Happy Birthday to Michael Manring – born June 27, 1960 | Michael Manring

Michael Manring (born in Annapolis) is an American bass guitarist from the San Francisco Bay Area.


Michael Manring was born as youngest of four children. His family lived in Norfolk, Virginia and moved to the suburbs of Washington, D.C in 1969. The Manrings were a very active family musically, providing a very fertile background for Michael’s musical development. He and his brother Doug—a guitarist and drummer, later living a long time in Japan—formed a very active rhythm group while in high school, venturing through jazz rock and fusion, playing rock classics at beer parties or pop standards in restaurants and at weddings.

Manring was a pupil of bassist Peter Princiotto from Spring Hill area, Virginia. He began to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1970s, but canceled his studies in 1979 because of the heavy workload he already had, touring with several different bands like the Prog Rock band However. During his time at Berklee College he used every opportunity to play with very different musicians and bands. In the 1980s he studied and toured with Jaco Pastorius and began to develop his own style.

In addition to a long tenure in the 1980s as house bassist for Windham Hill Records, Manring has recorded with Spastic Ink, Alex Skolnick (in the bands Skol-Patrol and Attention Deficit, also featuring Tim Alexander from Primus), Larry Kassin, Tom Darter, Steve Morse, David Cullen, Alex de Grassi, Will Ackerman and many other noted musicians. He headlined his own band, Montreux, throughout the 1980s. He has been a member of Yo Miles!, Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith’s Miles Davis tribute band, since its inception. In 1994 Manring was polled Bassist of the Year by the readers of Bass Player magazine. Manring’s name is also tied with that of fingerstyle guitarist Michael Hedges, who was a dear friend and fellow musician. Manring toured extensively with Hedges and played on all Hedges albums except one. Manring is known as a humble and gracious live performer with a gift for improvisation with guest musicians.

Since 2005 Manring is member of the band DeMania with guitarist Alex de Grassi and percussionist Christopher Garcia. Manring remains active, touring the world for performances and clinics. He lives in Oakland, California.

Music and musical influences

Because of his association with the Windham Hill label Manring often was seen as a New Age musician. He doesn’t see himself as belonging to a certain style or genre and often jokes about categorising his music. His album Thonk he termed for example “… the first New Age–Death metal–Fusion–album”.

Manring has a solid musical knowledge and uses the bass as a solo instrument usually in alternate tunings, with additional possibilities and patterns invoked on the fly with lever-activated de-tuners and bridges, somewhat like a pedal steel guitar. He wants to show that the electric bass can be used in a musically rich and expressive way. Manring occasionally plays on two (or even three or four) basses at the same time during live performances. Manring is also a composer of experimental music, mixing technology and fretless bass with the sounds of kitchen implements and cardboard boxes, evidenced on his “Book of Flame” solo album.

He is a technical virtuoso, generally using his bass in very different ways. Mostly he plays a fretless bass, which gives him ample possibilities to change tone and pitch just like on acoustic bass. Manring is rhythmically very versatile and often uses polyrhythms. He’s said to do “… things on the electric bass that haven’t been done before, are nearly impossible, and (are) illegal in most states.”. A unique technique employed by Manring is utilising Hipshot D tuners to change the tuning of one or more strings over the course of playing a piece.


Manring plays a custom bass by Zon Guitars, the so-called Zon Hyperbass, a very flexible instrument, which was developed by Joseph Zon and Manring. Special tuning pegs and a special bridge allow instantaneous tuning change of single strings as well as of all strings simultaneously by the action of several tiny levers, a system like that of the TransTrem guitar. The development of this special model was caused by Manring’s use of open tunings. When Manring began changing tunings during pieces by turning the pegs while playing, he soon realised the limitations of this approach. First he tried to overcome these limitations by changing a normal Music Man Sting Ray Bass, but then began to develop the Hyperbass with Zon. The Hyperbass has Bartolini pickups for every string and four Fishman Transducer for the body signals of the instruments.

Apart from the Hyperbass, Manring uses a whole fleet of instruments. A listing at his website gives the following models:

  • Zon Legacy Elite Special fretless, aka “Bub”
  • Homemade Jazz Bass-style fretless
  • Zon Michael Manring Hyperbass
  • Zon Custom Fretless, aka “Junior” or “Son of Bub”
  • Larrivee 5-string fretless acoustic bass guitar
  • MusicMan Stingray fretless
  • Paroutaud Music Laboratories 5-string fretless Infinite Sustain prototype
  • PRS fretless
  • Riverhead Unicorn fretless
  • Riverhead Unicorn fretted bass
  • Zon prototype headless fretted bass, aka “Vinny”
  • Zon Legacy Elite 6-string fretless
  • Zon prototype Legacy 10-string bass (5 x 2).

Manring uses Markbass amplifiers and EBow/PlusBow.



  • 1986 Unusual Weather (Windham Hill)
  • 1989 Toward the Center of the Night (Windham Hill)
  • 1991 Drastic Measures (Windham Hill)
  • 1994 Thonk (High Street)
  • 1995 Up Close 21 (Windham Hill/High Street/Boston Acoustic)
  • 1998 The Book of Flame (Alchemy)
  • 2005 Soliloquy (Manthing)[10]


with Michael Hedges
  • 1981 Breakfast in the Field (Windham Hill)
  • 1984 Aerial Boundaries (Windham Hill)
  • 1986 Watching My Life Go By (Open Air)
  • 1987 Live on the Double Planet (Windham Hill)
  • 1990 Taproot (Windham Hill)
  • 1996 Oracle (Windham Hill)
  • 1999 Torched (Windham Hill)
  • 2000 Michael Hedges – The Best of Michael Hedges (Windham Hill)
  • 2001 Beyond Boundaries – Guitar Solos (Windham Hill)
  • 2003 Platinum & Gold Collection (RCA Victor)
  • 2006 Pure Michael Hedges (RCA)
with Danny Heines
  • 2001 What Worlds They Bring (Vadadisc)
with Alex Skolnick
  • 1997 The Skol-Patrol (Pluto-Bound)
with Montreux
  • 1985 Chiaroscuro (Windham Hill)
  • 1987 Sign Language (Windham Hill)
  • 1989 Let Them Say (Windham Hill)
with Jim Stinnett and Grant Stinnett
  • 2008 Project M (Stinnett)
  • 2009 Dance of the Bottom Feeders (Stinnett)
  • 2011 Welcome to Our Clef (Stinnett)
  • 2012 Convergencia (Stinnett)
with John Gorka
  • 1991 Jack’s Crows (High Street)
  • 1992 Temporary Road (High Street)
  • 1994 Out of the Valley (High Street)
  • 1996 Between Five and Seven (High Street)
  • 1998 After Yesterday (Red House)
  • 2001 Company You Keep (Red House)
  • 2006 Writing in the Margins (Red House)
with Paolo Giordano
  • 1994 Paolo Giordano (Step Musique/New Sounds)
  • 2000 Kid in a Toy Shop (Step Musique/New Sounds)
with Turtle String Island Quartet
  • 1995 By the Fireside (Windham Hill)
with Attention Deficit
  • 1998 Attention Deficit (Magna Carta)
  • 2001 The Idiot King (Magna Carta)
with Jeff Loomis
  • 2008 Zero Order Phase (Century Media)
with Yo Miles
  • 1998 Yo Miles! (Shanachie)
  • 2004 Sky Garden (Cuneiform)
  • 2005 Upriver (Cuneiform)
with Sadhappy
  • 1998 Good Day Bad Dream (Periscope)
  • 2005 Outerspaces (Periscope)
with Norm Stockton
  • 2009 Tea in the Typhoon (Stocktones)
with Scott McGill and Vic Stevens
  • 2001 Addition by Subtraction (Free Electric Sound)
  • 2003 Controlled by Radar (Free Electric Sound)
  • 2006 What We Do (Free Electric Sound)
with Larry Kassin and Tom Darter
  • 2001 Scatter (MKD Music)
with David Cullen
  • 2001 Equilibré (Solid Air)
with Human Factor
  • 2002 Human Factor (Human Factor)
with Euro Groove Department
  • 2005 Optical Illusion
with At War With Self
  • 2005 Torn Between Dimensions (Free Electric Sound)
with DeMania
  • 2006 DeMania (Tropo)
with Jonni Lightfoot
  • 2006 “BLU” (DreamAttik Productions)
with Jeff Dodd
  • 2007 Falling Awake (Aesthetic)
with Jeff Titus
  • 2007 Wood Dragon (Musician101 Music)
  • 2011 What We Don’t Know (Jeff Titus Music)
with Jim Matheos
  • 1999 Away with Words
with Yves Carbonne and Dominique Di Piazza
  • 2005 Carbonne – Di Piazza – Manring
with Justin King (as King West Manring Vamos)
  • 2008 I-XII
with Cyril Achard
  • 2008 A Place in Time
with Sándor Szabó
  • 2010 Inner Smile (Indie Europe/Zoom)
with Lukas Ligeti
  • 2011 Pattern Time (Innova)
with Terror Syndrome
  • 2008 Terror Syndrome
with Shambhu
  • 2010 “Sacred Love” (Acoustic Shine)
  • 2016 “Soothe” (Acoustic Shine)
with Marco Maggiore
  • 2014 PassWords (M81Productions)
with Vectrexcentricity
  • 2016 Lifelike Boy Android (H(i)nds(i)ght)


Windham Hill
  • 1982 An Evening with Windham Hill Live
  • 1985 Windham Hill – Winter
  • 1985 Windham Hill Sampler ’86
  • 1985 Windham Hill Sampler ’85
  • 1986 A Winter’s Solstice II
  • 1989 Windham Hill Radio Sampler I
  • 1990 Windham Hill – The First Ten Years
  • 1990 A Winter’s Solstice III
  • 1990 Restore the Shore
  • 1991 Windham Hill Sampler ’92
  • 1991 Windham Hill Guitar Sampler II
  • 1993 A Winter’s Solstice IV
  • 1995 Heal the Bay
  • 1996 Sanctuary – 20 Years of Windham Hill
  • 1996 Redbook Relaxers – Daybreak
  • 1996 Redbook Relaxers – Dreamscape
  • 1996 Carols of Christmas
  • 1997 Summer Solstice – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 1997 Redbook Relaxers – Lullabies
  • 1997 Redbook Relaxers – Dinner Party
  • 1997 Redbook Relaxers – Between Friends
  • 1997 Redbook Relaxers – After Hours
  • 1997 Redbook Relaxers – Piano Reflections
  • 1998 Thanksgiving – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 1998 Yoga Zone – Music for Yoga Practice
  • 1998 Conversations with God II
  • 1999 Sun Dance – Summer Solstice III
  • 2000 Windham Hill Classics – Morning
  • 2000 Windham Hill Classics – Journeys
  • 2000 Windham Hill Classics – Harvest
  • 2000 Windham Hill Classics – Angels
  • 2000 The Mozart Variations
  • 2002 Spirit of Life
  • 2003 Windham Hill Chill II
  • 2003 Prayer – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 2003 Adagio – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 2003 A Winter’s Solstice V
  • 2003 A Windham Hill Wedding Album
  • 2004 Winter Wonderland – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 2004 Lullaby – A Windham Hill Collection
  • 2005 A Quiet Revolution – 30 Years of Windham Hill
  • 2005 Essential Winter’s Solstice
  • 1997 Twilight Jazz
  • 1997 Meditation – Revive
  • 1997 Candlelight Moments – Romantic Moments
  • 1997 Candlelight Moments – Meditative Moments
  • 1998 Moonlight Reflections
  • 1998 Quiet Moods – Romantic Reflections
  • 1998 Quiet Moods – Meditative Moments
  • 2000 New Age Christmas
  • 2000 Awake
  • 2000 Yoga – Energy
  • 2000 Yoga – Balance Energy and Strength
  • 2001 Meditation – Relax Restore and Revive
  • 2002 Meditation – Renew
  • 2002 Meditation – Relax
Other labels
  • 1994 We Sing to Open Ears (High Street)
  • 1996 Different Mozart (Philips)
  • 1997 Heritage (Polygram )
  • 1997 A Very Green Christmas (Seventh Wave)
  • 1999 Moonlight Moments (Columbia River)
  • 1999 Soundscape – New Age Reflections (Delta/BMG)
  • 1999 Bass Talk, Vol. 6 (Hot Wire)
  • 1999 Bass Day ’98 (Hudson Music)
  • 2000 Dreamscape (Delta)
  • 2003 Guitar Harvest I (Solid Air)
  • 2004 Healing Garden – The Art of Relaxation (Madacy)
  • 2005 Brazil Duets (Adventure Music)
  • 2006 Woodsongs: An Acoustic Guitar Collection (New Land Music)
  • 2010 The Quantum Activist Soundtrack (Bluedot Productions)


  • 1996 Bass Essentials (Hot Licks)
  • 1998 The Artist’s Profile: Michael Manring (Ecliptic productions)
  • 1998 Bass Day ’98 (Hudson Music)
  • 2000 Michael Manring: Instructional Bass (Video, Hal Leonard)
  • 2008 Michael Manring: Resonances (DVD, Resonance Prod LLC/Michael Manring)
  • 2009 The Quantum Activist Documentary Soundtrack (Bluedot Productions)
About the author


See my profile at www.jfmooreart.com.

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