Top Ten Hardest Bass Riffs


The Top Ten

1 YYZ - Rush

It's really painful to learn this song, and I disagree with some of the comments here : the base lines aren't easy at all, to play them properly with mutes and rigor is really demanding. Though, after playing the song a few hundred times, it actually seems to be easy. The very hard part is the solos and the end, which are incredibly difficult to play properly, even after lots of time through them. The only thing which makes this song easier than some of this top 10 is that the rhythm isn't so complex and it doesn't demands a lot of endurance to get through the song. - ElFaquin

Doesn't even get all the devils in Rock Band 4; only gets 4 stars!

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.

Pretty hard. Mastered it in hard on Rock Band 4

2 Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) - Metallica

Well, I've learned the first half of the song (my fingers started bleeding) but the drum part is pure insanity

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

3 Aeroplane - Red Hot Chili Peppers

All rhcp bass lines are hard but this is the hardest

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

4 Route 666 - L'arc en Ciel
5 Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus

Not The hardest primus song on bass but man it's a hard one

That's insane I'm out

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.

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

6 Panic Attack - Dream Theater

8 minutes of pain

The rhythm is very complicated. Dream Theater are nuts. - Userguy44

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.

7 Hysteria - Muse

This song is quite hard, but not enough I think to be on this top 10. However, it's not that easy like some of the comments suggest. The base line can be difficult to learn for a beginner, and it's difficult to keep it constant in terms of speed and intensity through the entire song - ElFaquin

So I believe that the bass line itself isn't that hard to play but trying to keep up with the entire song is agony

Honestly, it's not too complicated to learn, but if you try to play the song start to finish, it's an insane test of stamina. Like really, it's crazy trying to play the whole four minutes.

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

8 Tommy the Cat - Primus

With out a doubt the hardest bass line on this list

How tf is this easier than aeroplane, not to mention les is singing a busty vocal line

I've tryed before and now I don't have fingers

Hardest bass line Eu West

9 Around the World - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Gosh, don't even try to.

Nope not hard especially if your used to metal music

It just sounds really hard too. - Userguy44

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

10 Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai

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

The Newcomers

? De Futura - Magma

Intensively complicated and groovy bass riff which gradually gets faster as the strong progresses and goes hand in hand with the drums. - ProfessorChocolateCake

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

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...

14 My Generation - The Who

John Entwistle is amazing. - Userguy44

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.

1 Comment
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!

1 Comment
16 Orion - Metallica

I have not a bass, so the guitar is my practice instrument. Lets just say people were impressed when I picked up a bass

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.

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

This isn't a Les Claypool song you fools. It's by a band called The Reddings. It's actually Otis Reddings son on bass

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

19 The Lemon Song - Led Zeppelin

The notes aren't that hard but the rhythm is the hardest one out there it keeps stopping and starting

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!

20 The Dance of Eternity - Dream Theater

I can't even play the first 3 seconds of silence on bass

Well, duh.


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.

21 Roundabout - Yes

The base line doesn't seem so hard, but the ghost notes are really frustrating and make it way more difficult! - ElFaquin

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!

1 Comment
22 Classical Thump - Victor Wooten

I don't know why this isn't in the top 5

Should be #1

Way harder than yyz how is this number 24?

In my opinion this is a much harder bass solo the anesthesia victor Wooten's style is very interesting and challenging with lots of speed and complex melodies this should defintly be #1

23 Amazing Grace - Victor Wooten

ONLY A GUITARIST WILL RANK VICTOR 22 don't belive everything you see on the internet because this list is a big mess everything is wrong I can play YYZ I can't ever play victor wooten and I can say that I will never play his songs to his standards because its impossible

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

24 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!

25 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

The greatest bass solo of all time. The greatest bass player of all time. This song is better and harder then most of the songs above it and one thing you have to remember about the list is it's hardest bass songs not the coolest bass songs.

26 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.

27 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

28 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

innovative bass, great bass intro -

29 Rancid - Maxwell Murder

Perfect punk song with a great bass solo. Unforgettable

Matt Freeman is the king of bass!

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!

1 Comment
30 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.

31 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!

32 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

33 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.

34 Chromatic Fantasy - Jaco Pastorius

One of the hardest

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

35 Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Iron Maiden

13 minute song, endurance needed

Bet on speed

36 Master of Puppets - Metallica

This song is easy and cool

37 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

38 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

39 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!

40 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.

41 Permutation - Red Hot Chili Peppers
42 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.

43 Teen Town - Weather Report

I don't know if it's me who can't play this bass line but I think it should be at least on the top 5 since it's harder than most of the song of this top. The main problem is that it seems to be random notes played quite fast, it doesn't seem to follow any scale. Jaco is a monster to play this on a fretless bass! - ElFaquin

"Teen Town" is not unplayable but should definitely be higher on this list. A rather intricate line spanning the whole fretboard played at a rather fast pace. One of Jaco's most memorable lines.


Jaco is a god

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

The bass solo should justify this song in #1.

Bass solo within a bass solo?

Impossible to play id you're not Myung

€�First you need a 6 string bass...

45 Black Sunshine - White Zombie
46 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.

47 C'mon Girl - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Aeroplane is on top3 and come on Girl is 51? lolwtf I can manage Aeroplane, not perfect but I am kinda still newbie at bass - been playing for about 5 months now (but played guitar for long time practiced Yngwie songs mostly). The only hardest part in Aeroplane is the solo part (the fast descending from D string). Meanwhile THE ENTIRE bassline in come on Girl is hell (except chorus part). Flea himself said, it is the hardest song he plays. Running your fingers non-stop 16th notes for 4mins requires perfect plucking technique, just 1 note missing, you are already out! Because your fingers already tripped over each other. People say YYZ is damn difficult however I think come on Girl should be harder than YYZ. Not sure but at least YYZ doesn't look very physically demanding song like come on Girl, I gotta try YYZ tomorrow but I am sure I am right

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

48 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

49 Nobody Weird Like Me - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Its just the sped like jc its not that hard once u get the hang of it, but just SO fast

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

50 Forty Six & 2 - Tool
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List StatsUpdated 22 Oct 2019

2,000 votes
133 listings
10 years, 117 days old

Top Remixes

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



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