Solo bass guitar is becoming more popular in recent years. Bass players are feeling more empowered than ever to move bass guitar from a supportive into a lead role, taking the spotlight. One of the biggest names that continues to draw praise and admiration for his technical and compositional skills has been Michael Manring.
Praised by many as one of the most progressive minds in bass guitar, pushing the limits of the instrument and what is musically possible, Michael Manring has been hailed as one of the world’s most distinguished solo bass players. A student of the late Jaco Pastorius, Michael’s music and compositional style share bear resemblance to his former teacher’s; there’s a similarly captivating quality to each. Both bassists have been masters of thoughtful, detailed composition relying not on a flurry of notes and technical prowess, but incorporating mood, feel and texture in a way that few can really emulate. The result is a sound that, at times, one may forget comes from a bass guitar.
But make no mistake – Michael is his own musician with a sound, style and feel uniquely his own. Imitated by many, but never replicated.
I had a chance to reach out to Michael to see if he would like to participate in the ongoing How I Play series and he agreed.
Get to know Michael Manring in this edition of How I Play
Where Are You Currently Located?
I live in Oakland, CA, but I travel a good bit.
What Is Your Current Gig?
I do solo bass concerts and recordings, as well as freelance work. I also currently play in a bass trio called 3 Below.
What Is One Word That Describes Your Playing?
Actually, I don’t think words are very good at describing music!
What Is Your Current Setup and What Is Your Favorite Piece Of Gear At The Moment?
I have three main basses I travel with:
- My signature Zon Michael Manring Hyperbass
- Zon Sonus Elite Special 4
- Zon VB-4
From there the signal goes to a Roland VB99 which I control with the Keith McMillen Softstep and two expression pedals.
I use different amplifier setups depending on the musical situation I’m in, all made by the Markbass family of companies. I’ll attach a photo of my set up from a recent gig in Mexico City where I used a stereo setup of two Markbass Little Mark III heads and two Traveler 102P cabinets.
I use D’Addario strings, Bartolini pickups, the EBow, Tsunami cables and Ultimate Ears UE-11 Pro in-ear monitors.
Picking a favorite piece of gear is difficult, but I’d be lost without my instruments, so perhaps I’d better say my Zon Sonus bass!
What Is One Thing You Could Not Live Without?
What Is Your Practice Space Like?
That’s a good question, because I find it beneficial to change my practice space from time to time. Something about changing the practice environment seems to help me prepare for the many different kinds of playing situations I find myself in as a hard-working musician.
When I’m home I like to move to a different room in my house every few days. Sometimes I’ll practice through my live rig, sometimes through my studio monitors, and sometimes in the kitchen with headphones! When I’m on the road I use down time in airports, train stations, hotels, etc., to put in a little extra shed time.
However, I love my Ultimate Ear UE-11 in-ear monitors and that’s my favorite thing to practice through these days.
What Album Are You Currently Listening To?
Scarlatti Sonatas/Sergei Babayan
What Book Are You Currently Reading?
The Riverside Shakespeare Complete Works
I’d Love To See _____ Answer These Questions
What’s The Best Piece of Advice You’ve Ever Received?
“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name”
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