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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

    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!
    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
    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...
    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.
    Agreed. When I read this and didn't see John The Fisherman or Tommy The Cat, I was shocked.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Οk so up until now, 15 people thought Green Day's entry was better than the bassline on Roundabout. I rest my case.
    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 but YYZ has those bass solo moments. So still, they only notice when the guitar isn't present.
    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.
    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?
    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.
    Actually, quite a good list, I'm surprised. I was expecting to see hysteria at number one and I'm really glad I didn't. It's a great riff, but doesn't hold a candle to some of these classics.
    Yeah. for once Muse's fans let them down. Every other list that UG has published im pretty sure had hysteria at the top.
    I like how some people here downvote "Hysteria." There is nothing wrong with that song. The bassline drives the entire song, it's groovy, bad ass, and Chris wolstenholme does a perfect job in terms of providing support (afterall, that is the role the bass does in a song). Basically, I feel that people downvote it because it's "popular." What are some of you now? A bunch of whiny hipsters now? Overall, it's a good list.
    I think a lot of that's because some dipshit magazine voted it #1 bass line once. But I agree, it's still a great bass line. Just not #1.
    I've said earlier Muse has better basslines (albeit maybe not as prominent Hysteria), but the guy does have a point that it's still good. Sure some magazine put it at the top just cause Muse fans vote like crazy, but just cause it's not #1 doesn't mean everyone has to consider it the worst bassline ever or something. It used to be pretty liked around here. As for the list, I also think Lightning Bolt's bassist is pretty great and has written some nice bass melodies.
    Where's *insert norwegian death metal band no one cares about*'s song *insert terrifying song name about dead babies*?
    Mundane list, nothing out of the ordinary on here, would of liked some Victor Wooten or some Jaco Pastorious but meh.
    One I'd like to add is The Clairvoyant by Iron Maiden. Actually a lot of Maiden songs have very good but underrated bass lines. And Hysteria by Muse.
    No, Hysteria is way overrated. Let the downvoting begin, I honestly don't care. I'm not trolling though. Muse, in general, are so overrated it's starting to annoy me.
    Yes, Hysteria is over rated, but it's still a sweet bass line. Just not worthy of being the greatest bass line of all time.
    Even as Muse songs go, I've always preferred stuff like Darkshines, Hyper Music, and Easily to Hysteria.
    I was more thinking about memorable basslines, and hysteria definitely is, even if there are more complex examples out there. Another one is the bassline in the Medicated, or Act II, of Dream Theater's Octavarium. Such a sweet bassline
    DegaDeth has got it. Steve Harris is one of the premier bass players and he got little mention. Running Free has got to be one of the coolest basslines ever and The Clairvoyant is criminally underlooked. Right on man haha
    How in the world can you not have Under Pressure by Queen/Bowie? Or Billie Jean? Everyone knows those two, as they should because they are probably the 2 greatest bass lines ever written.
    Glad to see that "Would?" made it! Mike Starr is so underrated... I would also mention "Rain When I Die" and "Confusion".
    'Rain when I die' is an awesome song. It always made me wonder if it rained when Layne died? No troll, just morbidly curious.
    Veronique Vega
    Good list. I was kinda hoping to see Primus- Southbound Pachyderm up there, But I can't argue with the entries.
    Schism? How many more times? What the Hell? Thay should be in ther!
    I am also quite surprised there's no Tool on this list, seeing as how nothing J.C. has ever played is anything short of astounding.
    I find the lack of jazz to be disturbing...
    I think Longview is kinda jazzy if you put another rythm on it it could be in a jazz song.
    data_player Listen to the bassline after brain stew and ask yourself why people say Mike can't play differnt types of music, this is jazz. People say he can't play with fingers listen to noone knows. And if I, a person who has only played bass since January, can play with my fingers, then a professional bassist can do it to. He just preferes pic.
    Yeah it kinda makes no sense that something like Jerry Was a Race Car Driver wasn't on the list.
    Primus - Fucking ANYTHING, really Tool - Schism King Crimson - Elephant Talk RHCP - Coffee Shop Yes - Roundabout Include at least 2 of these on the list next time and we'll talk.
    According to Less Claypool (in his own words) bassists have the largest genitals so i dont think we are so bad on it
    I still think Rain when I die is a better riff than Would, but still think its awesome that AIC got respect.
    I'm surprised Peace Sells reached #2.. :O But you know what, this actually is a good list!
    Why be surprised? Its Megadeth. Obviously itll rank high.
    Because IMO, Peace Sells just has a catchy intro. I prefer My Last Words or Five Magics to it. Still, I'm happy 'deth made it on to the list.
    I agree totally, I posted Five Magics on the original thread too, but most people don't know those songs. Given, yes they have better bass lines, people know Peace Sells.
    My Last Words
    I actually was going to say something about My Last Words (Hence my username), but seems like you beat me to it. Five magic's cool too. And those little fills in Take No Prisoners and Hook In Mouth are killing too.
    Sammy Mantis
    Wow, what a lame and predictable list. If this is people's idea of good bass lines, no wonder bassists are the butt of all the jokes! No Jaco, Victor, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Michael Manring? Not even an entry from Primus/Claypool (pretty much anything he ever played on bass is better than this list)? Come on kids, there's a lot of music out there besides rock and metal, check it out!
    Potential improvements Ramble On-Led Zeppelin My Lovely Man-RHCP Hand of Doom-Black Sabbath (maybe)
    I know Sweet Child O' Mine is mostly honoured for Slash's intro and solo. But what about the bassline? It's gotta be in the top ten!
    i think Tommy the Cat by Primus shouldve been up there
    if I had to pick just one Primus song to be on this list, it would be that one. My second pick would probably be Is It Luck?.
    There's a lot of awesome bass riffs that go unnoticed. Here's quite a few I can think of, not all of them are complex, but at least memorable. "The Real Me" and "Pinball Wizard" by The Who "Schism" by Tool "I Saw Your Mommy..." or "War Inside My Head" by Suicidal Tendencies "Santeria" by Sublime "Is This It" by The Strokes "Dirt" or "1970" by The Stooges "Aeroplane" or "Higher Ground" by RHCP "The National Anthem" by Radiohead "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" by Queens of the Stone Age "My Name is Mud," "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver," and "Tommy the Cat" by Primus "Young Lust" and "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" by Pink Floyd "Come As You Are," "Sliver," and "Love Buzz" by Nirvana "Hysteria" by Muse "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth" by Metallica "Disorder" by Joy Division "Lovesong"and "Fascination Street" by The Cure "Drive" by Incubus "The Passenger" by Iggy Pop "Damaged Goods" by Gang of Four "We Care a Lot" by Faith No More "Mongoloid" by Devo "Come Together" by The Beatles
    Would've loved to see Roundabout get some recognition here, but still not a bad list. Oh and Cliff Burton is the best bassist that ever lived! What a great video showcasing his mastery of the bass
    Cliff was good, but is no way as good of a bassist as those who worked with Miles Davis or pretty much any Jazz act between the 60's and the 90's
    Some motown, funk and Zender-era Jamiroquai would've made this selection more varied and realistic. The poll is very narrow in genre.
    Another post dominated by metalheads and people with zero knowledge of bass
    Implying metalheads don't know anything about music
    no i said metalheads(group1=good knowledge of metal music but they dont care about anything else) AND ppl with 0 knowledge(group2= not the same as group1 )what are they teaching you at school, potatoes?
    It's a good list though I'm a little dissapointed by the lack of Tool. Also, that Green Day bassline genuinely surprised me. It's quite good.
    Green Day have some pretty great basslines, but I've noticed that over the years Mike's bass playing has become simpler and not at the front of the sound as much as it used to be.