Top 5 Must Know Slap Riffs

2019-02-10T10:22:13+00:00September 19th, 2014|Categories: Songs & Repertoire|6 Comments

This week we’re looking at what I consider the 5 MUST KNOW slap bass riffs. We’ve got some Flea in there, a little Larry Graham, a splash of Mark King and more. So buckle up and get ready for some awesome slap bass action!

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

Slap Bass Riff Timings:

1) Higher Ground – Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Flea) – 1:48
2) Thankyou Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin – Sly & The Family Stone (Larry Graham) – 10:14
3) Love Games – Level 42 (Mark King) – 18:26
4) Take The Power Back – Rage Against The Machine (Tim Commerford) – 29:53
5) Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushden (Freddy Washington) – 35:23

Learning songs is your key to success!

Much of the previous Slap lessons dealt with the mechanics and technique of playing the style. But that is such a small part of learning to slap. The best progress can be made once you have those basics nailed so you can just dive into learning some tunes.

In this lesson I’ve covered 5 of the most popular bass riffs out there that should be within the reach of anyone with a basic grasp of the playing style. If you find any of these riffs too difficult just be sure to check out the Simple Steps To Slap Bass course here at Talkingbass. I work through every area of the slap technique from the absolute basics, all the way through to advanced double thumbing and machine gun bass fills!

Slap Bass Riff #1 – Higher Ground

Higher Ground is a Red Hot Chilli Peppers cover of the Stevie Wonder classic featuring a slap bass interpretation from Flea.

The riff is a great introduction to slap pop octaves on the E and D strings and is deceptively tricky when getting started so take it slow!

Practice Tracks:

Slap Bass Riff #2 – Thankyou Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin

This funk classic from Sly & The Family Stone was one of the first popular recorded examples of the slap technique on electric bass, courtesy of the bass legend Larry Graham.

This is a fairly simple line but the space and articulations require special focus on the time feel.

Practice Tracks:

Slap Bass Riff #3 – Love Games

Love Games by Level 42 is the perfect introduction to the Mark King style of 16th note slap!

We have left hand palm slaps alternating with open strings to create an incessant percussive line. Look out for the hammer ons and pops in there too.

Practice Tracks:

Slap Bass Riff #4 –  Take The Power Back

Slap bass is often seen as a funk/disco style of bass playing but slap is also popular in heavier metal styles.

Take The Power Back by Rage Against The Machine is the perfect example of a catchy groove in a hard and heavy context. Tim Commerford uses a drop tuning of the E string down to D for added brutality!

Practice Tracks:

Slap Bass Riff #5 – Forget Me Nots

Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen features Freddie Washington playing one of the most famous slap riffs in pop history. Some of you will also know this riff from the Will Smith song ‘Men In Black’

This riff is deceptively difficult, especially the 16th notes in the final bar. Freddie actually slaps every note but we’re going to use pull offs in this lesson.

Practice Tracks:

Want To Learn How To Play Slap Bass?

Check out the Simple Steps To Slap Bass course here at Talkingbass!

It’s Easy When You Take Simple Steps!

Learn To Slap Today!

Remember to LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, SHARE THE POST (just click on your preferred social platform below) and then …

Sign Up To Talkingbass For FREE!

Join over 40,000 members and R.A.I.S.E your Bass Game Today!

FREE Ebook Downloads, Practice Tracks, Drum Tracks and MUCH MORE!

Join Now!!


  1. Kirk September 20, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Thankyou Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin, Funny Mark, You do have a sense of humor! LOL You are always so serious. Love it. Your lessons are the greatest. I really appreciate what you are doing. You are the best.

    • James Stastny June 2, 2017 at 4:57 am - Reply

      thats how Sly and the family stone spell it, It took me forever to find it back when I first learned it ha ha ha

  2. Andrew September 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Love your teaching style and the explanations. Wish you lived 10 minutes away. lol.

    By the way, the last riff is from the Artist Patrice Rushen (without the d).


  3. Ross September 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    Just watched your Top 5 Must Know Slap Riffs and really enjoyed your instruction. Perfectly done.
    But I have an issue with my jazz bass. I like to have really low action on my strings with minimal neck relief.
    I’m thinking that’s not good for slap bass as I get as lot of noise (probably just me).

    I wanted to ask you what you recommend for:
    – neck relief
    – volume and tone positions for the pickups
    – type of string (I just moved to a medium gauge as I thought I might need a stiffer string)
    – string distance from pickups

    Basically, what does one need to setup for proper action and sound?

    Thanks very much.


  4. Mark October 4, 2015 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Mark the song Love Games by Mark King is a blast to play , I’ve been working on it for a while now and its fun to play percussion style bass playing .
    It took a while to coordinate my thumb and hand motion . I palm mute till I get the motion going then slowly release the strings . Its a blast to add in my own fills.
    Mark King is super fast .

  5. Mark S Beretta December 8, 2016 at 12:21 am - Reply

    5 years ago in 2012 I found this website and I’m still here.
    I found this lesson hard , now I play it with my eyes closed.
    Thanks Mr. Mark

Leave A Comment