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Double Thumb: A Lesson in Slap Bass

In this installment of our new bass lesson series, we’re focusing on a slap-based, percussive bass technique widely known as “Double Thumbing” or the “Victor [Wooten] style”.

This technique involves an approach to slap where you hit the string with your thumb and follow through, landing on the next string. So the first note – an open E – would sound clear, while your thumb lands and rests on the A string, which is percussive. Basically, you’re looking to do is almost like grazing the string, as you would in finger-picking, but with more force to produce that slap sound.

Be sure to follow along with the notation (PDF). Here’s a guide to reading it:

  • Td (Thumb down): slap through the string and land on the next string.
  • Tu (Thumb up): with your thumb is resting on one string, pull up to catch the next larger string with your thumb, about mid way through the nail. (If you catch the string this way and pull hard enough then let the string slide off your thumbnail, you will hear a clear resounding note much like a normal slapped note.)
  • P (Pluck): Curve your index finger around a string and pull away from the body of the bass until the string slips out, and creates a strong hard note.
  • H (Hammer on with the left hand): use your left hand to create the attack. This can either be a muted note, or a clear pitch, but all the force of the note comes from the left hand. You should be able to play a “Hammer on” without using your right hand in any way.
Grant Stinnett is a bassist and music educator who teaches through Stinnett Music.

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