The role of bass guitar is constantly underrated within the rock realm, but the fact remains that many bass lines have ensured their place in the pantheon, proving all the naysayers wrong. Let’s kick this one off right away – 10 greatest rock bass lines of all time, go!
Check Out the Best Rock Bass Lines
10. Alice in Chains – Rotten Apple (Played by Mike Inez)
We’ll kick things off with a masterful gloomy line that opens Alice in Chains classic “Rotten Apple” from the band’s staple record “Jar of Flies.”
Performed by Mike Inez, the line is incredibly tasty and does an amazing job at delivering that ominous feel the Chains fold is so well known for. The tasty lick sees Mr. Inez demonstrating the amazing power of bass to hold the groove with deep notes and hold the melody with high tones at the same time.
9. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground (Played by Flea)
Up next is Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the band’s cover of Stevie Wonder classic “Higher Ground.” So simple, yet amazingly effective, the line essentially features three tones played in a frantic slapping manner. The result – tons of groove.
8. Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused (Played by John Paul Jones)
The descending groove and subtle tone of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” were enough to earn Mr. John Paul John a spot on the list. The line itself is a crucial part of the song, and it can even be argued that the bass is the most important instrument in this tune, along with Robert Plant’s powerful voice.
7. Black Sabbath – N.I.B. (Played by Geezer Butler)
This one even kicks off with a bass solo called “Basically,” but we’re after the main riff of Black Sabbath classic “N.I.B.” here. Performed by Geezer Butler, it demonstrates the immense metal riffing prowess of Tony Iommi, proving that his riffs sound heavy on just about any instrument, bass guitar included.
The track itself was released on the band’s eponymous debut album, the one that forged heavy metal and changed the world of music for good.
6. Pink Floyd – Money (Played by Roger Waters)
Getting a bit jumpy, Pink Floyd’s “Money” is up at No. 6. Roger Waters delivered this one, taking one of the best approaches on bass – keep the low end but also implement the melody. To top it off, he even added an odd time signature, we’ll leave you to guess which one. The album was released as a part of one of the best selling albums of all time – “Dark Side of the Moon.”
5. Queen – Another One Bites the Dust (Played by John Deacon)
Cracking the list in half, possibly the simplest riff on the list, yet also possibly the most effective one. Three notes, that’s it, and you know ’em by heart. Incredibly bouncy, the riff demonstrates the finger playing prowess of John Deacon.
4. Yes – Roundabout (Played by Chris Squire)
Picking it up a notch, Chris Squire of Yes delivers a frantic line known as the “Roundabout.” Squire’s treble-boosted, pick fueled tone is a thing of legend. Not many musicians are able to pull it off, yet Mr. Chris does it like a champ. The song was originally released on the band’s classic album “Fragile.”
3. Primus – Tommy the Cat (Played by Les Claypool)
Receiving the bronze, we have the Primus bass master Les Claypool with the grooviest song on the list – “Tommy the Cat.” This song is basically the Holy Grail of slap bass guitar in rock, as very few musicians can replicate it properly. Just listen to those fingers at work!
2. The Who – The Real Me (Played by John Entwistle)
Late great bass god John Entwistle of The Who delivered some mean licks, but “The Real Me” stands out as the ultimate demonstration of finger flashing power. There are very few bassist who can beat him in the finger-playing realm, and this list’s No. 1 is one of the top contenders.
1. Best Rock Bass Lines – Rush – YYZ (Played by Geddy Lee)
On the throne, we have Geddy Lee of Rush and “YYZ,” a breathtaking daredevil bass rundown filled with stunning lines, fills and grooves. It’s a true bass extravaganza, and a well deserved No. 1 spot.
And that about wraps it up! The only thing left for you to do now is buy a fine bass guitar and get those fingers running up and down some scales.