Beginning your journey to bass mastery is an exciting time. There are so many things to learn, new songs, new techniques, and the wonderful world of music theory. But it can also be overwhelming, there are so many resources available these days. From YouTube tutorials to tablature websites with literal millions of songs to learn. Where does one begin?
This is where we step in. As you progress through your bass guitar journey it’s important to both have fun and learn material that’s appropriate for your skill level. Otherwise, the learning process can become frustrating.
So we’ve gathered 30 of the most popular and EASY songs that any aspiring bassist can have fun learning, and we’ve even provided both video lessons and tablature to help you along the way!
- Another One Bites The Dust by Queen
- Come Together by The Beatles
- Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
- Longview by Greenday
- Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
- Come As You Are by Nirvana
- Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
- Money by Pink Floyd
- Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
- Yellow by Coldplay
- Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People
- I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown
- All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
- Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
- Otherside by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Should I stay Or Should I Go by The Clash
- La Grange by ZZ Top
- Stand By Me by Ben E. King
- Wicked Game by Chris Isaac
- Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream
- The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
- Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz
- For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica
- Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
- Under Pressure by Queen
- Bombtrack by Rage Against The Machine
- Pretty Fly For A White Guy by The Offspring
- Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry
- Super Freak by Rick James
- 21 Guns by Green Day
Another One Bites The Dust by Queen
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The great thing about Queen is not only are their songs easy to learn, but are also easily recognizable when you play them to your non-musician friends. Queen are one of the best selling bands of all time (the 3rd best in fact) with 150 million albums sold worldwide. Another One Bites the Dust as a single sold nearly 3.5 million alone and went 4x Platinum in multiple countries.
This is a great song to learn because the main motif is so iconic. And while there is nothing too demanding of your technical ability, it is fantastic for helping to develop techniques such as staccato playing (the short notes where you need to mute them quickly with your right hand).
Come Together by The Beatles
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The Beatles have produced some of the most iconic (and successful) songs of all time, they left a significant mark in the landscape of popular music for that period. The classic British rock group is the number 1 best selling band of all time with a staggering 600 million albums sold worldwide.
Come Together is an ideal song for a beginner to learn as it’s not difficult in terms of speed, but will introduce you to some basic techniques such as sliding. It also allows you to cover some good ground on the bass and get you used to playing notes higher up the fretboard. This is helpful to newer musicians as a lot of beginner-friendly material likes to stay low down on the bass.
Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
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The power duo from Detroit Michigan are well known for their more raw and organic sound, which can offer a nice change of pace from some of the more hyper-produced artists of the modern era. While technically comprising of just a guitarist and drummer, their single ‘Seven Nation Army’ has a clear and distinct bassline that you can have fun learning.
This very simple bassline is easy enough to play, only a 7 note phrase played mostly on a single string. It’s ideal for a beginner to learn and rock out to as the song isn’t too taxing on the brain, leaving your concentration free to focus more on feeling the groove and making sure the notes ring loudly and clearly.
Longview by Greenday
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Greenday are legends in the punk rock genre. Having achieved a level of commercial success few in that style could ever dream of reaching. Boasting 5 Grammy Award wins and 75 million albums sold worldwide. But as their career has progressed they have opened their songwriting up to more pop and alternative styles.
Longview has some interesting bass parts that are great for the beginner who’s looking to start tackling something a little more interesting. Here you’ll be picking the main melody followed by some intervals (a fancy name to describe two different pitches) where you’ll need to get comfortable picking 2 notes at a time as you play both your 3rd and 4th string together, letting the 3rd string ring out while the melody is played on the 4th string.
Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
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Known as the ‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson was legendary for his powerful voice, catchy melodies, and classic dance moves. However, the instrumental side of Michael’s music is not to be underestimated. As accompanying him are some absolutely stellar musicians who have written some world-class musical parts to his songs.
No song represents this better than Smooth Criminal, with its bassline that is both groovy, has great note choice and serves the song succinctly. It is played at a fair tempo and will require some right hand dexterity to play it up to speed. Don’t be afraid to turn the BPM down a little until you get the patterns down.
Come As You Are by Nirvana
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Nirvana set the world on fire as their raw, unpolished style ushered in the grunge era coming off of the back of the spandex and glitter-laden style of 80’s glam rock. This song carried a great energy with a hint of melancholy behind it as the contradictory lyrics sum up the difference between who we really are and how society expects us to act.
Musically the song follows suit, making use of passing tones (notes from outside of the song scale which helps lead you back into a scale note) which adds to the dreary feel of the song. Try to really listen as you play the 7-6-5 on your A string and how much that adds to the mood of the song.
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
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Nirvana’s biggest single from their Nevermind album, releasing high on the charts worldwide and has even been called one of the best songs of all time. With an accumulated sales of roughly 6 million for just this song alone and the official music video sitting at a ludicrous 1.3 billion views on youtube.
The song has an aggressive main riff and the chorus is very high energy, so it’s a great opportunity for beginners to just rock out. There’s nothing technical about the song and it has lots of repeating sections. So feel free to just switch off, check no one else is looking, and jump around your bedroom as you jam!
Money by Pink Floyd
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You might think a band that’s well known for sitting in the progressive and psychedelia genres out of place on a list for beginner-friendly songs. But in fact, Pink Floyd has a very eclectic catalog of songs that can cater to all levels of players. With ‘Money’ being their first single from the hit album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.
This song flirts between progressive and blues, and while it’s definitely something a beginner can tackle, do note that it contains some odd time signatures including 7/4 and 3/4. So be sure to check the tab for a helpful visual guide on how to count this, and remember to turn the metronome on! This is a great song to learn as it will enable you to dip your toe into uncommon time signatures.
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
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Both a pioneer of reggae and a true personality in music. He projected an upbeat and hopeful message, inspiring millions of fans to become better and more positive people. And although he has now passed, his message and legacy are still rippling through music today and as a musician, he is as respected as ever.
This message of positivity is one that is carried through his music, through upbeat grooves and major-sounding melodies. Which is exactly why this song is so great to learn for a beginning bassist, it’s playful with its timing and will have you rhythmically dancing all over the bar. But at the same time, there’s nothing too fast so you can have fun while you progress, try to tap your foot to the beat to help stay on time!
Yellow by Coldplay
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Alternative rock, pop-rock, alternative pop. However you want to define Coldplay, there is no denying that over their 25 year career, they have been able to achieve massive commercial success with 100 million albums sold worldwide, seven Grammy Awards, and nine Brit Awards.
Yellow is about as easy as they come, with a very simple progression, played at a slow BPM, and all in good-old 4/4. You will have absolutely no trouble mastering this song, so use the opportunity to improve your consistency and ensure you’re hitting every note with the same strength. Remember to turn that metronome on to help you stay on time.
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People
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One of the more modern artists on this list who got their lucky break when their song “Pumped Up Kicks” went viral in 2010. The band grabbed the opportunity and was able to secure a record deal in 2011, continuing to grow from there. Even getting the opportunity to work with legendary electronic musician deadmau5.
Pumped Up Kicks is a popular song that many aspiring bassists enjoy learning for its nice balance of being both upbeat and musically interesting. It’s at a fairly fast tempo of 128bpm and will demand some quite precise playing, but it will also give you a great chance to put those hammer-ons and pull offs you’ve (hopefully) been practicing to work!
I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown
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James Brown has a distinctive vocal style that led him on a long and fruitful 50+ year career. Ranked as 7th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of 100 greatest musicians of all time. But irrespective of whether you follow him as an artist, you have undoubtedly heard ‘I Got You’ somewhere because it’s been used in a lot of movies and TV shows.
The single’s massive popularity and quirky bassline makes it a great song for any aspiring bassist to learn. It is essentially a 12 bar blues song, where you’ll be doing some string skipping and bends to test your various techniques. And while all in 4/4 it is at 168 bpm so is going to need some stamina if you want to make it all the way through!
All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
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Not many artists get to receive such glowing success from their very first single. But Meghan Trainor did just that with her 2014 song ‘All About That Bass’. Charting at number 1 in a huge number of countries and even going Diamond (over 10 million copies sold) in the US.
The song itself mainly uses a single motif, there are some significant pauses so you’ll need to make sure you’re conscious of the beat to ensure you’re entering back in at the right time. It’s a fun and upbeat song so try to get the notes to pop and don’t be afraid to play a little harder than normal to get that energy to come through.
Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
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‘The Prince of Darkness’, or perhaps the lead in a reality TV show if you’re a little younger. Regardless, Ozzy Osbourne is an icon in metal music. His band Black Sabbath are credited as pioneers of the genre and are a major reason why the style has evolved into what it is today.
Crazy Train is Ozzy’s first single as a solo musician from his 1980 album ‘Blizzard of Ozz’. The song is very iconic and has one of the most recognizable guitar riffs ever written. Contrary to the guitar riffs which are quite fast, the bass is comparatively easy to play. Try to get those staccato mutes on the verse nice and tight and you’ll have the song mastered.
Otherside by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
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One of the all-time great American rock bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are well known for taking influences from punk, funk, and psychedelic rock. Bassist Flea often dominates the stage with his intense bass technique and high energy performances. Some of their material can be considerably more challenging on bass than on guitar!
Otherside is a great one to challenge the beginning bassist, it will demand quite a lot of technique from you including string skipping, sliding, and being confident in playing notes higher up the fretboard. This makes it ideal if you’ve got some of the basics of the instrument down and are looking to step it up a notch. Don’t be afraid to slow the song down a little if it’s giving you trouble! It’s always better to learn slowly and speed up after to ensure you don’t develop any ‘bad habits’ and program your muscle memory incorrectly.
Should I stay Or Should I Go by The Clash
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One of the classic English rock/punk rock bands from the ’70s. In recent years the band’s single ‘Should I stay Or Should I Go’ was very famously used in the hit Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’. Which immediately put it high on the list of songs young bassists want to learn.
The song is both easy to execute and memorize. However, there are a lot of small pauses and even entire bars where you will not be playing. Make sure you’re aware of the beat so you can come back in at the right time. It’s a good idea to get used to playing the small pauses early on, essentially on the small 16th note pauses you are using the palm or side of your hand to quickly mute the note creating a ‘staccato’ feel.
La Grange by ZZ Top
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The legendary Texan blues rock group who have equally legendary beards to match. After an initial stint in the early ’70s followed by a brief hiatus. ZZ Top returned in 1979 with a new image and style that garnered them massive commercial success. With over 50 million albums sold worldwide and a plethora of songs that we as musicians can enjoy learning.
This song will have you testing your blues groove, while only using a handful of notes that follow a pretty typical blues chord progression. As a bassist, you will be carrying both the rhythm and feel of the song, so it’s important to play as loud and confidently as you can.
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
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The late Ben E. King was a successful and respected soul and R&B singer. Known for both his solo work and as the singer for The Drifters and amassing a whopping 23 full studio albums to his name. He also ran a charity providing education to underprivileged youths which was named after this very single as the ‘Stand By Me Foundation’.
This is Ben E. King’s most successful single, charting at number 1 on the US R&B Billboard. It’s an ideal song for a beginner to learn as it uses just a single motif throughout the length of the song. Perfect if you are just getting used to the bass and you need a nice and easy song to get you using the frets and playing along to real music.
Wicked Game by Chris Isaac
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Sometimes with musicians, a song doesn’t become popular as soon as it’s released. There can often be an event that springs something into popularity at a later date. This was the case with Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’. Originally released in 1989, but did not rank as a top ten hit until after it was featured in the 1990 film ‘Wild at Heart’.
Not only an emotionally engaging song, but it’s also perfect for the absolute beginner to play as you spend the majority of your time on the low E string following a simple progression. It will also expose you to the use of passing tones as the 6th fret on your low E is used as part of the primary motif.
Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream
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Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton’s main band before pursuing his solo career. Cream are one of the biggest rock bands of all time, forming in England in the late ’60s and have sold tens of millions of albums worldwide. Sunshine of Your Love was a single from their best selling album, Disraeli Gears. The single itself went on to become their highest ranking song on the American charts.
This is a great song for beginner bassists to learn as not only does it get you moving around the fretboard quite a bit. It will also expose you to the magic of the B5 note (otherwise known as the blue note), which adds a lot of personality to the bassline and is something you can add to your musical vocabulary and use in your own bassline creation.
The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
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Anyone who was a follower of the Formula One racing coverage will instantly be able to recognize this bassline. It was even used on the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s promotional material. It’s one of the band’s most popular songs and went double platinum in the UK with over a million in single sales.
The song itself is composed of various sections and elements that were put together from previously rejected material, but it does sit nicely in a typical rock structure and is something any beginner should have no problem memorizing. It’s also a primarily bass-driven song, so as the primary force and leader make sure you’re playing confidently and staying in time with the metronome to help carry the groove of the song.
Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz
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The Gorillaz, while not technically a ‘real’ band, are nevertheless extremely successful artists. With their music being accompanied by some great 2d animations. The music is primarily written by songwriter Damon Albarn of the band Blur, and upon forming Gorillaz he was able to explore other styles of music such as electronica and hip-hop.
They have had several successful singles, but Feel Good Inc. in particular lends itself well to the learning bassist as it’s very catchy, has a lot of attitude, and is a ton of fun to play. It’s at a fair BPM of 139 requiring you to be able to keep up with the main melody. But all the positions are quite comfortable so shouldn’t demand too much from your hands.
For Whom The Bell Tolls by Metallica
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Metallica are arguably one of the biggest metal bands of all time. With staggering record sales that few metal artists get the privilege of attaining. As the band’s career matured they began to explore lighter and more accessible areas of music, but back in their early days they were the quintessential thrash band.
Part of their second album Ride the Lightning. The song is introduced by bassist Cliff Burton’s epic bass riff. You will want to put some distortion on this! (he also used a Wah pedal on the recording). It’s an extremely powerful and dark song, so make sure you dig in hard as you play. Making angry faces also helps with this!
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
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While of course, Michael Jackson is mainly known as a singer and dancer. As we mentioned previously he often has a stellar musical accompaniment behind him. With Billie Jean being primarily driven by the bass guitar motif. This single is one of his biggest ever, going 5x platinum (5 million copies sold) in just the USA alone.
The majority of the song is centered around the aforementioned bass motif. It’s what would technically be called an ostinato. Which is where an instrument plays a short, repeating melody and the rest of the music moves around that. This can be a little intimidating at first as you’ll be leading the song. Do don’t be afraid to just play that motif by yourself until you have it programmed into your muscle memory.
Under Pressure by Queen
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One thing that’s unique about Queen is that all the members are credited as songwriters. With each member having written hit singles by the band, they were all inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Under Pressure is one of their most successful singles and was written in collaboration with another British legend, David Bowie.
The song opens with an instantly recognizable and iconic bass riff whose rhythm is used throughout the length of the song. It’s perfect for beginners to play as once you have mastered the primary motif you’ll be referencing back to it throughout the other sections of the song. This is a great song that every bassist should keep in their musical repertoire.
Bombtrack by Rage Against The Machine
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Rage Against the Machine were able to garner a lot of attention immediately after the release of their first ever self-titled debut album. They would go on to become legends in the rap and alternative metal space amassing over 16 million albums sold worldwide. Because of their raw, guitar driven sound their songs are perfect for any learning bassist who is looking for something to rock out to.
The song opens with a classic bass line that is playing straight 16th notes, this will serve as a great picking exercise for any beginner. The rest of the song is very groovy and a lot of fun to play. Watch out for the octaves between the 2nd and 4th frets on the chorus and ensure those come out clearly!
Pretty Fly For A White Guy by The Offspring
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The Offspring were large contributors to the revival of punk in the ’90s, which led them to massive commercial success. They’ve amassed over 40 million album sales worldwide. Pretty Fly for a White Guy was a single from their fifth studio album which was huge in Europe, going platinum in the UK, Sweden, and Norway.
The bassline on the song itself is the epitome of catchy, with satisfying lines that resolve exquisitely. This makes it not only great practice but it also will give you some insight into how bass lines can use passing tones to lead into nice resolutions. There are not many unique parts to the song so it shouldn’t take you long to master.
Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry
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Originally formed in Ohio, America in the early ’70s. Their career spanned 10 years with 4 full length studio albums, with the self titled debut album reaching the number 1 spot on the US R&B charts in 1796. They are primarily known for their single ‘Play That Funky Music’ which sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
The song itself has a singular motif which will follow the chord changes as the song progresses. So try to get the main pattern down first and the rest of the song should fall into place. If you haven’t been exposed to it yet this song will introduce you to the hammer-on, where you will pick the open note and using only your left hand fret a note.
Super Freak by Rick James
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You’ll probably recognize the bassline to this instantly. But not necessarily for its use in the context of Rick James. Because of course, even more than the original this is known for being sampled by MC Hammer for his own hit single “U Can’t Touch This” released in 1990. But even so, the song still did very well in its own right, being ranked in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
This song is super easy to memorize as it uses just 1 riff throughout. It’s also very comfortable in the hands as you will never need to leave the lower part of the fretboard. Try to employ some good economy of motion here using your free fingers to hit the necessary notes and avoid excessive stretching.
21 Guns by Green Day
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This was the second released single from their eighth studio album titled 21’st century breakdown. Peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it sold over 1 million copies alone in the US followed by 400,000 in the UK. The official music video for the song is sitting at nearly 400 million views on YouTube.
The song itself is great for a beginning bassist as it’s at a very slow BPM and has lots of breaks to give you some time to get your hands in place and be ready for the next note. One thing to be mindful of is the octaves being placed at the start of the chorus, you will need to make sure as you strike the octave shape that the second string is adequately muted so you are only hearing the 2 required notes.