Book Review – Funk Bass


To me funk bass covers a load of territory, from James Brown to Larry Graham, from Tower of Power to Tribal Tech, Jaco, Marcus, Victor Wooten, Paul Jackson with Herbie Hancock- there are a lot of seriously funky dudes out there.

So I was intrigued what approach Hal Leonard author Chris Kringel would take with this title.

The first thing that struck me on a casual read through was that this book is seriously mistitled – the book is 96 pages long and all bar about 10 pages are devoted to slapping.

This is really a slap book.

Now I’m gonna do a slap page real soon – if you want to learn to play slap there are 3 books you need, and one DVD. This is one of the books.

The reason I like this book is that it contains the lines to about 14 or 15 tunes – admittedly a couple of them are from the fingerstyle section – but this is one of the first books I’ve seen that’s got what I’d call ‘bread and butter’ slap lines in it. By that, I’m not trying to be dismissive, what I mean is that there are books out there with slap lines by the masters. To play the lines in those books you’ve gotta be able to do double stops, machine gun triplets, double thump, etc etc.

Now there’s nothing wrong with those books – but what’s missing is a book with slap basslines aimed at the beginner/intermediate slap bass player. So they can actually get a feel for it without having to do the ‘pyrotechnic’ stuff.

This book has got several lines like that. In the first section of the book, it also suggests an exercise that I think is great to get the beginner started on slap bass lines: take a tune you know already, and play the bass line slap style instead of finger style (or pick style).

That’s a really powerful lesson, right there. If you know a stack of tunes already – doesn’t matter what the genre – you can play along to them and work on your slap chops. When you’re getting started on slap – as with anything – in the beginning the hard thing is to get the mechanics going.

The book is 96 pages long and comes with a CD. The CD has got backing tracks for all of the songs included in it – the backing tracks are OK, a bit ‘cheesy’ sounding in places, but I’ve definitely heard worse. So you can learn the tunes and you’ve got a ready made ‘band’ to playalong with. That’s another plus.

The book covers a lot of ground: starting off with basic slap and pops, and adding muting, hammer ons, pull offs, trills, etc and there is even a brief look at some advanced material – double thumbing, soloing etc.

There are two areas where I think this book suffers: one is it tries to cover too much ground and so the areas it does cover is looked at too briefly and two, having the tunes in the book is great, but there is a steep jump from applying slap to actual songs – Higher Ground (Chilli’s version for example) is the fourth tune looked at!

Grumbling aside though, if you use this in conjunction with Stuart Clayton’s excellent Ultimate Slap book, it will give you a host of extra material to practice.