Online Bass Instruction with Rusty Springfield
Slap That Thang!


The thumb usually strikes the string at the last fret, while the edge of the first and/or second finger plucks on the upstroke. Note that the right arm is almost
parallel with the strings.

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Slap Pluck

A closer look at how the hand rotates during the pluck.

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The Double-Pluck

The outward wrist rotation produces the ever-popular delayed pluck or "flam" effect.

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When using the thumb/pluck technique, also known as "popping" and "slapping" (as originated by Larry Graham in the '60's) your right thumb usually strikes the strings at the last fret. I like to position my right arm as to be almost parallel with the strings. This allows my wrist to pivot, and the power of my arm and hand weight to be transmitted directly to my thumb, which I keep pretty stiff. It is most effective to use the hard surface of the bend in your thumb joint as your constant striking point. I find it helpful to also let the first joint of the finger knuckles smack into the bass body at the same time as the thumb strikes the string. This automatically sets your right hand in position for the upstroke. You want to make sure to leave the knuckles in contact with the bass body just after the thumb downstroke. Then, allow your first finger to slide under the G string and, by rotating your wrist and palm upward, the finger will naturally catch and pop the string. You can also incorporate the second finger to pop another string simultaneously.

There are many variations on this theme including the use of left hand open string "hammer-ons" interspersed with the thumbing and popping. Victor Wooten has developed this technique into an art form. Many great books and videos on thumb technique are available through catalogs or your friendly local music store.
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