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
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
Other bassists who adapted slap
Level 42 Parliament Funkadelic Bela Fleck and the
Other bassists who adapted slap cont.
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
Standard fingering Standard Slap
Two main variations
There are two general ways of playing slap that have
From each technique there are many different
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
a prominent slap.
This style is the most used.
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
Flea from the Red Hot
Chili Peppers is popular for
using this technique.
Double Thumb is a variation on slap that is credited to
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
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
Syncopations are really cool but the most solid grooves
are attained when the drummer and bassist are in
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!