Best Bassists Ever

July 2, 2015 - List of the Top 10 Bassists. Add your bassist here.... Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Flea
I've been playing bass all of my live and I never stop learning new things of him
In my honest and personal opinion Michael 'flea' balzaray is the best bassist ever because of his technique and his style. Don't get me started about sound because what I have too say would be too long too read but short and simple flea has a sound no one can beat. He keeps the best beat and has the best slap. End of story
Unbelievable the things he can do with a bass guitar. Revolutionized the bass several time. Basically founded the slapping technique and with one of the best bands in the world now
[Newest]Perhaps not the most inspirational bassist on this list, but his technique and skill are almost unparalleled (besides maybe John Entwistle and Geddy Lee).
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2Geddy Lee
When discussing "The best 'x' of all time" lists, I think people rarely TRULY assess the bassist position in a band. The lists for best guitarist or drummer (albeit the ORDER rarely exactly the same), typically have the same names in the top 10.

But with bass guitarists, people tend to know the name of the bass guitarist of their favorite band & go
with that person. THAT'S A SHAME!
"Inspirational" is one thing (& definitely should be considered), but proficiency, skill, creativeness, & style are the real indicators to examine. Not to mention the genre of music they play may or may not grant them certain "latitudes" to show off their abilities!
But when a particular musician can portray &/or excel in ALL of these... There's your winner!

EXAMPLE: Ringo Starr... Inspirational? YES! Greatest drummer? Not EVEN close! With that said... Mike Dirnt, Cliff Burton... Inspirational? NO question! Best bassist? Come on!

Now on with my list (& in no particular order with exception of the first name! Laugh out loud! ).
Geddy Lee!
John Myung
Chris Squier
Steve Harris
Les Claypool
(& for you jazz buffs... No, I did not include Stanley Clarke! )
Um... Ok, this is confusing, first of all, Cliff Burton was a good bass player, but he wasn't that great, second of all, how is some weird dude named Tetsuya Ogawa above Geddy Lee? , and third of all, all the dudes above Geddy Lee, currently just have to play bass, Geddy Lee can sing, play keyboards, AND play bass
My opinion is Geddy Lee is the best bassist ever and he deserves to have 100% instead of 4 why do people think he is not the best.
[Newest]Geddy lee is the hottest and most bad ass 61 year old on the planet.
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3Cliff Burton
R.I. P
I like Zombie-man and Trujillo, but no one can ever be as good as Cliff was...

Cannot the Kingdom of Salvation Take Me Home

R.I.P.
Bass god- listen to the solo he does on 'Kill 'em All', then tell me he doesn't deserve to be here!
Calling a bassist best of the world based on a solo makes you lose all credibility.
He is easily the bast bassist in the world because he has fingers like picks! No wait... THREE PICKS! Like Kirk Hammett said.
[Newest]Simply put, the greatest.
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4John Entwistle
Come on all you kids who vote on these lists... Look for John Entwistle on Youtube. See the magic he does. There's even a video taken from a cam fixed on the neck of his guitar just to show people what's going on. The man does things with his fingers that, well, are not supposed to be possible. Love you John, rest in peace.
Entwisle is a god, and that's as plain as that. So many good bass players, still, in what he did, he has shown mastery and virtuosity beyond understanding. That guy never needed to do antics on the stage. Calm and composed at all times, he lets his fingers talk for him. God knows how many times he had to pick up the whole rhythm section in show because Keith Moon was busy doing something else than playing.

Not present on this list, but should be: Paul McCartney, a truly under-rated bass player; Tony Levin, an amazing session bassist besides playing with King Crimson, Chris Squire, who did incredible things with his Rickenbacker and showed what amazing varieties of tones you can get from that instrument. And Jaco Pastorious, from Weather Report among others. Stanley Clarke, from Return to Forever and others. Peter Hook from New Order. And yes, Myung from DT. JPJ from LedZep. But there are too many...
The absolute best. Look at the ox bass solo. If anything it should put him at number one for sure.
[Newest]John's technique and feel was unbelievable. His fingers moved so fast that it seemed inhuman.
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5John Paul Jones
Should in Top 5. Backbone of greatest rock band of all time. Totally understated and overlooked.
Should in top 10.
Many bass player influenced by him,
flea, geddy lee, and many more..
If every bassist on this list voted for the best then John Paul Jones and James Jamerson would be taking the cake.
[Newest]Like Entwistle, a melodic rocker. "Ramble On" is a beautiful piece of work.
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6Les Claypool
JOHNNY CHRIST BEING BETTER THAN LES CLAYPOOL IS THE MOST ABSURD THING I'VE EVER HEARD! IT'S UNACCEPTABLE!
You can't tell me that a man who plays a 25 freat 6 string fretless bass, and TAPS most of it WHILE SINGING at such a rate most other bassists can't compete with, isn't number one
Even Metallica, after newstead quit admitted he was better then anyone they had ever seen while he auditioned for them. He wasnt given the job because he was "too good"

Les Claypool all the way
Hands down the most talented bassist to ever pick up an instrument, Entwistle is his closest competition...
[Newest]I've seen hundreds of bass players bar none les is the very best no one touches him
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7Steve Harris
I don't even know where to start, the technique, the speed, the fact that a bass guitarist is the frontman of the greatest band in history just makes me wonder why not everyone is voting for this man of british steel. I think cliff burton gets many sympathy votes due to his early passing, but he was NOT a better bass player, he was not a better songwriter (harris has written and co-written over 90% of maidens songs)and no one has ever had a stronger passion than steve. I hope people read this comment and consider voting and listening to one of the great men of metal.
Cliff was only decent. Steve Harris has co- written 120 songs out of the 150 Maiden songs and out of them 57 of them are solely written by Harris.
Steve Harris IS Iron Maiden. Cliff Burton was never Metallica.
Phantom of the opera licks are simply awesome, as all have noted his speed is simply stupefying. Could be wrong but it seems as if the whole band is following the tempo that he's laying down. Absolutely fantastic
[Newest]Just the best, so much quality and energy!
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8Paul McCartney
it is arguable whether Paul McCartney is the best Bass player ever. What is beyond dispute is the fact he is the Greatest of all time. Who else can claim
i) To have been around (And still gigging at the highest level) for five decades
ii) Will go down in musical history as one of the greatest composers of all time. Up there with Beethoven, Chopin, Brian Wilson, Lloyd weber et al
i) Has probably made more money than the rest put together.
iv) Has been knighted 'Sir Paul McCartney' by the Queen for services to music
v) Has met and entertained Kings, Queens, Presidents, Mandela etc (And impromptu free gigs at his local pub in England)
vi) His music will still be around in 100, or 1000 years time
vii) Is the most recognized, worldwide of any on this, or any other musical list you care to come up with. Before you argue with this, get a list of names or photographs of your top 10, 20, or 100 of top bassists and show them to the first random 10 people you meet. Check the response.
vi) In addition to this, and some memorable, original, melodic bass lines, he has inspired more people to take up bass than anyone (Including me)
Jimi Hendrix called Paul his favorite bassist of all time. More finger dexterity than any of the names mentioned here. Just listen to his performance in "Something"
McCartney is one of the most influential and innovative bass players of all time. Practically all of the others listed here are directly or indirectly influenced by McCartney's clever bass lines. His sense of melody really gave the bass lines their own soul and completely changed the songs. His sense of timing created some really classic riffs. Listen to "I Want You (She's so Heavy), "Only a Northern Song", "Something", "Rain", etc... Awesome stuff. He proved that Bass lines don't have to be an afterthought and follow the base chords.

Some of these others above Macca are silly. I like Green Day, but come on. Dirnt is no McCartney. And James Jamerson at #58? That pretty much invalidates this list.
[Newest]Paul is the most artistic and seamless bass player ever. There is a difference in being a technical shredder and being original. Paul is #1 in my book.
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9Geezer Butler
God This People Need Some Knowledge. Butler is the greatest bassist of all-time. This is Geezer we are talking about should be 1. This is Geezer we are talking about should be 1. This is Geezer we are talking about should be 1
Geezer Slaps That Bass Like A Madman He Should Be #1

OzzyVanHalen

Butler is the greatest bassist of all-time. Listen to Sabbath's Heaven and Hell album if you want to hear how a bass is supposed to sound.

hardrockfanatic

[Newest]Without geezer and Black Sabbath there would be no foundation to metal. Geezer, tony bill, ozzy, and dio you guys rock1

10Roger Waters
Him, john entwistle and john paul jones should be on the top 5 with cliff burton!

abbytoledo1293

Roger waters made some of the most memorable bass lines ever. So in that case he is better than john paul jones, but not as good as john entwistle. He just sounds better on bass than anyone else because he digs into your soul. Just listen to Money, Time, Childhood's End, Comfortably Numb, Another Brick In the Wall, Echoes, and Let There Be More Light. He is SO unique.
Money, another brick in the wall, comfortably numb. Yeah, roger waters is one of the best, under cliff burton and steve harris

pauler94

[Newest]This man is so creative...he wrote lots of great Pink Floyd songs...he is so good.


The Contenders

11Jaco Pastorius
Jaco is hands-down the number one most influential, he brought the electric bass out of the box and put it in the forefront. Teen Town and Portrait of Tracy are prime examples of how bass can take over and be the leader if need be. He did for bass what Bach did for all of music: he figured the darn thing out and brought it further than anyone else has. He had incredible amounts of talent, and used 100% of it, all the time. Victor Wooten is without doubt the most innovative bass player, and most likely the best living bassist. Victor started playing bass when he was 3 or 4 years old, so he has that skill literally built into his brain. I would say Steven Bailey is up there too, along with Sheehan, Clarke, and Geddy. Also, someone needs to keep an eye on Jaco's son Felix, he might be a force to be reckoned with in the future...
Jaco would be first if people understood that jaco was the influence for every single bassist on this page
25? Green Day at 11? I guess that's what happens when anybody can vote :/ Jaco is and extremely well bass player and incredibly unique style
[Newest]Jaco changed the way people would play bass forever. He's definitely number 1!
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12John Deacon
Grossly underrated. His bass parts are like little stories, yet he never gets in anyone's way. With all the guitars and vocals going on, he finds the spaces and plays basically what he wants. He's loose, fluid, and quite busy at times, but I can't find one song where he stepped on the vocal or guitar parts.
With John's bass the music flows and is full of hidden intricacies. You need to listen to understand the pure detail and appreciate how he supports and develops each song without diistracting from the work of the rest of Queen
He is the underrated member of that band. He just quietly went about his business doing the greatest thing of the time. He would still be right up there if he was still active.
[Newest]John Deacon had wicked bass lines such as in Another one Bites The Dust, Dragon Attack and many other bass driven songs. My favorite work of his though is in Killer Queen. The bass is not over complicated, but genius.
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13Duff McKagan
My favorite bassists but not the top, a lot of it is his band, but he's still awesome, go on youtube and type in slash solo, click on the one on him live in Tokyo and it starts off with a duff awesome bass solo them to a bass line
Maybe the perfect bass tune.. Not the best technical level but definitely he has an awesome sense of bass playing and generally melody.. One of the main factors of the guns n' roses commercial and not even succes... If he's not the best bass player he's for sure one of the best bass line composer.. A bass line can't be noticed often from a not musician, duff is one of the bassists that have achieved the attention of all kind listeners with his special tone and his melodies.. You can recognise him.. In first place he's a musician and then a player
ohhhhhhh. c mon duff should be in the top 5. in his songs you can actually hear the bass. hottest bassist by the way ;)
[Newest]My fave bass player ever

14Chris Squire
If you saw Squire live in concert you would realize that he needs to be much higher up on this list. I would have to think at worst he would be in the class of the top 20 bassists, but I guess when you play in a Progressive Rock band, you cannot stack up to the likes of a P-Nut or a Mikey Way. I like Journey, but come on... Valory is no Squire.
So underrated!
His solos are great (the fish, silent wings) but don't just listen to those - his basslines and incredible use of scales in songs like heart of the sunrise and roundabout are amazing!

mowglisegus614

Listen to Heart Of The Sunrise. Shows how a bassist should be part of a band, not an exhibitionist! (Although he has his moments - watch out for his triple neck on the video of Awaken). There are parts where the bass is the lead instrument and parts where it adds to the melody and harmony. And what a sound from that Rickenbacker! Chris's musicianship is illustrated by his syncopation, ability to cut through or blend in, as neccessary, the notes he chooses and the way he plays them. Also check out the bass lines in Siberian Khatru. So much to explore and learn from.
[Newest]Your Music Was Fantastic We Will Always Remember You RIP

15Billy Sheehan
This list is crazy. He should at least be in the top 5. Looks like bands that are popular even though have good but not virtuoso bass players (guns roses, Kiss, Cheap trick, Journey, etc. ) seemed to be listed high based off of people just liking those bands. Billy along with John Ro Myung, Mark King and stanley clarke deserve to all be pushed up to the top ten. Also I didn't see him on the list bu Stu Hamm also should be on the top of
This list. Don't believe me? Do some youtube searches of some of these guys in action and you will no doubt change you mind.
Why is he not top ten? Compare his solos to anyone else and he will beat anybody.
For me billy sheehan is the best bassist ever...
No one can beat billy in terms of bass.. Nice hand speed and technique. Nice one billy sheehan
[Newest]He's better than Cliff Burton. He deserves the top spot, followed by Steve Harris and John Myung.
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16Victor Wooten
I can't believe that most of the people on this survey have no appreciation or understanding that Victor Wooten should be at the top--not far down on this list. The others who voted for Wooten and left comments--I thank you. The only thing I might add is that Vic is super good guy, humble and a great speaker--I had the opp to meet him at a clinic at the House of Guitars in Rochester NY. There is more to bass playing than heavy metal--Vic has command over many venues and he never stops advancing.
Most people think that just because you can play fast you're a great player. Such is many of the examples above. But to have a high understanding of a would be simple instrument as Victor Wooten is a great feat.
I'm a die hard fan of Metallica Cliff Burton is the best bassist Metallica Have had, but he never demonstrate the versatility that Victor Wooten has.
Victor Wooten is by far better than everyone in front of him on this list. I love Avenged Sevenfold but there is no conceivable way that he should be in top 100 let alone above a man like Victor Wooten. I have seen both A7X live as well as Bela Fleck, and outside of maybe Synyster Gates, who actually is a jazz guitarist by trade, none of the A7X crew can hold up against the sheer skill and talent of the men in Bela Fleck. Metallica is also great, but Cliff Burton is no where near the bass player of Vic Wooten.
[Newest]19 Bassists above Wooten based on anything other than popularity is ludicrous.
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17Nikki Sixx
On top of his work as an amazing bassist, he's also the main songwriter for Motley Crue. He is the twisted mind of the Crue and should be respected accordingly. For those that turn up their noses at "80's hair bands" please remember this. The most played song of 2008 was "Life is Beautiful" by Sixx:A. M. Now, where do you think they got part of the band's name? That would be from their hair band veteran bassist.
Nikki is the best bass guitarist ever, hands down! And I don't know of anyone who can out-play Nikki on the bass guitar. He's very dedicated, and anyone who can survive what he has, and be in two bands that kick ass, plus do everything else he does, deserves to be in the #1 spot! This man has been giving everything he's got for over 30 years! Come on people! Nikki deserves much more than to be 39th on this list! Let's help put him in the #1 spot!
What the hell? How is Nikki only number 39?
I'm sorry, but this is just not right. Nikki is AMAZING as a bassist, I'd kill to be able to play like him. And looking up the list, I mean, My Chem is my favourite band ever, but there is no way Mikey is a better bassist than Nikki.
Move Nikki UP!

ExesAndErin

[Newest]Nikki it's a model of the Hollywood scene of the 80, s he only has good looks, but he is just a plain bassist don put stupid things like these, don be ignorant ยก
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18Lemmy
Not only is Lemmy a ' God! He is the most genuine Rocker there is. His style is Rythme Bass with a Punch in the face. He is completely part of all of the songs that Motorhead make and to top it off he has influenced everyone in the metal scene. This still living legend needs to be way up there I mean come on! Johnny Christ From "Avenged Sevenfold" is Number 7! I'm sorry but he does not even belong... it should be Cliff Burton, Geddy Lee, Flea, Steve Harris, John Entwistle, Les Claypool, and Lemmy KILL-MASTER! Speed, Sex, Whiskey and Rock N' Roll!
Why the hell is Lemmy not #1, he's an amazing bassist. Listen to the Ace of Spades and say he doesn't belong in the top ten
What! Not even in the top 30! Lemmy should be number 4 after Cliff Burton, Steve Harris, and John Entwislte!

gibsonrock53

[Newest]The leader of one of the best metal bands ever

19Mike Starr
Mike was one of the kindest people in the world. He was the most distinguished and talented bassists of the 90's and his impact upon Grunge as well as Hard Rock will always be his legacy!
The Best Bass player in the world... May his sweet soul rest in peace...
Amazingly talented bassist. The music world, and his fans miss him always. Rest in peace.
[Newest]I love mike starr!

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20Jack Bruce
The Greatest! Should be #1. He was innovative, particularly when paired with Clapton their 3 piece banded sounded like 4 or 5 pieces. He was one of the few rock bassists playing "lead bass" at the time, borrowing from jazz greats. He should be closely followed by McCartney and Squire!
Jack is the master. His incredible playing and ground-breaking sounds have influenced many of the other bass players listed here. His constant growth and change and adaptation to new ideas is apparent in everything he plays. His song writing and collaborations are always unique, powerful, and intriguing. And he's still playing in many different venues and bands. Spectrum Road, his tribute band to Tony Williams, has won best jazz album of 2012 from many publications. The 'old soul' of the bass.
Although Entwistle is #1 ^^ Chris Squire is #2, I just had to vote for Jack Bruce, as I was so disappointed by the people before him. He's probably the most talented musician alive, as he is not only one of the greatest bassists, but also one of the greatest singers in rock. I still don't know how someone could sing so well ^^ play bass like that at the same time. Listen to "Spoonful" ^^ you'll know what I'm saying.
[Newest]So underrated. I don't like his music, but he's still talented.

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This list was created 8 years, 209 days ago and has been voted on over 64,000 times. This top ten list contains 421 items, has been remixed 108 times and has been blogged about 17 times.

Updated Thursday, July 02, 2015


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