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Double-thump technique - exercises


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I decided to move this to a new thread (from the double-thump video thread) since it's more about the mechanics of the technique.


After going to a bass workshop recently where Victor Wooten was one of the instructors, I decided it's time to actually put some focused effort into getting that double-thump technique proficient and useable.


I've started doing an exercise that seems to work well (for me, anyway): it's two 8th notes (thumb down, thumb up) followed by four 16th notes (thumb down, thump up, pop using index finger, pop using middle finger). All notes are done on the same string, and I've simply been playing this pattern as a major or minor scale (two counts for each note in the scale), with the metronome running. You'd count it "1 & 2e&a 3 & 4e&a", if that helps with the visualization (audio-zation?)


In about 2 weeks, I've gone from about 60 bpm to 100 bpm...I've hit one of my own self-directed benchmarks. After a decent warm-up, I can do that exercise at 100 bpm with about 90% consistency or so.


The biggest difficulty I've had is not the double pops (that's actually not difficult), but in getting a consistent thumb-down tone (not choking the string) and getting a consistent pop from the thumb-up...thus the two thumb-only 8th notes in the exercise rather than just straight 16th's. I find that I have to sort of push down on the string my thumb lands on so that I don't choke the string I just slapped-through. It's actually kind of a nice attribute to have to concentrate on sustaining a note rather than muting it (don't we spend a lot of time and effort doing the opposite?). At some point, that'll come naturally rather than having to concentrate on it.


So, at this point (as I get bored just doing scales), I've started inventing some riffs that use the double-thump's, and I thought I'd share one here.


Here's the standard notation in PDF format...the fingering is noted below each note:



And here's a midi rendering of the riff as an MP3 file (now note this sounds pretty lame as a midi rendering...the riff actually played sounds much better):



I haven't recorded this yet, but I may try to do that Friday (in keeping with the ideal that you guys only hear me at my worst! :freak: )


Here's the interesting part...I'm starting to really see why folks slap through the string rather than floating the thumb...the tone is much fuller with a down-thump (ie., where your thumb comes to rest on the string below the thumped string) than with a perpendicular slap (ie. floating your thumb in the air). I'd imagine it has quite a bit to do with the thumb scraping over the string (versus a perpendicular slap, where the thumb strikes the string only), plus the fact that a down-thump is a bit like a slap and pluck combined. If I do this riff with the double-thumps and double-pops as I've notated, it sounds really good (assuming I execute it reasonably well, that is). However, there's several other fingerings you could use for the playing hand. I've compared the double-thump tone to just using two perpendicular slaps to do each "pair" of 16th's in this riff, and I've tried using a perpendicular slap and an immediately following pop on the same string as well. Both of these just sound lame compared to using the the double-thump/double-pop technique to execute this riff. Also, I should note that alternating the double-thumps and double-pops sounds best...if I try this riff with double-thumps only that just doesn't sound as tight and groovy. The double-thump *sounds* a little different from the double-pops...the thumps aren't quite as naturally staccato as the pops, so alternating the two in a shifting rhythm like this seems to be key to making it a groove rather than just a riff.


Anyway, the riff will hopefully serve as a good example that an advanced technique doesn't have to be about shred...you can use anything to groove with.


All that said, it's going to take me quite a while to get this solid enough to actually use in my playing...I'd imagine a month or two of fairly consistent practice and inventing/rethinking riffs. At this point, even though I can do it at an almost useable tempo, I still have to concentrate on the mechanics of the technique. If you're concentrating on the technique, you ain't concentrating on music. However, that will come in time as my hands learn auto-magically what to do.


Anyway, I'm hoping this thread will inspire some other folks who've been considering adding this technique to their arsenal...have at it! :thu:



Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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Thanks Dave...that is so cool that you are sharing the love of bass. I too have been recently motivated to be diligent in studying.


I come from old school..(Stanley,Marcus,Louis Johnson,...etc.) + it has always been my desire to get next to Victor + all the "new-old school thumpers".


I am presently learning "Teen Town" at a pretty rapid pace + have it about half memorized at this point. I lived in Lauderdale when Jaco was around + met him several times. He also played great drums + keys.


Music...what a gift...!!!












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Hey Folks:


Two more exercises that are working well for me:


Fingering Key:

Td = thump down

Tu = thump up

Pi = pop using index finger

Pm = pop using middle finger


1) Straight sixteenths done with this fingering:

Td Tu Td Tu Td Tu Pi Pm


2) Straight triplets or sixtuplets done with this fingering:

Td Tu Td Tu Pi Pm


The original exercise I mentioned above, translated to the same "key"...two 8th notes + four 16th notes done with this fingering:

Td Tu Td Tu Pi Pm


And you can of course also use Victor's own exercise...straight sixteenths done with this fingering:

Td Tu Pi Pm




Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006


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