Larry Graham Developed slap bass while in a band with his mother. Due to a lack of a drummer, Larry decided to slap and pop the strings to simulate the percussive sound of a drum set. He calls slap, “Thumpin’ and Pluckin’”
Sly and the Family Stone Larry Graham joined Sly and the Family Stone which gave slap an outlet to be heard. The song “Thank You” was the first song recorded with slap bass.
Other bassists who adapted slap Bootsy Collins Victor Wooten Mark king Level 42 Parliament Funkadelic Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Other bassists who adapted slap cont. Les Claypool Flea Marcus Miller Red Hot Chili Peppers Primus Solo, Various Studio Recordings
How slap is played Bass guitar is typically played with the plucking hand resting perpendicular to the strings. Slap bass keeps the hand in the same position but fists the fingers and sticks the thumbs parallel to the strings. Standard fingering Standard Slap
Two main variations There are two general ways of playing slap that have become popular. From each technique there are many different variations.
Funk Slap The thumb is pushed through the string that is being slapped and the index or middle finger hooks around a string and is pulled back to snap the string, creating a pop. This technique produces Larry Graham a prominent slap. This style is the most used.
Rock Slap This style only differs in how the thumb is used. Instead of going through the string like in funk slap the thumb acts like a hammer; the thumb hits the string and bounces off. This produces a louder pop. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is popular for Flea using this technique.
Double Thumb Double Thumb is a variation on slap that is credited to Victor Wooten. This technique uses the thumb to simulate a pick by following a slap with a thumb hook on the same string. This can be used in succession with popping to create some interesting lines and can simulate rolling on a drum set. Classical Thump
Abraham Laboriel Sr. Abraham Laboriel Sr. plays slap bass in a very different way than either funk or rock slap would allow. He reverses the functions of the hand and has the fingers slap the strings while his thumb plucks. The use of the thumb to pluck the strings is very similar to the method that Victor Wooten uses to play the double thump. Abe Clinic (5:13)
Using Slap Musically Slap can be used in solo bass compositions to add a needed percussive effect. Slap can be used in a band setting with the drummer to create either a solid cooperation (slap coincides with the bass drum; pop with the snare) or a nice syncopation. Syncopations are really cool but the most solid grooves are attained when the drummer and bassist are in unison.
Slap bass is a young technique. Learn from the bassists who have helped to develop it into what it is today and take from their additions. Make your own style and see where you can take slap!