People don’t give bass enough credit. While bass players are often the butt of jokes, the bass guitar is an instrument that revolutionized rock history. In the early 1950s, Leo Fender marketed the bass guitar as a louder and portable alternative to the upright bass. The upright bass was more popular in jazz, classical, country, and bluegrass, but didn’t have the same appeal when rock music became the center.
With all of this unique history, you’re probably compelled to learn the bass. Or maybe you just appreciate the slappity grooviness of the instrument. Either way, if you’re new to bass, you’re probably not sure where to start. Here are some song recommendations!
The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
When listening to this song, would you guess that The White Stripes doesn’t have a bass player? That prominent “bass line” is one of the most distinguishable qualities of the song. I actually thought it was a bass thus far. But from reading forums, Jack White is actually playing that part on a guitar with a pedal that makes the tone drop.
However, there are bass tabs for this song. Had to get that out of the way because I thought that was interesting.
Back to learning this song, many beginning bass players gravitate to this song since that part is so prominent. It’s easy to hear and play along to it. It’s repetitive, so there aren’t intricacies and surprises here.
It does challenge bass players in some ways. For example, it is a long bass part, ringing out throughout the verses.
The thump-thump-thump-thump-thump groove also helps you count as you play. Remember, the bass is a rhythm instrument, so don’t leave all of the countings to the drummer. That part is also a good way to learn how to change keys. If you’re only comfortable playing in C major, this part is written in G major. You’re also playing eighth notes, triplets, and other rhythm variations. This is overall easy to tackle but will still keep you on your toes.
The Beatles – “She Loves You”
The Beatles are a staple band when you first learn music. While their music is simple to play, The Beatles were excellent songwriters. They used melody in genius ways, making them memorable for future generations of rock bands. While we wouldn’t think of The Beatles when we think of a solid rhythm section (no offense, Paul and Ringo), there are plenty of Beatles songs to play if you’re learning bass.
Again, there are so many songs you could learn, but I would start with an earlier Beatles song such as “She Loves You.” There’s a reason why — Paul McCartney was forced to learn bass. He previously played piano for The Beatles. Then, when former bassist Stu Sutcliffe left the band, McCartney was forced to pick up the bass. The bass lines you hear in early Beatles material are simple because, well, McCartney didn’t know how to play the bass.
Want to challenge your bass playing with Beatles songs? Simple — play later Beatles material when McCartney’s bass playing improved.
Let’s go back to “She Loves You.” You learn classic bass techniques from this song alone. The rhythm is a series of quarter notes with a dotted half-note, which is pretty standard. It’s written in C major — easy peasy. It’s also a standard simple rhythm but still drives the song. Because of the speed (yes, it’s faster than it seems), this is a good song to play with a pick.
Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
Most guitarists learn the intro riff to this famous song when they first start playing. Don’t worry, the bass lines are just as easy. They will challenge beginners since this song has a strong tempo and requires serious finger strength. Plus, there are 1,200 notes in total! It is played in G minor, so there are flat notes here.
Rest assured, this song is one of the most playable and easiest songs by Deep Purple. That’s because it’s a 4/4 scale. With that being said, there are eighth notes, so you’ll need to focus.
Cream “Sunshine of Your Love”
“Sunshine of Your Love” is easily the most recognizable Cream song (next to “White Room”). And as a new bass player, you’ll soon learn this song is fun to play! It’s a simple song that’s perfect for any
The Police – “Message in a Bottle”
If you’re looking for a song with a simple, repetitive bass line, this is one of the best songs to learn. The song was written by Sting himself; while it’s a simple 4/4 bassline, it’s the driving point throughout the song. This is also the best song if you’re building up your speed. At 150 beats per minute (BPM), this song will still be a challenge for those who have previously only played slow songs.
Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”
Here’s another song that was written by a bass player. John Deacon wrote this memorable and catchy Queen song, so it’s also a great one when learning bass.
This song is written in E minor; since a lot of rock songs are written in this key, it’s essential to master it. It’s overall uncomplicated, but there are some challenges here. For example, it uses a Pentatonic scale, which can be difficult for beginners. There are 16th notes and eighth rests, so you have to focus and control your fingers.
The Who – “Baba O’Riley”
This classic Who song isn’t difficult at all for a new bass player. However, it does come with various rhythms and some fast sections. From whole notes to rests, this song has a little bit of everything in notation. This song will help you perfect all of them. It’s a long song, but it is versatile, so it’s sure to keep you on your toes.
Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”
“Comfortably Numb” is one of the most famous rock ballads in history. While Pink Floyd isn’t known for being a simple band, the bass line in this song isn’t complicated at all.
However, this song has a specific tempo (64 BPM, specifically) and it is a six-minute song, so you have to be consistent when playing it. This song features some notes you’ll need to play, such as dotted eighth note and sixteenth note pairings. You’ll also learn crucial techniques, such as slides. If your hands are largely untrained, this song gives you an opportunity to build your stamina and technique.
James Brown – “I Feel Good”
You wouldn’t think to practice bass to this James Brown hit, but this song actually has a great bass line. It’s a funky song, and there’s nothing better than funk bass. If you’re stuck playing in one genre, this song will help you expand. At 144 BPM with a repetitive bassline, it’s a comfortable speed for a
There are some ways this song challenges a
Green Day – “When I Come Around”
Green Day is another classic band that has easy songs, ideal for new musicians. What makes Green Day songs great for new musicians is they’re a more modern band, so their songs are recognizable compared to others on this list. This song, in particular, has a defining bass riff that’s easy for beginners to pick up.
For starters, this bass line is short. The bass line consists of two bars you just have to repeat 25 times. It is a slightly fast tempo, but nothing overly complicated. You can’t get easier than that! Depending on the tuning of your bass, you may have to re-tune it to get your bass to the ideal tone.
Green Day – “Longview”
I decided to include another Green Day song because, well why not? “Longview” is another main song that the band is famous for. That and the catchy bass line at the beginning can guide new players. It’s a repetitive bass line, so any player can easily follow along. This song is great because there are certain techniques, such as slides, that players can practice.
3 Doors Down – “Kryptonite”
Another modern band that made fantastic songs is 3 Doors Down. “Kryptonite” is by far one of their most famous ones. This one is a good song to learn on bass because it has a unique groove to it. There aren’t any crazy techniques to learn and the chord patterns are simple. Plus, this song is slow compared to other rock songs. Newbies can easily follow along.
Michael Jackson – “Smooth Criminal”
There are many irresistible Michael Jackson songs, but this one has the most prominent bass line. It’s a contemporary song that’s still funky, so new bass players can pick up grooving really quick. Plus, it has many basic bass patterns that are friendly enough for beginners. For this song, you’re playing in standard tuning. The speed is 118 BPM — not terribly fast but may still push you.
Bob Marley – “Three Little Birds”
“Three Little Birds” is one of Bob Marley’s most famous songs. It sounds difficult because of the Caribbean feel, but the bass line isn’t hard at all. It’s a groovy bassline with three distinct patterns. I recommend picking with your fingers and not a pick, though. There are some techniques here, such as slides, but nothing too crazy.
Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”
Ozzy Osbourne’s songs are classics for all heavy metal fans. Ozzy’s bass players set the foundation for metal bass playing, so it makes sense to learn these classic songs. At 138 BPM, “Crazy Train” might be a bit of a challenge since it’s a bit fast. You may want to try playing this song slowly
at first. Fortunately, the song is in 4/4 and the grooves are easy enough for beginners.
Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain”
“The Chain” is one of Fleetwood Mac’s most interesting songs and the first one I heard from the band. Most material from Fleetwood Mac isn’t tricky to play, and this song is one of them. It’s one of the more powerful songs in Fleetwood Mac’s discography, making for a great bass song. There are plenty of grooves for you to have fun with. Plus, you’re really only playing bass during the chorus!
Question: Should I Learn Music Theory or Songs First?
Answer: Music theory, absolutely. The two go hand-in-hand; as you learn songs, your understanding of music theory will also improve. However, you should at least know the foundations of music before learning songs. These include:
Knowing the notes on the fretboard
Timing and rhythm
What about techniques? I suggest polishing those up as you learn songs. If you find it beneficial to research specific techniques, then you can find plenty of information online and YouTube videos.
Question: How do I Learn These Songs?
Question: Are Bassists Failed Guitar Players?
Bass is one of the most integral instruments in a variety of genres, from funk to reggae all the way to heavy metal.
If you want to learn how to play bass, then we think that’s awesome! There are several easy bass songs to get you started. All of these songs have prominent bass songs that are easy to play and slightly challenge you to improve your playing. Whether you want to start with The Beatles or Green Day, I made sure to include a variety of songs here for all types of players.