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Higher Ground – Slap Version!

Higher Ground – Slap Version!


As I am getting ready for NAMM show in a couple of weeks, slapping is on my mind. Ah, I can already hear it – the beautiful cacophony of drums, guitars and slap bass sounds…  

meanwhile back home at the ranch we have a 10 week Live Class with Rob Smith coming up! And one of the tunes you will do is Higher Ground – a Stevie Wonder Original with an epic RHCP version – with Flea slapping the slap and popping the pop. 

It's Thumbs up!

When you are looking to learn to slap (thump) and pop (pop a higher string with your index or middle finger), octaves are a great shape because they make for a comfortable hand position. 

A great approach is to simply finger the octave with a 1-4 fingering; just shift it around on the E and D strings which allows your right hand to stay in position.  

(Transcription via Rob Smith)


The rhythm is shuffled – a hard rock shuffle if you will the way the RHCP play it! Nail those triplets by making them even! It’s a great riff to practice consistency – is your thump and slap the same volume? 


For your right hand chops the riff offers two great patterns:
TTP – thump thump pop
TPT – thump pop thump

Two thump strokes in a row are a good practice.
Pay attention to the three thump strokes in a row (from E to the two Gs) and get them consistent. 

The notes E G and A – root, minor third, fourth – are super common in rock riffs. They are the first three notes of the minor pentatonic scale:

Just think of Smoke on the Water (in Gm) or La Grange by ZZ Top, Another one bites the dust. 

Or, these notes could also be 5 – flat7 – root just as with Stratus.


This excerpt is from my theory wall chart. Use the orange fingering (2 by 2 formula).


octave bass ariane cap

Practice Variation

Transpose the riff up a minor third using the same octave grip and shifting it around, the new challenge becomes to shift from the G to the Bb in time. It’s easier in E with the open string.



Rob's Live Class

10 weeks live on zoom with Rob Smith who has recently made his debut on our platform teaching live classes on rock riffs. Find out more about Rob here.  Class starts on June 6th. You have access to all the materials and reruns for the 10 weeks and 10 weeks after. Sign up now and reserve your seat!

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