Top Ten Hardest Bass Riffs


The Top TenXW

1YYZ - 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!

I've been playing bass for nearly a year and this song took me the longest to learn. Most songs take around 10-30 minutes for me to nail. This song took me 2-3 weeks to be able to play everything. I do believe Pulling Teeth should be number two though, I'm currently in the process of learning it and I have almost all of it learned within a few days. Playing both of these songs shreds your fingers until they become immune and invincible, so there is no doubt they deserve 1 and 2 for sure.

V21 Comments
2Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers

A good opening song and a great opening solo to play if you have all the frets and the slap bass during the verse is just flawless!

3Route 666 - L'arc en Ciel
4Anesthesia (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

It isn't incredibly difficult, but it's a lot to remember.

V17 Comments
5Jerry 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.

If only I had 6 strings

V4 Comments
6Hysteria - 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!

Insane pace, great song. I've been learning this song for months now and still can't keep in time and haven't played it all the way through correctly yet.

V23 Comments
7Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers

A good bass line but hard to get the hang of. Especially the fills

8Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai
9Everybody Dance - Chic
10Colorado Bulldog - Mr. Big

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

This isn't even on the top 10? For shame.

V8 Comments
12The 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 - Okami

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...

V8 Comments
13Panic 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

V6 Comments
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

John Entwistle is one of the first greatest bass players ever so to read this list and not see him on it really disappoints me

V4 Comments
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.

V4 Comments
16The 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

This song took me two days to learn

V5 Comments
17Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin

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.

Really fun to play but will take time to learn

It's very fun to play and learn thought takes time to perfect

18Orion - 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.

V5 Comments
19The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin

In my opinion, the best display of bass playing ever. Sure, tapping, slapping, sweeping, etc is cool but to be bass is best served a groove instrument. This song is full of improv-ed groove from Jonesy. Tons of tasteful and musical licks, sweet runs, and dead notes. Not to mention having to play all on up beats on the faster part of the song. And as said, memorizing this whole thing is insane.

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!

Hadest one I've tackled so far. But I've only been playing for 4 months so I am in well over my head even attempting it!

V7 Comments
20Roundabout - Yes

A rather easy bassline, what really makes this song is that raunchy Rickenbacker tone!

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List StatsUpdated 27 Nov 2015

1,000 votes
116 listings
6 years, 130 days old

Top Remixes

1. YYZ - Rush
2. Route 666 - L'arc en Ciel
3. Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers



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