This is a slap bass exercise you can do almost anywhere... you don't even need a bass guitar! Before we get started, let me tell you a little about the background and point of this slap bass lesson. One of the fundamentals of the slap bass technique is rhythm, particularly percussive rhythm. This is where it gets interesting, as a slap bass player we can draw off the skills of a drummer. Just like a drummer, the slap bass technique often implements right and left hand patterns to create funky grooves. Drummers call this paradiddles, and they are fundamental to drumming. As such, they are also critical to bassists using the the slap bass style.
This simple slap bass lesson exercise will make you a better player... it will help to improve your coordination, timing, sense of pattern and overall groove. Many times in the slap bass style, the left and right hands will play rhythmic patterns. We will practice these patterns (called rudiments) without the bass. This slap bass exercise can be done standing up or sitting down. Let's first start with your positioning.
Pretend you're playing 'air guitar' and are holding an imaginary bass. For a right-handed player, place your right-hand-slapping-thumb so it can tap your belly... my right hand looks like I'm giving a 'thumbs up' gesture. Your left-hand should be up in the air with your thumb facing you and fingers facing outward... like you're holding the bass guitar neck. The right-hand thumb will tap against your belly, and the left-hand fingers will tap against the left-hand thumb. So now you can tap both hands, just like a slap bass player, just like a drummer.
Now practice a tapping paradiddle. A popular pattern is Left, Right, Left, Left, Right, Right (LRLLRR). Practice this pattern so that it seamlessly loops over and over. Practice at 3 speeds... start slowly at first, then increase the tempo. Do not move up to a faster tempo unless you are solid at a slower speed. Every paradiddle can be reversed. After you've practiced LRLLRR, then practice it reversed: RLRRLL. Here are more patterns you can use with this slap bass lesson.
If you practice the above everyday, you'll improve your slap bass abilility. Your rhythmic vocabulary will increase and your right/left hand coordination will skyrocket. The above exercise is a simple but powerful way to improve your slap bass technique. Rhythmic, percusive patterns are the foundation of slap bass. Practice the above lesson daily, and you'll have the solid base for slap bass funk.