Top Ten Hardest Bass Riffs


These are the hardest songs to play on the bass. 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

YYZ - Rush
Yyz is a difficult song. It's basic tune isn't that hard thought the solo's leave me jumbled. I have been learning bass for close to two years now and this has definitely been the biggest challenge yet. Like I said the tempo isn't to hard and if you want to make things easier for yourself use a little third finger. The solo's and particularly the triplet ending are... hmm lets say FRUSTRATING, but apart from that its not an extremely difficult piece. Really some Primus should be up at number 1. I have to agree, Cliff Burtons anesthesia sounds ridiculously guitar rooted; but man I have to give it too him to come up with that is some great work. GEDDY IS BETTER. I have to ask why the hell is hysteria even on this list?! It's a sinch. I learnt it in like 40 minutes. Seriously.
The tempo isn't all that fast ranging from around 90-110. It starts to get hard when you notice the whole song is in sixteenth and there is absolutely no room for error because the entire time the bass line is the melody to the song. The bass line is set up so melodiously that you can anticipate the note before it happens which is why you can't miss a single note.
YYZ has so many twists and turns and bass solos left and right it's just so hard to play and it's a way faster tempo than most songs... *cough* *cough* it actually SOUNDS like bass instead of guitar unlike anesthesia over here it even sounds bad. if cliff didn't add so much distortion in the sound it would sound good.. he even plays it like guitar when the drums kick in. they think he's so great cause he plays with distortion. geddy lee actually has a bassy style. geddy is so much better people pen your eyes!
[Newest]Where is Turn The Page by Rush?

2Route 666 - L'arc en Ciel

3Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus
Ever tried to play this song? Don't. It will completely destroy and/or ruin your life. Laugh out loud It's funny that half of these songs are by les claypool.
Wow! Really amazing how he plays this while singing and moving around. Definitely deserves to be at the top of this list.
I can't drive THAT damn fast, Les.

4Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers

5Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) - Metallica
This is Cliff Burton at his best. The recording was insane, but the live version is pure insanity on the bass. Hell I can play bits on pieces of this song, but even in the first riff, my fingers hurt like hell. Cliff's best song on the bass
It may seem like an easy song but once you really get into this song you start realizing that its really not. To memorize each part is nuts.. To play each part is nuts. To get the distortion to mastery is nuts. Good luck with this one world.
Honestly I can play both anesthesia and yyz and I think yyz is a whole lot easier just because the timing is easier... Oh yeah and there is insane bass chords in anesthesia and crazy triplets that yyz does not have. Do not undermind this song because it is not famous it is really difficult
[Newest]This song is very hard... To remember the tabs and play

6Colorado Bulldog - Mr. Big

7Hysteria - Muse
this bassline is hard, not only because the Intros & verses are played at a blinding pace, but the chorus is slow, thus making it hard to stay in time
Epic song, but its not that hard, I can play it after only playing bass for 2 years. But its still my favourite song on base.
Fantastic feeling when you play it well, the intro is bloody mental!
[Newest]I can play this song with closed eyes

8Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers

9Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai

10Everybody Dance - Chic

The Contenders

11Tommy the Cat - Primus
You try playing Hysteria and Anesthesia followed by Tommy the cat, out of the three Tommy the Cat will be the hardest to pull of because Les Claypool is such a unique bassist, you will also notice the different levels of physical energy required, this song if played in succession will break a lesser man, plus it's fun and that's what counts, in all honesty my opinion is this is one of the hardest to pull off, along with the awakening.
To be honest this should really be higher up on the list, hysteria isn't hard at all, it's actually quite easy, and the only part to Anesthesia that's hard is when the drums come in, I tried to play this song and it's pretty tough
Man, this one, YYZ and Teen Town are ultra difficult, but this is the only of the 3 that I can't play, because of the speed, the technique required and maintaining the groove flow
[Newest]This song should be higher, maybe at number 1 in my opinion

12Roundabout - Yes

13The Pot - Tool
The time signature on this song is arguably what makes it so difficult. Even if you work around the complexity of the main riff and play a simplified version, it is still difficult to control the tone, especially when the riff moves to the 4th string. Still, it's an incredibly fun song to play, and learning it successfully (for the most part) is truly satisfying. I found a great video on YouTube where a dude breaks the song down so you can learn to play it.
justin chancellor is one of the best bass players of all time he has a vary unique way of playing the bass. he is the master of crazy heavy melodic bass riffs
omg justin chancellor has such a unique and tricky way of playing the bass, his timing is so off but when put together it sounds amazing... it is the hardest song I've ever tried to learn


[Newest]This isn't too hard once you've learned it, but it takes some time. What the heck is hysteria doing so high up? It's fast but once you get it it's super easy...

14My Generation - The Who
John used about 10 ~~ of his talent on studio tracks. If you don't listen to his live riffs you are missing the whole point of The Who.
Wouldn't say this is the who's hardest song on bass (the real or dreaming from the waist), but their bassist only played at about 0.0001% in the studio. He blows any other bassists here out of the water on the technical level, and I'm sure they would all admit to it too
Greatest rock bass player of all time playing the greatest bassline and bass solo of all time. There would have been no Burton or Geddy without this!

15Lounge Act - Nirvana
A lot of Chris's basslines are really cool. The one from Sappy is great too, and so is the one from Heart Shaped Box. Definitely a great and underrated bass player.
This is one of nirvana's best songs on bass besides sliver krist novoselic is a good bassist there a good band check them out
The slides are hard to pull off and is almost impossible to reach the frets required to play. Sounds like an easy song to pull off when listening but will annoy when trying to perfom. There's a beast feeling whne you can play this song, one of Novoselics best work.

16Panic Attack - Dream Theater
I honestly think that this should be higher up on the list. Yes, the intro sounds difficult (and it is, especially if you play in standard), but the solo section is the real doozie here. Not because of the fact it's insanely fast, or makes you stretch over about 5 frets, but because of the fact that it takes a boatload of endurance to play through it, and it definitely takes 1000 times more than any songs in the top 10.
Why is this not top 3? This song should have been named the "Make Your Arms Pudding Song" YYZ would only be harder in the area of more to remember, whilst this is far more technically difficult.
I'll put this one as number 2, it's hard but fun to play it, of course the first time you actully achieve it your hands are going to be like after an earthquake

17The Awakening - Les Claypool
I played this Senior year in HS for a senior spotlight show for the music department. It was so tough back then that I ended up just improvising at many parts/. Still sounded great, but only because I took the basics of the song (if there is anything "basic" about it) and using the same style with easier versions of some of the riffs. I can play it pretty well now after a few years of coming back to it now & again, but there are still parts that get me. Claypool is a god.
"Hardest I've ever tried. "


I have never heard or played anything like this

18Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
Really fun to play but will take time to learn
Very intense bass line. Takes a while to learn but is a very fun song to play. The bass runs after the choruses and after the solo is simply genius. Extremely good song.

19Orion - Metallica
This is the song that made me want to play bass. The bit were it all goes quite for a couple of seconds and the bass slowly starts is incredible and there is really no other song quite like it. In my opinion the best instrumental of all time.
Why is for whom the bell tolls in the list? Orion is sixty times as hard. And, having said that, for whom the bell tolls ain't even hard...
It only took me a few hours to learn most of the song (minus the solo), but it's been a while and I still can't make it sound nearly as clean and great as Cliff does. The solo is the part that gets me every time, those 16th notes.

20The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden
One of the best bass lines on the second solo. So tough to play!
The bass goes nuts during the solo! I love it

21The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin
In the central part the basso solo is incredible.. I think this is the difficult bass riff not rush Metallica and... Muse! This isn't a band is a nightmare!
This is an extremely hard bass line, especially if you're tackling it by ear. Right now, I barely got headphones and It's only been my second month transcribing music!
Um... Don't learn this unless you have a lot of free time. Really really hard to learn and memorize. Insane bass performance by john paul jones

22By the Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Actually, probably one of the easiest bass lines on the album, but I had to vote for it because it's the chilies. If you want some hard Flea bass lines, try playing songs like Salute to Kareem, Coffee Shop and Permutation or any live jams. Also look at songs like Wet Sand and Soul to Squeeze because those are just beautiful on bass.
One of fleas best bass lines. Its amazing how he plays from pop and slap to everything else in that somng and his little solo is brill
Both amazing and difficult bassline. Flea is great!

23The Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater
Why isn't this at top 5? This piece is just insane. every instrument is really hard on this song. John myung is a beast with his 6 string bass


Hardest song I know on bass. Easily beats Metallica and Tool.
The hardest song in this list but people don't know...
[Newest]The bass solo is CRAZY.

24Amazing Grace - Victor Wooten
No one has mastered bass as much as he has!
How in gods name is classical thump or show of hands not in the top three? As it is a post about the hardest bass riffs it's embarrassing looking at how easy the top ten really is!
This song is so insane that it has a whole new name to bass
It is such crazy bass I don't know what to call it other than god
How so low! At 40? WAY HIGHER!

25Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart - Stone Temple Pilots
I have always liked this song very much. Trying to get my hands on the bass and trying to play this by ear is physically impossible.

26For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica
In my opinion it's not that hard. I learned it in my first two months of playing bass. The first 20 seconds of the song have a really nice feel when playing them, though.
I think the problem is that most people don't even realise this is a bass laugh out loud


innovative bass, great bass intro

27The Trooper - Iron Maiden
Two fingers only bass line and it's really not hard. The hardest part of it in my opinion is beginning and next - guitar solo part. So it really shouldn't be in top ten.
Quality bass line by Steve Harris, using the 3 finger galloping technique
This song is freakishly fast (190-200 bpm0, and it's mainly gallops, which make it harder.

28Schism - Justin Chancellor

29La Villa Strangatto - Rush
This is one of the most complex and musical songs of all time. I would put rush in terms of complexity and musicality on the same level with Beethoven or Bach or Handel Mozart and Vivaldi. Its not just this song, yyz, 2112, Xanadu, and Cygnus x-1 part 1and 2 etc. Plus the bass solo in the middle says it all about Geddy Lee who is without a doubt the greatest bass player of all time.
One of the strangest timed rush songs along with Xanadu and Cyngus x-1 part 1 & 2. Giddy is insane and unbelievably melodic in timing and skill. This song flows like an orchestral piece. With alex's gut air solo and Geddys solo in the middle. Giddy lee is the best and rush has the most skilled players of there instruments.
Oh man this song has one of the best build ups in my opinion, Geddy does not disappoint. Especially with the unexpected fast bass solo that pops up towards the end, took hours to get down right! The synchronicity of these three guys is just amazing


[Newest]This song in a masterpiece! Why is so underrated in this list, should be higher. It's more hard than a lot of songs here

30Rancid - Maxwell Murder
One of the best bass solos I've ever heard. I think he's the only person in this list who uses heavy picking. Pretty hard to learn since its so fast.
Awesome punk song that shows that punk is not easy to play!
Matt Freeman insane bassist

31Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Iron Maiden

32Master of Puppets - Metallica
This song is easy and cool

33Permutation - Red Hot Chili Peppers

34Peace Sells... - Megadeth
As Wayne Campbell would put it, this song is simply "excellent." While the bass line (intro mainly) may not be as hard as some of the others on here (I haven't heard them all), it is pure awesomeness, and this is my favorite Megadeth song hands down because of it.

35Wynona's Big Brown Beaver - Primus
One of Les's greatest bass lines, and pretty difficult too. Not quite as hard as "Tommy the Cat", though.


The 12-10-9 triplet on the G string gets me every time.

36Black Sunshine - White Zombie

37Do Nothing/Bitchslap - SlipKnoT
This bass is very hard and RIP Paul Gray Super bass riff
Haha really great song and good bass line too! At the good slipknot times!

38Dark Shines - Muse
The bassline to Dark Shines is a personal favourite. I love the involvement of the rhythmic playing and the intense but great riffs during the verse. The chorus is one of those chorus' you can happily blast out of your amp, with the fast paced hammer ons and sliding from the bottom of the neck to the top it is truly a great bassline overall.
This bassline is all over the place. Wolstenhome works the next quite a bit, and hits many tricky parts out of each changing polychord as the song progresses. Getting your fretting hand to cooperate is the real challenge, but this bassline is good enough to stand on it's own.

39Domination - Symphony X

40Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder

41Mr. Pink - Level 42
One of the most under rated funk/pop bands ever and mark king is possibly the greatest bassist who ever lived his bass solos are amazing and no other bassist can outmatch him or meet up to his standards and sing at the same time
This should be number one. go listen to it. trust me. just go listen to it and you'll know.

42Phantom of the Opera - Iron Maiden
This requires extremely fast fingers and is definitely Steve Harris's best
Listen to the music. Steve Harris just used his 2 fingers. And its really fast and hard to play it

43Tell Me Baby - Red Hot Chili Peppers
This song takes a lot of skill with slapping and if you miss just one note, your totally out of sync with the song. Goodluck learning this one!

44Tempus Fugit - Yes

45My Last Words - Megadeth
Very difficult song, very fast. Basically a solo the through out the whole thing. You don't stop, just keeps going. The intro is another solo itself. Very hard for a finger style player, because of the speed with the sharp edges.
Tough. especially for the fingerstyle player

46Carousel - Blink-182
Not super hard. The beginning just takes a bit to learn. It's so much fun once you get it down
I would not put any ting by blink on this list, love them, but difficulty is not what they are about.

47Chromatic Fantasy - Jaco Pastorius
Ever tried to play THAT? It is serious bass...
Les claypool not so hard

48Laid to Rest - Lamb of God

49Bury the Living - Brain Drill
This song is nuts! Most of the hardest bass riffs are probably tech death ones like this, the problem with most of them is that they tend to be complex for the sole purpose of being complex, and lack emotion or any form of "wow" factor that most great basslines have. This is truly mindblowingly hard though, and if you want to base it on just difficulty, than this should be pretty high on the list.

50DMV - Primus
Almost any song of Primus is quite hard, this song should higher, it's pretty awesome
That solo at the end is amazing.

51Good Luck My Way - L'Arc~en~Ciel
Tesuya is one of the best bassists on this planet, his lines are never anything near simple.

52Feel Good Drag - Anberlin
This one's not that difficult
I am a bass payer I found this harder than YYZ. Simply because of the triplets.

53Harder to Breathe - Maroon 5

545:15 - The Who

55Longview - Green Day
This song is hella awesome. Take time and learn to play it and then you will sound awesome on the bass!
The funnest song to play next to hysteria

56Nobody Weird Like Me - Red Hot Chili Peppers
This one gives me so much trouble every time...
It may not be Flea's most complex bassline. But it's sheer speed at 190bpm plus having to do slap for it makes it quite t challenge. With even experienced bassists having trouble with it

57Coffee Shop - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Amazed no one else believes this song isn't hard. the second solo alone can make some veterans curse flea's name. it took me about 4 days just to get the slapping right on the verses.

58Booshuckdow - Assorted Jelly Beans

59Red Hot Chili Peppers - Get Up and Jump
This song is harder than practically every other song on here! Its also badass!
Hugh, well, it's not hard, it's impossible

60Scarified- Racer X

61The Distance - Cake
The timing is what makes it difficult

62Tarkus - Emerson, Lake & Palmer

63The Invisible Man - Helloween

64Vapour Trails - Pekka Pohjola
For some time I've been wondering, if Geddy Lee was familiar with mighty Pohjola's basslines?

65I Will Survive - Cake

66Overjoyed - Victor Wooten
Have you guys even heard this song? Anyone who can play this deserves all of my respect. Two hand tapping is not good enough for you? Before you vote just listen to this.
Well... I don't know, WHY IS WOOTEN SO UNDERRATED?! How is posible that from 100 songs there is not "U can't hold no groove", or "My & My Bass Guitar". Various Wooten are hardest than a lot of songs right here

67Liar - Queen

68Take No Prisoners - Megadeth
Probably the hardest riff on bass

69The Sinister Minister - Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
Victor Wooten is a monster on this song. The slap on the song may seem simple at first glance, the double thumb is insanely hard, and the solo, when played live, is unlike anything you've ever seen.

70Eminence Front - The Who
My most favourite The Who song.
Very hard to play.

71Forty Six & 2 - Tool

72Flow My Tears (The Policeman Said) - Stuart Hamm
All tapping, and the middle section? Don't even try.

73Dead Human Collection - Cannibal Corpse

7421st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
This song has a really wacky off kilter song structure that makes this song extremely difficult to recreate. Definitely an accomplishment to get this one down.

75Rosetta Stoned - Tool

76Paranoid Android - Radiohead
Although maybe you all think that this song is not too difficult to master, that fast fingering near the solo though. Colin did a good job on making that bassline.

77The Fantasy - 30 Seconds to Mars

78Sexx Laws - Beck

79I Might Be Wrong - Radiohead

80Castaway - Green Day

81Don't Stop Believin' - Journey

82Black Magic Woman - Santana

83The Four Horsemen - Metallica

84Bombtrack - Rage Against the Machine

85Eyes of the Squirrel - Primus
There are songs a way easier here. This one should be higher
This is a really fast bass line that is difficult to play constantly accurate and to play 100% the way les claypool plays it.

86Lurker - Dweller
Amazingly fast and beautiful bass solo at 3:30. One of the best I've ever heard. It definitely deserves a place on this list.

87Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
The timeing on this sons is difficalt

88Mind - System of a Down

89Hit me with Your Rythm Stick - Ian Dury
Although people wouldn't think of it as hard bass song, it require limber hands, high speed, good memory and its also fun to play! Check it out and you will realise it is a difficult bass song. (I'm not into Ian Dury at all so this is coming from a non bias perspective)

90Dead Men Tell No Tales - Motorhead
Pretty easy until you get to the guitar solo, all the mad bass stuff under that's a right bitch...

91Souls of Black - Testament
This song has one of the best bass rifts in history. Fun and difficult to play.

92Bloodmeat - Protest the Hero

93Salute to Kareem - Red Hot Chili Peppers

94Man - Level 42

95Speed Demon - Michael Jackson

96Guti - Aurthohin

97Cancer - Aurthohin

98Moonchild - Iron Maiden

99Turn the Page - Rush

100Wrathchild - Iron Maiden

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This list was created 5 years, 280 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 107 items, has been remixed 1 times.

Updated Sunday, April 26, 2015

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