In this second part of our easy to learn slap bass mini-series, we will be discussing ways that will help you build-up your speed slapping. In part one we already laid down the foundations and the basic concept of how to play slap, we will now focus on enhancing your slap skills by improving your speed, taking you a level higher in slapping.
Before we begin, I have a quick question... Have you ever heard someone play slap in such an incredible speed and ever wondered how on earth did they get the speed to do it?
Well, there's a one technique that is integral in playing slap bass and that is what we'll tackle in this lesson and I'll also show you how you can develop this important technique
In the first lesson, we've already discussed how to play slap bass in a band and it's important elements. We also looked at creating the thump and the snap. Now we will be talking about another element of the slap which is the hammer-on.
A hammer-on is a playing technique performed by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fingerboard behind a fret, causing a note to sound. Unlike thumping and plucking, this technique is more focused on the left hand (or fretting hand)
A hammer-on is a slap player's secret weapon as it is an integral part in building up the speed because in reality, there is a limit to how fast you can do the thump and pluck on your other hand.
We will divide this lesson into three major parts as we take a deep-dive into learning the hammer-on.
So the first thing we need to do to develop our speed in hammer-on is to have it integrated into the octave pattern that we've discussed in the previous lesson.
If this is your first time doing hammer-ons, you might a little practice to get the sound off because it requires a little bit of strength to execute.
Also, take note that the second note might sound a little softer but don’t worry as the difference in sound will become subtle as you build up your speed.
What you’ll do is to just play the note and push down with either your third or fourth finger, wherever you feel comfortable. Our first example exercise is easy and should look like this:
You can start with this exercise with a drum pattern that is around 80bpm. You are free to turn it up or down to a pace that you’re comfortable with. This exercise should help you to get familiarized with the feeling so you can play effortlessly without having to think about it too much.
The important part of this exercise is to practice this in time because the hammer-ons need precise timing. A common misconception is that the timing is solely in your right hand but if you want to succeed in building up your speed, you’ll need to develop timing precision on both hands.
Let’s now move on to the next step where we will integrate the hammer-on across the scale.
We will begin our exercise by doing a standard G-minor Scale and go up the scale. It should look like this:
It's important to practice this scale in ascending and descending patterns so you can develop your familiarity or fluency in playing across the neck.
Now onto the third part of our lesson, we'll learn how to hammer-on using the open string. Check this out:
This is one of the ways to get your speed. You see when you speed up in an open string, it starts to become a percussive effect instead of a pitch.
A good example is when you play at a lower tempo, the sound is noticeably pitchy but as you gradually build your speed it becomes a percussive effect
Once you’re comfortable with this exercise, we will step up one level and practice this on all strings because what we want to do is to be able to use the thumb technique on all 4 strings.
In this exercise, we’ll do the same pattern, but this time we’ll do it on all strings. It should look like this:
In doing this exercise, also make sure to get the muting right and have equal volumes throughout. This will help you get the key to accuracy with your thumb and your timing with thumping and hammer-on.
Since we’ve covered the three ways to integrate hammer-ons to slap playing, the best thing to do is combine it altogether and practice them.
Here are some exercises that you can do as you build up your speed:
Lesson Wrap Up
So that concludes the second part of our Slap mini-series! I hope you’ve enjoyed and have learned new things. If you’re a beginner, it may take some time for you to get used to it, but given the right amount of practice, you’ll soon find yourself slapping and grooving.
Stay tuned for the third part of this series as we will be discussing more exciting details into slapping!
If you liked this lesson and wish to learn more, do make sure to check out our FREE14-Day Trial for the Bass Lab PLUS membership!
Good luck and get stuck in!