Do you dream of playing the bass? This list of the best beginner bass songs is sure to inspire you. Below, we rated seven of the top bass guitar songs by their difficulty level.
Sometimes it may seem like bass guitarists are overlooked or outshined by other band members, but that’s anything but the case. Don’t be fooled by the laid-back nature of most bassists — the bass is one of the most important elements of any band. Together with the drummer, a bass player is the glue that holds a band together, whether they’re playing pop, rock, jazz, or any genre. A good bass player is any musician’s best friend and will have no problem finding gigs! But first, you must learn to shred.
No matter how musically talented you may be, one of the best ways to build up your skills as a bass player is to learn some classic bass lines. It’s best, to begin with simple and easy songs, and then work your way up to the more challenging and complex songs. And of course, put in plenty of daily practice!
If you’re just starting to learn the bass, we’ve got some easy bass guitar songs for beginners, along with some more challenging selections you’ll want to pick up as you progress. Each one of these bass-heavy tunes will be instantly recognizable to anyone who hears you play them! Whether you’re looking to eventually master Paul McCartney’s melodic bass parts or channel Flea’s driving beats in Red Hot Chili Pepper songs–or whatever your musical dreams–start your bass guitar journey with these songs for bass beginners.
The 7 Best Bass Guitar Songs to Learn
Queen – “Under Pressure”
Difficulty level: 2
This bass line is a staple of the instrument and instantly recognizable. The distinct rhythm and groove give “Under Pressure” some serious attitude, and the line has even made its way into other songs such as “Ice Ice Baby.” You probably already have this bass lick stuck in your head! The simplicity of it makes this is a great beginner bass song, but it’s fun to play for all levels. Though originally played with a pick, you can play this one with your fingers, too.
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, but don’t get discouraged. Practice a little bit every day, and you’ll be jamming along to one of the best bass guitar songs before you know it. With a line like this, the term “funk” is instantly incorporated into the music. You’ll be making use of the entire bass for this one, so don’t be shy!
Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
Difficulty level: 5
You can tell from the way that Michael Jackson dances to this song that he is getting his groove from the powerful bass line. It’s a not-so-difficult line to play, but it’s always moving, so you have to keep the groove up. Keep your energy up and commit to this lively bass guitar song, and you just may find yourself dancing, too!
Primus – “American Life”
Difficulty level: 9
This is one of the most unique bass guitar songs on this list, but it’s also the most challenging to play! When it comes to this complex song, it’s all about putting in the time to practice. Les Claypool’s bass lines have a life of their own, and a lot can be learned about the bass just by figuring out his licks. He gives the bass a truly distinctive sound and a dominant role in any song he plays in. Once you can master this iconic bass guitar song, you’ll be ready to take on practically any song that comes your way.
Pink Floyd – “Money”
Difficulty level: 4
The bass line is an iconic one for anyone who’s listened to The Dark Side of the Moon. With a time signature of 7/4, this is a tune that can challenge your sense of rhythm, but once you’ve got it down, it’s hard to forget. If this is your first foray into odd meters such as 7/4 and 5/4, stick with it! After a while, these can become as natural as 4/4 or 3/4 and will open up a whole new world of bass guitar songs for you to tackle. For more, check out A Guitarist’s Guide to Odd Time Signatures.
Johann Pachelbel – “Pachelbel Canon in D Major”
Difficulty level: 3
This is not generally a song that is thought of when talking about bass lines, but this line is, in fact, a legit Baroque period bass line. Known as the “basso continuo,” these classical bass lines provide fundamental support for all of the other instruments. You can even hear this line used in more modern songs, such as Coolio’s “C U When U Get There” and Green Day’s “Basket Case.” This is a rockin’ canon, and it exemplifies how far back bass history really goes. With a low difficulty level, this is one of the best bass guitar songs for beginners to explore.
Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon”
Difficulty level: 2
This funky/jazzy bass line is a standard and a staple of the bass repertoire that every bass player should know. If bass lines had a holy grail, this might be it. This also happens to be one of the best bass guitar songs for beginners. The line is smooth, classy, and above all, groovy. Herbie made this song popular, but it was the bass line that made it immortal. And with a difficulty level of 2? That means with a little practice, you’ll have this one down pat in no time.
These are some of the best beginner bass songs, and they all helped make the bass the immense instrument that it is today. Learning these tunes will develop your bass skills in a major way! Take a stab at some of the easier bass guitar songs. Next, start dabbling with the more challenging songs once you build up your confidence.
If you really want to take your bass guitar skills up a notch, sign up for your bass guitar lessons online. Our online classes let you virtually connect with a private instructor, giving you the tools you need to achieve all your bass guitar dreams! And the best part? You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home. Taking private lessons in combination with practicing every day will bring out the best in you and your music skills. Sign up today and begin working your way through these bass guitar songs for beginners.
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!
Photo by: Ethan Prater