The bass guitar is a very versatile instrument; you can get a variety of sounds by using different methods of picking as well as fretting.
This makes the instrument easy to incorporate into any style of music, as well as easy to translate into any context. One of the most common, and most popular styles of bass guitar playing is the slap bass.
In this article, we will discuss the three finger bass guitar slapping technique, and how you can use it to spice up your playing.
While this article will focus mostly on the picking hand, it is important that you still take the time to warm up before playing. This is so that you get the circulation flowing better throughout your fingers. It is also so that you prevent injury from occurring; cold muscles and tendons are dangerous things to put strain on, as they can tear. Do a simple, small, routine warm up before getting into tapping to prevent any chance of accidents.
The three fingered slapping technique has a name that can be a bit misleading. While you are using three fingers at once, you are using these three fingers as two fingers. The “slap” is created with the side of your thumb, and the “pop” is created by using your index finger and middle finger together as a claw. The slap always precedes the pop. You want the slap and the pop to work together in a sort of pendulum motion, with the slap starting off the motion, and the pop being the follow up.
The slap is generated with the bone on the side of your thumb, and is used on the lower strings ( on a four string bass, E and A; on a five string bass, B and E ). The “pop” is generated by taking the index finger and the middle finger and, as stated above, making a “claw” out of them, curving them up at the first digit.
These two fingers then hook under the higher strings being played ( on a four string bass, D and G; on a five string bass, A, D, and G ) lift it, and release it, creating the distinctive popping sound known to funk and jazz bass guitar playing.
Once you get the feel for the motion ( you should feel as if your hand is rocking back and forth, or cradling ), try adding it to some of your favorite bass licks and riffs. Choose licks that make use of both the lower string as well as the higher strings in equal measure, and riffs that switch back and forth between the two. You want to feel comfortable with the motion, as well as have control over what your hands are doing.
In the end, the only way you will perfect three finger slapping is through practice. Take your time, and pay attention to form; form is more important than flashiness, so don’t get in over your head just to be impressive. Have fun, and good luck!
If you want to go from being an average bassist to achieving a level of bass playing like a professional, JamPlay is the best resource to help you accomplish that goal in the shortest possible time. Learn from bass legends like Billy Sheehan, David Ellefson and Bryan Beller with an ever-growing library of video lessons designed to help you improve your skills.