The latest in the How To Play Slap Bass series of lessons. This video covers the fretting hand muted palm slap that can be used to play percussive slap riffs and fills and can help you play all those lightning fast triplets like Mark King and Victor Wooten. Incidentally, the double slap triplet I cover at the end of the lesson is the same motion used by Les Claypool in his bass solo on Tommy The Cat.

You might already have some of this technique down accidently if you’ve been playing any kind of slap at all. It’s a fundamental part of the mechanics of slap playing – and well worth work working on more deliberately if you want to approach more difficult lines.

Lesson Material

First of all, let’s go through the simplest possible muted palm slap pattern. Simply slap the open S string with your slapping thumb on the first and third quarter notes of the bar, and mute them with your palm on the second and fourth quarter notes. I find it easiest to rest my hand across the other 3 strings at the same time – which also helps to prevent accidental notes and other fretboard noises. You’re aiming to get a percussive noise but not an actual note.

As always, start slowly! Speed is a side effect of improved technique down the line.

Now let’s play something more rhythmically interesting, but still essentially the same thing: a slapped open E, with muted notes to give that distinctive percussive feel. Start slow: and only pick up speed when you have the rhythm under your fingers. When you’ve got a bit of speed, you should start to notice how ‘drum like’ even this simple line feels. This is the secret sauce behind many of those great funky lines.

Next, try a simple pattern through a chord change: C to F to G. You should start to notice a different quality according to where you hit the strings as your hand moves up and down the neck. Work on the positioning of your muting hand to get the right percussive feel and avoid playing actual notes.

Now, let’s try a rhythm that’s very common in slap bass. This is the first line where we’ll try to work up in speed in order to get the right feel. The rapid double muted palm slap after the open E should feel natural once you’ve been playing it for just a few minutes – and you’ll probably start to feel pretty funky!

And now extend this pattern out into two groups to make this bass line. You’ll notice it has a very rolling, triplet-style feel. This is the backbone of many slap riffs – and is used in everything from funk to metal. With the addition of an octave note, you’ll find this sounds really familiar!

Now let’s make this really exciting. Using a more rapidly slap/mute action can generate complicated sounding “fast” lines that are actually quite simple to play.

But remember: START SLOWLY. At full speed, this sounds intimidatingly complex, but when you begin and play at a slow, even tempo you should get it under your fingers fairly easily. Only when you’re comfortable and have good muscle memory for the pattern should you start to work on the speed. Next, try something similar, but with additional notes. Eventually you want to be comfortable moving your muting hand around the neck to enable you to play lines that are rhythmic and melodic.

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

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