- These Transcriptions Are For Educational Purposes Only -
As part of my on-going development as a musician, I've continued to transcribe basslines for many years. Believe me when I say, my first transcriptions were almost illegible. But times change and skills advance, and I'd like to offer some of my transcriptions for you as a resource to practice your sight reading skills. Regardless of your level, even if you can progress through a single bar of notation, it's progress in the right direction. I remember one of my tutors once saying, "If you can't read it, don't play it!". Wise words...
With Bass In Mind Transcription Archives
Song: Joe Frazier
Artist: Bill Bruford
Bassist: Jeff Berlin
A signature bassline from one of the all time greats.
Jeff Berlin has performed with the likes of Frank Zappa, Allen Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, and Frank Gambale and of course, Bill Bruford, I'm so proud to have been taught by him.
Song: Dean Town
Bassist: Joe Dart
Joe Dart's impact on the worldwide bass community has been immense - the collective impression that Vulfpeck have left has been so large that it's resulted in Ernie Ball Musicman commissioning their first ever signature bass guitar. I was working for EBMM in LA when Joe took delivery of the instrument - his smile said a thousand words.
Artist: John Mayer
Bassist: Pino Palladino
From The Who to John Mayer, D'Angelo to Nine Inch Nails, Pino Palladino is one of the most sort after session musicians on the planet - and a total gentleman! I was fortunate enough to
meet him while I was tutoring his son, Rocco. He proved to be a perfect role model for anyone who wishes to question the myth about 'never meeting your heroes'. Although I've featured
his fretted playing here, be sure to check out his fretless endeavours with Paul Young!
Transcription: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
Artist: Ian Dury and the Blockheads
Bassist: Norman Watt-Roy
Norman Watt-Roy has always been one of my biggest influences. Back in '98,
Ian Dury's 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' was the first tune that I ever studied - which literally took months, it's a wonderful bassline which requires a great deal of plucking hand discipline. In more recent years I was fortunate enough to tutor
Norman's nephew Alan, another fine bassist, during his time at The ICMP, London.
Transcription: Come Together
Artist: The Beatles
Bassist: Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney's playing is simply magnificent, but the amount of bassists that have named this recording as a seminal part of their own development is quite substantial - For example, I remember hearing Nathan Watts losing his mind whilst trying to describe the first time he heard 'Come Together'. It's worth noting that at this time in his career McCartney was using both a Fender Jazz ('69) and a Rickenbacker in the studio.
Transcription: Country Boy
Artist: Albert Lee
Bassist: Emery Gordy Jr.
MCA studio musician, Emery Gordy is one of those unsung heroes. A prolific resumé boasts appearances with Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Vince Gill and but of course, Albert Lee. I was honoured to perform this very bassline with Albert back in '17 - a career highlight of mine.
Transcription: Cissy Strut
Artist: The Meters
Bassist: George Porter Jr.
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011, Cissy Strut was first released back in 1969 on The Meter's debut album. Back then the composition only managed to reach #23 in the Billboard Hot 100, but since has grown to be recognised as a pioneering, seminal R&B instrumental. P-Bass at the ready...
Transcription: Master Blaster (Jammin')
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Bassist: Nathan Watts
I wish I could describe to you the feeling of meeting Nathan for the first time - but I'm afraid it was all a bit of a blur (I can honestly tell you I was properly star struck). Amazingly, he remembered me when we bumped into one another in LA. I'm not sure the 19 year old me would believe the adult me if I told him one day you'll be perching at the bar chatting with Nathan Watts.
Transcription: Under The Bridge
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Not just the Red Hot Chili Pepper's bassist; Michael Balzary has collaborated with 'Fear', 'Jane's Addiction', 'Atoms for Peace', 'Tom Waits', 'Alanis Morissette' and believe it or not, even 'Johnny Cash'. An incredibly melodic musician, this bassline is one of my favourites - Taken from the seminal '91 album, 'Blood, Suger, Sex, Magik'. EBMM StingRay 5's at the ready!
Artist: Peter Gabriel
Bassist: Tony Levin
A long term associate of Ernie Ball Musicman, Tony Levin pulled out all the stops for his performance on Peter Gabriel's seminal recording; 'Slegehammer'. Originally recorded on a fretless Musicman Sabre, you'll need both an Octave and Chorus pedal in your arsenal if you'd like to accurately reproduce to required tonality.
Al McKibbon was notoriosuly known for his rich, resonant tone and metronomic precision.
Hired by Dizzy Gillespie to replace Ray Brown, McKibbon’s carrer had numous highlights,
from playing on Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 'Birth of the Cool' sessions, to briefly backing
Count Basie. He joined Nat King Cole's main backing, the George Shearing Quartet, in 1951.
Transcription: Let There Be Love
Artist: Nat 'King' Cole
Bassist: Al McKibbon
With the likes of Roger Hawkins, Bobby Womack and The Sweet Inspirations joining her
at Atlantic Studios - Aretha Franklin was in fine company for the undertaking of her 13th
studio album; 'Aretha Now' Jerry Jemmott's playing on this recording is deceptive, what
initially sounds quite straightforward, is actually dense in melodic detail.
Transcription: I Say A Little Prayer
Artist: Aretha Franklin
Bassist: Jerry Jemmott
'Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream)' is taken from Tower of Power's
fourth studio album, 'Back to Oakland' - released in the spring of 1974, on Warner Bros.
To authentically duplicate Prestia's seminal approach to fretting hand articulation, take
the time to watch his 1993, 'Fingerstyle Funk' VHS (now available on digital formats and YouTube).
Transcription: Don't Change Horses
Artist: Tower of Power
Bassist: Francis Rocco Prestia
John Bentley was part of Squeezes' original lineup from 1980 until the the band initially split up in 1982. His playing was featured alongside that of Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford and Jools Holland's on; 'Argybargy', 'East Side Story' and 'Sweet's from a Stranger'. When the band reformed in 1985, Keith Wilkinson took over bass duties. Today, the wonderful Yolanda Charles MBE holds the bass chair, touring with the band since 2017.
Bassist: John Bentley
Transcription: Good Vibrations
Artist: The Beach Boys
Bassist: Carol Kaye
What can you say that hasn't already been said about one of the most prolific session musicians ever. Carol Kaye is estimated to have featured on over 10,000 recordings during a career spanning over five decades. As a fundamental member of the Los Angeles' 'Wrecking Crew' her list of session appearances is phenomenal and includes the likes of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, The Monkees and but of course, The Beach Boys! www.carolkaye.com
Transcription: Lovely Day
Artist: Bill Withers
Bassist: Jerry Knight
Along with Ray Parker Jr, Jerry Knight was a founding member of the group 'Raydio', who's early hits included 'Jack and Jill'. Together as session musicians, both Knight and Parker appeared on the 1977 Bill Withers album, 'Menagerie' - performing on this timeless classic 'Lovely Day'. Surprisingly the single never reached #1 - however Withers did go on to win three Grammy Awards and also be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
Transcription: Son of a Preacher Man
Artist: Dusty Springfield
Bassist: Tommy Cogbill
Often hired by Jerry Wexler at Atlantic records, Tommy Cogbill's list of recording credits is something quite special; from Wilson Pickett to Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield to Elvis Presley. For me, some of his stand out performances can be heard on such recordings as Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' and but of course this one, Dusty's Springfield's soul masterpiece 'Son of a Preacher Man'
Transcription: Shining Star
Artist: Earth, Wind & Fire
Bassist: Verdine White
Founded in Chicago by Maurice White; Earth, Wind & Fire's lustrous legacy has spanned over fifty years. Named ‘one of the greatest bands ever’ (VH1), the ensemble has won six Grammy awards, been nominated for seventeen, four American Music Awards and have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...they even have a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’.
Transcription: Soul Mann
Artist: Sam & Dave
Bassist: Donald 'Duck' Dunn
Know for his work as the principle bassist at STAX records - Donald 'Duck' Dunn was a true force of nature, recording with everyone from Booker T & the M.G.'s to Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Albert King, Bill Withers and even Elvis Presley. In 1992, he was rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Transcription: Reach Out (I'll Be There)
Artist: Four Tops
Bassist: James Jamerson
Collectively, The Funk Brothers, have played on more than 100 number ones - that’s more hit singles than Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones put together. I can’t urge you enough to purchase the ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’ text, it’s killed. Watch the documentary, read the book and get lost in this seminal part of music history.
Transcription: Get On The Floor
Artist: Michael Jackson
Bassist: Louis Johnson
Best known for his work Michael Jackson, Louis Johnson has also collaborated with the likes of Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Michael McDonald, Bill Withers and but of course, the Brothers Johnson. The catalyst for my own love affair with Music Man’s Sabre bass, Johnson is more heavily associated with another Leo Fender design, the StingRay. If you get time, check out Star Lick’s Bass Master Session DVD, it’s monster!
Transcription: Tears of a Clown
Artist: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Bassist: Bob Babbitt
Babbitt's career at Motown was often over shadowed by James Jamerson’s legacy - But his time there saw him record with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Diana Ross. When Motown headed to LA, Babbitt headed to New York, continuing his career with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Alice Cooper! Here’s a fun transcription of his playing on Smokey Robinson’s ‘The Tears of a Clown’ - As a student, my mentor Rob Burns, taught us to play the bassoon part featured in the opening four-bars - for nothing but fun, you can include it, if not, just remain tacet!
Transcription: Virtual Insanity
Bassist: Stuart Zender
The seminal link in Jamiroquai’s early success; Stuart Zender is without a doubt one of the most prolific bass players of our generation. During his time with Jamiroquai the band was decorated with an array of awards ranging from MTV to Grammy - but since leaving the band his career has continued to envelope other high profile artists such as Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo, Mica Paris, Stevie Wonder and Mark Ronson. Ashdown 'Funk Face' plugged in, enjoy this one!