Slap And Pop For Beginners

An intro to the teqnique, and a few ways to improvise with slapping and popping.

Ultimate Guitar
An intro to Slap Slap bass is a technique mostly used in bass for funk or forms of jazz. It involves striking one of the lower strings with your thumb. Popping is a technique often used with slap, only on the higher string. The technique Place your hand in the way you would when normally fingerpicking. Then place your thumb at a 90 degree angle from your fingers. You hand should make a sort of backwards L shape. Now rotate your hand to a 90 degree angle, so that your pinkie is the closest finger to the bass, then bring it back down, striking the string with your thumb with the point to the side of the knuckle, where the bone is closest to the skin to produce the best sound. Make sure the thumb bounces off the string, or it will produce a very dull, muted sound, but hey, some alternative musicians may want to use this sound. It helps to play through an amp when doing this, as it helps you hear the sound better. You know when you can do this, as it sounds funky and very distinctive. Now for popping, this is a much easier technique, as all you have to do is curl a finger around the side of the string so it is very slightly underneath it, and pull the string up, you can tell when this is done correct as the sound of the string bouncing of the fretboard makes a very distinctive sound. Practice Techniques The first practice technique I learnt was from a video by Flea, I recommend looking at his video lessons on youtube if you don't find my lesson helpful. The technique he taight me was playing the octave. And octave is a group of 8 full steps, or 13 notes. To play an octave in slap and pop, do this.
D----2| Pop the D string
E--0--| Slap the E string
Remember, You can play an ocatave simply by moving two strings and two frets up. I tend to play stuff with slap around a powerchord. By this I mean things like:
G----------------------| Again, Pop the G and D strings...
E--0h2------------0h2--| And Slap the E and A strings
That's an example of a line you can play on a powerchord, you should of noticed that I hammered on from the open string to the bottom note of the octave, and also used some notes that weren't on the powerchord, I'd suggest working with some notes to see what goes well together. Experiment with the notes in this tab for a while. Another example of a good line would be:
G------------2h4h2---4p2---------------------| If it helps, You can pop the
D-----4------------------4p2-----------------| A string in the descent on 
A----------------------------4p2-----4p2-----| this line rather than slapping
Try improvising on all the notes in the above tabs, and experiment with some of your own. That's about all I have to give for this lesson, here's some final tips for you: -Remember to bunce of the strings to avoid that dull sound when slapping. -Start slow, and speed up gradually as you get better. -Play through an amp, it improves the sound. -Don't give up, if this lesson is unhelpful, go to those videos from Flea I mentioned earlier, I spent weeks sifting through all the lessons before I got the method right, so keep trying. The Flea videos are the best I have come across so far, they help with a lot of things you can do with your bass. I hope this lesson satisfied your needs, spap is one of the things that makes bass as interesting as it is, don't give up and keep playing. Please comment on this lesson, and be constuctive if you don't like it, trolling isn't cool. Thanks, The Mole.

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm glad this helped people learn, but the left hand for slap bass is done the exact smae way you would normally do it, hammering on included. It has also come to my attention that some artists use a technique that goes by a name of something like "double popping/slapping". As far as I can tell, this is simply where after you strike the string with your thumb, you put your thumb underneath the string and simply pop the string with the thumb, keeping it straight, as you bring the thumb up again. I taught myself this easily by simply playing a hammer on Rhythm like this: E|--5h7-7--5h7-7-7~| D=Regular Slap(Down) D U D U D U=Double Slap (Up) If this is incorrect and I was wrong in my assumption, let me know and tell me what the technique actually is.
    You have to take note of the fact that Flea uses a VERY different style of slapping. I think he even made it up himself. Tha classical way of slapping is different, I believe.
    To dreamerthinker5: you slap the open string then hammer on with ur left hand, I think the tabs show a fret before a hamemr on and pull off, but if u ever do see a "--h2--" or "--h5h7--"... it usually means to hammer on out of nothing or in other words tap it with ur left hand to produce a sound...however the person's tabs dont have any of that, so i dont know why u brought it up in the first place
    This lesson helped me understand how to slap and pop, so I guess it served its purpose well. The example tabs confused me though. How do you hammer on a note and slap in at the same time?
    Thanks, I only learned to do Slap recently, so I thought I'd write down how I leant.
    May I ask why you ask someone to teach you about Slapping and Popping on a lesson entitled "Slap and Pop for Begginers"?
    @^ the number on the tabs corresponds the fret number while the EADG are strings from the thickest down to the thinnest.
    hi guys,just passing here! Im new here and i want to learn m0re bass less0n. . . Um can i ask a qstn? Hw to read the tabs?, hehehehe, sori i d0nt kn0w hw to read the tabs. . I have my fvrte base guitar, i want 2 learn m0re ab0ut technqs speclly Popng n SLAPPNG?
    Good instructions, but you definitely need to see a technique like this in order to really understand. I will check out videos that Flea made. There are a BUNCH on YT...and a lot of them are good but many aren't. Time is too important to waste. Thank you for the video suggestions