In our opinion, the bass is a criminally underrated instrument. Basslines are crucial to creating a rhythmically driving composition with great harmonic structure. Yet bassists are often overlooked in favor of flashy frontmen or lead guitarists.
In honor of how awesome the bass is, we’ve rounded up a list of twelve of the best basslines ever written. Just try to imagine these songs without their iconic basslines – you’ll be sure to appreciate how awesome the bass truly is!
Herbie Hancock – Chameleon
Easily one of the best funk basslines ever written. This 1974 tune from Herbie Hancock’s jazz-funk masterpiece ‘Headhunters’ is a classic.
Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
Freddie Mercury may be the one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, but John Deacon’s bass is the star here. The driving bassline is more memorable than the actual melody of this classic Queen song.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give it Away
Flea is undoubtedly one of the most iconic bassists in rock music. This 90’s tune is a great example of Flea’s funky, distinctive style.
Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
It’s hard to believe that producer Quincy Jones reportedly did not care for the bassline in ‘Billie Jean’. ‘Billie Jean’ may be the greatest Michael Jackson tune ever and the bassline is killer.
Tool – Schism
Justin Chancellor’s bass riff here is both melodic and rhythmically driving. Proof that the bass is about much more than root notes!
Stevie Wonder – I Wish
Once this funky bass groove gets in your head, it’s almost impossible to get out! So many Stevie Wonder tunes have great basslines, but this one is our favorite.
Parliament – Flashlight
Great basslines don’t have to be written on an actual bass guitar! The unique tone of this bass was created using Minimoog synthesizers. We dare you to listen to this ridiculously catchy funk tune without getting up and dancing.
Primus – My Name is Mud
Les Claypool is a bass icon. His unique, textural style of playing features slaps, taps and bends that create a truly unique tone.
Breeders – Cannonball
Kim Deal played bass in the Pixies before becoming the frontwoman of the Breeders. This bassline creates tension with key changes and pauses before settling into a memorable groove.
Yes – Roundabout
It’s hard to choose which instrument shines the most in this 8 minute prog epic. But Chris Squire’s tight, groovy bassline is surely a standout.
Muse – Hysteria
This bassline is definitely not for beginners! Fuzzed-out and unrelenting, the bassline in ‘Hysteria’ is proof that the bass can shred just as much as the guitar.