Updated: Apr 4
If you're looking for the best bass strings for slap bass, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about finding the perfect set of strings for your playing style.
We'll talk about different types of strings, materials they're made from, and how to choose the best set for your needs. So whether you're a beginner just starting out, or an experienced player looking for something new, read on for all the info you need!
My choice for perfect slap bass strings
When it comes to slap bass, the right strings can make all the difference. I've tried a lot of different brands over the years, and my current favorite is the Elixir Steel Strings.
They have a nice thick gauge that provides plenty of tension for popping and slapping, but they're also flexible enough to allow for virtuosic fretting techniques.
The Elixirs also have a bright, punchy tone that really cuts through the mix. If you're looking for a great all-around set of slap bass strings, I would highly recommend the Elixir bass strings.
Fundamentals of Slap Bass
Slap bass is a technique that can be used to add a unique groove to any style of music. While it can be challenging to master, the basics are relatively easy to learn. The key is to use the right hand to strike the string while simultaneously using the left hand to mute the string.
This produces a percussive sound that can be used to accentuate the rhythm of a song. Slap bass can be played on any type of bass guitar, but it is most commonly associated with the electric bass.
When used correctly, slap bass can add a new level of excitement to any performance. With practice, anyone can learn how to add this signature style to their playing.
Free Slap Bass Exercise PDF
How to perform the Technique
Slap on the bass guitar has two main techniques.
The first is the slap stroke which involves striking the string with your thumb.
The second is the pop stroke which involves an aggressive pluck performed with the index finger.
Watch this video tutorial to learn both these techniques.
As any musician knows, maintaining a stringed instrument is essential to keeping it sounding its best. Over time, strings can become tarnished and lose their luster.
Dust and dirt can build up on the surface of the strings, affecting their vibrational properties and resulting in a duller sound.
Regular cleaning and polishing with a product like fast fret can help to keep strings sounding bright and clear.
In addition, damaged strings should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid further wear and tear. By taking good care of your instrument, you can keep it sounding like new for many years to come.
The best action for slap bass
The term "action" refers to the height of the strings above the bass neck. The higher the action, the harder it will be on your fretting hand.
However, a higher action creates a truer tone with less chance of fret buzz.
What type of action you want on your bass guitar is really a matter of preference.
It's best to try a few different actions out and see what you like best.
4 of the best suited strings for playing Slap Bass
Here are my four best picks for bass guitar strings which are well suited to playing slap bass.
Elixir Bass Strings
The right strings for your bass will make all the difference in the tone and playability of your instrument. Elixir Strings’ innovative manufacturing process and attention to detail ensures that our strings are consistently providing musicians with a great feel, long life, and an amazing sound.
The nickel-plated steel wrap wire is made from a round wound, hex core wire which delivers a rich, rounded tone with incredible clarity and a heavy mid-range presence.
The ultra-thin NANOWEB Coating provides a smooth feel that also enhances grip on the string while protecting against common causes of corrosion.
The best thing about Elixir Strings is that they sound great from the first time you play them until the last, and they’re available in a wide variety of gauges to fit any bass playing style.
DR Bass Strings
DR Strings Lo-Rider strings are round wound with a hexagonal-shaped core.
They provide more depth of tone, and are a bit stiffer than hi-beams. Bass players who are into slapping, popping and tapping will love the high end and depth of lo-rider bass strings.
Round wound and constructed on a hexagonal core they provide more depth of tone, and are a bit stiffer than hi-beams.
Other strings that you should consider are Ernie Ball strings and D'Addario ECB's.
The Best Strings and String Gauge for Slap Bass
A good slap tone will come down to the material your strings are made of and the gauge of the strings.
We'll see in a moment how the material will affect the sound but first, let's talk about gauges.
String gauge refers to the overall thickness of the string.
Thicker strings are called "heavier gauge" strings and thinner strings are known as "light gauge".
Anywhere in the middle is known as medium gauge strings.
The heavier the gauge the more mass and vibration you'll have to your sound because the entire string can produce a much stronger vibration.
Which you choose is a matter of what characteristics you want in your bass tone.
Nickel bass strings
Nickel strings have a bright, cutting tone that is well-suited for heavier styles of music. They are also less likely to corrode than other types of strings, making them a good choice for players who live in humid climates or who don't play their basses frequently.
Nickel strings are available in both roundwound and flatwound varieties, so players can choose the string that best suits their playing style. Roundwound strings have a more aggressive tone, while flatwound strings produce a smoother, warmer sound.
No matter what type of string you choose, nickel strings can help you get the most out of your instrument.
Stainless steel bass strings
Stainless steel bass strings are a type of string made from, as the name suggests, stainless steel. Unlike traditional nylon or gut strings, stainless steel strings do not corrode or degrade over time.
This makes them ideal for use in humid or saltwater environments, as well as for players who have allergies or sensitivities to metals.
In addition, stainless steel strings are known for their bright tone and excellent durability. They are also relatively easy to care for, requiring only occasional cleaning with a soft cloth.
Overall, stainless steel strings are an excellent choice for any player looking for a high-quality, long-lasting string.
Roundwound vs Flatwound Bass Strings
If you're a bassist, there's a good chance you've wondered what the difference is between roundwound and flatwound strings. Both types have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right set for your playing style. Roundwound strings are made of a metal core wrapped in a thin wire.
This gives them a bright, punchy tone that is perfect for slap bass and other styles that require plenty of attack.
However, roundwounds can be difficult to finger at high speeds, and they are also more likely to cause string noise when you move your fingers up and down the fretboard. Flatwound strings, on the other hand, are made of a metal core wrapped in a thicker wire.
This gives them a warm, mellow tone that is perfect for jazz and other styles of music that require a smooth sound. However, flatwounds can be sluggish and difficult to play at high speeds, and they also tend to wear out more quickly than roundwound strings.
Amp settings for Slap Bass (EQ)
When it comes to setting the EQ on your amp for slap bass, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, you'll want to boost the low frequencies to emphasize the thump of the slapped strings.
A good starting point is to set the low frequency knob at around 80Hz. Next, you'll want to cut the mids to help reduce any muddyness in the sound. Around 2kHz is a good starting point for this.
Finally, you'll want to boost the highs to add some brightness and clarity to the sound. Around 10kHz is a good place to start with this. Of course, these are just general guidelines and you'll need to adjust the settings based on your own preference and the specific sound of your bass.
How to dial in your EQ settings?
Equalization, or EQ, is the process of adjusting the balance of frequencies in an audio signal. When done correctly, EQ can make a recording sound fuller, cleaner, and more vibrant.
However, EQ can also be used to correct problems such as muddiness, harshness, and boxiness.
There are a few general rules that can help you get started with EQ. First, start with a low Q (or bandwidth) setting and make small adjustments. Second, cut frequencies rather than boost them.
And third, be careful not to overdo it – too much EQ can ruin a perfectly good recording. By following these simple tips, you can learn to use EQ effectively and take your recordings to the next level.
Mistakes to Avoid with Your EQ
Whilst the scooped mid sound is very common, you've got to keep in mind that this can also commit you to making one of the worst EQ mistakes which is match the frequencies of the drummer you play with.
A scooped mid sound is mostly lows and highs and a drum kit has the same frequencies. Lows coming from the kick drum and highs from the cymbals.
This means that all of the frequencies between the two instruments will compete and swallow each other up and the drums will usually win.
The sum of this is that no matter how loud you turn your amp up you may not be heard.
So what's the answer?
Try sculpting your bass EQ to use different frequencies from the drums like low mids.
Slap Bass EQ Setting Tutorial
This video shows you everything about adjusting your amp to an appropriate tone to hit. The EQ settings will work whatever amp you're using.
- First, the lows were boosted around 80 Hz to emphasize the thump of the slapped strings.
- Second, the mids were cut to help reduce any muddyness in the sound. Around 2000 Hz is a good starting point for this.
- Finally, the highs were boosted to add some brightness and clarity to the sound. Around 10000 Hz is a good place to start with this.
What strings are best for slap bass?
The best strings for slap bass are the ones you like the sound of. However, if you need a recommendation I would strongly suggest Elixir stainless steel strings.
Can you slap bass with flatwound strings?
Yes you can! It's not that common because most slap bassists prefer roundwound strings because they give the bright zing-like sound that many bass players want. However, the technique is exactly the same with flatwound strings so if you prefer them then go for it!
Can you slap on a 4 string bass?
Yes! In fact, it's the most common bass used for slapping.
What strings does Marcus Miller use?
Marcus uses his own signature brand of bass guitar strings which are manufactured by Jim Dunlop. These round wound strings are a huge part of the bright, punchy sound that he gets and they're quite affordable too. You can purchase them from Amazon and most online string retailers.
What is the best bass string for slapping?
Personally, I'm a big fan of Elixir bass strings. They're expensive but last much longer than ernie ball strings or dr strings and they are available as both nickel strings or stainless steel strings. Hybrid gauges are also available which have D and G strings which are of a heavier gauge. This creates greater consistency of tone with the A and E strings.
What makes a bass good for slapping?
A good bass guitar for slap should be one that you personally feel comfortable playing. It doesn't need to be expensive and it doesn't need to have a huge variety of tones. As long as you can get a bright, clear sound with lots of sustain then you're good to go!
If you want a budget-friendly suggestion, look at the Marcus Miller signature bass guitar made by Sire.
Can you slap on a 6 string bass?
Yes, you can. For the most part the technique is exactly the same. However, you may find it harder to mute as you have more strings on a 6 string bass guitar. And the larger neck can feel less ergonomic but bass players like Henrik Linder haven't been put off by that!
Can you slap guitar?
Yes, but you'll need to be much more gentle. A guitar has small strings which aren't as robust as bass guitar strings.
Take some time to get used to the smaller strings and make sure you don't play with too much force or you'll break a lot of strings.
That all being said, the technique is exactly the same.
Can you slap bass on acoustic?
Yes, you can but the technique means something different on the upright acoustic bass. You'll be getting an aggressive sound but it won't sound anything like the slap bass sound your used to getting from an electric bass.
What basses are good for slapping?
When it comes to slapping the bass, not all instruments are created equal. The best basses for this style of play are typically those with a high output and a low-end focused tone.
This allows the bass to cut through the mix and be heard clearly, without muddying up the sound. Additionally, a good slap bass should have a fast attack and a tight response. This helps to create a sharp, percussive sound that can really drive a groove.
Some of the best basses for slapping include the Fender Precision Bass, the Music Man StingRay, and the Ibanez BTB Series. With their punchy sound and sleek design, these basses are sure to give your music some extra oomph.