Bass Guitar Lessons
Making the Bass Guitar Pop, Snap, and Sing with a Special Style of Playing
Contrary to what many suppose, the bass guitar is an exceptionally versatile instrument. Whether in acoustic or electric form, the bass can be used for everything from low-key rhythmic support to attention-getting, up-front soloing. Exploiting the full range of the bass's considerable potential does require mastering a number of different techniques, though. Slap bass is one of the most important of these, as it endows the bass with a distinctively dynamic, driving sound that gets audiences dancing.
Learning how to play slap bass is also fairly easy to do, even if it can take many years to truly master the technique. The basic idea behind slap bass is to snap or pop the strings in a way that makes them produce an especially sharp, intense sound. Compared to the usual means of gently plucking the bass's strings, this style of playing makes more integral use of the fret board. As the strings are hit with great force, they rebound against the board in a sharp, distinctive way that particularly suits intense music of many sorts.
In order to achieve this effect, two basic techniques are normally used, with one being devoted to the lowest strings and the other to the rest. For the fat, meaty strings that produce the lowest notes, a bass player will typically use the thickest part of the thumb and the heel of the hand to make them ring out. Smacking the strings hard enough, the player will make them collide forcefully with the frets, even causing them to bottom out on the wood in between.
For the higher strings, a markedly different technique will be used. Instead of smacking the strings downward, the bass player will pluck them upwards with the fingertips, letting them release when enough tension has been developed. The overall effect will be largely the same, with the taut strings snapping back against the fret board and producing an impressively percussive, intense sound.
A beginning amazing slap bass lesson will typically include some instruction as to the proper usage of both techniques. Although these basics are fairly easy to pick up, becoming a truly skilled player in this style can take years and years of practice. The intensity of the sound produced by playing in this way means that mistakes and sloppiness will be magnified, so developing refined technique and a deep level of feel is crucial. Just about every bass player who goes down this road of development, though, reports it to be a rewarding one in the end.