Compressors for slap?

Compressors for slap?

Postby SmittyG » Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:35 am

I've never been one for slap bass. Don't care much for the sound, as a listener or a player. However, it is a skill set for the modern bassist and, as a person who prides himself on his studies and is looking to be the most complete musician he can be, I should have it as part of my playing abilities. So I picked up Friedland's Slap DVD and have been working with it for several months. It is coming along, but it is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to learn on bass--and I can transpose and reharmonize in my head while playing.

Anyway, I got with a friend of mine who is an accomplished slapper and had him check out how I was coming and he had three recommendations: 1) loosen up--I'm really stiff when I slap as opposed to how loose I am when I fingerstyle; 2) lighten up--he said there is no reason to try and embed my strings into the fretboard; and 3) get a compressor to help smooth out the attack. Now, he has a high end compressor circuit built into his amp; my amp doesn't have that feature. Instead of getting a whole new amp, I'm thinking I will just look at pedals to do the job.

So, for you slap masters out there, what compressors do you folks use?
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby 57RIP » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:05 pm

I don't use stompables anymore. used to though.

1. Aphex Punch Factory - very subtle - some will same it is not very effective. I found it to be though. Very clear, very quiet, a decent backup DI as well. Again this is a real subtle comp

2. Carl Martin - very colored, too much to be usable for me. Great Reputation - completely unwarranted in my experience.

3. Demeter Compulator - this is the stomp I would have kept... figger in the $170 range used and IMO - it's as goos as the stomp compressor get's

Rack unit's... DBX 160 is creme de la creame of the sub $1K rack units. My old 166a is almost as good. it's 2 channel as well. THese can be had for low dough used.

These days I don't use a comp in my bass irg. I do in my PA where I have 4 Aphex comps on the vocal channels and a stereo DBX set for brick wall limiting on the mains - that one is for speaker survival as opposed to actual compression though ... The only compression I use on bass today is via a plug-in after I record a dry track.

My advice on this would be - frankly you should practice your slap and get it as clean and steady as possible without using a compressor - and then forget how to slap... Guilty pleasures - yeah I slap in the comfort of my practice pad but I sure don't pull that stuff out in public these days...
I used to look at my dog Smokey and think, "If you were a little smarter, you could tell me what you're thinking," and he'd look back at me like he was saying, "If you were a little smarter, I wouldn't have to." - Fred Jungclaus
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby GLJeff » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:10 pm

I use an Alesis rack mount compressor/gate. I don't feel they're 100% necessary for slap, lots of low end and treble, and little or no midrange gives you a good slap tone.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby SmittyG » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:37 pm

57RIP wrote:and then forget how to slap... Guilty pleasures - yeah I slap in the comfort of my practice pad but I sure don't pull that stuff out in public these days...


I can agree completely. I have never had to use it for a gig. I did some slop-slap, just acting a fool really, at a jam or two to the cheers of the bar crowd, but I really can't see it coming into play for a serious gig. This is just for my own personal sense of "completeness".
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby SmittyG » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:41 pm

GLJeff wrote:I use an Alesis rack mount compressor/gate. I don't feel they're 100% necessary for slap, lots of low end and treble, and little or no midrange gives you a good slap tone.


That's a whole other can of worms I'm running into: they way I normally run my EQ is just about the worst possible thing I can do for slap tone it seems. I normally roll of a bit of deep lows. I like a small bump around 250Hz. I normally pull a little bit around 800Hz. Finally, I like a deep cut around 2-2.5KHz. Sounds real solid with the band; makes a very foundation for the mix without getting in anyone's way sonically; but, flat sucks for slap. :)
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby nolabass » Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:55 pm

Are those FMR Audio RNCs still highly regarded....good for slap? They can be a problem for bass if the release time is set too short... a little distortion. But I just back off the release enough to cure it. I have a couple but use them for recording and general comp when I need it.....which is almost never.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby GLJeff » Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:36 pm

SmittyG wrote:
57RIP wrote:and then forget how to slap... Guilty pleasures - yeah I slap in the comfort of my practice pad but I sure don't pull that stuff out in public these days...


I can agree completely. I have never had to use it for a gig. I did some slop-slap, just acting a fool really, at a jam or two to the cheers of the bar crowd, but I really can't see it coming into play for a serious gig. This is just for my own personal sense of "completeness".


I do it every time I play out [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif] it's part of the music so I guess there's no way around it. Slap does turn heads for sure, quite often bands around here are background ambiance, but if the bassist starts slapping, all of a sudden the people start paying attention again.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby SmittyG » Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:12 pm

GLJeff wrote:Slap does turn heads for sure, quite often bands around here are background ambiance, but if the bassist starts slapping, all of a sudden the people start paying attention again.


Even if, as I so aptly prove, the bassist has no clue what he is doing. :) But yeah, the audience does love that sound.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby GLJeff » Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:57 pm

It's one of the toughtest techniques to master, but well worth it once you have.

Two handed tapping using relative minors are easier for me [smilie=cheeky-smiley-025.gif]

I've been slapping for over a decade and I'm still far from where I want to be.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby GLJeff » Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:14 pm

SmittyG wrote:
GLJeff wrote:I use an Alesis rack mount compressor/gate. I don't feel they're 100% necessary for slap, lots of low end and treble, and little or no midrange gives you a good slap tone.


That's a whole other can of worms I'm running into: they way I normally run my EQ is just about the worst possible thing I can do for slap tone it seems. I normally roll of a bit of deep lows. I like a small bump around 250Hz. I normally pull a little bit around 800Hz. Finally, I like a deep cut around 2-2.5KHz. Sounds real solid with the band; makes a very foundation for the mix without getting in anyone's way sonically; but, flat sucks for slap. :)


Trip Wamsley slaps with flat settings, but has killer amps, killer sound too! I'm seriously thinking about the Fusion 550 so I can program three different EQ channels, groove, slap and tap. I don't like having to use a slap tone all the time either, playing other styles with those amp settings can get muddy.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby Silverbass » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:53 am

I have never liked how any of the stomp boxes sound except for the Retrospec Squeeze box, which is out of production and hard to come by. I know a lot of people use the ones 57RIP mentioned and you might find one of those helpful though. I might be a little overly picky about my compression but I use it all the time regardless of slapping or not. The compressor I lust after the most is the Demeter VTCL2a. I had one for awhile but a trade deal came up I couldn't pass on and let it go. I will have another one!
I herd the Squeeze Box was going to be released again by the original builder a sew months back but I haven't seen one yet.

Oh yeah, practice slapping while watching tv or something so you lose focus a little and that might help you loosen up. Works for me anyway. When I practice something new I get all tensed up, bent over and overly focused sometimes. I don't even notice I'm doing it for awhile. I'm not able to get that tense with my eyes on the tv and my hands on the bass.
Without AB tests we can tell nothing. AB tests tell us nothing.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby Dr. Greenthumb » Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:39 pm

I have not used many(maybe only 2 different) compressors, but I can say that the Demeter Opto-Compulator is fantastic. Gives a nice hardly noticeable compression without sqaushing or affecting your tone. It is a very "musical" sounding pedal. If I remeber correctly, there was allot of luv for it on this forum, and there was a thread a while ago about compressors, thats how I made my choice, and I am very happy with it.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby GLJeff » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:10 pm

The compressors built into Hartke amps are great for slap, even the small combos.
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby Jerry » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:47 pm

Every few years I think I should try a compressor again and then I never use them, I like to control my own dynamics. One of my pres[BBE]has a pretty good built in compressor that I don't use either.
I do have a Aphex Punch Factory that I got a good deal on[thanks Mal] that sounds good and I keep around because it's almost been a few years. [smilie=cheeky-smiley-025.gif]
A compressor might be good for you until get your slap and finger technique to blend more naturally to keep spikes out of your signal chain, worth a try.
Aloha, Jerry
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Re: Compressors for slap?

Postby 57RIP » Tue Jan 06, 2009 5:55 pm

Two things I never do...

1. compress while practicing - no sweetening allowed for me.
2. boost at 250 hz. 250 is a really typical hot spot for stage work. Seems like SM 57's amd 58's love 250 hz. Maybe it's dynamic mic's in general. Plus there's a lot of other information there - so I tend to be cutting there in order to keep everything else around me more clear ... learned that one from our buddy Passinwind and damn all if he wasn't right ...

Now that cut at 2.5 - that I can relate to. Each of my fretted basses seems to have the fret clack zone bwewtwen 1.8 and 2.5 some where so I tend to be dipping down there as a normal part of my slightly smiley tone.
I used to look at my dog Smokey and think, "If you were a little smarter, you could tell me what you're thinking," and he'd look back at me like he was saying, "If you were a little smarter, I wouldn't have to." - Fred Jungclaus
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