Top 10 Greatest Metal Bassists

The Top Ten
1 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.

I understand people going for Cliff Burton. He was the master of the craft, but I think Steve Harris has a little edge over him. Cliff Burton, hands down, has better technique, but music is not just about technique. It's just one of the aspects.

Steve has written the majority of Maiden's music, which speaks for itself as to how successful Maiden is. Also, longevity is a factor. Steve Harris has been consistent over his long career. Not saying Cliff wouldn't, but we will never know that answer.

So, all in all, Steve Harris for me. Up the Irons.

2 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... read more

Though he may not be the most technical bassist, he is definitely the most original. In the end, it is not the most technical that ends up being the best, but the bassist who contributed the most to the music.

Cliff Burton's bass lines, though not the most technical, enhanced the song and harmonized perfectly with all the other instruments. His songwriting was impeccable. He revolutionized metal bass. He treated it like a lead instrument, focusing less on holding down the rhythm and instead enhancing the song's harmonies and melodies. This approach would be taken by countless bassists after him, from grunge to death metal. He added whole new layers to the music.

Though Harris was a more dominant songwriter and Myung more technical, neither of them added as much to one song with their instrument as Cliff did. He is the ultimate and one of the most influential metal bassists of all time. RIP Cliff Burton.

3 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 favorite by far.

If it weren't for Geezer, I'm not even sure if Black Sabbath would be my favorite band (though Iommi is still a riff god, so probably).

Cliff Burton is massively overrated, but I admit Steve Harris comes close on this one.

4 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 2010-2021.

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 like "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 ranks #1 for influence, while Cliff Burton is tops for inspiration. John Myung may be a brilliant musician, but I don't like his bass style. It just seems too 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 ass!

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

Myung is a much better bassist than Cliff Burton or Steve Harris. Those guys are voted because there are more Metallica and Iron Maiden fans, so they "ride" with their bands' success.

Dream Theater is a much better band than Metallica or Iron Maiden.

John Myung should be number one. Just see how technical his playing style is. Listen to the bass lines of Octavarium, and you will understand Myung's capabilities. He should be considered a lead bassist.

John Myung is 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.

6 Steve DiGiorgio (Testament) Steve Di Giorgio is an American musician of Italian descent. Di Giorgio has played bass guitar in many heavy metal and death metal bands.

"The eternal hippy of all that is fretless," as Chuck Schuldiner would say. Great bass player who brought another dimension to many albums. Not really a mainstay in any band, but you could always pick him out on any album he was on.

Just solid.

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.

He should at least be in the top 5.

Steve deserves to be at number 1. His bass lines are always out of this world. Take a look at his work with bands like Death. You'll be amazed.

7 Lemmy Kilmister (Mötorhëad) Ian Fraser Kilmister, known as Lemmy, was an English musician, singer and songwriter who founded and fronted the rock band Motörhead. He was a bassist and a singer known for his raspy voice. He died in 2015 from cancer and other health problems.

He has one of the most unique styles of bass in the entire genre. His bass lines are powerhouses, and he normalized the bass solo. While he's probably not above Steve Harris, he should definitely be in the top five.

Actually, I vote for Cliff because he inspired me. But Lemmy? Don't forget, Cliff was also inspired by him. Geddy, Geezer, Lemmy, and Phil Lynott were Cliff's influences. And I like Lemmy's technique. He's a unique bass player.

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

8 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.

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 sound without him.

Just amazing. His work on Schism, 46 & 2, and others is phenomenal. Not only is he a good bassist, but also a good writer and musician.

How have I not reached minimum quality yet? This stupid computer doesn't know what quality is.

9 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 solos were amazing). 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 think he was better than Cliff and Rob because Cliff played the bass like a guitar. Also, Jason was able to play with a pick, fingers, slap, and tapping. He is a great frontman and played and sang. Jason wrote guitar riffs and had a bigger impact on Metallica than Rob has. I think he should be second place to Cliff Burton. Jason is really overshadowed.

10 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 era, but you can't deny that back in the day, Rage Against the Machine delivered some of the most effective metal bass lines ever. And he was a beast live.

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

He has to be on this list. He creates a great background for Tom and his stunts.

The Contenders
11 Frank Bello (Anthrax) Francis Charles Joseph "Frank" Bello is an Italian-American musician who plays bass guitar for the thrash metal band Anthrax.

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.

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

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

12 Geddy Lee (Rush) Gary Lee Weinrib, known professionally as Geddy Lee, is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush.

23 - Really? Not only is Geddy an intricate bass player from an instrument standpoint, but he also sings and plays keys, all the while still holding firm in the structure of each song.

He should be in the top 10 at the very least.

How is Geddy Lee not already on here? He plays bass for Rush, which would already be hard enough. He is the lead singer of Rush, and he also plays piano for Rush!

How much better can one man get?

Simply one of the very best. I don't know how the guy from Korn is above him.

13 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.

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 Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth). What a fitting tribute to Burton!

Rob's galloping style has contributed a lot to Metallica's songs. Metallica's recent live performances sound a lot heavier and more brutal because of Rob. He may not be the best bassist of all time, but he's certainly one guy you can never ever write off. His name is definitely there, along with the likes of Burton, Butler, Steve Harris, and Ellefson.

14 Les Claypool (Primus) 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 is an alternative metal band, so I can see why Les isn't going to be number 1. But Jesus, he's by far the most talented bassist on this list. He should at least be in the 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 favorite bassist. Claypool is inarguably the most talented and innovative player on the list.

He is a metal bassist. Primus isn't a metal band, but he used to be in the prog thrash band Blind Illusion. He even played on their first studio album.

15 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.

When you sing, it is all too easy for your bass playing to go unremarked upon. Well worthy of a top ten place.

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.

16 Gene Simmons (KISS) 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.

Gene rocks. His axe-bass solos 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 famous hit I Love It Loud.

17 D.D. Verni (Overkill)

Way underrated. He should be in the top 10. The songwriting, the live presence, and, damn, that bass tone. No one has that tone and cuts across anyone who ever listens to it.

It's his sound. No one has the D.D. sound. He may not be all over with being flashy, but the man can hold his own.

Should be much, much higher on the list.

DD at #22? Got to be kidding! He belongs in the top five, no question. Possibly top three.

18 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 songs "Deer Dance" and "Prison Song" are prime examples of his skill.

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

I love all the bass lines he played. Very innovative and so refreshing.

19 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 Whom the Bell Tolls." Ryan is my favorite 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)

20 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.

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.

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!

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

21 Michael Lepond (Symphony X)

Incredible fingerstyle skills! Hardly any other bassist plays with such precision at such a high speed. If this was an accurate list, the top three would be Cliff Burton, John Myung, and Michael Lepond!

Really unique style and incredible skills. Without a doubt, the most talented bass player I've ever been lucky enough to see live.

I've been a musician for over 30 years and this guy never fails to impress me. Every time I've seen him, I am wowed. Great bassist!

22 Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) Alex Webster is an American bass player, who is best known as a member of the death metal band Cannibal Corpse.

Alex Webster's technical ability is astounding. It's not just about speed. The notes he plays are shockingly melodic and clean underneath the pounding drums and shredding guitars. The break fills in Cannibal Corpse and the solos with Blotted Science are like god-like wizardry. Check out the genius of Synaptic Plasticity for further proof. Add on his song and lyric writing ability, and you've got a bass GOD.

Great technique, great feeling, amazing composer of masterpieces of metal. Co-writer of several (maybe all) Cannibal Corpse songs and co-writer of Blotted Science music. This guy must be in the first 10.

I think he is not because death metal is not a mainstream genre.

23 Ian Hill (Judas Priest)

At number 44?! He practically started Priest and the whole heavy metal genre! He is practically the only one, apart from Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, who can truly compose great bass lines that can actually equal guitar lines - let alone two lead guitars - in sound and greatness.

I can't believe he's only at number 45! I know he mainly plays simple bass lines, but check out the early stuff from Priest classics like Sin After Sin, Stained Class, or the metal masterpiece Unleashed in the East. He plays basic stuff but adds some incredible melodic bass notes to each song. I think he deserves to be in the top 10 in metal.

24 Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) 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 breathtaking!

Best ever. Talas wasn't a very good metal band, but bassist Billy Sheehan is probably the most prolific bassist ever.

25 Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio) James Stewart "Jimmy" Bain was a Scottish musician, best known for playing bass guitar in the bands Rainbow and Dio.
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