If you’ve ever heard a proper slap and pop bass guitar technique, you know how much it can add to the dynamics of a song. Jazz, funk, metal; whatever your preferred playing style, the slap and pop bass guitar style can add a world of texture to your piece and set you apart from the rest of the pack.
In this lesson, we are going to discuss the proper bass guitar popping style.
But first off, in order to pop, we need to slap, and the only way to slap is to throw away your picks. Okay, maybe that is a bit extreme, but keep them out of sight; they’ll only distract you from your bass guitar popping style duties.
Look at your picking hand. Namely, look at the thumb of your picking hand. You may notice that your thumb, unlike your fingers, has only a single digit in its middle. This knot –or joint— is the key to a proper slap.
Fret the fifth fret of your D string to achieve the note G. Now, fret the third fret of your low E string to achieve the notes octave of G. Now, with your thumb, slap the low E. Don’t allow your thumb to rest on the note after you strike it; immediately pull away. Likewise, don’t allow your thumb to glance downwards or stroke the note. A proper slap involves the hit and recoil. That is it.
Try slapping the low E for a few minutes. Get the feel for the motion, and allow yourself to become familiar with it. This is the basis of the popping bass style, as popping bass is only half of the slap bass technique.
Once you become familiar with the slap, it’s time for the pop. You may notice that the slap produces almost a pinging sound. The pop will produce more of a twang, and will be far more prominent.
Take your picking hand and straighten either your forefinger or middle finger. Now hook the digit inwards slightly while keeping it erect.
This is going to be your popping tool.
Now, after you slap, what you are going to do is hook that finger underneath your D string (which should still be fretted as a G to create the octave), and pull off on the string with your hooked finger.
There should be no hesitation; hook and pull. Don’t hook your finger and then take the time to think about what kind of tea you would like tomorrow morning with breakfast; pull and be done with it. You will notice that, if you pull properly, the pop is actually a loud twanging sound, and yes it also involves a pop as the string rebounds.
This is the bass guitar slap and pop technique. The only way to perfect this technique is through practice. Slapping and popping isn’t easy, so you will want to set aside a bit of time each day, whether it is as little as thirty minutes or as much as two hours, to practice your slapping and popping technique. So long as you do, you will be on the road to proper slapping and popping in no time. Good luck!
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