In music, the term slapping is often used to refer to two different though related playing techniques on the double bass and on the (electric) bass guitar.


Double bass

On double bass it refers to the technique that is a more vigorous version of pizzicato where the string is plucked so hard it then bounces off the finger board, making a distinctive sound. Notable slap style double bass players have included Bill Johnson, Wellman Braud, Pops Foster, and Milt Hinton.

Bass guitar

On bass guitar it usually refers to a technique that consists of hitting a bass guitar's strings with the thumb of the strumming hand near the base of the guitar's neck, often combined with plucking the strings with the index or middle finger of the same hand.


Bassist Larry Graham is generally acknowledged as being the one who invented slapping and popping on the bass guitar in the late 1960s and early 1970s while playing bass guitar in the band Sly and the Family Stone, although some say that several bass players invented the technique at the same time.

The technique

The slapping technique is used to achieve a percussive "popping" bass sound, which is one of the signature sounds of funk music. A bass guitar played using the slapping technique in a well executed way is almost per definition funky, although many funk bassists do not use the technique at all. (see Francis 'Rocco' Prestia of Tower of Power, Bernard Edwards of Chic, Jaco Pastorius, Paul Jackson of Herbie Hancock) Slapping is nearly always used in conjunction with popping, which is a technique in which a finger is hooked under a string and used to pull the string away from the bass guitar so that it slaps against the neck when released. Usually slapping refers to a playing style that combines both these techniques, i.e. slapping and popping also referred to as slap and pop.

The unique sound of the slapping technique comes from the string hitting the fretboard with high force, and gives a much more percussive sound than regular fingering of notes with the strumming hand. The sound is also usually louder and more distinct than the sound of a bass guitar played using the usual finger style techniques. This feature combined with the fact that a bass guitarist using the slapping technique often looks quite spectacular has contributed to the popularity of the technique both with players and listeners. Critics point out that the technique is often merely used for show purposes, often detrimental to the musicallity of the bass playing. This because the slapping technique in essence is considered as not being very hard to master, contrary to the slapping of melodic lines.


There are numerous variants of the slapping technique, which extend the basic actions by including other percussive strumming techniques, such as adding hammered notes, and repeating slap and pop patterns to effectively produce the equivalent of a drumroll on the bass guitar (see Victor Wooten).


Some bass guitar players known for their use of slapping in their playing styles, with notable bands and/or artists they have worked with:

Some songs with prominent bassplaying using the slapping technique:

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