13 Great Bass Lines In C (Major & Minor)

bass player playing bass line in C minor with tab

When picking up the bass, it`s common for people to write music in the keys of E and A.

This is unsurprising, as it is natural to write songs that make use of the open strings of the instrument. It is also less common to use middle C on the bass as an anchor point, as opposed to the piano.

As a result, finding bass lines in C can be a hassle.

Therefore, I`ve made this list of 13 great bass lines in C, so that you don`t have to look any further.

I`ve kept the list diverse, both in terms of genre and skill level. Thus, you are likely to find a bass line that fits your style and experience with the bass guitar.

13. Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody

  • Key: C Major
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 135 BPM
  • Difficulty: 2/10

If you are looking for easy bass tabs in C, Use Somebody by Kings Of Leon is a fitting song to learn.

This is because, for the vast majority of the song, Jared Followill is playing straight 8th notes at a 135 BPM pace. Intermittently, he will also ascend up a power chord on the bass, and work a couple of rests into the line.

Thus, this song is great to learn for anyone who is new to the bass guitar or is just looking for a bass line that is on the simpler side.

12. Supertramp – The Logical Song

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 112 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

If you are looking for something a bit more melancholy and groovy, The Logical Song is right up your alley.

It starts off with a handful of bass slides which create buildup before the vocals enter. Then, as the whole band enters in the middle of the verse, the bass part switches to a simple, but funky line.

Thus, for an easy bass line in C minor that doesn`t just consist of 8th notes, try this one.

11. Blink-182 – All the Small Things

  • Key: C Major
  • Genre: Pop-Punk
  • Tempo: 148 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

For something faster and a bit more upbeat, try All The Small Things by Blink-182.

The intro and verse mainly consist of a simple 8th-note groove, with some occasional stops in the main riff. Things get a little bit trickier in the chorus though. Here, Mark Hoppus plays power chords on the bass. Thus, you will need to strum 2 strings at a time in order to play it.

All The Small Things is also a great choice if you are looking for an easy song to sing while playing the bass. This is because the bass and vocal part are both simple, and align naturally with one another.

10. Rob Zombie – Dragula

  • Key: C Phrygian
  • Genre: Metal
  • Tempo: 130 BPM
  • Difficulty: 1/10

Dragula by Rob Zombie shows us that even the simplest of bass lines can sound incredibly heavy.

The song consists of 3 different parts. These are all beginner-friendly and mainly consist of 8th notes, with some quarter notes and rests thrown in there as well.

The song is originally played in Drop C. However, as the lowest notes of the bass are not used in the line, you can play with the song without tuning your bass down.

Thus, I recommend this song to anyone who is looking for easy metal songs for the bass.

9. Billy Joel – Piano Man

  • Key: C Major
  • Genre: Folk-Rock
  • Tempo: 103 BPM
  • Difficulty: 2/10

Despite its simplicity, Piano man by Billy Joel has one of the greatest walking bass lines of all time.

It mainly consists of half notes, with some occasional triplets. At a slow tempo of 103 BPM, this accentuates the downtrodden, yet hopeful theme of the song. It also showcases how bass lines in major keys don`t have to be strictly happy.

Try this one if you are looking to play a walking bass line in C and to see how impactful of an instrument the bass can be.

8. The Strokes – Last Nite

  • Key: C Major
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 103 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

Last Nite by The Strokes is played at exactly the same tempo as Piano Man. Yet, it is infinitely more upbeat thanks to Nikolai Fraiture`s bass line on it.

In the song, he combines 8th and 16 notes which add drive and a sense of speed to it. Furthermore, a good portion of the bass line is played at a relatively high pitch. This lack of deep bass suits the treble-heavy aesthetic of the song incredibly well.

Thus, try this one if you want to play a song that feels fast, despite actually having a slow tempo.

7. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 109 BPM
  • Difficulty: 3/10

There are few riffs out there that are as instantly recognizable as Survivor`s Eye Of The Tiger. So much so, that just playing the first C of the Bass riff is sometimes enough for people to associate it with this song.

Aside from the iconic main riff, the bass line consists of pumping staccato notes, as well as some triplets towards the end of the chorus.

Thus, for an easy-to-play bass line in C that everybody under the sun will recognize, Eye Of The Tiger is the perfect song to learn.

6. Bon Jovi – It’s My Life

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 120 BPM
  • Difficulty: 4/10

If you are learning the 5-string bass as a beginner, It`s My Life is a great song for making the most out of your low B string.

The song iconically starts off with Richie Sambora using a talk box. This effect is backed up by Hugh McDonald playing a couple of deep C notes on his 5-string. Thus, it`s in large part thanks to him that the intro is as attention-grabbing as it is.

Thus, if you are in the market for fun 5-string bass tabs, I recommend giving this one a try.

5. Gorillaz – 5/4

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Tempo: 96 BPM
  • Difficulty: 4/10

Writing a functional bass line in 5/4 time is no easy task.

This is because the time signature can feel unintuitive, and thus hard to groove to. Yet, 5/4 by Gorillaz shows that it is not only possible to so, but that the right type of bass line can elevate a song completely in 5/4 time.

The tone of the bass it is fuzzy and boomy. Thus, while it follows the main chord progression, the bass line has a big impact on the song as a whole.

Thus, for a bass line in C that is easy to play, yet completely unique, try this one.

4. MGMT – Electric Feel

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Indie Rock
  • Tempo: 102 BPM
  • Difficulty: 4/10

For another great song in a different time signature than 4/4, I recommend Electric Feel by MGMT.

As opposed to 5/4, this song is played in 3/4 time.

It has a catchy and melodic bass line that functions as the main riff of the song. This riff is also played throughout almost the entirety of the song. This makes the song a lot of fun, albeit the bass line can become somewhat repetitive.

Thus, this song is a great pick for learning to play the bass in 3/4 time, or if you want to play a line that works as a lead part.

3. Cake – Italian Leather Sofa

  • Key: C Major
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Tempo: 104 BPM
  • Difficulty: 5/10

Italian Leather Sofa by Cake has a fast and groovy bass line that mainly consists of fast 16th notes.

It also has some well-placed rests in it. In addition to this making it sound funky, this also makes the song a great bass exercise for precision and muting.

While it`s among the harder entries on this list, it’s a simple song at its core. The same 1 bar bass line is repeated through most of the song. It only changes during the chorus, which consists of whole notes and is thus significantly easier to play than the main groove.

Therefore, try this song if you are looking for something a bit faster and if you enjoy holding down a steady and funky groove.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Parallel Universe

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Funk
  • Tempo: 124 BPM* (Plays like 248 BPM)
  • Difficulty: 6/10

For something even faster, but less groovy and staccato, try Parallel Universe by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The entire song consists of 16th notes played at 124BPM. Thus, this song will test your finger stamina and will be incredibly demanding if you do not play it with a pick.

The line is played high up on the fretboard and is thus a prominent and noticeable part of the song. It is also an amazing showcase of how a bass line can work well together with the drums by changing its melody, but not the rhythm.

This all makes this one of Flea`s best bass lines and a lot of fun to play for bassists who can keep up with the speed of it.

1. Muse – Bliss

  • Key: C Minor
  • Genre: Rock
  • Tempo: 129 BPM
  • Difficulty: 6/10

Chris Wolstenholme`s most well-known work is without a doubt his bass line on Hysteria. However, I think his line on Bliss is in contention for his greatest bass line.

It has a chaotic and hard-hitting groove. Throughout the main riffs 8 bar duration, the bass line moves from a high G at the 15th fret down to a low C at the third.

Combined with its unique rhythm, this gives the line an immense sense of movement. It also makes it moderately difficult to play, but incredibly rewarding when you manage to nail it down.

Thus, this is a masterclass in writing melodic bass lines in C, and a great challenge if you are looking for something unorthodox and groovy.

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.

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