"Me and Johnny were sat in the library playing acoustic guitars and they must have been miked up as we were probably putting down the acoustic tracks for 'Panic'. I just started playing the chord sequence which would later become 'Ask' in exactly the way it appears on the record. Johnny then joined in playing the same... I then forgot about the idea and left it at that... Johnny must have played Morrissey this idea or given him the recording I already mentioned. I was completely surprised as we were now recording this for the next single. The only section of the chord structure that I didn't come up with for 'Ask' was the middle eight section with the chords E-minor, D and C. That was actually what Johnny came up with. All the way through the song there is an overdub with me and Johnny sat around a mike with acoustics, playing a riff that he came up with towards the end of the recording of the song. That is a great riff and a real hook but it was still just an overdub and I felt the song was nearly complete without it. Up until the release of 'Ask' I still thought I'd be given a writing credit. When I found that I wasn't given a writing credit, it didn't really bother me, but I thought it was pretty bad that no one even acknowledged that it was my idea in the first place."

- Craig Gannon

"That really hurt me. That's one of the things in The Smiths that you don't do. We were always very careful from the very first day all the way through the sessions to bring in our own songs. It was ridiculous. no one ever had any inclination to write any songs, and that was fine."

"On 'Ask', Craig Gannon and I are playing Martin acoustics. I play the G-Am-C-D progression on a Rickenbacker 330. The highlify part is played on a '63 Strat. I'm also vamping on a G harmonica through a Urei Boom Box, an early '70s piece of outboard gear that we also used a lot on guitars, as well. It's like one of those vulgar 'loudness' buttons on a hi-fi. It pushes things slightly out of phase, but gives them a bottomy, dense sound. It's a big chrome box with one knob: 'intensity.'"

- Johnny Marr

I have uploaded a Guitar Pro tab for this song here. Right click to save as.

Here's the complete band score from the "Louder Than Bombs:Off The Record" book:

Here is another tab, from the Singles book:

Here are the scans from the Smiths Best Complete Score:

Here's a great version by nicknoh69 on a Les Paul:

Jahnli does a nice version here, with vocals.

fdealencar has a nice attempt at all the riffs here:

Here Daniel Earwicker does an amazing 3-track breakdown:

Here's johnnymare on a Tele and Rickenbacker 330:


Unknown said...

any thoughts on the bassline?

Anonymous said...

can't see page 192 from louder than bombs version of ask. Page 193 comes up twice

Thom said...

Fixed the problem with 192. Thanks for the heads up!

boboon said...

This may be the greatest site on the internet. I've got to go out and get those two Smiths score books now.

You're a hero! Thank you!

Thom said...

Thanks for the comment, boboon.