Top Ten Hardest Bass Riffs


The Top Ten

1 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!

It’s not very hard I play it in 2 days perfectly

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2 Anesthesia (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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3 Aeroplane - 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!

Never had to listen to a chorus so many times to get the hang of the bass' groove

It took me a while to get the hang of how the funk and the beat worked together

This bassline is astonishing. The slapping is insane and the chorus is hard to follow. - Userguy44

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4 Route 666 - L'arc en Ciel
5 Jerry 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.

For a person who only played bass for a year looking at this song made me just nope out

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6 Panic 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

This song is hard, fast at times and abruptly slow, just to get back on track as well. It should be higher in the list

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7 Hysteria - Muse

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.

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

Fantastic feeling when you play it well, the intro is bloody mental!

This ain't that hard, played bass for a month and know it already

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8 Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers

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

Nope not hard especially if your used to metal music

It just sounds really hard too. - Userguy44

9 Tommy 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

Should be in the top 5 at least. This bassline is the most insane thing ever! And Les can even sing at the same time? It's fast and it needs lots of stamina. - Userguy44

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10 Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai has some amazing baselines, art least one it the sights deserves to be on the list

The Contenders

11 Everybody Dance - Chic
12 Colorado Bulldog - Mr. Big

This is so fast and really hard to play

I've spent the last 2 month trying to learn this and I'm only starting to get it down this bass line is honestly insaine

13 The 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

cool as

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14 My Generation - 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

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.

John Entwistle is amazing. - Userguy44

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15 Lounge 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

Recently have been learning a lot of Nirvana songs for a tribute set, and this one is by far the trickiest. All those slick slides in the verses give this an amazing vibe.

The chorus part cost me much time to find out how to play...
You can see how hard it is to play if you look how many wrong bass tabs of this song are out there... They're ALL WRONG you dumb wanna-be bass player morons... Grow yourself some EARS!

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16 Orion - 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.

I have played for only half a year and I can play this. Even the solo. Its not hard - emilk

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17 Good 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

18 The 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

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19 The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin

This honestly needs to be the highest on the list. John Paul Jones is a bass god, but in this song he channels the pure essence of groove and uses it to lay down a line with swagger unmatched by anything else I've heard, and I've heard a lot. For a song based around a blues pattern he keeps the bass line constantly fresh, constantly spicy, constantly moving around, but NEVER overplays! When the band plays, they all leave enough space for each other so that each member can play to the fullest without sacrificing the song for the notes. As far as any other song even close to this style of playing goes, you don't need to look any further.

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!

For everyone who said that JPJ is a bad bass player. Listen this! - Userguy44

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20 Roundabout - Yes

I Like the Bass, I am currently learning it, especially after it's attention for "To be Continued..." I had to do it.

I can never get the rhythm right. Too fast for me.

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

Easy, my foot...

21 The Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater

Dear lord the fact that their isn't a Dream Theater song on the list until 14 (Panic Attack) is insane. John Myung is INSANE. This song is INSANE! This song, on all instruments, is EXTREMELY difficult and requires a tremendous amount of focus, skill, and precision to play. Learning this song on Drums was one thing but I imagine on every other instrument it's even more difficult to play, and this is no exception. There's a reason why it's considered one of the most difficult pieces of contemporary music to learn and play.

This song has over 100 time signature changes in under 7 minutes, it contains the time signatures 13/16, 15/16, and 17/16, as well as many, many others. How this song isn't in the top 10 blows my mind.

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

Well, duh.

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22 Amazing 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!

That harmonic run down lick he does is near impossible.

Victor Wooten dude

How so low! At 40? WAY HIGHER!

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23 By 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!

24 La Villa Strangiato - 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

Watched guy play it on youtube should be at least top 10

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25 Portrait of Tracy - Jaco Pastorius

Quite hard to play harmonics and regular fretted notes at the same time. Not having any drums to follow is also tricky. Definitely giving me an awesome feeling after a lot of practising.

There are some really big strectches that require not muting ringing harmonics and just getting all the harmonics to ring equally is quite difficult. It also changes time signatures but that's not too bad. I love this piece and good luck to anyone trying to play it

This should be in the top 3 extreme skill is needed to play this.

26 Schism - Justin Chancellor

It looks easy, but it took me forever to get that rolling feeling it has, don't let the tab fool you.

I like dank memes do you...please be my friend

27 For 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

It's a great bass line, but I learned it only a month after starting bass, Pulling teeth however deserves to be on this list more

As much as I like metallica, this is one of the most easiest songs to play

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28 Trippin' 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.

29 The 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.

The opening is damn hard!

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30 Rancid - 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 it's so fast.

Awesome punk song that shows that punk is not easy to play!

Matt Freeman is the king of bass!

Matt Freeman insane bassist

31 Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder

It sounds easy when you first listen but the breakdown where the bass is playing the same part as the brass section is killer

The general bass line is really easy. What makes this hard is when you're doubling the horns. Arguably one of the hardest bass runs in history, spanning the entire fretboard played a rather fast pace. Definitely a challenge!

Very very very difficult especially the solo

32 Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Iron Maiden

13 minute song, endurance needed

Bet on speed

33 Master of Puppets - Metallica

This song is easy and cool

34 Wynona'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

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

35 Chromatic Fantasy - Jaco Pastorius

Yeah, this should be in the Top 10 for sure. Easily one of the hardest feats ever achieved on an Electric Bass along with Jaco's version of Donna Lee. Go watch him play this live.

This is a list of the hardest bass riffs so of course this song by jaco pastorious possibly the most gifted bassist of all time is behind for whom the bell tolls which I learned after maybe three months of playing in about half an hour.

Ever tried to play THAT? It is serious bass...
Les claypool not so hard

36 Phantom 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

37 Dark 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.

Decent, prefer panic stations, but pretty decent!

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.

38 Permutation - Red Hot Chili Peppers
39 Peace 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.

40 Longview - 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

This must be in the list

How is this on here it’s really easy - Frog04

41 Classical Thump - Victor Wooten

The entire song is insanely fast, and is played almost exclusively with your thumb. This is probably the hardest song to learn how to play, and there are so many unique parts to learn.

Fast as hell and tricky. How isn't this higher? - Userguy44

42 Black Sunshine - White Zombie
43 Do 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!

44 Mr. 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.

45 Forty Six & 2 - Tool
46 American Life - Primus

R u kidding me, this song is ridiculously hard. It also sounds sick when your able to play it properly. Listen to it. Trust me. - L-Lads

47 C'mon Girl - Red Hot Chili Peppers

This,acording to flea, is the hardest song for him to play

48 Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper - Dream Theater

Impossible to play id you're not Myung

€�First you need a 6 string bass...

49 Domination - Symphony X
50 Overjoyed - 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

Victor wooten is one of the greatest bassits ever yet very few people even know who he is

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