"Like wrestling an octopus": How to play bass like Les Claypool

Les Claypool of Primus performs on the opening night of their "Tour De Fromage". Photo by J. Shearer/WireImage)
(Image credit: J. Shearer/Getty Images)

Les Claypool’s use of chords on bass guitar, his technically brilliant right-hand technique, the way he plays fast-moving triplets (or even quadruplets), his use of hammer-ons and pull-offs, and the hip grooves he comes up with. All of these elements made Primus, together with drummer Brian Mantias and guitarist Larry LaLonde, a band to be seriously reckoned with.

How did he come to develop such monstrous technical chops? “The slap stuff came out of my love of Larry Graham, Louis Johnson and Stanley Clarke,” he told BP. “All the chordal stuff I do comes out of necessity from the style of guitarist that Larry is. He’s a very textural guitarist, so I lay down a foundation with the drums and then and then throw in some chords to mimic a rhythm guitar part.” 

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.