Lesson 9 Redux – Teach Me Bass Guitar

Slap BassI’m not much of a competitive person, but I don’t like to feel defeated.  If you’ve been following along you may recall that Lesson 9 of Teach Me Bass Guitar left me feeling a little bruised and battered.  I don’t know what it was, but I just couldn’t get the feel for playing slap style and eventually gave up and moved on.  I’ve always regretted that and now feel that it has, in some ways, held me back.

Although I moved on from the lesson, I did continue, from time to time, to work on playing slap. Slowly but surely I have gotten myself to a point where I don’t feel so intimidated by it any longer.  When I first went through lesson 9 I had never played slap style before so it was all new to me.  Since then I have honed my right hand technique so I at least have the mechanics of it down.  Now, with the help of Roy, I hope to finally get myself up to speed in this area.

As you may recall, after bass camp last August, on the advice of Tim Smith, I decided to start the entire Teach Me Bass Guitar course over again.  At that point I was on lesson 13, and was starting to feel like I was in a bit over my head so it seemed like a brilliant idea to me.  Since then I have worked my way back up to Lesson 9 and am ready & raring to take it on!

I’ve started working on the exercises Roy presents in the first part of the lesson and already feel like I am making headway.  The first time I watched lesson 9 I had to stop the video less than 10 minutes in and work on my technique before gong any further. This time I was able to hang with it through all of the exercises.  Now I am working through them at my own pace until I feel I am ready to start working on the two songs in the lesson.  

As that I seem to learn best by drawing from multiple sources I have also pulled out my old copy of Tony Oppenheim’s Slap It: Funk Studies for the Electric Bass – BK/CD
and Ed Friedland’s Slap Bass: The Ultimate Guide to get me up to speed.  Scott Devine has a couple of Slap Bass tutorials on ScottsBassLessons.com that I intend to check out as well.  With so many great resources I can’t possibly fail this time!

 

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Learning to Slap – Progress report, Update 3

Thought I’d give a quick update to where I am at with learning how to play slap bass. I’m still not happy with my slap proficiency and am nowhere near getting through Lesson 9 yet.  In my frustration I searched the internet for any and all kinds trainings, exercises and videos on how to play slap.  After looking at a few websites and watching many YouTube Videos I decided to pick up a copy of Ed Friedland’s Slap Bass: The Ultimate Guide.  I’ve started going through this DVD and am very pleased with my results.  This in no way means that I am not happy with the Teach Me Bass Guitar Course, it’s just that I felt like I was stuck in a rut and need to get a second opinion, so to speak.

I will be posting a full review of Slap Bass: The Ultimate Guide soon, for now I thought I would share some of the great slap bass websites I encounter in my search for slap bass knowledge.

How to Slap Bass.com

Fret Play.com – How to Play Slap Bass

Talk Bass.com – The Slap Bass Welcome Center

Break Through Bass Playing

Free Beginner Slap Bass Lesson

Enjoy!  And keep on plucking, or slapping as the case may be.

Lesson 9 -Teach Me Bass Guitar

Ah the art of slap and pop. For years you have eluded me. Actually, in my younger days the technique never really appealed to me. I thought it was a whole lot of show with little substance. Over the years I have grown to truly admire those who have mastered this art, yet never really tried to learn how to do it. Well, with lesson 9, all that is about to change.

Clocking in at just over an hour, Lesson 9 of Teach Me Bass Guitar is jam packed with everything you need to learn to “slappa da bass”.  Roy starts out by showing us proper thumb technique returning us once again to the 4 x 4 exercise, except this time we slap the strings with our thumb instead of plucking or picking them.  I must admit, this was pretty difficult for me at first.  My string accuracy was very poor and everything just sounded sloppy.  I spent many a night sitting on the couch just slapping through the 4 x 4 exercise just to get a basic proficiency before I even attempted to move on in the lesson.  Once I was comfortable with slapping the thumb I moved on to the “Pop” portion of the lesson. We start out by slapping notes on the E string and popping their octave on the D string and then do the same with the A and G strings.  Fortunately for me, I found it much easier to pop than to slap.  Roy also shows us some techniques to mute strings that you don’t want to ring out when playing slap and pop, very important if you don’t want to sound sloppy.  When I was somewhat comfortable playing slap and pop I moved on to the exercises which Roy plays at 3 different tempos to get you started and give you something to work for.

In lesson 9 Roy brings in another one of his “Students”, Michelle, and demonstrates some drumming techniques using the left and right hands on the bass and how this relates to slap and pop.  I must admit I do enjoy the segments with the students as that they truly seem to be genuine, struggling with the new concepts just as I am here at home.  From this segment we move on to Hammer On’s and Pull Off’s.  We work on these on two strings at a time, E&A, A&D, and D&G working once again at the three different tempos.  There is a lot of information in this lesson, and a lot to absorb, especially for someone like me who has never played this style before.  I found my left hand cramping up quite a bit and realized that it was due to the fact that I was pressing down to hard on the back of the neck with my thumb.  I still find myself cramping up here and there but now I just shake it out and try to relax and not hold on so tightly.

The two songs for this lesson are Funk Patrol and Shuffle Funk.  All I can say is ouch!  These are going to take me a while to master.  Funk Patrol has a groovy lick that I am dying to pull off, but have thus far been unsuccessful.  Shuffle Funk is a nice shuffle groove using the thumb instead of finger style, which is a rough one for me as well.  Essentially this has been the most difficult lesson for me.  I have watched this lesson more times than any in the past.  It took me almost a month to get through the entire lesson and I foresee spending another month trying to master it before moving on to lesson 10.  I will say one thing, I will be very proud when I can plan these songs with the band.  Learning how to play slap bass has been a long time coming for me and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Now I need to invest the time and energy necessary to master this amazing style of playing.  As always, wish me luck!  A little encouragement goes a long ways.

To read about my journey with Teach Me Bass Guitar from the beginning start here:  http://wp.me/pRvjK-h

Learning to Slap – Progress Report, Update 2

Okay, I am seriously frustrated at this point! In truth my slapping ability has improved, a little, and I am now working on the pop aspect as well. I have re-watched the first part of Lesson 9 a couple more times and each time gotten a little farther, but am not happy with my progress at this point. Part of my problem is that I don’t feel I have as much time as I would like to devote to practicing. My kids are on summer break and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get them to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I can sneak out to the garage and play bass. I’m lucky to get one good practice session in a week plus a couple of nights sitting on the couch with my bass while trying to wrangle two very active kids. I am starting to feel like I am having a mental block of sorts. My motivation is at an all time low and as I run through various exercises trying to learn how to slap and pop I find myself thinking “Why am I doing this? Is this something I really need to learn?” The answer is of course, YES! I want to learn how to play slap and pop, I am just having a really rough time getting there. Maybe I am over thinking this, maybe I need to create an all funk/slap playlist in iTunes and listen to that for motivation. You know, that’s a good idea, I think I’ll do that. As always, wish me luck and send me a few words of encouragement if you please.

Learning to Slap – Progress Report

I’ve been slapping away for about a week now and boy am I frustrated! I’m doing okay with the E and A strings and after a week the D is finally starting to get there but the G is killing me. I can’t seem to get much tone out of the G at all, that is when I actually manage to hit it. So yeah, my accuracy sucks too. So many bass players make slapping look so easy, but I can attest that it is an acquired skill that can take a lot of time to master properly. I have not even thought about moving on to popping as that my slapping is so bad. Looks like this ones going to take me a bit longer than I had envisioned. Time to hunker down and focus. Wish me luck.