- 1. Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side
- 2. Pantera - Five Minutes Alone
- 3. Pink Floyd - Money
- 4. Metallica - Orion
- 5. The Jackson Five - I Want You Back
- 6. The Beatles - Come Together
- 7. Queen (feat. David Bowie) - Under Pressure
- 8. Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
- 9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can’t Stop
- 10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
“Music is to the soul what words are to the mind.” - Modest Mouse
You’d be tempted to say that learning to play the bass is easier than learning to play the guitar. Bassists need a good sense of rhythm.
Would you like to learn how to play the bass?
If you want to learn to play the bass guitar, these are some of the best songs.
1. Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side
It’s hard to classify the best basslines.
But we could probably comfortably say that Walk on the Wild Side, composed by Lou Reed in 1973, is worthy of being in the top 10.
The bassline played hasn’t aged a day over the years.
Would you like to learn how to play it?
Just have a look for tutorials on YouTube. There are plenty of them.
The rhythm is quite simple, but that doesn’t mean playing the bass is easy.
Learn about the history of the bass guitar.
2. Pantera - Five Minutes Alone
Five Minutes Alone is a famous metal song.
Pantera are considered the pioneers of groove metal. If you want to play metal, you have to be a talented drummer, bassist, or guitarist!
The bassist Rex Robert Brown plays an incredible bassline throughout this song. Above all, the bass solo is what earns this song the #2 spot. The sounds and bass chords Rex Brown plays are sublime.
We recommend that you play this song with a plectrum. Of course, you need to be at a pretty good level, too.
3. Pink Floyd - Money
You can’t mistake the intro to this song.
Composed by the bassist Roger Waters, Money was recorded in 1972 and features on the album Dark Side of the Moon.
Again, it would be difficult to play this if you’re a beginner. But it’s good fun if you can play it.
The 7/4 time can make it tricky, but not impossible.
Follow the snare to stay in time. This song should remind you of just how much you should study music theory!
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4. Metallica - Orion
Orion, an instrumental piece from Metallica’s 1986 Master of Puppets album was composed by the bassist Cliff Burton (1962-1986). The album is listed as one of the 1,001 albums to listen to before you die.
Orion is based on a riff that appears mainly at the start and the end of the song.
There’s a call and response between the guitar and the bass and the solo in the middle is wonderful!
There are several technical segments. You need to decipher them one by one to learn how to play the song.
It’s a great way to practice the bass as you need to fingerpick quickly.
5. The Jackson Five - I Want You Back
Would you like to learn a song from The Jackson Five, the band that made Michael Jackson (1958-2009) famous?
The song was recorded in 1970. The single reached the top of the charts in the US in 1970.
Michael is the main singer on the record and he was just 12 at the time.
To learn how to play this song, you might want to ask your bass tutor. If you don’t have a tutor, you might want to look for YouTube tutorials on how to play it. With YouTube video tutorials, you can often read the bass tabs, play the bass, and listen to the song while watching the YouTuber’s hands playing the bass.
It's hard to find a better bass line than this one.
6. The Beatles - Come Together
Here’s another legendary song, Come Together.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney would regularly transcend genres, which helped make their songs so universal. This is easier to play than the other five songs on this list.
Come Together was written in Montreal in June 1969 by John Lennon and recorded a month later. The bassline is particularly interesting and educational since it can be played by a beginner.
Would you like to learn it?
There are plenty of sites where you can find tabs for this song. Firstly, listen to the song before you try playing it.
Find out more about the role a bassist plays in a band.
7. Queen (feat. David Bowie) - Under Pressure
Under Pressure was written and performed by Queen and David Bowie in October 1981. It featured on the 1982 album Hot Space.
The recognisable bassline features just the notes D and A. This means you can play it on open strings. It might be useful for practising your rhythm with just a metronome.
As a bassist, you need to be good at keeping time. It’ll also help you to practise coordination. The bassline is very easy to read.
If you already play the guitar, you’ll be familiar with tabs. That said, we’re not saying the bass is easier than the guitar; they’re two different instruments.
8. Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
Here’s another of Queen’s songs with a recognisable bassline. Another One Bites the Dust was composed by the bassist John Deacon and recorded in 1980. It was on Queen’s 8th album.
This funky sounding track was a little different to what we’d previously heard from Queen. Another One Bites the Dust was a global success and charted well in the US and the UK. Over 7 million copies were sold.
You can find YouTube tutorials on how to play it.
9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Can’t Stop
Would you like to learn something more contemporary? Something a little funkier? Why not learn this jam from the Californian band Red Hot Chili Peppers?
From their 2002 album By The Way, the song shows many of Michael Peter Balzary aka Flea’s technical skills. It starts simply with just one note, then everything changes.
You need to have a decent grasp of the bass to be able to play this one, especially with the slap technique employed else your rendition will just sound a bit flat and lifeless. A lot of RHCP songs include slap bass.
This is an interesting one to learn how to play.
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
Let’s finish with one of the band’s biggest successes: Californication.
Released 20 May 2000, the song was a global success and is still very popular 20 years later.
The album was one of the band’s most successful with 15 million copies sold. This bassline is quite accessible for intermediate and beginner bassists.
Check out the YouTube “CoverSolutions” for a good video on how to play various basslines.
There are plenty of songs we could have included in this list, but we could easily have a whole blog dedicated to that. Similarly, in bass lessons, you should also work on walking bass lines, arpeggios, and working your way around the fretboard.
Of course, we couldn't name all the best bass riffs and songs to get your bass playing off the ground, the private tutors on Superprof should be able to help you with any others! There are three main types of bass tutorial available and each comes with advantages and disadvantages.
Face-to-face tutorials are your traditional private tutorials between the student and a tutor. They're great if there's something specific you'd like to learn as the lessons will be tailored to you and your learning style. However, this bespoke service comes at a cost, meaning that this type of tutorial is usually the most costly.
Online tutorials are also just between a single student and their tutor but their tutor won't be there in the room with them. Instead, they'll provide their tutorial over webcam. While this isn't always ideal for hands-on subjects, if you have a decent mic, a talented tutor can teach you how to play bass without even being in the room with you.
Finally, you can also get group tutorials. With several paying students attending the tutorial, this type of tutorial tends to be the cheapest per person per hour. Of course, the tutor's attention is also divided amongst the students and they won't be able to tailor the lessons to a single student. However, in the beginning, this might be a good option as everyone needs to learn the basics and you don't want to spend too much money on a new hobby if you think you mightn't stick at it.
Luckily for you, many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first hour of tuition for free. This is a great way to get to know your potential tutor, ask them about their teaching style, experience, and qualifications, and iron out the finer details of the kind of tuition you'd like.