13 Amazing Bass Lines in A (Major & Minor)

Finding great bass lines in a particular key can be both time-consuming and tedious. I know this far too well, as I regularly spent way too long doing so when I was in my early stages of learning the bass.

For this reason, I decided to save you the trouble and made this list of some amazing bass lines in A major and minor.

I`ve kept the list versatile, trying to pull from bassists in various genres and styles. This way, you`re likely to find at least some bass lines in A that suit your musical preferences. As a result, you won`t have to look further to find grooves that suit you and can instead jump right into playing. them

13. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: New Wave
  • Tempo: 120 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

Psycho killer starts off with Tina Weymouth playing a simple and catchy staccato bass line.

This bass groove is repeated throughout most of the song, which makes for an overall easy bass tab that is great for beginners.

The line does become slightly more difficult in the chorus, where she switches to more of a melodic groove. However, it consists of a simple 8th and quarter note pattern that is played at 120 BPM, making it playable at all skill levels.

Thus, if you a looking for an easy, yet groovy and melodic bass line in A, Psycho Killer is a great choice.

12. Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees

  • Key: A Major
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 78 BPM
  • Difficulty: 1/10

For a bass line that is significantly less upbeat than Psycho Killer, try Fake Plastic Tress by Radiohead.

The song has a slow tempo and the bassline mainly consists of 8th and whole notes. As a result, this is the easiest bass line to play on the list and can be played at all skill levels.

Despite being an incredibly melancholy song, it is written in a major key. This is unconventional, as happy songs are generally written in major keys, while sad songs are written in minor ones.

Thus, there is some great musicianship behind this track. Most notably for us, Colin Greenwood’s bass line is also a big part of what makes this possible.

Therefore, this bass line is a masterclass in how a simple bass line can set the mood of a song as a whole. It is also a fitting song if you are looking for something easy, slow, and melancholy.

11. Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Metal
  • Tempo: 148 BPM (With Tempo change to 173 BPM)
  • Difficulty: 7/10

From his melodic line on Heaven and Hell to his freeform bass intro on N.I.B, Geezer Butler is a bassist we can all learn a thing or two from.

On Sweet Leaf, he plays a catchy bass line, which makes great use of tritones to attain Black Sabbath’s signature sound. Most of the song is only moderately difficult, but it has a couple of fills and a challenging ending, making it unfit for beginners.

This is thus a fitting song to learn for anyone who is in the process of learning how to play metal bass or is looking for something heavy and challenging.

Note: This song is played in C# Standard. You will thus need to tune down your bass to play it. in its original tuning.

10. 4 Non Blondes – What`s Up?

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Tempo: 66 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

For something a bit more laid back than Sweet Leaf, try playing What`s Up? by 4 Non Blondes.

On it, Christa Hillhouse plays a slow groove with lots of sustained notes. At the same time, the line has a lot of movement to it, and you will quickly notice how it helps carry the song forward if you try playing it.

Therefore I recommend this song to anyone who is looking for a slow yet fun bass line that moves around the fretboard without being overly challenging.

9. ZZ Top – La Grange

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 162 BPM
  • Difficulty: 2/10

For a bass line in A that is about as difficult as What`s Up?, but with a faster tempo, I recommend La Grange by ZZ Top.

The bass line is played with a triplet feel. This means that two eight notes have the feel of a quarter note followed by an eighth note, but at a faster tempo than the song would normally call for.

This is far less complicated than it might sound at first and will make sense if you try playing it. Thus, this is a simple rock bass line that works as a great introduction to a rhythm that you will encounter all the time as a bass player.

8. Iggy Pop – The Passenger

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Rock / Proto-Punk
  • Tempo: 125 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

The Passenger is an iconic song, as it helped shape a genre of music that would later evolve into what we know as Punk Rock.

For most of the song, the bass line consists of a simple 2 bar groove. It does have a triplet fill in it that bumps the difficulty slightly. With that said, it is an overall beginner-friendly song.

While the genre of The Passenger can be somewhat hard to pin down, its influence is not. Thus, it is a great song to learn if you are looking for fun punk bass songs. Not only because it is fun to play in its own right, but because it played a part in shaping what many of these songs sound like.

7. Jet – Are You Gonna Be My Girl

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 205 BPM
  • Difficulty: 4/10

Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet is a great demonstration of why playing the bass adequately is easy, but learning to play the bass well is difficult

The bass line is simple enough that it is not overly challenging for a beginner. However, to play it well, you need to master mutes, staccato notes, hammer-ons, slides, and bends.

You can get through the bass line without mastery of these techniques, but it will impact how the song sounds overall.

Thus, this bass line is amazing for tracking your progress as a bass player. You can do this by recording yourself playing it now, and then again after half a year of having practiced the bass. Chances are that you will notice a world of difference, and it will be easier to pinpoint where and how you have improved at your instrument.

6. Fleetwood Mac – I Need Your Love So Bad

  • Key: A Major* (With some chromatic shifts)
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 60 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

Similar to What`s Up? by 4 Non Blondes, I Need Your Love So Bad by Fleetwood Mac has a slow but interesting bass line.

What makes John McVie`s playing great on the track is his clever use of triplets. These add a sense of movement to the song which makes it briefly sound like it`s speeding up. However, by using them intermittently, they never last long enough to ruin the slow and sad feeling of the song.

He also places them at different parts of different bars. As a result, the bass line never feels stagnant or repetitive, while it still does an amazing job of gluing the song together.

Thus, for a master class on how to make a slow bass line sound interesting and how to make great use of triplets, try this one.

5. ABBA – Dancing Queen

  • Key: A Major
  • Genre: Pop
  • Tempo: 100 BPM* (Plays like 200 BPM)
  • Difficulty: 5/10

As a bass player, it is hard not to love ABBA. Dancing Queen is one of many songs that show exactly why this is the case.

It has an upbeat bass line in A major. It quickly ascends up to the octave, has chromatic movements, and often grooves back and forth between 2 notes. Combine this with its staccato and rest-heavy rhythm, and the result is an incredibly groovy bass line.

Similar to Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet, this is also a bass line that is a lot easier to learn than it is to master. Overall, Dancing Queen is also slightly more challenging, and I would thus recommend it for intermediate bass players who are looking for a groovy, upbeat and fun bass line.

4. Pearl Jam – Alive

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Tempo: 76 BPM* (Plays Like 152 BPM)
  • Difficulty: 6/10

Alive by Pearl Jam starts off with an iconic bass fill by Jeff Ament. Then, as the verse kicks in he starts playing a floaty groove that combines fast and sustained notes. This gives the verse a lot of character and makes room for the vocals.

He does the same in the chorus, but here he puts more emphasis on the 8th and 16th notes to add more drive to the song. To top it all off, he is constantly using slides throughout the song, without them ever sounding over-used or over the top.

Thus, for a bass line in A that showcases how to adapt a bass line to different parts of a song and work together with a band, Alive is as close to perfect as it gets.

3. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Soul / Blues
  • Tempo: 76 BPM
  • Difficulty: 4/10

Donald Dunn is the man behind some of the greatest soul bass lines of all time. On Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine, he played a downtrodden and musky bass line that was crucial for the sad ambiance of the song.

The bass line is centered around 3 notes; A, E, and G. Yet, the rhythm and variation Dunn added to these notes make for a compelling bass line that never feels stale.

On the song, he also moved up to a higher register and played moderately fast licks. These could have quickly been detrimental to the vibe of the song. Instead, Dunn managed to play these in a way that only made the bass line sound more fitting.

For anyone looking for a sad bass line in A, or a great soul bass line in general, Ain’t No Sunshine is an amazing song to draw inspiration from.

2. The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun

  • Key: A Major
  • Genre: Pop / Rock
  • Tempo: 132 BPM
  • Difficulty: 5/10

From his famous bass intro on Come Together to his melodic line on Don`t Let Me Down, Paul McCartney never failed to impress.

On Here Come The Sun he plays a moderately fast line with a good bit of melodic movement to it. This adds a lot of spice to an otherwise straightforward groove and aligns well with the upbeat vibe of the song.

In the middle parts of it, there are a lot of time signature changes. Here, the song switches from 4/4 to 2/4, 3/8, and 5/8, often from bar to bar. This can make it challenging if you are unfamiliar with switching time, and makes the song less suited for beginners.

Thus, I recommend this bass line to anyone who is looking for something moderately fast, melodic, and upbeat. If you are looking to move past strictly playing bass in 3/4 and 4/4, the song also doubles as a great exercise in switching between time signatures.

1. Metallica – Fade To Black

  • Key: A Minor
  • Genre: Metal
  • Tempo: 112 BPM* (Multiple changes to faster tempos throughout the song)
  • Difficulty: 7/10

For an epic bass line in A that has a bit of everything, Clif Burton`s bass line on Fade To Black has got you covered.

The song starts off with a long intro, where Cliff worked together with the drums to create buildup. Then, in the verse, he emphasized sustained notes, with some intermittent fills in just the right spots. When the chorus hit, he switched to playing more 8th and 16th notes, which together with the guitars made it sound heavy and hard-hitting.

Then, there is the crescendo towards the end, which bumps up the difficulty of the track significantly. Here, he switched between multiple grooves, before ultimately landing on a galloping rhythm that the song appropriately fades out on.

This is one of the best metal bass songs of all time, and it has a great bass line in A that will challenge and impress intermediate bass players.

If you are in the beginning stages of learning to play metal bass, I have also made a list of 14 beginner-friendly metal bass lines.

Ian Partanen

BassOx Founder. Passionate bassist for 15+ years across a vast selection of genres, currently into indie-rock and hip-hop. Bachelor's degree in Musicology from the University of Oslo.

Recent Posts