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Some good solo bass songs to learn? Also a few little questions for Manring

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Zebra, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    Perhaps a stupid question to ask in this forum, but do you guys have some suggestions for songs to learn as an introduction to solo bass playing? As a necessity of my music class, I'm going to have to start to build a repertoire of solo pieces for my instrument--which happens to be bass.
    I'd love to learn some Manring stuff, but I'm a little uneasy that a lot of it is beyond my abilities. Are there some typical "first solo songs" anyone can suggest? I'd like to take a stab at "No wontons for Elvis." I have doubts about how successful I'd be, particularly because it's a little hard to judge how difficult it will be for me without a transcription, but it's an idea I'm toying around with.
    Speaking of that, although I'm sure it's a common question, is there a good source of any Michael Manring transcriptions? Particularly "No wontons for Elvis?" I haven't been able to find much.
    Also, for Michael Manring, I've seen your concert dates on the newsletter, but do you know if and when you'll be in the San Francisco general area?
    One last thing: which guages do you think would be most appropriate for tuning in CGDA? I plan to string one of my basses like this and I'm wondering what someone with some experience would recommend.
  2. Widener


    Nov 21, 2004
    Aptos, CA
    Those aren't stupid questions, Zebra! Welcome to the wild world of solo bass. It's very much a frontier land. I bet you'll be penning solo songs yourself before too long.

    1. If you want to learn Manring stuff, a good one to start with is his solo rendition of Hendrix' "Purple Haze," as found on the Manring album "Drastic Measures." It'll free up your hands and make them work independently of each other, people are familiar with the tune, and it's a lot of fun to play. Plus, the transcriptions can be found on the net. It's also in standard tuning, so no need to tinker with your pegs.

    2. There is a great bass transcription book of Manring's "Thonk" album. Hunt it down; you'll be happy you did. The song you'll want to tackle eventually is "Monkey Businessman."

    3. Manring plays in the Bay Area all the time. He lives in Oakland. I'm not sure if he's taking on students right now, but you might want to ask him.

    3. Normal gauge strings should accommodate CGDA tuning. It depends on how floppy or tight you want them.
  3. Widener


    Nov 21, 2004
    Aptos, CA
    Oh, and maybe if we're lucky, Michael will release some pdf transcriptions of "Soliloquy" songs for sale. Please, please, Michael?!
  4. Gsus

    Gsus Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    I agree with your idea of "No Wontons For Elvis," I'm in the process of learning it as we speak, for my own unsolicited, unofficial repertoire. Granted, "The Artist's Profile" DVD might help a bit on the parts I can't hear so well, but for the most part it is a good ear training exercise that isn't completely overwhelming (for one of Manring's compositions). If that doesn't work out, I'd be happy to write up a tab of it if you're interested. Give me time though as I have homework as well :rolleyes: . It's fairly easy chordal strumming with some interesting tapping parts in between, and should be a nice basis on which to build a repertoire.

    Widener is right. If I had been any older than 6 years old when the Thonk transcription book came out, I'd already have bought it and be learning songs from it by now. I've fooled with "Snakes Got Legs," a nice exercise in tapping, and as Widener said, the next logical step for me is "Monkey Businessman." I hear that his instructional video (bassbooks.com) has a transcription of this, as well as a few prohibitively tuned hyperbass solos (although Widener probably won't have to worry about that).

    Good luck,


    P.S. I have a poorly written tab of Manring's Bass Day '98 performance of the Turrentine standard "Sugar," that I transcribed over the summer, if you'd like. While my tabbing it certainly kills its improvisational style, it's a decent starting point.

    P.P.S. Although I don't have 'em, and consequently cannot play the pieces completely accurately, it would be better if your bass had 24 frets, which both of these songs use.
  5. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Thanks for all the interest, guys. A collection of transcriptions is certainly on the list of things to do, but unfortunately, considering the amount of time it takes I don’t think it’ll be done soon. Sorry about that! I’m glad to hear you guys aren’t letting that slow you down, though. I’m sure you can figure out what I’m doing on your own, and as Jared suggested, it’s good ear training. Let me know how I can help.
  6. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Hahaha...first of all, I love Gsus' signature...Michael is certainly a pleasure to watch play, as well as listen to.

    Everytime I come to Talkbass, I get discouraged...hehe. I'm still trying to learn Portrait of Tracy. I learned most of it by ear, but I'm not positive that all the harmonics are in the right spot, and if all the notes are even in there...hehe. I really love Manring's stuff. His music is so full and complete...it's really amazing to listen to. I even tend to forget it's a bass guitar being played (or two, or three...hehe).

    But I would like to get into solo playing. However the busy schedule that my highly involved Highschool career is giving me isn't allowing for a lot of practice time. I was gonna suggest that a nice solo piece might be Donna Lee or Amazing Grace (Victor Wooten), but...now those seem a little intermediate. (I'm still struggling with Donna Lee).

    Anywho, good luck, Zebra. I hope to hear some of your own stuff someday!

  7. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003

    That's part of the beauty of music! If you don't get it exactly the same, just make it yours and tell everyone you wanted it that way! ;)
  8. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    haha...good point. Thanks bassjiga. I'm thinking about tackling Teen Town...fun little piece. I love Manring's solo version on Bass Lobster...hehe.