D. N. A. Of Bass Guitars Part 2

D. N. A. Of Bass Guitars Part 2

Playing Styles Differ As Much As Players Differ, And how they use their hands on the bass guitar says alot about the sounds they create

There are also variations in how a bassist chooses to rest the right-hand thumb (or left thumb in the case of left-handed players). A player may rest his thumb on the top edge of one of the pickups. One may also rest one’s thumb on the side of the fretboard, which is especially common among bassists who have an upright bass influence. Some bassists anchor their thumbs on the lowest string and move it off to play on the low string. Alternatively, the thumb can be rested loosely on the strings to mute the unused strings.

Early Fender models came with a “thumbrest” attached to the pickguard, below the strings. Contrary to its name, this was not used to rest the thumb, but to rest the fingers while using the thumb to pluck the strings. The thumbrest was moved above the strings in 1970s models and eliminated in the 1980s.

“Slap and pop” and tapping

The slap and pop method, which is a mainstay of funk, uses tones and percussive sounds achieved by thumping (or “slapping”) a string with the thumb and snapping (or “popping”) a string or strings with the index or middle fingers. Bassists often interpolate left hand-muted “dead notes” between the slaps and pops to achieve a rapid percussive effect. Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone and Graham Central Station was an early innovator of the slap style, and Louis Johnson of the The Brothers Johnson is also credited as an early slap bass player.

Slap and pop style is also used by many bassists in other genres, such as rock (e.g., J J Burnel and Les Claypool) and fusion (e.g. Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten and Alain Caron). Slap style playing was popularized throughout the 1980s and early 1990s by pop bass players such as Mark King (from Level 42) and funk-rock bassists such as Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Alex Katunich (from Incubus). Wooten popularized the “double thump,” in which the string is slapped twice, on the upstroke and a downstroke (for more information, see Classical Thump).

In the two-handed tapping style, bassists use both hands to play notes by rapidly pressing and holding the string to the fret. This makes it possible to play contrapuntal lines, chords and arpeggios. Some players noted for this technique include Billy Sheehan, Stuart Hamm, John Myung, Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, Michael Manring and the style’s originator, John Entwistle. The Chapman Stick and Warr Guitars are string instruments that are designed to be played using two-handed tapping. Another rarely-used playing technique related to slapping is the use of wooden dowel “funk fingers”, an approach popularized by Tony Levin.

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