35 Easy Bass Songs For Beginners [With Tabs]

Easy Bass Songs For Beginners [With Tabs]

Looking for easy bass songs to play? We’ve got you covered!

Here are dozens of great songs for beginners to study and add to their repertoire.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

In a time when hair metal bands were being mass manufactured by the dozens, and the cheesy power ballads were starting to wear thin, the abstract, simplistic, and muddy sound of grunge caught fire.

If you want to rebel against something, you need to differentiate yourself from it. And grunge, while still a derivative of rock music, found a way to stand out from the thing it was rallying against. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains the essential grunge classic, and the opening drum fill alone is iconic.

But for reasons already mentioned, grunge necessarily had to be simple much of the time, and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic’s lines were mostly there to support Dave Grohl’s angsty “hit as hard as you can” drumming, and vocalist Kurt Cobain’s purposely sloppy guitar playing. Of course, their recorded material was always tight, and it showed off their true musicianship.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen

Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” makes you want to put on your tightest pair of jeans, largest pair of sunglasses, and strut down the street like you own the world. And the bass line, without a doubt, is what inspires this swagger.

Queen was a brilliant band, each member talented, the whole greater than the sum of its parts. But if there is one song that shows off bassist John Deacon’s knack for hooky bass lines, it would be this. It’s ingenious, and any bass player can learn to play it.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson

If you want to learn what groove is all about, then you dig into Michael Jackson’s archive, especially Thriller, and the album “Smooth Criminal” found its way onto, Bad.

With Quincy Jones at his side, Jackson pumped out hit after hit, and while he may not have played an instrument, he still knew talent when he saw it. And that led to him working with plenty of guitar heroes, too, be it Slash, Steve Lukather, Eddie Van Halen, or otherwise.

Either way, the bass line to “Smooth Criminal” is beyond iconic, and every bassist should endeavor to learn it. The trickiest part about it is the rapid 16th notes. At a tempo of 115 bpm, though, it’s not so hard that a beginner shouldn’t attempt.

Bass tab: Songsterr

“You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

You simply can’t underestimate the impact of 60s rock and roll. The Beatles. The Beach Boys. The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Who. David Bowie. And… The Kinks?

The Kinks will always be remembered for this, “You Really Got Me.”

It would be too drastic a statement to say that Van Halen wouldn’t exist without “You Really Got Me,” and yet their cover drew out some of Eddie’s best riffs and licks, with aggressive scratching, pinch harmonics, and his explosive tapping antics.

You just never know when this song might be called upon at a jam session or rehearsal. There’s no reason not to learn it.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“She Loves You” by The Beatles

Bassist Paul McCartney is no mere mortal on the bass, and that could be because he was a guitarist first. His playing on “She Loves You,” though, keeps things simple and features rhythmic patterns every bassist should strive to master.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi

Many would consider Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” a guilty pleasure. They may not admit their love of the song publicly, but in private, they sing along at the top of their lungs.

At its core, it could not be any simpler. It really is a lot of small things coming together that made it a classic, as YouTuber Rick Beato will attest.

The bass is a major contributor to what made this song great, so learn the riffs. And you will see for yourself that, the framework of “Livin’ On A Prayer” is rooted in simplicity.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“21 Guns” by Green Day

Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt is often praised for his playing. “21 Guns,” though, is one of the band’s slowest and most pop oriented numbers. That means Dirnt keeps his wizardry on the downlow and stays in the pocket for the sake of the song.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“With Or Without You” by U2

Their Irish punk rock beginnings notwithstanding, U2 found international success with universal, emotionally evocative songs like “With Or Without You.” 35 years after its release, it continues to find its way into mainstream media, reminding us of its timelessness.

Dig a little deeper, and you will find that its song structure is like an elementary version of Pachelbel’s Canon, with the bass pounding out the same four notes over and over, while guitarist The Edge offers up a stratosphere of cloudy guitars that pillow the song with ear candy.

Sometimes, though, this is the role of the bassist, to hold down the structure of the song so that other great things can happen. Lesson well learned.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down

Out of grunge came modern alt-rock (and eventually nu metal) bands whose foundation was more Nirvana than Van Halen. 3 Doors Down rose to fame with “Kryptonite,” and once again demonstrated that simple three-chord rock could capture the imagination of many a radio listener.

Their production, though, was always smooth and tight, dialing down the mud slightly, and most bands in the same vein would follow suit.

The verse section of “Kryptonite” is laid back and simple. It picks up a bit in the chorus, but it should not prove a challenge insurmountable for the patient beginner.

Bass tab: Songsterr

“Hysteria” by Def Leppard

Def Leppard bassist Rick Savage has never been accused of overcomplicating things for the quintet. Given the thick, dual guitar attack and massive vocal sound of the arena-oriented rock of Leppard, it suits the band’s style.

That said, it’s a rare Def Leppard bass line that should confound the beginner. Most if not all their songs will come under your command with a small amount of effort.

The only thing to watch out for with their songs is arrangement. Their songs take unexpected twists and turns, something that might not be obvious upon first brush. So, learning to follow along takes a little more than pumping out eighth notes brainlessly as some bassists assume.

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

“Come As You Are” by Nirvana

In “Come As You Are,” the bass joins the guitar in a chorus of a very beginner-oriented riff, and what is essentially a grungy two-chord wonder.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Money” by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s cynical take on “Money” features an unforgettable bass riff in 7/4 time. Normally, such a distinct time signature would boggle the mind of the novice player, but in this case, because you’ve probably heard it many times already, learning it should be akin to walking up a gentle slope as opposed to scaling a mountain at 90 degrees.

The bass line serves as an excellent example of what to do as a bassist. Lay the foundation for the band, open the lines of communication between the drummer and guitarist, and keep the rhythms smooth and tight. Also, a great example of pentatonic goodness.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Yellow” by Coldplay

Easy listening, adult contemporary, alt-rock (not so sure about this one), post-U2, whatever you want to call it, Coldplay shot onto the scene with music that would never quite rock but prove a very easy listening experience. My preferred way of listening to them – as electronic remixes.

But if pumping out eighth notes were the ultimate “easy button” for bass players, “Yellow” would be the answer, as it mostly involves cycling through four notes, two measures at a time, in eighth note sequences. It is a great starting point for all bass players, though, and there will be plenty of situations in which holding down a repetitive root note pattern will be your responsibility.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown

Not the easiest riff on the list, but the song’s structure is very close to a 12-bar blues, a trope every bassist must learn.

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

“Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash

In The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” the raunchy bass follows the guitar’s rhythmic pattern, but plays a complementary set of notes (harmony) to enhance the feel of the riff.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King

There’s a lot to love about classic R&B, and in this case, the simplicity of the soulful “Stand By Me” makes for a beginner bassist essential.

Bass tab: Songsterr

“Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream

Cream is yet another influential “supergroup” of the 60s, with the legendary Eric Clapton on the guitar, Ginger Baker on the drums, and bassist Jack Bruce providing the low end.

Rock and guitar solos were only just beginning to find their place in the world in the 60s, but one wonders whether Cream knew that “Sunshine Of Your Love” would set the bar for the blues-rock infused 70s – Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and others. Not to say they were directly responsible for everything that unfolded, but their impact is significant.

“Sunshine Of Your Love” is still loved 55 years after its release. It has a signature blues scale riff doubled up on the bass, and it’s a fun and easy tune to undertake.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Under Pressure” by Queen

Some bass lines are in mass consciousness because they became a part of the soundscape of hits across multiple decades (also see “Super Freak”). The Vanilla Ice debacle notwithstanding, his “Ice Ice Baby” would only serve to call back to the amazing breadth and genius of Queen’s considerable body of work.

Here, again, bassist John Deacon shines in his ability to turn a simple riff into a signature hook. With David Bowie’s guest appearance on vocals, “Under Pressure” elevates to near legendary status.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Pretty Fly For A White Guy” by The Offspring

The pop-punk / punk-rock insurgence of the 90s was supported by bands like The Offspring, and the bass line, in many cases, tended to follow the guitar riff, as is the case with “Pretty Fly For A White Guy.” But this is not a typical punk-rock riff, and that makes it worthwhile.

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

“Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry

Groove and funk rock certainly found its place in the 70s, as exhibited by artists like Pat Travers, TOTO, and Wild Cherry. This song has come to epitomize the genre and has even been covered by the late and legendary Prince. The bass riff is fun, tight, and easy.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

Simple bass tutorials

“Runnin’ With The Devil” by Van Halen

Oftentimes, Van Halen gets lost in the shuffle on lists like this. Maybe it’s because Michael Anthony was, and is, for all intents and purposes, a bassist well-matched to the massive guitar of Eddie Van Halen. He’s not the flashiest or most technical, but he can hold his own compared to some bassists already referenced.

Either way, the main riff to “Runnin’ With The Devil” works because of Anthony pounding out staccato eighth notes on the low E (it’s closer to an Eb here). This line provides the foundation Eddie needs for his signature triadic riff.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Super Freak” by Rick James

Sometimes overlooked as a peddler of hyper sexualized popcorn funk music, Rick James was in fact a triple threat as a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (note: multi), and record producer. Meaning his success is expected and is the furthest thing from hollow.

Write him off as a guilty pleasure if you will. But the man could get you up and dancing, and if he were still alive today, he still could!

80s and 90s kids might better remember MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” which effectively featured the same riff. As rappers were in the habit of doing at the time, Hammer denied such accusations, but even if you were to make the case that it’s notthe same bass line, it was clearly inspired by “Super Freak.”

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Animal” by Def Leppard

Again, we find our way back to the supporting role of Rick Savage, doing what is expected and rarely turning to the flashy or unusual. Def Leppard’s “Animal” was one of many hits off the band’s legendary Hysteria, and for the bass, it’s all about holding down the foundation.

Late guitarist Steve Clark was known for adding a little bit of extra flavor to songs that might otherwise feel “standard,” and that impact is felt on “Animal.” So, watch out for those weird modulations, shifts, and changes. Otherwise, just keep pounding out those eighth notes.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

Technically not a bass line at all, Jack White of The White Stripes played this infamous riff on his guitar using a Whammy pedal. After all, one of the “appeals” of The White Stripes is the fact that it was a duo, and the band’s infrastructure did not include a bass player!

The descending guitar riff does play well on the bass, though.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Stir It Up” by Bob Marley

What do you do when you’re in a car with friends and no one can agree on the music? You turn to Bob Marley, of course! His easygoing, island-feel reggae puts everyone’s mind at ease.

“Stir It Up” features an iconic and memorable bass line. And while it does have a separate verse riff, it is still a repetitive song at a gentle pace. It’s a great bass riff to learn because it offers some guidance on how to “outline” chords in your playing.

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

“Addicted To Love” by Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer is one of those artists that seemed to have his branding nailed. It wasn’t a thing of subtlety or sophistication, even if he always showed up in suit and tie. His music took joy in the male and female relationship, to keep this PG.

“Addicted To Love” has got a busy, punchy bass line well-suited to the song’s staccato feel. It outlines the song’s straightforward four-chord structure. If you can’t keep up with it at first, slow it down a bit and gradually build up your speed.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” demonstrates just how immortal simple, single-note riffs can ultimately become.

The bass line sneaks in to fill the holes in between the staccato guitar riff, something not often heard in the music of the day. And that’s what makes it brilliant. Finding the timing could prove a slight challenge, but the bass line itself is something you should have under your command in a relatively short order.

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

“Take The Money And Run” by Steve Miller Band

Steve Miller’s “Take The Money And Run” tells a Bonnie and Clyde style story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue. The vocal performance floats above the instrumentation. The guitar pounds out a near constant series of chord strums, while the bass line mostly keeps it laid back. Learning the basic structure of this song should prove easy.

But do watch out for the fills in the second verse as well as the interlude section. These are a little harder to execute. Still, with some tenacity, you can do it!

Bass tab: Songsterr

“Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz

Lenny Kravitz is obviously inspired by the hippie rock of the 60s and 70s. But he found a way to bring it back to a listening audience in the 90s by packaging it up in his own way. Listen closely, and you will hear shades of Hendrix in “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”

And, not surprisingly, even the bass line follows suit. It pumps out a simple, staccato line that gives the song its infectious groove. It’s fun to play, and easy to learn!

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“My Generation” by The Who

60s English rock band The Who went onto become another band that cemented the role of rock music in the decades to follow. “My Generation” is one of their most iconic, and perhaps most “standard” rock and roll tunes.

The bass line, though, features plenty of movement to keep interest. Not the easiest of all songs on this list, but certainly fun, and worth learning.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Back In Black” by AC/DC

With “Back In Black,” AC/DC proved that it could do just as well, if not better, with a new lead singer at the helm. This song is full of the testosterone and Australian attitude the band became known for.

The bass line follows the guitar relatively closely. So, the hardest part is perhaps the chromatic riff that follows every second cycle through the E, D, and A power chords. The build into the chorus is straightforward and fun!

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi is a riff machine, and “Iron Man” is just one of many famous riffs he will forever be remembered for.

The bass line in “Iron Man” can primarily be heard on the left side of the mix (easy to identify with a pair headphones) and follows Iommi’s blues scale riffs very closely. Excellent riffs for a bass player to learn.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple

Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” is sometimes thought of as simple, but it’s not completely without underlying sophistication.

The raunchy bass line gives the song some needed heaviness in the bottom end, and while it features some movement, it’s not hard to play. Another great riff-based line to add to your arsenal.

Bass tab: Ultimate Guitar

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

Motivational anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” is well loved. One of the song’s hooks is played on the bass, and that makes it an especially enjoyable to learn. The bass even plays some fills in the pre-chorus section and then adds to the original line in the second verse. That’s probably the hardest thing about it.

Bass tab: Songsterr

“God Of Thunder” by KISS

The riff rock of KISS is immediately identifiable. As with The Beatles, they are sometimes accused of writing simple songs, and I’m not here to counter those notions. But that makes their music perfect for beginners to learn.

Bassist Gene Simmons’ playing here reminds me a little bit of Michael Anthony’s performance on “Runnin’ With The Devil.”

Bass tab: BigBassTabs.com

Easy Bass Songs For Beginners With Tabs, Final Thoughts

The above is but a starting point. If you’re looking for more, study the other works of KISS, Def Leppard, Coldplay, U2, 3 Doors Down, Nirvana, and others represented here.

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