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I love the sound of slap bass and want to get something like that out of an electric ukulele, specifically a Risa Solid.

I tried techniques from slap bass tutorials and can't get much sound out.

Is it impossible for a human hand to get slap sound out of an electric uke? My theory is that the strings are too close to the fretboard to get much of a percussive sound. On the other hand, hammer ons work, and I thought the string physics would be similar for hammer ons and slaps. Am I just doing it wrong?

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    Does this video demonstrate the kind of effect you have in mind?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 11:51
  • The video @Aaron added shows it is possible to get percussive slap sounds out of a ukelele. If you are not hearing it well it’s possible that the pickup technology used on your uke is not good at picking up the percussive sounds made from slapping the strings against the fingerboard. If you can slap and pop and hear that well acoustically that’s probably why. Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 16:03
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    @aaron, I'm not sure, it's a bit hard to tell from the video–is the ukist getting notes out of the slaps, or just thuds? I tried on an accoustic uke and just got noteless thuds there, too, so it may be just a combination of my technique not being good and uke slaps not being very note-y.
    – Max Heiber
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 20:01
  • Well, then, if only for entertainment, you might enjoy these two Davey504 videos: Uke vid 1; Uke vid 2. The first video includes some electric ukulele.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 20:20
  • @Aaron good resources! Plenty of slap uke there.
    – Max Heiber
    Commented Jul 4, 2021 at 20:23

1 Answer 1

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Slap bass works because of the inertia and delay of a thick long string. You deform the string at the slap site and the deformation energy travels back and forth the string converging to a coherent state.

You can also "pick hard", pull the string up and let it snap back. It's quite less effective to do this on an electric guitar (one octave up and several unwound strings). I'd not put a lot of hope in a ukulele: the strings are quite shorter, higher pitched, and lighter.

A hard action will converge rather fast into a regular note, like a hammer-on does. The main difference between a hammer-on and a slap is that the hammer-on occurs right at one end of the vibrating string part, with an initial excitation that is quite closer in shape to the end result of a vibrating string already.

But on the ukulele, a slap will converge so fast to that state that I doubt you'll hear much of a difference.

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