Bass Lines You Must Learn
Giving the bass players some love! Here is a collection of songs that feature the most under appreciated instrument in a rock band. These bass lines are the parts you sing and hum when thinking of each of these great songs. Learn these to get the party started, test out your next bass purchase in a music shop and make yourself a better bass player today!
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Silly Love Songs – Paul McCartney
McCartney has written many melodic baselines worth learning. The one carries the song with great bounce and energy. This was likely recorded by McCartney on his Rickenbacker 4001 bass. The line uses walking bass parts
Check out the clip below to see McCartney playing this song live. It shows the great skill in being able to play difficult bass lines and sing. This task is very difficult.
Sure Know Something – KISS
KISS jumped on the disco bandwagon with their 1979 hit “I Was Made for Loving You”. The followup single was an even better tune. The bassline was also most likely played by KISS guitarist and songwriter Paul Stanley on the studio recording. It uses the E minor scale. Learn the scale in preparation for playing this classic bass part.
Helping Hand – Screaming Jets
Among the great parts in this song is a must learn walking bass line. Aussie band Screaming Jets pumped out fist pumping rock anthems in the late 80s/early 90s. This one will make the most of your scale and arpeggio skills.
Let’s Groove Tonight – Earth Wind and Fire
The disco era provided a great deal of killer bass lines. This is a must know for bass players of any ability. Many of the songs are built from the bass parts. It is recommended for all bass players that you check out the 70s disco and R’n’B era for some of the best written bass lines in contemporary music.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Another classic song that is made by a catchy bass part. One of the easier lines to play in this collection. It makes use of pentatonic scales. Learn the shapes of the pentatonic in preparation to play this 80s classic.
Higher Ground – RHCP
The slap bass skill is a must learn. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea is a master of this technique. In this cover of a Stevie Wonder song, Flea has applied the clavinet riff to the bass and used the slap technique to simulate the sound of that keyboard instrument. The part itself is not too difficult. Spend time developing your slap bass technique by learning this song.
Fools Gold – The Stone Roses
This band was very influential on the BritPop scene of the 90s. The Stones Roses mixed guitar sounds heard in the emerging electronic dance music scene. The band has reformed in 2016 for a series of live shows and released a new single.
This bass line is played high up the neck using slides to create the slippery spaced feel.
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
Influenced by a bass line that we will discuss at the end of the article. Queen bass player John Deacon wrote this timeless riff. This was a massive hit for Queen in the early 80s. It is a great bass line for beginners to learn.
Money – Pink Floyd
This song not only has a great bass riff it also present another musical challenge. It is in a different time signature than the standard 4 count. This song needs to be counted in 7/4 time. It gives the feel of a bar of 4 beats, followed by a bar of 3. Learning the B natural minor scale will help you play this bass line.
See the reformed Pink Floyd performing this bass classic in 2005 at Live 8.
Hysteria – Muse
One of the most requested bass lines by our students to learn in recent years. Muse have provided great riffs for guitarists and bass players to learn for over a decade. A great fast line that uses open strings. It is commonly learned by VCE students studying Music Performance.
Good Times – Chic
This line was sampled in one of the first rap hits “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Apart of the disco era that also produced “Let’s Groove Tonight”, Chic produced many memorable funky bass parts. Listen for the the use of pockets of silence in this line. This is the key to sounding funky.
See original Chic bass player Bernard Edwards performing the song in his last live performance before passing the next day.