Top Ten Hardest Bass Riffs

chiaotzu333

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

1
YYZ - Rush
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!
YYZ is a really really hard bassline. The biggest problem is remembering every single piece and bass solo, also the ending is incredible fast. The other bass songs on this list are fun, but not that hard. I mean come one "Hysteria", I've learnt that one in a few hours, it's the same riff over and over again. YYZ had challenging solo's and shows the best of Geddy's skills. The only bass lines that are just as hard as this ones are the Primus ones
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2Anesthesia (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
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3Hysteria - 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!
More comments about Hysteria - MuseListen to sample

4Tommy 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
THIS SONG IS SO HARD laugh out loud

5The Pot - Tool
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

Okami

I'm a guitarist and I can barely play this... On my guitar... That means it's hard. It's also one of the bad-assiest songs ever in my opinion. Chancellor is the best bassist in metal.
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6My 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

7Lounge 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.
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.
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

8Panic 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.
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
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.
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9The 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. "

chiaotzu333

I have never heard or played anything like this
More comments about The Awakening - Les Claypool

10Good 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.

The Contenders

11Orion - Metallica
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...
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.
Y'know, this should really be higher up on the list. I'd like to see somebody that can play hysteria nail the fills in this song. Let alone the bass solo.
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12Jerry 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.

13The 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!
This is a song! The middle part is incredible and a bit psichedelic with a spectral sound but also with good drums and bass. Fantastic song and fantastic artist
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14Roundabout - Yes Listen to sample

15By 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.
Both amazing and difficult bassline. Flea is great!
Listen to sample

16The Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater
Hardest song I know on bass. Easily beats Metallica and Tool.
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

cndsd

Insanely difficult song. Far moreso than for whom the bell tolls. Why is that even here?
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17Amazing 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!

18Trippin' 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.

19For 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

Toraqi

innovative bass, great bass intro

Listen to sample

20The 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.
Listen to sample

21La 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

Funky_Monk

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22Schism - Justin Chancellor

23Peace 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.
Listen to sample

24Permutation - Red Hot Chili Peppers Listen to sample

25Black Sunshine - White Zombie Listen to sample

26Do 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!

27Rancid - 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.
Matt Freeman insane bassist

28Dark 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.
Listen to sample

29Master of Puppets - Metallica Listen to sample

30Wynona'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.

mariofan251

Listen to sample

31Domination - Symphony X Listen to sample

32Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder Listen to sample

33Phantom 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
Listen to sample

34Mr. Pink - Level 42 Listen to sample

35Tell 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!
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36Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Iron Maiden Listen to sample

37Tempus Fugit - Yes Listen to sample

38My Last Words - Megadeth
Tough. especially for the fingerstyle player
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39Carousel - Blink-182 Listen to sample

40Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers Listen to sample

41Laid to Rest - Lamb of God Listen to sample

42Bury 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.

43DMV - Primus Listen to sample

44Good Luck My Way - L'Arc~en~Ciel
Tesuya is one of the best bassists on this planet, his lines are never anything near simple.
Listen to sample

455:15 - The Who Listen to sample

46Chromatic Fantasy - Jaco Pastorius Listen to sample

47Booshuckdow - Assorted Jelly Beans

48Red 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
Listen to sample

49Scarified- Racer X

50The Distance - Cake

51Tarkus - Emerson, Lake & Palmer Listen to sample

52The Invisible Man - Helloween Listen to sample

53Vapour Trails - Pekka Pohjola
For some time I've been wondering, if Geddy Lee was familiar with mighty Pohjola's basslines?

54Feel 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.
Listen to sample

55Harder to Breathe - Maroon 5 Listen to sample

56I Will Survive - Cake Listen to sample

57Liar - Queen Listen to sample

58Take No Prisoners - Megadeth Listen to sample

59Longview - Green Day
This song is hella awesome. Take time and learn to play it and then you will sound awesome on the bass!
Listen to sample

60Nobody 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
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61Coffee Shop - Red Hot Chili Peppers Listen to sample

62Eminence Front - The Who
My most favourite The Who song.
Very hard to play.
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63Forty Six & 2 - Tool

64Flow My Tears (The Policeman Said) - Stuart Hamm
All tapping, and the middle section? Don't even try.

65The Fantasy - 30 Seconds to Mars Listen to sample

66Sexx Laws - Beck Listen to sample

67I Might Be Wrong - Radiohead Listen to sample

68Castaway - Green Day Listen to sample

69Don't Stop Believin' - Journey Listen to sample

70Black Magic Woman - Santana Listen to sample

71The Four Horsemen - Metallica Listen to sample

72Bombtrack - Rage Against the Machine Listen to sample

73Eyes of the Squirrel - Primus
This is a really fast bass line that is difficult to play constantly accurate and to play 100% the way les claypool plays it.
Listen to sample

74Overjoyed - 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.
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75Lurker - 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.
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76Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
The timeing on this sons is difficalt
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77The 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.
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78Mind - System of a Down Listen to sample

79The Number of the Beast - Iron Maiden
One of the best bass lines on the second solo. So tough to play!
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80Hit 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)
Listen to sample

81Dead 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...
Listen to sample

82Souls of Black - Testament
This song has one of the best bass rifts in history. Fun and difficult to play.
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83Dead Human Collection - Cannibal Corpse Listen to sample

84Bloodmeat - Protest the Hero Listen to sample

8521st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson Listen to sample

86Salute to Kareem - Red Hot Chili Peppers Listen to sample

87Man - Level 42

88Speed Demon - Michael Jackson Listen to sample

89Guti - Aurthohin

90Cancer - Aurthohin

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This list was created 5 years, 43 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times.

Updated Monday, September 01, 2014


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