Bass guitars are known for bringing the bottom end into all genres of music, but slap bass is in a league of its own. Slap playing involves a special technique that uses the fingers and thumb to slap and pull the strings on a bass for added punch. This technique allows players to rhythmically alternate between lower notes and higher notes.
Often used in funk music, the slap technique is known for its quirky and aggressive sound. Many bass players use the slap technique when a track needs to add extra rhythm elements to support the drums and percussion.
We wanted to find the best bass for slap playing, so we started researching and testing options. Aside from looking on forums like Talk Bass and Bass Chat , we also interviewed studio musicians and music producers.
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Below are the results of our research of over 20 different bass guitars which we’ve narrowed down to 12 great options:
Our Top Choice Among Bass Guitars
But first, let’s take a look at our favorite bass guitars.
Our Top Pick
Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s Jazz Bass – Laurel
- Nickel-plated hardware
- Alnico pickups
- 1960s-inspired design by Fender
Best for: Versatile players looking for a great bass at an affordable price.The lows provided a subtle warmth when played through a variety of cabinets, and slapping produced that particular mid-high bite that bassists are always after.
Another model that also kept our attention deserves a separate mention.
Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar
- Jatoba fretboard construction
- Onboard two-band active preamp
- Sterling-designed ceramic pickup
Best for: Musicians who want tone control when playing slap.The guitar itself looks amazing and is available in several different colors. The bridge is fully adjustable, allowing for a high level of customization for different play styles.
These bass guitars are the best you can choose, but if you want to read more about them, scroll below.
What to Look for in a Bass Guitar?
To help you choose the right instrument, we’ve put together a brief buyer’s guide that includes some helpful information about what to look for in the best bass for slap playing.
Step 1: Determine Your Budget
Like most musical instruments, basses are available at a number of price points. Determining your budget is a good first step in choosing the right model for your needs.
For players who are just starting out, there’s no need to spend a fortune, but remember that quality often costs more. Also, keep in mind that you can always move up to a more expensive bass in the future, so look for what you can afford for now.
Step 2: Which Bass Guitar Is Right For You?
Basses come in a variety of styles, but if you’re looking for the right bass guitar for slap playing, you’ll want to look for one that offers adjustable tone. Being able to control the low and top frequencies is important for getting the right sound when alternating during slap play.
Additionally, look for basses that offer quality tuning pegs. This will ensure that your strings do not pull your instrument out of tune during aggressive play.
Step 3: Getting Started With Bass Accessories
You’ll also want to think about which accessories you’ll need. Like other stringed instruments, basses need to be tuned, so having a portable digital tuner is always a good idea.
It’s also important to support your bass guitar with a comfortable, sturdy strap. Remember that these instruments tend to be heavy, so look for a strap that offers enough support.
Lastly, protect your investment with a case. A hardbody case is always nice to have, but even a softbody case will offer better protection than no case at all.
Our List of the Best Bass Guitars for Slap Players
During our research, we looked for slap basses that offer a little something for everyone. Below is a list of 12 of the best basses for slap that we had a chance to test drive:
Affordable option for players who want tone control from the storied Ibanez brand.
Fender quality in a smooth 1970s-inspired package, great for learning musicians.
Vintage sound in a basswood body for rich lows and aggressive slapping.
Maple neck construction and basswood body give this instrument big sound
Our Top Pick
Inspired by classic jazz basses of the 1960s, includes vintage-tinted glossy neck finish
12”-radius fingerboard for larger hands and an updated look to match today’s style
Two Player Series single-coil jazz pickups for smooth low end and aggressive punchiness
Laurel fingerboard and maple neck construction feel great, affordable on any budget
Rosewood fingerboard for smooth sound and great feel, great choice for beginners
Utilizes two mini-humbucking pickups, maple neck construction, perfect for beginners
32-inch scale length provides plenty of room, great choice for traveling bassists
Custom sound hole monitor, hand-rubbed stain finish, perfect for advanced players
Each of these basses provides a great playing experience, but which one works best for you will come down to what you expect to get our of the instrument. Below you’ll find some reviews of each model to help you make the right choice.
Our Reviews of 12 Amazing Bass Guitars for Slap Playing
Whether you want to get funky or you want a bass to give some pop to your rock, below are our reviews for 12 options if you’re looking for the best bass for slap playing:
1. Ibanez Talman TMB100 MGR 2015
The Ibanez Talman TMB100 provides plenty of control for bassists who want to get the best out of slapping. The EQ knob lets you dial in the right sound for your play style, ensuring you can balance the deep lows and punchy highs for funk, pop and rock.
Both beginners and intermediate bassists will love the affordability of the Talman TMB100, and because it’s backed by the world-famous Ibanez name, you can trust in the quality and craftsmanship. The dynamic P&J pickups also add to the rich tones this instrument puts out. Additionally, the maple neck is sturdy enough to handle slap playing without the worry of warping or knocking the instrument out of tune.
During testing, we did notice that the tone knob did feel a tad bit wobbly, but it functioned just fine. This isn’t really a big deal if you’re planning on using this bass in the studio, but just be mindful of placement if you play live.
Beginners and intermediate bassists who need a sturdy bass that can handle aggressive slapping
Two-band EQ knob provides a variety of tone options
- Poplar body construction
- Mint green, ivory, walnut flat and other colors available
- Dynamic P&J pickups
- Wide neck with maple construction
- Satin neck finish provides smooth hand movement
- Works great with flat strings
- Affordable price point for beginners and intermediate bassists
- Tort pickguard
- Pickups may seem a bit weak
- Tone knobs feel a little wobbly
- A bit on the heavy side
This video from Jamm Studios Music provides a review of the Ibanez Talman TMB100 and includes a demonstration of the instrument’s active two-band EQ.
2. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70’s Precision Bass
We’ve played some Precision models in the past, and when we heard that Fender’s Squier Classic Vibe was supposed to emulate that classic sound, we jumped at the opportunity to test things out. Right out of the box, the Squier sounded great, and there was very little setup involved.
The lows were deep and rich without getting too boxy, and after doing some slapping in the studio, we were able to get a fat bassline going that had an aggressive bite with a smooth finish. The Squier looks amazing, and we really love the vintage nickel-plated hardware. Both the bridge and the tinted gloss neck really added to the look of the model we tested.
The only thing that we noticed that might be a problem was a slight vibration that seemed to reach the tuning pegs. This has the potential to slowly knock the instrument out of tune, but this isn’t really something to be concerned about during normal use.
Players with some experience who play live and do moderate studio work
Alnico pickups designed by Fender sound fantastic
- Completely designed by Fender
- Mimics Precision models from the 70s
- Vintage-tint glossy neck
- Nickel-plated hardware
- Vintage-style bridge looks great
- Slim design C-shape neck profile
- Available in 3/5 and full
- Basswood and walnut back with maple top
- Tuning pegs may vibrate and lose tune
- Might be a little lighter than some players would like
In this video, LowEndLobster gives a review of the Squier Classic Vibe 70’s Precision model, complete with a breakdown of the pros and cons of this instrument.
3. Dean Guitars 4 String Dean Edge 2 Bass Guitar
We wanted to test out the Dean Guitars Dean Edge 2 because we had heard it was a great instrument for bassists who are just starting out. At the price point, we weren’t sure what to think as this bass is very affordable.
The instrument itself looks fantastic. Its all-wood finish and black hardware really sell the style. In terms of sound, we didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but we have heard reports from some players who claim they have gotten a buzzing noise coming through.
In the studio, we did a little bit of post-production and were able to really make this guitar sing. The lows were deep without too much muffle, and the top-end had an aggressive bite that sounds perfect for slapping. The neck felt a bit flimsy, and we have heard some players state that they experienced some warping due to the instrument arriving tuned in the packaging, so be aware of this potential if you decide to purchase.
Beginners who want a beautiful starter bass for practice and live shows
Satin natural finish looks amazing
- Constructed from basswood, rosewood and maple
- Stylish black hardware
- Beautiful to look at
- Dual-action truss rod
- Walnut fretboard
- Sealed die-cast tuners
- DMT design MM-style pickups
- The output jack seems to be plastic
- Neck feels a bit flimsy
- May not give rich sound found in pricier competitors
4. Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 Bass Guitar
Music Man is one of the most iconic names in modern guitars and amps. The StingRay4, designed by Sterling from Music Man, lives up to the hype of this legendary brand, and we loved testing this model out. The StingRay4 features hard maple construction throughout, giving it a solid feel even during aggressive slapping.
In terms of its sound, we were really impressed during testing at how the low end and top end both blended so smoothly during slap sessions. Many times, there’s a jarring sound that happens when slapping a lower quality bass, but the StingRay4 had the perfect mix.
The guitar itself looks amazing and is available in several different colors. The bridge is fully adjustable, allowing for a high level of customization for different play styles. We also loved the ceramic humbuckers that gave this model a sound all its own.
Intermediate bassists who want solid construction and smooth tone balance.
Two-band active pickup sounds smooth and rich.
- Eight beautiful finishes to choose from
- Hard maple neck
- Maple or jatoba fretboard
- Bridge designed by Sterling by Music Man
- Ceramic humbucking pickups
- Looks amazing with a vintage feel
- Open gear tuning machines
- Single action truss rod
- 9v active pickup
- 34” scale length
- Neck may be too thin at the headstock
- Reports of damage during shipping
This video features tips and tricks from LowEndLobster regarding the StingRay4 from Sterling by Music Man. Included are pointers on proper volume control and a demonstration of slap playing.
5. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s Jazz Bass – Laurel
Right off the bat, the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s jazz model looks and feels amazing in your hands. The design of this instrument is on par with the vintage look of the classic 1960s-era jazz basses that made R&B and rock music so popular. We were blown away at the attention to detail that Fender put into this model, and the sound was fantastic as well.
The lows provided a subtle warmth when played through a variety of cabinets, and slapping produced that particular mid-high bite that bassists are always after. Due to the lightweight design, this model would be perfectly placed on stage for longer performances without the need for frequent breaks.
Intermediate stage musicians who play for long periods at a time.
Alnico pickups designed by Fender.
- 1960s-inspired jazz model design
- Available as jazz, Precision and Precision LH
- Nickel-plated hardware
- Vintage-tinted glossy neck finish
- Looks amazing
- Lightweight for stage use
- Very affordable
- Sounds smooth and balanced
- Bridge doesn’t offer much aggression
- Pickups reported to give off a hum
- Neck finish not suitable for everyone
Anthony from Empire Music provides an overview of the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s Jazz model and discusses his experience using it on the road and in the studio.
6. Squier by Fender Contemporary Jazz Bass, Laurel Fingerboard
While the Squier by Fender contemporary jazz bass isn’t quite on the level of pro basses, it is perfect for beginners who are ready to move up a level. With a price point that can’t be beaten for a storied name brand like Squier by Fender and features that give this instrument a solid, round bottom end, the contemporary jazz model is a great value.
Our testing took us both into the studio and on stage where we tried this model through several different stage cabinets as well as studio preamps. The slap action on the contemporary jazz bass felt and sounded great, and we really liked the balance between rumbling lows and silky mid-to-high tones. We also really like the look of this model as it sells the vintage feel very well. If you’re looking for a bass that will tie together a professional image on stage, the Squier by Fender contemporary jazz bass has what you’re looking for, including multiple finish options.
Beginners who are ready to move up to an intermediate-level model.
Narrow-tall frets for better grip and flexible slapping.
- Comes in five different color options
- Available as jazz, active jazz and active jazz V models
- Vintage-style tuning machines
- Modern resonant bridge
- Ceramic single-coil pickups
- Laurel fingerboard
- 9V preamp included
- Sculpted neck heel
- SQR ceramic humbucking pickups
- Open gear tuning machines
- No active-to-passive switch
- Hardware felt a bit touchy at times
- Instrument is pretty heavy, might not be suitable for long play sessions
7. Fender Player Jazz Electric Bass Guitar – Maple Fingerboard
In continuing with our testing of Fender basses, we had a chance to try out the Fender Player electric model with a maple fingerboard. While this bass is pricier than competitors and more expensive than other Fender models we tested, the price is definitely represented in the quality. The instrument itself feels incredibly solid and well put together. It is heavy, however, so you may not like playing it on stage for long periods.
The tone is out of this world, and we could immediately tell the difference between this model and the less expensive models we tested. Lows weren’t overly boomy, but they gave off sufficient rumble without overdoing it. Slapping was a pleasure as the action felt natural without regard to string tightness. Things just flowed when we got into a groove, and we loved the Player Series single-coil pickups.
Pro players or intermediate players seeking to move up to pro-level.
Perfect neck dimensions make this model easy for slapping.
- Alder body construction
- Player Series single-coil pickups
- Tone control knob for customization
- Modern C-shaped neck profile
- 9.5” fingerboard radius
- Glossy finish looks great
- Two volume knobs
- Tone versatility
- Dual 9v battery power slots
- Decently heavy, not very good for younger players
- High initial cost may drive away new bassists
This video from Interstate Music demonstrates the live sound of the Fender Player Jazz Electric model in various styles. Included are demonstrations of chords, harmonics and fingerpicking.
8. Jackson JS Series Spectra Bass JS2
The Jackson JS Series Spectra is perfectly priced for newcomers to the slapping scene. We had a chance to test this model out in the studio without too many expectations despite the Jackson name. We were pleasantly surprised, however, that this model held up fairly well and sounded really good for the price. It features a maple neck and laurel fingerboard, both of which lend to its sturdy feel and durable construction.
In terms of sound, the JS Series Spectra produced some decent lows and mids, but there wasn’t anything there that sounded or felt phenomenal. The instrument itself sounds good, but there wasn’t anything that popped immediately like with some higher-priced basses. We kind of got the impression that this instrument is a good purchase if you’re just getting into bass playing and slapping in particular, but you might want to save up just a little bit more for a nicer model if you’re serious about pursuing music. For beginners, however, this is a great buy for learning.
Beginners on a budget
Affordability makes this model a great buy
- Sealed die-cast tuning machines
- White dot position inlays
- 34” scale length
- P&J pickup configuration
- Poplar body
- Gloss finish
- Affordable on almost any budget
- Great introduction to slapping
- Lightweight for continual use and younger musicians
- Solid construction and looks nice
- Tuning machines feel a bit flimsy
- May get a better sound by spending a little more
9. Glen Burton GB150BCO-BK Electric Bass Guitar
The Glen Burton GB150BCO is a low-cost bass that we tested in a studio environment. We didn’t have a chance to try it through live cabinets or a variety of heads, but running it through our studio preamps, we were surprised at the sound we got for the price. The GB150BCO is best suited for beginners, and it makes a great practice instrument for bassists who want to learn slapping techniques without spending a fortune.
The sound was smooth with very few hiccups, and while it lacked warmth and richness, even through quality preamps, we still thought that it held its own for the price. The only real issue we noticed was that the fretboard and finish both seemed like they were easy to ding and nick, and this could be a problem with aggressive slapping.
Bassists who are new to the craft and need a solid practice model.
Alder body feels solid and durable despite finish.
- Bolt-on maple neck
- Chrome die-cast machine heads
- Rosewood fretboard construction
- Outputs 15 watts, great for practice amps
- Affordable option for beginners
- Solid enough construction for home use and practice
- Packages come with accessories
- Alder body construction
- Fretboard may end up nicked
- Finish doesn’t look like it will hold up against years of slapping
10. Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet Bass II
Although Gretsch is widely known for its drumsets, the brand also makes some fine stringed instruments as well. We got our hands on the Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet and were eager to see if it could hold its own against some serious slapping. We tested this model on stage through a variety of cabinets and heads, and we also had a chance to do some recording in a home studio environment using some mid-level preamps and DI boxes.
For live performance, the sound of the Gretsch Junior Jet was pretty aggressive. It had some serious mid-range kick when slapping, but it also thumped through the room on the low end of things. In the studio, the instrument performed much the same, and even without any processing, we were pleasantly surprised at just how much energy we could pull from this bass.
Studio musicians on a budget who need a dependable bass.
D-shaped neck profile makes finger navigation a breeze.
- Two mini humbucking pickups
- Walnut stain finish
- Single cutaway body shape
- 30.3” scale
- 19mm string spacing
- Sounds great for live and studio performances
- Priced affordably for beginners and intermediate players
- Basswood body feels solid and durable
- Tone variability is a bit limited
- Bridge may offer too much twang
Jonny Dribble reviews and demonstrates the features of the Gretsch G2220 Junior Jet in this video. He provides a number of sound examples that use various pickup positioning techniques and fingering options.
11. Traveler Guitar, 4-String Bass Guitar
Traveler Guitar holds true to its core branding with its four-string bass model. This instrument only weighs 6.8 lbs, making it the lightest model we tested and one of the lightest we’ve ever tried. We can definitely see the benefit to a lightweight slap bass guitar as not all musicians want to lug around an instrument that feels like it weighs as much as a refrigerator all the time.
On top of that, musicians with certain disabilities can really benefit from a lightweight option like the Traveler Guitar four-string bass. The sound that we got from studio testing was on par with a number of heavier options, and the 32” scale allowed for smaller hands to navigate the frets with ease. On top of that, this model can easily fit into smaller storage compartments, including overhead airline carry-on storage.
The lows this model produced weren’t earth-shaking, but they did rumble when plugged in, and the mids and highs were tight and crisp without too much twang.
Bassists who need an instrument that is light enough for regular use on the road.
Lightweight construction is perfect for traveling bassists.
- Available with maple and pau ferro fretboard options
- Alderwood construction
- Only weighs 6.8 lbs.
- In-body tuning system
- Very lightweight, perfect for travel
- Headphone and aux inputs onboard
- Duncan-designed MM 101 pickups
- Includes custom gig bag
- Pickup edge can be uncomfortable for thumb placement
- Reports of strings arriving overly tight
In this video, Traveler Guitar unboxes and discusses the features of the brand’s four-string bass model. The video walks through the various setup options as well as provides an overview of the included adjustment options.
12. Sawtooth Rudy Sarzo Signature Fretless Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
When it comes to acoustic-electric basses, slapping isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind, but the Sawtooth Rudy Sarzo Signature fretless model that we tested held its own. This acoustic-electric was designed to be used differently in that it is still a traditional acoustic-electric, but it can stand up to traditional slap techniques as well. During our testing, however, we didn’t get too aggressive as this feels like the kind of instrument that just begs to be babied.
In terms of sound, the lows and mids were what you would expect from a high-priced acoustic-electric with natural rolling lows that didn’t get boomy or muddy. The higher-end tones shined, and we could definitely see them being paired with some light rock, jazz or acoustic jams. Overall, this model is for skilled players who are looking for a versatile addition to their collections.
Pro players who need a sturdy solution that plays well live and in-studio
Included Fishman Presys II preamps drive warm, rich tones that are smooth and silky
- Dual bass clef soundholes
- Antique-finished tuners
- 12” fretboard radius
- Teardrop side-hole monitor
- Comes with ChromaCast gig bag
- Ebony fretboard and bridge
- 42mm width bone nut
- Maple C-shaped neck
- 34” scale
- Flame maple binding
- Higher price may lock out newer bassists
- May not be suitable for aggressive slapping
This video features Rudy Sarzo playing his Signature Fretless Acoustic-Electric from Sawtooth. Rudy demonstrates the various sounds players can get from this instrument as well as provides an overview of the features and details.
Below are some additional must-have items if you plan to get serious about your slap bass playing:
Cases and Gig Bags →
Cases and gig bags are definitely must-haves for traveling bassists and bassists who play live. These accessories protect your investment and help to ensure you have a place to store spare strings, tuning devices and more.
For example, we’ve found that the ChromaCast electric bass guitar padded gig bag is an affordable softbody case that offers plenty of storage as well. It also features adjustable shoulder straps for added comfort.
Electronic Tuner →
An electronic tuner can be used on-the-fly to quickly check the tuning of your instrument. Modern electronic tuners often feature digital displays that use LED technology. In our experience, this is very helpful when playing live shows in dimly lit environments.
The D’Addario Micro Headstock Tuner is a great option as it features stealth tuning capabilities for on-stage use as well as a piezo transducer for amazing accuracy in finding the exact pitch for each string.
Bass Guitar Strap →
Adjustable straps for bass guitars not only provide support, but they also allow you to position your instrument for the perfect position for slap play. Look for a strap that fits your shoulder properly but also fits the length of your arms properly. We’ve found that this may take some adjusting, but that’s what the adjustable strap is for.
You might want to check out the natural suede guitar strap from Perri’s Leathers Ltd. Available in a variety of colors, this comfortable strap can be adjusted to fit any body type, and it also works great for slap players who need a sturdy solution to support a lot of movement.
- 20 Essential slap bass grooves every bass player should know →
- 10 Of the greatest slap bass players you need to hear →
- How to play slap bass →
- The definitive history of slap bass →
Getting to the Bottom of Things
Slap bass is an iconic and aggressive sound that can be used in everything from funk to rock and pop to hip hop. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned pro, there are a number of fantastic options out there.
Remember that your budget doesn’t have to constrain you, and your experience level doesn’t have to hold you back from getting your hands on the best bass for slap. You can always move up to better basses and higher-quality accessories in time, so start where you feel comfortable and take advantage of new buying opportunities as they come along.