Top 10 Basslines Of All Time

Hundreds of you nominated for your favorite basslines. Here we present the results for you to see and hear for yourself. Do you agree with the results?

Ultimate Guitar

Guitarists get all the girls, drummers get all the jokes, and singers get all the interviews. But bassists are, as all UG readers know, the backbone to any rock track.

On Wednesday we asked you to nominate and vote for your favorites baselines ever.

Hundreds of you took part, and the result is a definitive list of awesome riffs that only UG readers could pull off.

So who were the winners, and do you agree with the results? Read on to find out.

10. Green Day "Longview"

Bassist Mike Dirnt vaguely recalls writing this riff while on acid:

"I was frying on acid so hard. I was laying up against the wall with my bass lying on my lap. It just came to me. I said, 'Billie, check this out. Isn't this the wackiest thing you've ever heard?' Later, it took me a long time to be able to play it, but it made sense when I was on drugs."

9. Led Zeppelin "Dazed And Confused"

The great Zeppelin didn't originally write this song - it was first penned by singer-songwriter Jake Holmes. Still, Jimmy Page tweaked it just enough to make it his own for John Paul Jones to lay down this monster of a bassline.

8. Rush "YYZ"

This instrumental track has been one of Rush's most popular live pieces since its inception in 1981. Based on Morse code, the guitar and bass play the 'short dash' with a root note of C, and uses an F# for the Morse code 'dots'. It's the kind of genius that only a group of prog legends like Rush could conceive.

7. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Around The World"

Flea was actually the last member of the band to put his part to the song, but it became one of the coolest intros ever written. It's what the word 'party' sounds like if you pitch it down a few octaves.

6. Alice In Chains "Would?"

Bassist Mike Starr tragically died of a drug overdose in 2011, but with a rattling bass hook like this he'll always be remembered.

5. Metallica "For Whom The Bell Tolls"

Cliff Burton, yet another brilliant bassist who was taken before his time. People used to mistake this opening sound for a guitar, but instead it was Burton's bass running though distortion and a wah-pedal. He actually wrote the riff before joining Metallica, and first aired it during a 12-minute jam at a battle of the bands competition in 1979.

4. Black Sabbath "N.I.B."

It seems UG readers love a bit of wah on bass! This time it's from Geezer Butler, who recorded his part in one legendary take. Geezer says he named the song after drummer Bill Ward's beard, which makes so little sense that some Americans decided to rename it "Naivety In Black".

3. Queen "Another One Bites The Dust"

Bassist John Deacon was perhaps the most mild-mannered member of Queen, but he was a creative powerhouse. He wrote some of the best-selling Queen singles, including this one which shifted over 7 million copies.

2. Megadeth "Peace Sells..."

It's easy to let frontman Dave Mustaine and his controversial comments overshadow the awesomeness of Megadeth. Thanks to bassist Dave Ellefson, this song was pretty close to winning our award for 'best baseline ever' and missed out by only four votes.

1. Pink Floyd "Money"

Who would have guessed! All of us, obviously. Never has a 7/8 riff sounded so effortless and groovy. It could have sounded quite different - Roger Waters originally demoed this song in G-sharp minor, but it was eventually recorded in B minor. Either way, the result was one of the all-time great basslines, and today it's your winner. Enjoy!

That's your official top 10 baselines of all time. Do you feel that anyone missed the cut? Which riffs would you add, and where? Let us know in the comments.

377 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    A top 10 list where there isn't a joke entry?!?! What's going on?
    The whole Fall Out Boy joke got old too long ago to gain enough thumbs up and screw the mods over.
    It kind of is a joke, How can you have a top 10 basslines list without some Funk/Classic Motown/LES CLAYPOOL? i don't disagree with these memorable rock bass lines being on here but some of these could easily be knocked off by the aforementioned, not a good list!
    sorry but if your top 10 basslines doesn't have a single black guy on it then there is something seriously wrong with your list. also no Kim Deal? Cannonball? Gouge Away? ugh...
    I agree that some of the best basslines where came from Motown but, alas, Metal bias dominates UG. Still can't figure out why Primus ain't here though
    You can't go wrong with Les. Oddly enough, my favorite Primus bassline is 'Jilly's on smack'. Nowhere near his own skill level, but it sounds so cool.
    you can only blame yourself and the other members of this site for the results. sure, they don't entirely coincide with your taste, but i think it's a respectable list. i would've liked to see some tech death or prog metal, but i can accept these results.
    uh, i can't blame myself for others votes that is a ridiculous statement lol. I don't listen to the music i listen to incite a riot i can only say that a certain poll is one sided, my guess?... ultimate guitar is a great tab site, the people who actually converse on here sway one side, it's mostly kids. Some of the metal and such i see dominating these polls, kinda corny, and only children would have these strong views on one kind of music, if you don't agree, sorry but this is the truth.
    Agreed. When I read this and didn't see John The Fisherman or Tommy The Cat, I was shocked.
    The joke is that there is no Tool...
    I thought Green Day's entry was the joke. Like come on, listen to Yes' "Roundabout".
    Roundabout should be on the list you're right, but everything ere still deserves its spot too..
    Changes by On Mercury deserves a spot on this list, the bass line is incredible.
    Changes by On Mercury deserves a spot on this list, the bass line is incredible.
    Οk so up until now, 15 people thought Green Day's entry was better than the bassline on Roundabout. I rest my case.
    Diamond Dave
    roundabout is ridiculous and should have been in the 10, but longview is definitely also worthy. dazed and confused could have been spared to make room IMO.
    Great bassline, fun to play. Just because they are a modern pop-punk band doesn't mean they are musically mute.
    Notice how every single song opens with a bass riff? Apparently the only bass lines guitarists know are the ones that start before the guitar does.
    Not so for YYZ, but I see your point and agree with it.
    Yeah, YYZ is the only anomaly, and incidentally (in my own opinion of course) the song with the best bass parts in this entire list.
    Yeah but YYZ has those bass solo moments. So still, they only notice when the guitar isn't present.
    I agree, the bassline throughout Orion is so much better than the one throughout For Whom The Bell Tolls
    Yeah, the bass intro is cool for FWTBT, then it turns into a fairly standard metal bassline. Overall, Orion is a much more interesting line.
    Surprised Schism didnt't make it into the top 10, but overall a very good list.
    I don't understand how Forty Six & 2 hasn't been mentioned once yet. Yeah, I'd take Schism over it, but still, what the hell?
    There should have been at least one Tool song on here, decent list, but WTF?
    This, and 'The Pot'. As well as Sick Of It All's 'Straight Ahead', although most U-G'ers seem to be Metalhead-to-classic rock types. Not bashing, I listen to Cannibal Corpse and Dire Straights. I'm just saying that there's a few NOFX bass licks worthy of mention.