Easy bass guitar tunes
Easy bass guitar tunes to make quick progress and to enjoy learning the bass guitar.
Congratulations on taking your first steps towards learning bass guitar. There’s still lots to learn and it will take many hours of practice to master the basics. But one of the great things about bass guitar is the sheer number of easy bass guitar tunes you can learn almost straight away.
Conventional guitarists can play hundreds of songs once they learn three or four basic chords.
Bass players have more variety to choose from. Many of the most iconic bass riffs and most recognizable bass lines of all time are not too difficult and can be played by beginners.
Of course, it can take a lifetime to develop the feel and tone which makes those original recordings songs so unique. However, anyone can get started on some classic bass riffs from easy bass songs.
There’s no better way to make quick progress and to enjoy learning the bass guitar than by playing real songs. Scales, arpeggios and triads are important for developing great technique. Knowing music theory is necessary if you want to develop a deep understanding of the instrument. But to have fun and make quick and satisfying progress there’s immediate rewards to be had by learning easy bass songs.
In this guide we’re going to take a look at 45 of the best easy bass guitar songs which anyone can learn and everyone should know.
These easy bass guitar songs will help you to develop a solid technique, learn to lock in with the drums and appreciate the wide variety of bass styles and genres. You can also check out our Beginner’s Guide To Playing A Guitar article for easy hints and tips if you’re starting out!
With or Without You – U2
Adam Clayton’s repeating four note pattern underpins this haunting classic from the Irish rockers.
This is a great first song to learn and play along to. The notes themselves are simple. But the challenge is to lock every single note to drummer Larry Mullen Jr.
Learning to play this song well is all about the timing. You can use your fingers to strike the notes, like Clayton does in this song, or use a pick.
As the song progresses, Clayton’s playing gets stronger and he holds the notes for longer. Try to build in some dynamics and vary the volume.
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
Who doesn’t know and love this bass line which has permeated popular culture?
It’s a really easy song to learn and memorise on bass guitar. There are four main positions for the hands which cycle throughout the tune. Just take it slowly and you’ll never forget it.
This song is a good one to get under your belt early on in your bass adventures.
My Girl – The Temptations
Another song you can master very early on in your bass guitar journey.
The Motown tune opens with the unforgettable two note bass intro, played by James Jamerson. He proved that simple is often the best way to do it.
As the song unfolds there are some tricky patterns, if you want to get it accurate.
The descending bass notes at the end of the song are really satisfying and you’ll feel you are making great progress very quickly.
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
A track from 1964 which paved the way for garage rock and punk. The simple back and forth riff is one of the greatest of all time. Every beginner bass player should learn this.
Guitarist Dave Davies (brother of singer and songwriter Ray Davies) kicks things off with a bar of heavily distorted guitar. Davies says the sound came from a damaged speaker cone.
Then, on bar two, Pete Quaife comes in on the bass, mirroring the riff on the same notes.
This is a hard punchy song which you must attack. It’s easy enough but you have to really drive it forward, hitting the notes with confidence.
Yellow – Coldplay
This was the breakthrough song which made British band Coldplay famous when it was released in 2000. It was taken from their debut album Parachutes.
As they have progressed through their careers, front man Chris Martin’s songwriting has become more complex.
But this early tune has a simple and minimal bassline, delivered to perfection by Guy Berryman. It is a good tune for practicing fingerstyle. Most of the notes are on the same string, with little fret movement.
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Let’s turn to reggae for this next beginner bass favourite. It’s easy to pick up this upbeat song by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. It’s mainly quarter notes with some eighth notes.
But the deeper you dig into the groove, the more you’ll notice the subtle elements which make this swing.
This is a great introduction to reggae bass which is often about the notes you drop rather than play. It’s common to skip the first note of the bar every now and again.
Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple
This song features the epitome of the metal guitar riff. Who can forget Jack Black in School of Rock encouraging his class to build up a backing before he unleashes a solo over the famous refrain.
In the original tune the bass does its own thing, pounding single notes which provide a rock-solid foundation for the riff and the whole song.
Learning this song will teach you how to anchor down a band.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Learning how to play b
Another massive track that has only four notes in the main verse bassline. Nirvana’s grunge hit, from their 1991 album Nevermind, is one you can play along to as a beginner.
The challenge here comes when you have to switch rhythm for the syncopated chorus which is more difficult – and the post-chorus ‘hey’ section.
Nirvana’s bass player Kris Novoselic used a pick when he played this. During live shows he’d be jumping around while still managing to stay tight with drummer Dave Grohl.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
Front man Kurt Cobain starts the songs with the riff which is then echoed and repeated by the bass.
This one takes some concentration to learn, but it’s a fairly simple verse pattern over two chords. The essential bass playing technique you need to learn for this one is hammering off and hammering on. The chorus is regular eight notes.
Money – Pink Floyd
This bass line from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters is one of the absolute classics.
His licks on this track from the album Dark Side of the Moon sound deceptively straightforward. But the time signatures are odd when you break it down.
Beginners should be able to master the notes but learning how to count the timings properly will unlock the real Money.
The main section is in 7/4, which means seven beats in every bar. The guitar solo is in 4/4.
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
A slice of classic rock from Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker from 1967.
Bruce’s main bass line is easy to pick up and play along with. The renowned opening verse riff repeats the same pattern in two positions – high and low. Then there’s an easy three note pattern played three times.
This is a great song to play with a band or as the basis for a jam session.
Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson
This song from Michael Jackson’s seventh album Bad has one of his best basslines. On the original recording at least some of the bass line is delivered by a synth. The opening bass riff which continues under the verse is almost definitely a synth. The ‘Annie are you ok’ chorus sounds more like an electric bass being played.
But there’s nothing to stop you from playing the whole thing on a bass guitar. One of the best covers of this song, by Alien Ant Farm, reimagines it as a rock riff.
The notes are not difficult but it’s a fast tune and it will require a lot of coordination to get this right. This is not a song for total beginners.
Trying slowing everything down and practicing the different sections on their own.
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Anthems do not come much bigger than this smash from American rock band Bon Jovi. It was released in 1986 as the second single from their third album Slippery When Wet.
It has regularly been voted one of the best songs of the 1980s.
After a synth pad hold a long chord, the celebrated bass line kicks in with its eighth note pattern – and continues under the verse until the chorus.
This is another classic bass riff which can help to develop your consistency and accuracy. Once you’ve mastered the bass lines, it’s an epic song to try with a band.
Longview by Green Day
Surely one of the most famous punk basslines ever recorded. For this song, it’s the bass, played by Mike Dirnt, which totally drives everything along.
This song is unusual in that there’s moments you have to strum the bottom two strings at the same time. Alternatively, you can pinch them together, using your thumb and finger.
Longview starts with a tom tom beat on drums, before Dirnt does a descending pattern, before jumping into the main riff.
This bassline requires absolute confidence because you are centre stage for any performance.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by The Clash
One of the coolest bass players has to be Paul Simonon of English punk band The Clash, who more recently has also played in the Good, the Bad & the Queen.
Simonon delivered many great bass lines in The Clash but this one from Should I Stay Or Should I Go is perfect for beginners and one of the most famous.
The song was originally on The Clash’s album Combat Rock and features lead guitarist Mick Jones on main vocal (not the lead singer Joe Stummer).
However, it was made more famous when it featured on an advert for Levis jeans in the early 1990s.
Mr. Brightside – the Killers
Another massive song which features a steady eight note bass pattern – and can be learnt by relative newcomers to the bass guitar.
Mr. Brightside, which was the first single from the Killers, is challenging for the bass because of the speed, clocking in at 148 BPM.
The bass absolutely drives this emotional song along with its pounding notes.
Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie
This bassline became famous as the main sample which opened Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby.
The original descending two note riff was played by Queen’s unassuming John Deacon. The band say Deacon came up with the basic riff, which originally had six even notes. Then Bowie introduced the syncopation to the riff which stuck.
This one should present no challenges. The notes are easy but, as with all great bass playing, it’s the timing which needs to be solid.
Another One Bites The Dust by Queen
Probably the most iconic Queen bass line. Anyone will recognise this one. It’s another example of bass player John Deacon’s ability to deliver something simple but absolutely unforgettable.
The song was written by Deacon for Queen’s eighth studio album The Game. He insisted on a very simple drum loop before laying down his bass groove over the top.
There’s some technique to master. You need to mute the short notes with your right hand. There’s also some note bending if you want to get the exact sound.
Super Freak – Rick James
Another song which was sampled by a rapper – this time MC Hammer for U Can’t Touch This.
The original bass line is from the 1981 funk single Super Freak by Rick James.
This bass riff is an essential in the kit bag for any aspiring bass player. It involves lots of repetition and stays below the 5th fret, even for the chorus.
The main skill you will develop with this song is co-ordinating the left and right hand. As you get better at Super Freak you’ll start to hear some little extra funky elements which the bass player throws in to keep it interesting.
Seven Nation Army by White Stripes
Jack White’s infectious riff became an instant classic when it was released by his duo White Stripes in 2003.
Although the opening notes sounds like they are being played on a bass guitar, they’re being played by Jack on a guitar through a Whammy pedal which dropped the sound an octave.
However, cover bands generally play this one with a bass guitar doing the main riff alongside a guitarist.
It’s a fantastic song to play along to for a bass guitar beginner.
Come Together – The Beatles
Paul McCartney is probably best known as a songwriter. But his bass playing in The Beatles was outstanding. He is one of the greats of the instrument, developing an extremely melodic style.
Many of his bass lines are trickier than they sound. But his bass playing on Come Together is an excellent entry point for any new player.
The timing of the bass line requires some concentration. There’s a slide up from the 4th fret to the 10th which takes practice to get right.
Get Back – The Beatles
Watching Paul McCartney compose Get Back is one of the highlights of the 2021 documentary which covered the making of album Let It Be.
This is another of McCartney’s easier basslines to master and play along with.
It mainly comprises rapid eighth-note repeats. Play them with downstrokes using a pick. There’s a few timing switches which need attention to get right.
She Loves You by The Beatles
An early Beatles classic, first released as a single in 1963. McCartney played his iconic Hofner violin bass for the recording at Abbey Road Studios.
There’s a swing, or a bounce, to this song which is really helpful to learn.
Remember, by the time McCartney recorded this he’d been playing live for thousands of hours with the Beatles. So it had taken him a lot of work to sound this effortless
Pretty Fly For A White Guy by The Offspring
One of Californian punk band The Offspring’s biggest international hits. There’s two main elements to the bass throughout the song, which is from their album Americana.
The two main riffs by bass guitarist Greg Kriesel have some hammer ons and slides you need to get right.
Pretty Fly For A White Guy has lots of energy and will develop strength in your playing.
“I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown
Surprisingly simple and highly addictive bass from the Godfather of Soul. This bass line from James Brown’s 1965 single is under a 12 bar blues progression.
The job of the bass on this track is to keep it steady and absolutely solid in terms of time.
It’s a great work out for your pinky which will get strong practicing this track.
The ending is great fun, especially the final run down into the repeating bass note.
Otherside – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Flea is up there as one of rock’s best bass players. He is famous for his funk-rock grooves, with lots of slap bass.
But don’t be put off and think that his bass lines are only for experts.
This bass line is definitely one you can learn as a beginner and it will fill you with confidence to take your playing to the next level.
There’s a slide right up to the 14th which will take a bit of practice. But the notes and rhythm are all manageable with some dedication.
Ladies Night – Kool And The Gang
A disco classic originally released in 1979 which has gone on to become a dance floor and radio staple
The intro is tricky for a beginner and there are some more difficult sections but the main riff is easy to get under the fingers.
It’s a great introduction to funk playing which requires precision and accuracy.
Good Times – Chic
This bass line from disco band Chic’s third album Risqué has also been sampled heavily, most famously for Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang.
It has echoes of Another One Bites The Dust, and may have even inspired that line.
The bass player in Chic was Bernard Edwards, who co-founded the band with guitarist Nile Rogers. Together they also created other Chic hits including Le Freak and Everybody Dance.
The pair also wrote dozens of smash hits for other artists including The Greatest Dancer, We Are Family, Upside Down and I’m Coming Out.
You will be following in great bass footsteps to learn a funky Edwards bassline.
Wicked Game – Chris Isaac
This song is most famous for its guitar lines, haunting melody and Chris Isaac’s incredible voice.
Underpinning the guitar and voice is a pleasant bass pattern which is undemanding and should present no problem for a beginner.
The track is in E minor which means lots of open notes on the bottom string.
Wicked Game was not a hit when it was originally released as a single. It gained notoriety after being featured on the soundtrack for the David Lynch film Wild at Heart.
Hysteria – Def Leppard
A steady tempo tune from the English rockers, released in 1987 as the title track to their fourth studio album.
The bass, played by founding member Rick Savage, is very clean and simple, with eighth notes throughout the song.
Savage is the only remaining original member of the band, along with lead singer Joe Elliot.
As a bass player, Savage has talked about the fact he always plays with a pick, to achieve a consistent sound across the fretboard.
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
The ear worm on this classic rock track is the riff by guitarist Keith Richards, who says he wrote it in his sleep.
Propelling the song along is the bass line by Bill Wyman, which joins the riff almost immediately at the start.
The tune was a No1 record all over the world and is still a center piece of the band’s live performances.
Wyman was the bass player in the Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1992. He retired and was replaced by Darryl Jones who has been the bass player ever since, although not as a ‘full’ member of the group.
Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz
American musician Lenny Kravitz’s best-known song, with its Jimi Hendrix-style guitar. It was the title track from Kravitz’s third studio album which was released in 1993.
The bass line is achievable for a beginner. The track also contains a more difficult section under the guitar solo.
The bass player on this track was Tony Breit, although Kravitz does play bass on many of his own tracks.
Back In Black – AC/DC
It’s an incredible feeling playing along with such a massive rock riff as this one from AC/DC’s seventh studio album. You feel like you’re there on stage with lead guitarist Angus Young in front of those massive Marshall amps.
The bass is relatively easy, underpinning the guitar riffs without the fills. Once you get this one under the fingers it’s great fun.
Iron Man – Black Sabbath
The guitar and robot voice which open this track still sounds intimidating to this day, even though it was released back in 1970.
There are few more iconic heavy metal riffs than the one which kicks in soon after.
The song was developed in the studio by the whole band including lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, lead guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward. The lyrics were written by bass player Geezer Butler.
For much of the song the bass mimics the guitar riffs in unison. But there’s sections where the band rock out. There is also a super-fast closing section when the bass delivers rapid sixteenth notes.
Like many Black Sabbath songs, this is a great one to play along with at home.
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
Another tune where the most famous elements are not the bass – but the piano and the vocal. However, without the bass the song would not be the one we know and love.
It is a great song to have in your repertoire, especially for a beginner bass player.
The song was released by American band Journey in October 1981. An unusual feature is that the chorus does not come until near the end of the song, by which time the listener has has three verses and two pre-choruses.
The bass player on the original recording was Ross Valory who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Vallory strings his bass B-E-A-D, which he calls Nashville Tuning.
Chameleon – Herbie Hancock
A jazz fusion song which has become a jazz standard, after being composed and recorded by keys legend Herbie Hancock for his Headhunters album.
Although the original recording last 15 minutes and 41 seconds, there are two main chromatic bass patterns, with six notes each. The two chords are Eb7 and Bbm7. Then there is a more tricky ending section to each rotation of the groove before it repeats.
In the original recording the bass line was played on a synth. But it lends itself well to bass guitar. There’s lots of live versions where Herbie is accompanied by a electric bass player.
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
An instantly recognizable bassline from Michael Jackson, which interplays with the synth stabs over the top.
The right-hand finger picking is easy to pick up. The hard work is the constantly moving left hand frets which will require some strength and perseverance to get right.
Billie Jean was the second single from Jackson’s album Thriller, one of the biggest of the 1980s.
The bass player on Billie Jean was Louis Johnson, who died tragically young aged just 60 in 2015. He played on many of Michael Jackson’s albums including Off The Wall, Thriller and Dangerous.
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
This song is from Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours, one of the best selling albums of all time. For many years the band opened their live shows with it.
The bass remains silent for almost the first minute of the song, then comes in with a series of open A string notes. The bass line develops before going silent again.
There’s a second repeat of the chorus before the bass settles down to two long held bottom Es.
Then it’s time to let rip on the legendary bass instrumental section with just a high-hat accompaniment, before Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar comes in over the top.
Considering what a famous song this is, the bass part is not too difficult at all.
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
One of the all-time funk rock classics. This track was released in 1976 and went to No1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 that year.
Wild Cherry were a hard rock covers band from Cleveland, Ohio, who recognized that to succeed at that time they needed to embrace dance music.
Lead singer Rob Parissi wrote the song very quickly after a member of the audience said to the drummer Ron Beitle, “are you going to play some funky music, white boys?”
The bass line, played by Allen Wentz, is in the key of E and has a lot of hammer ons. Its in the pentatonic minor, which is a popular with funk.
Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz
A more contemporary tune from Damon Albarn and his virtual band Gorillaz. This track was released in 2005 and features the American hip-hop group De La Soul. It was the main single from their second album Demon Days.
The main bass line is a repetitive groove which continues throughout the track. It features a slide up to the 12th fret.
Every Breath You Take – The Police
Very few bands have the bass player as the lead singer. One shining example is The Police, with Sting both as front man and bass guitarist.
The trio, which also included Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums, were all phenomenal musicians.
Sting’s songwriting helped The Police achieve huge success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with hits like Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing you and Message in a Bottle.
Although Sting is a great bass player, Every Breath You Take is a an easy bass song which people can learn as beginners. It is one of the most played songs on music radio.
The bass line is mainly eighth notes , holding single notes at a time.
Enter Sandman – Metallica
Heavy and hard. This is one of the best-known of the American heavy metal band’s songs. It was the opening track from their fifth album, which was simply called Metallica.
The bass player on Enter Sandman was Jason Newstead, who used a plectrum for the sound on this track. Newstead was the bass guitarist in Metallica from 1986 to 2001. He replaced the previous bassist Cliff Burton who died in a tour bus crash. Newstead was himself replaced by Robert Trujillo.
This is a simple bass line but delivered with usual Metallica precision and skill.
Dakota – Stereophonics
The biggest hit from Welsh rock band Stereophonics. It opens with a distinctive synth with a phaser effect.
Then the bass comes in with the drums and hammers out a persistent eighth note pattern, jumping up the neck to the 12th fret for the pre-chorus.
The bassist in Stereophonics is Richard Jones, who was one of the founding members of the group, along with singer Kelly Jones (no relation) and original drummer Stuart Cable, who left the band in 2010.
Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
This higher tempo song by Indie group Foster The People blew up in 2010 before the band even had a record deal. There’s plenty of hammer on and pull offs to get your fingers around.
The main riff repeats throughout the track with some small fills and variations.
The tune was written by frontman Mark Foster and was originally posted as a free download. Foster was working as a jingle writer at Mophonics in Los Angeles at the time.
He says he wrote the whole song in less than five hours.
Bombtrack – Rage Against The Machine
A big dose of anger from Los Angeles rock band Rage Against The Machine. This was the opening track from their debut album and has stood the test of time.
The opening riff will take some work, but it is achievable. This is a fast track with a tempo of 150 BPM.
Bombtrack was written by the bass player Tom Commerford so the riffs are all his.
If you’re looking for a track to rock out to this one should do the job.
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