Top 10 Greatest Metal Bassists

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The Top Ten

1 Cliff Burton (Metallica) Cliff Burton (Metallica) Clifford Lee "Cliff" Burton (February 10th 1962 - September 27th 1986) was an American musician, best known as the second bass guitarist for the American thrash metal band Metallica, recording three studio albums. He died in 1986 after getting crushed by a tour bus in Copenhagen whilst promoting Metallica's ...read more.

Cliff was really a great bassist. Not that others on this list are bad. But Cliff was really an epic bassist. (also an epic musician).
I think Cliff is the reason Metallica is so successful today. Cliff made Metallica what it is today. If Cliff hadn't died so early, Metallica would have been an even greater Band. (not saying that jason and rob are bad).
As Flea(bassist of red hot chilli peppers) rightly said-"This* was a great moment in the history of electric bass guitar. "
*this refers to the moment when Cliff composed 'Anesthesia-Pulling Teeth'

Based on where Metallica was going musically with Cliff they could have been even bigger than they already are. Cliff Burton is the best bassist in metal history. Rest in peace, your memory will live on.

Cliff Burton defined what Metallica stood for... Look at the first three albums they made with him and the rest without... The later ones lack the creativity of the master musician... Pity he couldn't contribute more to metal and Metallica... Rip cliff

Cliff Burton was one of the most dedicated bassists of all time, starting when his brother passed. Cliff would play for 4+ hours a day.

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2 Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) Stephen Percy "Steve" Harris is an English musician and songwriter, known as the bassist, occasional keyboardist, backing vocalist, primary songwriter and founder of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden.

He is the best heavy metal bassist. He is most known for his "galloping" playing style. He has unique techniques which nobody can copy. He is also a great song writer.

He and Burton truely deserves to be in top 2. You can shift both players around the 1st and 2nd position and it won't matter to me. I voted for harris because Burton is already at number 1. Metallic Maiden 4 Life... I'll piss on you if you disagree!

Not only is he an amazing bassist (he and Burton definitely deserving the top two), but he is also a very talented song writer. He is the Mozart of modern music, writing the majority of music for Iron Maiden himself.

Harris has created some ultimate basslines for iron maiden and is considered the force behind most of their greatest songs. No other bassline has given me chills and thrills like the bassline used in Powerslave. Moreover, he plays in a self taught style that had never been played before him. For me, he is the best.

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3 Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of heavy metal band Black Sabbath.

I get that he's not considered the greatest bassist of all time (but I still believe he's the best), he's at least without a doubt the greatest metal bassist! Most creative by far. Listen to Black Sabbath's solos in their earlier songs (Sweet Leaf and War Pigs are great examples). Geezer just goes insane and it sounds absolutely amazing. His tone is also my favourite by far. If it weren't for Geezer, I'm not even sure if Black Sabbath would be my favourite band (Iommi is still a riff god so probably). Cliff Burton is massively overrated but I admit Steve Harris comes close on this one.

Gezzer rules the best watch live and YOU WILL SEE! - mentalfeed70

These Metallica and megadeth fans seem to outnumber the traditional metal fans. They neglect Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, who CREATED HEAVY METAL. Infact, every metal band is influenced by Black Sabbath. Cliff Burton himself was influenced by Geezer Butler and Steve Harris.

After seeing Geezer last night live with Black Sabbath, I'm convinced he's the greatest.

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4 David Ellefson (Megadeth) David Ellefson (Megadeth) David Warren "Dave" Ellefson is an American bassist and co-founding member of the American thrash metal band Megadeth from 1983-2002 and again from 2010-present.

solid bassplayer, very underrated. Although guitarwork in megadeth is excellent, there's always a solid bass behind this. When women say: behind every good man stands a better woman, they actually mean this.

To me, David Ellefson is the best Metal bassist; the first time I heard the Peace Sells album, I was blown away, I didn't even know what he was doing, and he influenced my style with his sound and technique on albums: Peace Sells, So Far... RIP and Countdown. I met him once, he is a helluva nice dude, I even got a few emails from him; his favorite Beatles song is "Day Tripper" because it's riff driven. David Ellefson #1 for influence, Cliff Burton is tops for inspiration. John Myung may be a brilliant musician, but I don't like his bass style, it just seems to finesse and not really heavy, in attitude I mean, he always looks in a happy zone when he's playing, real Metal bassists want to kick your A$$!

Megadeth is the big 4 band that a lot of guitarist and real musicians like, because of their technical supeiriority over many other band in the era. The guitar work of Dave Mustaine and Marty Freidman or Chris Poland or whichever line the particular song has, over shadows the band bass player, David Ellefson. A very underrated bassist. It seems to me that most top 10 list leave him out or put him at the bottom, for what reason I don't know. Listen to the peace sells album, or countdown, or rust in peace. Enough Said.

He showed another dimension for metal bass...and how to create groovy bassline not just following guitar notes

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5 John Myung (Dream Theater) John Myung (Dream Theater) John Ro Myung is an American bassist and a founding member of the progressive metal group Dream Theater.

john myung has more bass playing power in his little finger than cliff burton could dream of having. I learned pulling teeth in like 2 days I have yet to completely learn a dream theater song all the way through! genious!

Metrolopolis pt. 1, Panic Attack, and many more! No need to list songs to tell that he's probably the best bassist ever! Followed with Markus Grosskopf (Helloween - listen to Eagle Fly Free, Halloween and Keeper of The Seven Keys, then understand what I'm saying) and Cliff Burton

No matter what others say, he is the best bassist in this list...believe it or not, he can play two bass solos at one time...isn't it great! Can steve harris or cliff burton can do that? No...because john myung is way more professional than those two players...he deserves number 1

John Myung I way better than Cliff Burton and Steve Harris combined. He should be in the top 3 alongside David Ellefson and Geezer Butler. Also I'm not saying cliff and Steve are bad. I'm just saying John Is better. - 12cc

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6 Lemmy Kilmister (Mötorhëad) Lemmy Kilmister (Mötorhëad) Ian Fraser Kilmister, known as Lemmy, was an English musician, singer and songwriter who founded and fronted the rock band Motörhead.

The face of the whole band and the speed Metal genre!

Actually, I vote for cliff..'cause he inspired me..but lemmy? Don't forget, cliff also inspired by him..Geddy, Geezer, Lemmy, and Phil Lynott..those man were cliff's influences..and I like lemmy's technique, he's a unique bass player..

Has his own brand. Very best at what he does.

Can everyone just stop praising Metallica to such a disgusting extent? Lemmy and Motörhead are nowhere near as popular yet the heavy metal genre, INCLUDING METALLICA would probably not exist/be the same without Lemmy and Motörhead.
R.I.P. Lemmy Kilmister.
Rock the gods in that kingdom of rock in the sky...

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7 Justin Chancellor (Tool) Justin Chancellor (Tool) Justin Gunnar Walter Chancellor is an English musician formerly in the band Peach but best known as the bass player for rock band Tool. Chancellor is of English and Norwegian descent.

Just amazing. His work on schism, 46 & 2, and others is just Phenomenal. And not only is he a good bassist, but also a good writer and musician. How have I not reached minimum quality yet? Stupid computer doesn't know what quality is.

Justin plays his bass with the prowess of a lead guitarist. His bass lines are more technical than a lot of guitar riffs from other bands. He contributes so much style and musicality to the band without overshadowing the other members. You would not have the TOOL sounds without him

I find it hard to believe that Johnny Christ is ahead of this beast, Justin belongs in the first 10 just for his work in Lateralus alone, not even referencing the other amazing albums he was in...

He's a very talented person and if your looking for good bass lines he's the one to go for and I also think Chris Wolstenholme(muse) should be higher

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8 Jason Newsted (Metallica) Jason Newsted (Metallica) Jason Curtis Newsted is an American metal musician, known for being the third bass guitarist with the band Metallica from November 1986 until his departure in January 2001, he was also a part of Voivod and Flotsam and Jetsam.

Unfortunately Jason is overshadowed by Cliff Burton and therefore he is underrated as a bassist. In fact I think his bass lines are far better than cliff's (That being said Cliff's solo's were amazing) and rhythm playing over solo "Lead bass playing," if you will that Cliff used to do. And how can you argue with the guy who screams "DIE, DIE, DIE" like he's satan or something?

I do feel sorry for Newsted, for one Metallica constantly hazed him and two he had to walk into Cliff's place an impossible job for anyone no matter how technically gifted they are.

Not as good as Cliff Burton, but you have to respect him for the awesome bass lines on The Black Album, and his work on Load really is the only saving grace of a pretty lackluster album. A great live player, and his new project, Newsted, released a simply phenomenal debut album.

Sadly overshadowed by Cliff Burton but I still think he's extremly awesome

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9 Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine) Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine) Timothy Robert Commerford is an American musician, best known as the bassist and backing vocalist for the American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, supergroups Audioslave and Prophets of Rage.

Why is he not on this list already? He may come from a different age but you can't deny that back in the day, RAtM delivered some of the most effective metal bass lines ever. And he was a beast live.

One of the most underestimated bass players, but has awesome funk, hip hop groove mixed with brutal and inimitable tone!

He has to be on this list, he creates great background for Tom and his stunts

He really funks this band

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10 Robert Trujillo (Metallica) Robert Trujillo (Metallica) Roberto Agustin Trujillo, better known as Robert Trujillo, is an American musician known for his role as the current bassist of heavy metal band Metallica.

Rob is a monster on that 5-Stringer of his! He is a veteran bass player with groundbreaking skills, but then again, you would need them to be in Metallica right?

Brilliant bassist that is totally undermined by the metal community. Please, he is much, much better than Newsted and although he might not be better than Cliff Burton, he can definitely play faster than Burton. He has added an additional heaviness to metallica and should definitely be in the top 8. Listen to his cover of Anasthesia (Pulling teeth), what a fitting tribute to Burton!

His style adds an awesome primal sound to Metallica's music. Hiring Robert Trujillo was the best thing they could have done!

Rob should be second on the list.
Although he is not greater than cliff he is an amazing bass player. His fast fingers are so great and he is my favorite

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The Contenders

11 Steve DiGiorgio Steve DiGiorgio

When you want to talk about actual talent and not name recognition then talk about Steve.

One of the greatest (if not the best) bass players of all time. Just take a look at the bands he's been in. A very talented guy. He has technique, speed, and diversity. Should at least be in the top 5

Why the hell is Steve at 24 and Pantera's bassist and Bullet For My Valentine's bassist are above him? An amazing bassist.

Any doubts?

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12 Tom Araya (Slayer) Tom Araya (Slayer) Tomás Enrique "Tom" Araya Díaz is a Chilean American musician, best known as the bassist and vocalist of the American thrash metal band Slayer.

Tom is amazing on the bass. Listen to War Ensemble or another fast track and the bass will blow you away.

Awesome bassist deservedly so and to see he outranks Jason newsted is awesome for how fast he plays he deserves it

In Raining Blood he plays the same way as the guitars. You have no idea how hard that is for a bassist until you try

Not the best to be honest... Steve Haris is better,but "The Metal Santa" must be at least in the top 10,not 12th best metal bassists... and he is the best vocalist ever... ever 😒

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13 Frank Bello Frank Bello

Take the Steve Harris style of finger playing, and apply it to thrash metal. The result is something similar to what Frankie Bello gives you: solid, pumping, bright and fluid, adding a layer beyond and behind, yet distinct from Scott Ian's massive rhythm guitar parts.

How is he not in the top 10? Frank is an extremely good bassist. - DoroExploro13

Hey guys! 21?! Seriously? Have you listened to Frank�'s job on Got the Time or Caught in a Mosh?

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14 Les Claypool Les Claypool Leslie Edward "Les" Claypool is an American musician, singer, songwriter, composer, author and actor best known as the bassist and lead vocalist of the band Primus.

OK kids, Primus are an alternative metal band, so I can see why Les isn't gonna be getting number 1 but jesus, he's by far the most talented bassist on this list, he should at least be top 10. Go listen to Tommy the Cat just to see how talented this guy is, and then vote Primus!

Unquestionably the best bassist to roam the earth, even though Justin Chancellor is my favourite bassist, Claypool is inarguably the most talented and innovative player on the list.

This guy is creative genius, I don't get why he is below Gene Simon or Jason Newsted. His technique is just amazing.

While I think Cliff, Ellefson, and Geezer are better as Metal Bassists, Les at least deserves to be in the top ten for his innovation and talent.

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15 Gene Simmons Gene Simmons Chaim Witz, known professionally by his stage name Gene Simmons, is an Israeli-American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, actor and television personality.

Gene has been my inspiration ever since Alive! Came out. He has said that his job is to make what he has in his head come out with his playing, and he does that and then some.

Absolute legend with his axe and punisher basses

Gene rocks, his axe-bass solo's are one of the things that made KISS bigger and made him a bass legend. His bass playing live is incredible and loud just like in his famouse hit I Love It Loud.

Gene simmons is not a metal bassist

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16 Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne)

Ryan, in my opinion, is the best bassist there is. Cliff is good, but he's not great. Nobody would care about Cliff if it weren't for "pulling teeth" and the intro to for "for whom the bell tolls." Ryan is my favourite bassist because he is extremely technical, he stands out from every other bassist, he has a great tone, amazing writing skills, etc. He deserves to be a lot higher up on this list.

My top 3 bassists would be:
1. Ryan Martinie (mudvayne)
2. Evan Brewer (The faceless, solo)
3. Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me)

Can't believe he's so down in he list! I know pretty much every bassist in this list and even though Burton and Harris are better than Martinie, They're not THAT better.

He puts such amazing techniques into metal that just aren't seen. His bass lines are nothing short of incredible and he is the reason why Mudvayne made it to where the are now. Look up his solo stuff with Basstheworld and Warwick on YouTube, absolutely incredible. The most overlooked bassist out there for sure.

Steve DiGiorgio is also awesome, but I went for Ryan Martinie.

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17 Billy Sheehan Billy Sheehan William "Billy" Sheehan is an American bassist known for his work with Talas, Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Niacin, and The Winery Dogs.

I've never heard of any bassist this amazing, ever. His playing is absolutely amazing and sheerly breath taking!

Best ever
Talas wasn't very good metal band, but bassist billy Sheehan is probably most prolific bassist ever

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18 Johnny Christ (Avenged Sevenfold) Johnny Christ (Avenged Sevenfold) Jonathan Lewis Seward, known as Johnny Christ, is the bassist of the American heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold. Seward is the fourth bassist to join Avenged Sevenfold in 2003, replacing former member Dameon Ash.

He brings a lot of different aspects to what could be a very boring bass line. I'm glad that he spends time trying to improve the bass lines. A7X is very lucky!

Not a very incredible or outstanding bassist, but he never overplays and always sounds amazing with the rest of the band. Not to mention his signature bass is sick and he has a great bass tone.

Technically, not the best bassist, but goes perfectly with other members of Avenged Sevenfold.

Johnny Christ IS Avenged Sevenfold, all hail Johnny Christ

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19 Fieldy Christian (Korn)

Fieldy has one of the most unique sounds ever, I can't think of anyone who can play the bass tuned down so low as fieldy and still sound so good.

Truly the best bassist ever

His slap is awesome and his bass-playing style is inimitable

Watching him play live is just insane. This man knows how to play basss

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20 Shavo Odadjian (System of a Down) Shavo Odadjian (System of a Down) Shavo Odajian is an Armenian-American bassist, musician, and composer for the Armenian-American band System of a Down.

He has so much flair when he plays, it's just amazing, not to mention he is very good at playing his instrument. The song "Deer Dance", or "Prison song": Prime examples of his skill.

Shavo plays with his own style and even playing low like he does still delivers a clear and powerful sound

The style of this guy is unbeatable! I was on their gig and he literally made love with the bass on the stage.!

I love all the bass line he played very innovative and so refreshed.

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List StatsUpdated 23 Aug 2017

3,000 votes
102 listings
7 years, 128 days old

Top Remixes (21)

1. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
2. Cliff Burton (Metallica)
3. Justin Chancellor (Tool)
LukeyJ
1. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
2. Geddy Lee (Rush)
3. Steve DiGiorgio
ironpizzawolf
1. Cliff Burton (Metallica)
2. John Myung (Dream Theater)
3. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
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