Dreaming of playing the bass? This list of the best bass guitar songs is sure to inspire you.
A bass player can hold a band together and it is often the most distinctive sound you hear in any song. It is a known fact that the bassist is always the “coolest” guy in the band. So when things get rough within a band, it’s the bassist that keeps his cool and keeps the band going.
And the best part about being a bass player is you will ALWAYS have a gig!
So to all the seasoned bass players out there, if you’re just starting to learn the bass, here are seven of the best bass guitar songs to learn – with the most recognizable and hip bass lines in music history.
The 7 Best Bass Guitar Songs to Learn
Queen – “Under Pressure”
Difficulty level: 2
This bass line is a staple of the instrument. Its distinct rhythm and groove is instantly recognizable and it is surprisingly not difficult to play at all. Let’s not forget that there is some controversy over whether the pop artist Vanilla Ice used this line for his hit “Ice Ice Baby.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Give it Away Now”
Difficulty level: 6
This line is probably more suitable once you have a little more experience under your belt. With a line like this, the term “funk” is instantly incorporated into the music. One has to feel the funk to get down with a bass line of this caliber.
Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
Difficulty level: 5
You can tell from the way that Michael dances in this song that he is getting his groove from this groovy bass line. It’s a not-so-difficult line to play but it’s always moving so you have to keep the groove up.
Primus – “American Life”
Difficulty level: 9
This is one of the best bass guitar songs on this list. When you hear the bass lines you’ll automatically think “I want to play that!” Les Claypool’s bass lines are more like guitar licks or melody lines.
He gives the bass a distinct sound and a dominant role in any song he plays in, which also makes his bass lines on the more difficult side.
Pink Floyd – “Money”
Difficulty level: 4
The bass line that comes in after a variety of clicking sounds is an unforgettable one. This popular song by Pink Floyd is a hit in anyone’s playlist and this bass line, with its rhythm of 7/4, is one every bassist should know how to play.
Johann Pachelbel – Pachelbel Canon in D Major
Difficulty level: 3
This is not generally a song thought of when talking about bass lines. However, this line known as the basso continuo is in fact a legit Baroque period bass line.
It is so legit that it is even featured in more familiar songs, such as Coolio’s “C U When U Get There” and Green Day’s “Basket Case.” This is a rockin’ canon and exemplifies how far back bass history really goes.
Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon”
Difficulty level: 2
This funky/jazzy bass line is a standard and staple of the bass repertoire that every bass player should know. If bass lines had a holy grail, this might be it.
This line is smooth, classy, and above all, groovy. Herbie made this song popular, but it was the bass line that made it immortal. It’s not difficult to play, so why not learn it?
These are some of the best bass guitar songs to learn, and they all helped in making the bass the immense instrument that it is today. The songs here give any bassist some good grooves to learn that will develop his or her skills.
Christopher S. teaches bass guitar and composition in Jamaica Plain, MA. He received his Bachelor’s from Humboldt State and is currently working toward a Master of Music degree. Learn more about Christopher S. here!
Photo by: Ethan Prater