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 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYfPACiJ6ew

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.