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Top 10 Bass Players You Should Listen To

By Adrian Martin

In Learning any instrument – your sound is partly formed as a result of those who have inspired you. For example the renowned guitarist Eric Clapton bears a lot of the hallmarks of those that inspired him to play guitar – BB King, Robert Johnson, Albert King.

Therefore having a good and varied “musical diet” is important no matter what instrument you play – this is certainly true of bassists – but from a vast array of bass players who should you listen to? Well to start with we’d suggest a broad range of music – sure listen to your favorites but don’t limit yourself just to that genre – to help you with this we’ve put together a list of the top ten bass players that have been an inspiration to many who have picked up the bass guitar – get yourselves some CD’s and learn some of their chops – you’ll soon see the benefit!

1/ Paul McCartney

The former Beatle – famed for his thoughtful innovative phrasing, was one of the first true rock bassists – intrinsically melodic – he has a variety of techniques from playing with his thumb to playing with a plectrum – one of the most influential players of all time

2/ Pino Palladino

Renowned session player – known for fretless playing – he’s played with people from Eric Clapton to Jeff Beck – recently joining The Who replacing the late John Entwhistle – Pino appears on the new Who album.

3/ Flea

Innovative Red Hot Chilli Peppers bass player – with a unique souped up funk style with plenty of slapping and improvisation - Flea is also a renowned session player and has played with the likes of Tracy Chapman to Alanis Morisette

4/ Jaco Pastorius

The bassists choice - widely called the most innovative bass player ever – with his self made fretless bass (a de-fretted Jazz Bass) Jaco has influenced a generation of bassists – with a tone coloured from effects and his unique “Jaco Growl” sound – his talent is still renowned nearly 20 years after his death.

5/ Mark King

1980’s Bass player with English band Level 42 – popularized funk and slapping - one of the fastest players around – he used a mix of percussive effects that gave him a unique tone


6/ Tony Levin

Another renowned session player – Tony Levin has played with everyone from Peter Gabriel to Carly Simon – perhaps most famous for his “funk fingers” – Levin used drumsticks taped to his fingers to create an innovative sound. Levin is also one of the players best known for using the Chapman Stick.

7/ Geddy Lee

Bassist for the band Rush – Lee has proven a huge influence with rock bassists – effortless technique – pure style – and great tone – if you want to be a metal bassist – start here.

8/ Bootsy Collins

King of funk – Bootsy has influenced countless bassists and pioneered the funk sound – often mimicked but never matched.

9/ Charlie Haden

Superb Jazz double bassist – one of the most respected Jazz bassists ever – having played with the likes of Ornette Coleman through to Pat Metheny.

10/ John Paul Jones

Legendary bassist with Led Zepplin and a renowned session player prior to that – Jones along with the rest of the band – inspired a generation and helped create modern rock and roll – with a powerful sound and a rich appreciation of timing.

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