Top 10 Greatest Metal Bassists

The Top Ten
1 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 Umeå whilst promoting Metallica's ...read more.

R.I.P. Cliff
By FAR my favorite bassist of all time. To bad he died. He died on a bus trip on the Master of Puppets tour. Him and James Hetfield were fighting that night for a seat on the bus. Cliff won the seat but later the bus flipped over and crashed causing him to die. The band doesn't know what really happened but they think that the driver driving the bus was drunk and crashed the bus. The driver said that he wasn't drunk. He said there was a patch of ice on the road, slipped on it, and crashed the bus. I like to think if Cliff wouldn't have won the seat but James Hetfield won the seat. Would he have died instead of Cliff? Or if Cliff never died. What would...And Justice for All be like? Or Lars Ulrich died instead of Cliff? The world will never know...

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 song writing 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 harmonies and melodies. This approach would be taken by countless bassist after him from grunge to death metal. He added while 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 like cliff did. He is the ultimate and one of the most influential metal bassists of all time. RIP cliff burton

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'

"The Musical Master-Mind behind the early Metallica. Every metal bassist alive today see's GeezeStever Butler as the Godfather and Steve Harris as the technical master but Cliff Burton will forever be the Patron Saint of
Metal-Bass. His radical approach to using a "Lead-Bass" style which is usually reserved for Jazz/Big Band created a whole new type of sound. The kind of early Thrash that is near impossible to replicate to this day.

R.I.P. Clifford Lee Burton!

2 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 about just technique, its just one of the aspects. Steve has written majority of Maiden's music which speaks for itself as how successful Maiden is, also longevity is a factor, Steve Harris has disappointed over his long span of career, Not saying Cliff would but we will not know that answer. So, all in all, Steve Harris for me. Up the Irons. /m/

Looking at the name of Geezer Butler just below, I wondered if I should vote for him. And further down the list Lemmy's name caught my attention as well. But when it comes to metal bassist, I can't help but to vote for Steve Harris in the end. I think his basslines sticks out from the band's sound than those of Geezer do in Sabbath. And no matter Lemmy's the sonic center of Motorhead, and his band is highly influential, still I don't think not they but Iron Maiden epitomizes metal much better.

Steve is hands down the best bassist in metal. Steve not only has a unique gallop style, but he's probably top 5 songwriters in all of metal as well. He is probably the biggest influence on half of the other guys on this list, and for good reason. The guy is still killing it 40+ years later which really says something about his craft. I'll give honorable mention to Cliff, Les, Digiorgio, and Dave Ellefson, but Steve takes the cake.

Maiden wouldn't be what it is without Steve's outstanding basslines. Especially in the 80s he was an absolute beast. What I like about him is that he plays independently of what the guitarists play. And that's what makes the playing of many bassists so boring. They just play the same thing as the guitarists. But Steve is way to creative and talented for doing that. No other metal bassist stands out like him and that's why he is the best.

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 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.

His N.I.B. solo aside, Geezer Butler's fills and variations of his riffs are superb. The stuff he plays under Iommi's solos is amazing, in songs like N.I.B. , Iron Man, War Pigs, Lord of this World, Megalomania, and in God is Dead? From 13 it almost sounds like he is soloing under the solo. He took Jack Bruce's technique and improved upon it significantly.

This bassist is part of the best band in history. He plays like there is no tomorrow, and he can come up with awesome riffs. I do not need to say much to get the point across do I?

I wish the great Metal bands I love that were inspired by Sabbath. Emphasized Bass a little bit more like Old Man Geezer did.

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: 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.

Listening to David Ellefson explain his playing philosophy is a master class in bass performance. Like Geddy Lee (for example) he knows exactly how to fill in the band's sound with his instrument--from driving the drum kit's rhythm into your skull to putting a nice thick bottom end on the guitar work. Plus his tone is monstrous. Anyone that can cut through a Mike Clink "wall of sound" mix has some serious balls in his sound.

He has some really good bass lines here and there and like others before me have said, I'm gonna put it in a different way. Ellefson is a good bassist because he can actually keep up with all the crazy stuff Megadeth's guitarists have done.

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

The technicality, the groove, the feel. He's got the whole package.
I respect all the other bassists, they are all great... But when it comes to playing something technical that actually has groove and feel. John Myung is the way to go.

Myung is much better bassist than Cliff Burton or Stene Harris. Those guys are voted because there is more Metallica and Iron Maiden fans, so they "ride" with their bands success. (Dream Theater is much better band than Metallica or Iron Maiden. )

John Myung should be number one. Just see how technical his playing style is. Just listen to the bass lines of octavarium and you would understand myung's capabilities. He should be considered as a lead bassist.

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.

6 Steve DiGiorgio 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 albumns. 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. 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.

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

7 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 sounds without him

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.

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...

Voted for this guy because Johnny Christ doesn't deserve to be in the top ten or high up on the list. Chancellor is an amazing bass player nonetheless.

8 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

9 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!

Yes, he's one of the greatest slap bassists. But he's not a metal bassists. When we are talking about slap bass, its usually funk rather than metal. And his slap bass style is "funk".

But he's my favorite bassist from this page.

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.

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.

10 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 baselines are powerhouses, and he normalized the bass solo. While he's probably not above Steve Harris, he should def be in top five.

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..

Okay, so he's a lead guitarist who plays rhythm on bass. But the Motorhead sound is unmistakeable because of it.

He achieved more as a bassist, frontman, and composer than most other bassists dared to dream. Most hid and supported their lead guitaurs

The Contenders
11 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 Anasthesia (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.

Rob Trujillo is a very technical bass player and a guitar player as well. Rob is so good that he makes Metallica want to play better. Rob also played with Ozzy which says a lot.

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?

12 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 think he was better that 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.

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.

In my opinion is jason far better then cliff.
I mean the solos from cliff are very good but jasons solos are awesome, just the solo in san diego 1992.
And have you ever seen cliff singing reale loud and good backing vocals? Never
Jason was always with 100% energie and passion for the music he plays and loves on the stage, cliff to but I guess jasons have the WOW effect that nl other have

13 Frank Bello 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.

Caught in a Mosh, Got the Time, Intro to Reality, some examples of his skill on bass so he should really be in the top 10

14 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

Should be number 1

15 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 & plays keys, all the while still holding firm in the structure of each song. 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?

Great but this list is about metal bassists and Geddy is NOT metal.

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

16 D.D. Verni (Overkill)

Way underrated. He should be in the top 10. The song writing. The live presence and damn that bass tone. No one has that tone and cuts across anyone that ever listen to it. It's his sound. No one has the DD sound. He maybe not be all over with being flashy but the man can hold his own

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

Amazing sound, technique...other than steve harris none more ingenious

Should be much, much higher on the list.

17 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 is 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.

This might a little over the top, but Alex Webster to me is Death Metals Cliff Burton. He's fast as hell, one of the only original members left, never used pick in his career, and one of the top 5 headbangers in metal today.

Great technic, great feeling, amazing composer of master pieces of metal. Co-writer of several (maybe all) Cannibal Corpse songs. Co-writer of Blooted Science music. This guy must be on the first 10, I think he is not because death metal is not main stream gender.

No doubt he is one of the best basists but because death metal is less known and the big heavy and thrash band's basists are shown, they are more popular!

18 Rex Brown (Pantera) Rex Robert Brown is an American musician and author, who is best known as having been the longtime bassist for the Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling, now defunct band Pantera.

Like many great metal bass players he was trained as a jazz bassist, which is evidenced by his walking bass lines underneath Dimebag's solos (check out 5 minutes alone). Should be way higher on this list

Gets overshadowed because Dimebag was an amazing guitarist with a monster tone. Rex's bass fill ins while Dime solos are sick. Domination is my favorite Rex bass track.

Scrolled way so long for him, he is awesome live, and his end solos are awesome, he is oversadowed by Dime (R.I.P) but he deserves credit.

Even though he isn't heard much over Dimebag he is still really skilled. Just listen to his work in the guitar solo in 'Floods'.

19 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.

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.

His goatee alone bumps him up at least 10 places.

20 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)

Incredible bassist, seriously underrated. People have a problem with wanting to fit in and be popular so usually they vote the bassist off of how successful the band is. This guy doesn't just follow the guitar. He writes bass lines that weave in and out of the guitar riffs to create beautiful music.

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.

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.

21 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

Pete Wentz is a better bassist than Tom Araya.

22 Michael Lepond (Symphony X)

Every band Mike plays in is better by the fact that he's in it.
Symphony X, Ross The Boss, Metal Mike and 2 Solo Albums Mike Leponds Silent Assassin's.
Silent Assassin's in itself is incredible and The live prefomance was hard to even believe.

Incredible fingerstyle skills! Hardly any other bassist plays with so much 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 guys never fails to impress me every time I've seen him I am wowed. Great bassist!

23 Ian Hill

At #44?! He practically started Priest and the whole heavy metal genre! He's 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 guitars, lead guitars at that) in sound and greatness.

Can't believe he's on number 45! I know he plays mainly simple bass line, but check out the early stuff of Priest classic, like SIN AFTER SIN, STAINED CLASS or metal masterpiece UNLEASHED IN THE EAST, he plays basic stuff but adding some incredible melodic bass note to each songs. I think he deserve on top 10 in metal.

Top metal bass player in the world of Metal. A true legend.

24 Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio) James Stewart "Jimmy" Bain was a Scottish musician, best known for playing bass guitar in the bands Rainbow and Dio.
25 Marten Hagstrom (Meshuggah) Mårten Hagström, (born 27 April 1971) is the rhythm guitarist for the Swedish experimental metal band Meshuggah. Hagström, along with his bandmate Fredrik Thordendal, was rated #35 by Guitar World as the top 100 greatest heavy metal guitarist of all-time.

He isn't just a great songwriter, backup vocalist, rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist, but a badass, technical and groovy metal bassist! He played the bass in the Meshuggah masterpiece obZen and he did a great job in it!

Have you ever heard about meshuggah? Just listen and vote for Marten.

Bass line in Demiurge. Need I say more?

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