Slap Bass - An Introduction

by Daniel Dotor

This article is intended to introduce you to the basics of Slap Bass so that when you have worked through all of the exercises and examples, you are able to play the following Slap Bass Line.

The article consists of 4 exercises to get you accustomed to the basic slap and pop techniques, a basic Slap Bass Line which is then expanded upon in 7 subsequent variations until we reach the bass line in the video below.

We have provided videos, and backing tracks for all examples to help you practise to.

The following article is presented as a means of getting the basics of slap bass together. Like other musical skills slap bass can be broken down into a series of moves that should be learnt, played and rearranged in order to produce a pleasing effect for the player and listener.

The first step in this journey is to get used to slapping the string with the thumb (Symbol S) and popping the string (Symbol P) with one of the plucking hand fingers. The index or middle fingers seem to be the most commonly used however others can be incorporated.

The goal in both slap and pop is to get the string to make contact with the fret before sounding its note.

When using the thumb for slap there are 2 main approaches used – one is where the thumb hits the string and remains hovering over it after the slap and the other is where the thumb strikes thru the string and comes to rest on a higher string like a sort of reverse rest stroke.

The pop actually pulls the string away from the finger board until it snaps back and hits the fret before ringing out, this could be seen as similar to an archer pulling the bow back and then releasing it.

One tip to keep in mind is to work on having your hand in a position where when you slap your popping finger is automatically underneath the string you wish to pop.


When slapping and popping remember that there should only be 2 moves slap and pop,  not slap - reposition for the pop – pop - reposition for the slap – slap etc .


The first 4 exercises should be played with muted notes and this is achieved by laying, not pressing the fingers across all the strings so that no pitches are heard but rather a percussive click.

Exercise 1

Please use these Soundcloud files as backing tracks to practise to.

The track on the left is at full speed. The track on the right is at 70% speed and is longer.

Exercise 2

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

Once these are mastered then you should move on to the original bassline, pay attention to the last two 16th notes and ensure you use a hammer on.

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Please use these Soundcloud files as backing tracks to practise to.

The track on the left is at full speed. The track on the right is at 70% speed and is longer.

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 1

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 2

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 3

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 4

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 5

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 6

Beginner Slap Bass Line

Variation 7

Beginner Slap Bass Line

2 Chord Vamp

Please use these Soundcloud files as backing tracks to practise to.

The track on the left is at full speed. The track on the right is at 70% speed and is longer.

All the best and check back soon for more free lessons.

Dan