The journey continues!
It seems that whatever I’m obsessing over this week, then becomes the topic which I end up blogging about that week- and 4 weeks on, I’m still geeking out over the Fender Play app!
So, last week I spoke of completing the Bass Guitar (Rock) Path, and was about to give the Funk path a go- so, a week on I’ve kinda completed the Funk path? As in, the vast majority of lessons are exactly the same as the Rock path as regardless of style the basic techniques are the same. So, all I had to learn was all new Funk songs (which was more like R&B songs), and the handful of techniques which are unique to the Funk bass playing style. And again, I’ve been impressed by the teaching approach and the structure of Fender Play lessons! What I was curious to see was how they were going to approach the teaching of the Funk Slap and Pop technique. As I’ve tried learning the technique several times via Youtube with various Youtubers to absolutely no success (probably doesn’t help that I can’t see what they’re doing on screen). So, I was curious to find-out if Fender Play would be able to teach this blind guy how to Slap & Pop. And I’m pleased to say that they were successful! Yay for me!
The difference maker was the approach, they actually broke the technique down to explain what you’re trying to achieve with the technique. On Youtube they just say, “Hit the string with the bony part of your thumb” for the Slap technique, and “just do the turning key wrist action” for the Pop technique and then they proceed to Slap/Pop like a freakin’ pro! And when you try it, it doesn’t sound remotely like that, and then you get discouraged and give-up. But with Fender Play, they explain the why, the Slap technique is to turn your bass guitar into a percussion instrument, and the Pop technique was to pull the string out far and hard enough to result in the string flicking back forceful enough to hit the fret board when you let it go. And hearing the technique described like that, it was such a revelation moment when I heard it described, so much so that I was immediately able to perform those techniques to 50% of what they were showing (I still have a long way to go to perfect the technique). So, with the Slap technique, I’m playing the strings like I’m playing on a bongo drum, as I’m beating it like a percussion instrument. And with the Pop technique, I just have more confidence in pulling that string back like a bow and arrow, and just letting that string flick back with force- like the instructor on Fender said, pull it back as far as you can without snapping the string. Haaha.
And it was the structured exercises which reinforced the learning, they first show you, then put you through exercises to encourage you to practice what you’ve learnt, and immediately afterwards the next lessons build on what you’ve learnt by either teaching you a song using that technique or putting you through a slightly more advanced exercise to hone what you’ve learnt! So, I think that’s the difference between a free Youtube tutorial, and the professionally produced paid Fender product. And have to admit, practice is a big part as well. Since first learning the technique, and after a week of practice, I have to say I’ve come a long way in a handful of days!
So, I’ve got 3-4 lessons to go, and I’ll have completed the Funk path, they’re pretty much songs which are beyond my skill level at the moment. So, the plan is to loop back to them in the near future when I’m more confident with my Slapping/Popping. And I’ve also learnt that not all guitars are made for Slapping/Popping. So, after I was more confident with the technique on my Sterling by Music Man Sting Ray short-scale (a very slap-able bass), I tried the Slap/Pop technique on my other bass guitars, and the effect isn’t the same. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the technique completely didn’t work, but the sound quality and the sharpness wasn’t there. It seems Slap/Pop is less effective on Flat wound strings, and the Slap/Pop technique is less effective on basses where the pick-up is located too close to the fret board. So, Slap/Pop is best on a Jazz style bass where the pick-up is located closer to the bridge, and the sound is much brighter with Round wound strings.
And since I’ve placed a temporary pause on my Funk path, I’ve started the Ukulele path, as we have a random Ukulele lying around. And this has been interesting, as I embarked on the Bass paths already having some experience with playing that instrument. But for the Ukulele, I was coming in as a 100% novice, didn’t know the instrument nor how to play it correctly, and it has been great learning with Fender Play as a completely new beginner! It has been super fun learning everything for the first time, I’ve been soaking it all up like a sponge, and I’ve even recommended the Fender Play app to a mate who also has a ukulele randomly lying around. He is also a completely new beginner, even a new beginner to any musical instrument. So, I’ve joked, perhaps we can both learn the Ukulele and this same time next year, we can aim to perform to our wives as an Ukulele duel. Haaha. And anything is possible, with the help of the Fender Play app! And of course, with some practice!
So, if you want to check out what I’ve been raving on about for the past month, just click HERE! We luv you Fender Play!!!!!