Funky Slap Bass Fills & How To Practice Them

2019-02-10T17:32:57+00:00August 30th, 2013|Categories: Slap Bass|9 Comments

Here’s a few ideas on slap bass fills and an interesting method for practicing them. As well as the standard Mark King style triplets I also cover more straightforward melodic lines and some funky mute techniques.

For a complete method to learning Slap Bass Click Here for the Talkingbass Simple Steps To Slap Bass Method!

How To Practice Slap Fills

A great way of practicing slap fills is by playing a repetitive 4 bar groove and then inserting fills in on the final bar. We can obviously change the number of bars in there (8 bar riff/2 bar fill for example) but the main method simply involves incorporating fills into a groove.

For this lesson we’ll be using the following riff:

Finger Fills To Slap Fills

An easy way of creating a slap fill is to simply apply the same type of fill you might use in your fingerstyle/pick playing. As an example, here we have a fingerstyle fill played first with the fingers and then with slap/pop technique:

Octave Fills

Octaves are a great way of creating slap fills and can be used both melodically and from more of a rhythmic, melodically static perspective:

Open String Hammer Ons

By slapping an open string followed by a hammer on into an octave pattern we can generate incredibly fast licks that can be used within our fills. Below we have an example of an open string hammer on into an E octave pattern:

Ghost/Muted Notes

We can hold the fretting hand lightly over the strings when slapping to create a ‘ghost note’. These muted percussive notes can sound useless out of context but when combined with complete fretted notes we can create really funky fills:

Muted Palm Slaps

The fretting hand can be used to create ghost notes by simply smacking the strings. Don’t push the string down (as we would with a hammer on). Just drop the hand down enough to create a percussive ‘whack’.

When combined with fretted notes we can create fast flurries that work well in our slap bass fills:

Stu Hamm Style Triplet

The following lick uses the muted palm slap to create a fast ‘machine gun triplet’. Barre the first finger at the 7th fret across the A, D and G strings to accomplish this pattern:

The following lick is an extended variation played by Stu Hamm doubling up on the slapped notes. The extra slap makes for a much trickier line.

Mark King Style Triplet

The following triplet is very similar to the Stu Hamm line but played between the E and G strings without a barring of the fretting hand. This allows for more movement and is a line popularised by Mark King of Level 42:

For a variation, try muting the E string. This gives a more percussive sound:

By moving the Mark King triplet through different notes in the upper voice we can create melodic movement in our solos/fills at high speed:

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  1. DALE FENWICK February 2, 2015 at 6:43 am - Reply

    I think will help me lot . as I see you start slow then move to the next level.

  2. Mark Barletta February 11, 2015 at 1:24 am - Reply

    I’m finding it hard to slap my bass strings well enough for the sound I need or want . Most of the time I’m trying to be not so loud because of the person living under me , I don’t need them complaining about my bass playing and its affecting the outcome of my practicing . I know where to slap and how hard to hit but holding back because of neighbors has ultimately affected my practice time and I don’t know what to do about it, I bought some headphones and I use them after 7 pm.

    I got my amplifier up off the floor and set it on a chair and padded it to keep it from vibrating downward.
    I really need my practice time to be affective and not hold back.

    can anyone suggest what to do !!!!

    Mr. Desperate Bass player, needing to learn the , slap , pop , mute , ghost note , palm hit , style playing .

  3. Name March 10, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Get Headphones 😛

    • Mark S Beretta April 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      I got headphones but started hearing a ringing noise while not playing .
      Plus after 2 hours I have cauliflower ears , OUCH’ gosh dang it.
      We can satisfy some people part of the time , not all people most of the time , too many people looking to complain.
      I wish they would leave me be.

  4. Rajesh February 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I plug my earphones to the amp.

  5. steve jeter March 21, 2016 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    this is great!! I will learn it

  6. Mark S Beretta April 11, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    It’s been over a year I last commented and O boy what a ride it’s been.
    I found ultimately it takes time and practice then I’m good to play.
    Out of everything I’ve learned and finally got down my timing has been the hardest.
    The muted plucks slap style was the hardest for me , vibratey strings finally calmed down w/out a cuff.
    Lady below me is a shut in , no problem there I think she likes my bass playing now that it sounds decent.
    I wish I had longer fingers and big hands but that’s okay I make it work.
    I would have never picked my bass up again if not for Mark and Paul.
    The kid Davie504 is a excellent bassist , I think there’s more to that than what meets the eye , I could be wrong , I was once before maybe twice.
    Thanks much Mark ,,,

  7. Pat Mcintosh May 19, 2016 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Would be great to get the sheet music for the examples played at 5.00 minutes

  8. Patrik Zárate October 27, 2018 at 5:16 am - Reply

    This will help a lot. But i think its gonna be a while.
    Tanks and greeting from Perú.

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