What bass line(s) have taught you the most?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by two fingers, Jul 6, 2022.

  1. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This really didn't fit directly into Technique or General Instruction, so I put it here. Feel free to move.

    I'm currently learning "Sledgehammer" on fretless. I'm an "OK" fretless player. But this bass line is really helping me get around the board better in a funky way.

    I've done whole shows on fretless just to prove that I could.

    I've learned several Pino lines, and those helped with ear training and intonation. But, for whatever reason, I had gravitated toward slower Pino lines. "Sledgehammer" is straight up pop funk. The music is my wheelhouse. But doing it on fretless has been a challenge.... a GOOD challenge. Throw in a pick, and it gets even more challenging. Learning this song is literally taking my fretless playing to a higher level for mainstream types of music.

    I LOVE learning songs. I've reached the age where I don't really like doing scales or finger exercises. I would love some suggestions from you guys for songs that have elevated your playing. And I'm not just talking about fretless.

    Of course, there will be the obvious Jaco or Stanley stuff. But I'm talking more about mainstream pop/rock/funk/soul/country/blues/etc. songs..... "radio" songs.

    So, offer up some songs I/we can learn that will help woodshed a particular aspect of my/our playing. Bonus points if you can explain WHAT that song taught you. Doesn't matter if it was an aspect of theory or technique. Pick? Slap? Chords? Sure!
  2. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    A few songs come immediately to mind. I'm sure the ones that taught me MOST I'll only think of after I post this :) .

    Joy To The World - taught me how to use space and think creatively with the groove. ALL 3 Dog Night songs do that for me. Joe Schermie is hands down the most underrated BP of all time, IMO.

    Any Ramones songs - playing Ramones with all downstrokes and staying dead on in the pocket is something I think Vic Wooten would even have a rough time with :) . I'd be willing to bet lots he'd never be able to jump around and do it like Dee Dee did, too. Dee Dee is another underrated musician. And I love Vic... just for the record.

    More to come. Gotta actually work now.
  3. roccobass

    roccobass Still funkin’ in the free world.

    Jun 25, 2014
    For “rock” fretless, I found Boz Burrell of Bad Company was quite influential. He has a real understated style that was quite cool and it fit so well. Check out his playing on this tune.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    My technique and ability grew quite a bit when I had to learn a bunch of Tower of Power tunes. It was a style that was new to me and was a good challenge.

    We occasionally cover songs that are a challenge, but often they are songs I’ve played before. We recently added Footloose to the setlist. That’s a fairly challenging bass line. Any Nathan East line will be a learning experience. Piece of Mind (Boston) was a fun one to work up as well. I don’t know if the audience hears all the “little things” in lines like those, but a couple guys in the band do and give me a look when I pull them off - like that lick at the end of Footloose for example.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  5. roccobass

    roccobass Still funkin’ in the free world.

    Jun 25, 2014
    Good point on Rocco! ;) Especially on “What is Hip?”.

    Just to add a couple of more cents. Even if you don’t play them in a band,they’re fun songs for a bassist.

    Try to cop Joe Osborn on America’s Ventura Highway or Joe Macho on I Got A Name. Both of these opened me to a more melodic point of view.
    BlueTalon, rodl2005, LordRyan and 5 others like this.
  6. Blind Melon “Galaxy”
    Mostly because it was a bass line i wanted to learn and couldn’t find proper Tabs and had to figure a lot of it out on my own (and i still don’t play it note for note but i can jam it pretty darn well).
    wardak, JRA, roccobass and 1 other person like this.
  7. Jaycat


    Sep 8, 2018
    I like playing along with this one. A good exercise in timing and "holding back."

  8. Disco bass lines are a really good finger exercise.

    Joe Dart of Vulfpeck has killer bass lines.
    murphy, MaryMary, rockdoc11 and 4 others like this.
  9. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    NE ND
    December, 1963 (Oh What A Night) is another great old tune with a melodic bass line. Many of the YouTube videos that pop up on the side when you search any of these tunes are a lesson in great bass lines.
  10. mindwell

    mindwell Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Recently? This one. Note choice, where to leave spaces, where to leave a bit of grease.

  11. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
  12. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Working through the entire Jamerson standing in the shadows of Motown book.
  13. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    Here’s a bass line that I love. It helped me learn about groove, and made me a better player, way back in the 90s when I first learned it, and every so often when I re-learn it!

    Have big fun with Sledgehammer! Our band used to do it back in the day— I play fretless on everything, so that part was fine, but I never got it to feel right for me with a pick— I could play it with a pick but I didn’t feel as fluent with improvised fills, etc, so I just played with my fingers very close to the bridge, and it worked ok enough for our bar band. I really need to be a better pick player…..
    murphy, retslock, Julian G and 11 others like this.
  14. ShadowGroover


    Aug 16, 2020
    Learning any song outside of my repertoire or comfort zone is beneficial to me. The idea is to become a voracious learner.
    dwm74, LowActionHero, cazzo and 2 others like this.
  15. Dang75


    May 21, 2013
    I learned a lot about syncopation tricks from "If You Want Me To Stay" from Sly.
    LowWay, Max Blasto, 8liter and 7 others like this.
  16. Treblefree


    Apr 8, 2016
    Upstate, SC
    One of my favorite rock bass songs of all time is Stone In Love by Journey. It's a blast to play.

    What I learned was using all 4 strings in one song, running some sections up the neck on D and A strings and doing them pretty quickly as well as the pull-off throughout the song getting timing on that. It definitely made me a better player and more confident. Stretched me out in a good way.

    Today is the best time ever to be learning new stuff because there are all kinds of great musician's doing tutorials. I've watched a couple on SIL and it's neat to see how some play something in a different position, etc, but there are masterful teachers on YT these days. I have watched a couple recently doing Sir Duke and I think I'm going to sit down and start woodshedding it. It is very different than my "normal stuff" so it will be a big stretch for me.
    Aqualung60, Max Blasto, cazzo and 3 others like this.
  17. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I learned a lot from the John Taylor/Bernard Edwards line in that "Bang a Gong" cover the Power Station did. But the lessons were about my ears more than my hands.

    I'm of an an age where I seriously digged that song when it came out but was a little too young to have listened to the T. Rex original much. So when I learned that tune, I had no history or context of what the song was and the stylization that the Power Station used took over. All I heard was a cool slap line in E throughout the verse. I couldn't exactly hear the notes, so I sort of did an E minor make-it-up thing. I was 16.

    Turns out there's a IV every other bar in the verse that I somehow didn't hear until about 10 years later, and the bass part has a definite structure to it that the guitar mimics along the way. It's a composed bassline for sure. I just never heard it until my ears matured.

    To be fair, the bassline is pretty deep in the mix and most of what you hear is the percussive sound of the slap or pick or whatever he used. But it was interesting to me that every time I came back to that song after years of laying it down I heard something I'd never heard before.

    And, to end the debate on which player played the bass break, I give you this:

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  18. Cave Puppy

    Cave Puppy "Humph Bo, he's wond!" - John Lennon

    Jan 13, 2015
    Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' on? with James Jamerson. It was the only song I needed to really learn from the stellar Standing In The Shadows Of Motown book. But I also use Same Old Song to warm up as well. Also Something (Beatles) and most any other McCartney bass line. Also The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. Oh Yeah - Pilot's Magic has taught me a few things. For chord structure it's Lay Lady Lay and Like A Rolling Stone. I use the bass breaks of I'll Take You There and Sweet Child of Mine to test my memory and Paul Denman's solo on Sade's Smooth Operator to test a bass up high. It's a great D minor study. I'm sure there's many more but can't think of them at the moment.
  19. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    This one is totally out of the norm for me, but I love the song and the bass line is excellent.

    And this one, enough said (although I could literally pick almost any Stevie song):

    krimo, pbass2, packhowitzer and 9 others like this.
  20. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009

    This guys plays it with gusto.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
    Justinian, rockdoc11, Pilgrim and 2 others like this.

Share This Page