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How to Read Slap Bass Tabs

Learn how to read tabs from musician Sam Lipman in this Howcast slap bass lesson.


Hi, my name is Sam Lipman. I'm a multi-instrumentalist. I make records and I will be releasing my first solo debut record here in the fall called 'A' for Aphorisms. Check it out We are gonna be playing some slap bass. applied slap bass, how to read bass tabs. Tablature's come a long way in the last fifteen years on all electric stringed instruments, bass no exception. So right here I have a piece of tablature with me now. I'm going to talk about how to read it. Down here we have the tablature; four lines, each one representing a bass string. I like to think of it like this: if you turn a bass upside down and align it, this top line is the equivalent of this top string. These numbers represent frets. So this number right here, 5, is on the second string from the bottom. So we're going to find 5th fret, one, two, three, four, five. That's where we're going to start this piece. The line above it indicates a hammer. From 5 to 7, so we're going to... [hammers bass] You see how I hammered 7 down? So I'm going to read through this. The next bit. OK. Up here we have "T", stands for thumb; "H" stands for hammer; "T" for thumb; "P" for pop; and "H" for hammer. So we've got... [plays bass] hammer. These "x"s here indicate muted slaps, which sound percussive. So first off it's going to sound like this. [plays bass] I'll do it again. [plays bass] So now I'm going to play all my way through, the whole line, which should sound something like this. [plays bass] OK? So, again, we see these "x"s over here, meaning muted strings, which are typical in slap bass technique. When you speed this up you hear something like... [plays bass] So that's basically how slap bass tablature works. I hope you have lots of success with that.

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