Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Slap It! by Tony Oppenheim - A Book and CD Review

Slap It! by Tony Oppenheim - A Book and CD 
Slap It! by Tony Oppenheim was published in the early 1980's. It was revolutionary in that it was one of the first bass instructional books ever published. Prior to this there were only a few books by Carol Kaye, and that was about it.

In fact I've got one of the original copies - and the recordings of the examples with Tony's great bass playing didn't come on tape - they came on cheap, plastic 7 inch records. When I played them on my record player I had to put a small coin in the centre of the plastic disc to weight it down so it would play without skipping.
That's the historical background to Slap It - not only was it revolutionary because it was one of the first bass instructional books, but also the content was revolutionary. Not only were there sections on techniques (slaps, pops, double pops, hammers, pull offs, trills, double stops and slides), but the book is also chock full of grooves and lines for you to get your fingers and thumb around.
The book has been considerably revised and updated since then. The original version didn't have Tab - but the new version has all the lines fully tabbed it for those of you who don't read music. And the plastic records have given way to a nice shiny CD!

The only criticism I have of the book is that to really maximize your learning with this book you should transcribe every lick and run to other key centers and also other chord qualities. And in my opinion a short section in the book with step by step instructions on how to do this would be extremely helpful and greatly add to the value of the experience.
Another piece of advice I would give is to practice each of the examples really slowly to start with - concentrate on making sure that you've got the movements down that you need to execute each lick slowly and perfectly. Don't be in a rush to work these lines up to tempo.
Tony Oppenheim also runs a further service - basically for a one off subscription payment (which is pretty cheap) you get access to a ton of fresh licks and ideas. And a lot of these are in keys you don't normally associate with slap bass (so anything that's not 'E').
But if you want to learn slapping this is a good solid book that is well worth the cost.

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