THE KING’S THUMB
(A very loose translation of the title. In Dutch, learning how to do something after a lot of practice is called "iets onder de duim krijgen" - "getting proficient at something", in this case learning to how play Mark King's bass lines)
Here are a few examples (there are lots to choose from!) of Marks playingstyle. Without a doubt his phenomenal technique and speed made him famous (infamous?) in the world's bass scene. In my opinion he contributed a great deal to funk/pop/rock bass playing and that’s the part I want to shed some light on.
1. "Love Games" - A very powerful piece of slapping, a fragment of "Love Games". Keep your underarm as much in line with the strings as possible and hit the fret closest to the pickups with the side of your thumb. This is called a slap and is marked with a ‘T’. Make the movement with your wrist, better than moving your whole underarm up and down. Where there is a ‘P’ you anchor your index finger (or any other you may choose) behind the string (mostly the D or G string) and let it bounce back onto the fretboard. This is called a snap. The ‘X’ stands for a dead note (dampened note); this gives an extra percussive effect. On the places in this example where you find ‘L.H.’ you hit the fretboard with your left hand just hard enough to produce a dead note (no ringing note!). ‘H’ is the standard "hammer on", fretting a note without plucking a string with your left hand.
2. "Last Chance" - An nice tight riff to test your finger coordination. Watch the rests and staccato and try to get in the dead notes; they make the difference!
4. "The Essential" - A bit of slapping at the beginning of Marks solo album "Influences"; very solid and lots of standard slapping techniques. The notes between brackets in the fourth bar are barely audible.
4a. "The Essential (Spanish section)" - The bass melody from the Spanish part of "The Essential" a solid Jack Bruce-like sound. Powerful finger positioning, eight notes leading into a swinging two-bar phrasing on the E string.
Good luck and thumbs up!!
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