minutes ago, Frank Blank said:

 

 

Nice! What a band!

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1 minute ago, mcnach said:

Nice! What a band!

Saw them a couple of times in the 80s, it was a party over here and a party over there.

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5 minutes ago, mcnach said:

 

Admittedly, it may just be based on a couple of individuals I've come across that somehow left an impression in me. They were most definitely insecure and envious.

I think it's mostly how it gets abused, much more than anything else.

There was a song with one of my bands that I was always a bit ashamed to play. It is our own song. When we were jamming it one day, for a bit of fun, we added a new outro section and I slapped on it. I did nothing much beyond straight root/octave patterns, but the band thought it was fun and they asked me to play that for the future. That's ok, but the singer often pointed to me when it came to that part as "look at him now!" as if it were something special... and everytime it happened I just wanted it over. Yeah, it went down well, but I didn't like being put in a place where it looked like I was trying to impress... Eventually we dropped that part as it would easily take 3-4 minutes and we'd rather play a new song instead. I think right now there's just one song left that I slap on for the choruses, but that one is cool (I think), nothing flashy or anything, just adds the right change in dynamics.

 

Nice post.  Now that's what I like and appreciate - modesty and playing to fit the song rather than showing off.

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10 minutes ago, mcnach said:

 

Admittedly, it may just be based on a couple of individuals I've come across that somehow left an impression in me. They were most definitely insecure and envious.

What have we told you about spending too much time on Talkbass!

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22 minutes ago, ead said:

Everything in moderation. 

I think you have successfully defined middle aged rock n roll. 

😁

 

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