“I came up with slap bass out of necessity. I was basically trying to play drums on the bass”: Larry Graham recounts the birth of “thumpin’ and pluckin’”

By the time the bass guitar came along in 1951, upright bass players had been slapping and pulling on their strings for several decades. Milt Hinton was one such player who pioneered a percussive technique that involved pulling on the strings, and slapping ghost notes with both the top and bottom of his palm.

The technique didn’t make the jump to the electric bass guitar until the late ‘60s. When it did, it was thanks to a young bass player from Texas named Larry Graham. Born into a musical family, Graham was playing organ pedals and guitar in his mother’s working band by the time he was in his teens. 

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