Do you dream of playing the bass? This list of the best beginner bass songs is sure to inspire you.
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!
One of the best ways to build up your skills as a bass player is to learn some classic bass lines. 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!
The 7 Best Bass Guitar Songs to Learn
Queen – “Under Pressure”
Difficulty level: 2
This bass line is a staple of the instrument. 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.” The simplicity of the bass lick 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. 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.
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! 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.
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. 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.
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. It’s not too difficult to play, so why not learn it?
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!
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