The 23 Best Bass Solos Of All Time (With Sound)

Bass guitar solos are rare. This is understandable, as the bass has a deep range and generally plays a supportive role. In most genres, lead roles have thus traditionally been filled by guitars or pianos.

Still, there are plenty of bassists that have gone against what is common and written some amazing bass solos in the process.

These bass players have been a major inspiration to me as a bassist, and a great source of enjoyment as a music fan. Therefore, I decided to share my 23 favorite bass solos of all time, in hopes that they can inspire you as well.

Tip: Videos are embeded to start right when the bass solo beings.

23. Eric Johnson – Zap

  • Genre: Rock
  • Bass Player: Roscoe Beck
  • Solo Starts at: 1:40

Zap is an instrumental rock track full of great solos. Among these, is a melodic and technical bass solo by Roscoe Beck.

During it, the bass does well at filling the void in the mix when just the bass and drums are playing. This is in large part because of Beck`s great use of a chorus effect. He also sounds smooth, and every note is clearly distinguishable even during his faster parts.

Lastly, I love how the solo starts slowly, and then gradually speeds up with seemingly no end. Instead, it goes from slow, to fast, to very fast, to extremely fast. This makes for a bass solo that is both dynamic and impressive.

Note: These guys improvised. A lot. Thus, different takes of this song have different bass solos (and sometimes not one at all). Below is one of my personal favourites.

22. Tool – The Pot

  • Genre: Progressive Metal
  • Bass Player: Justin Chancellor
  • Solo Starts at: 3:45

In addition to featuring one of Justin Chancellor’s best bass lines, The Pot also has a bass guitar solo that is out of the ordinary.

When it comes to difficulty, it is one of the easiest on the list. In fact, almost the whole thing consists of long, slow, and sustained notes.

Where this bass solo shines instead, is in its tone and atmosphere. It has a unique blend of distortion, wah-wah, delay, and a whammy effect. The result is a piercing and dominant tone that sounds so unlike most bass tones, that it`s hard to discern that this is a bass solo at all.

21. The Shadows – Nivram

  • Genre: Rock
  • Bass Player: Jet Harris
  • Solo Starts at: 1:58

Nivram is a great example of how a bass solo doesn`t have to do a whole lot to be effective. I say this because, throughout most of this 1963 instrumental rock track, Jet Harris plays a simple walking bass line.

What`s interesting though, is how during his solo, he starts off by playing slightly different variations of the main groove. He then gradually turns this into an entirely new groove, while throwing some melodic variations into it.

This makes for a unique bass solo. It is however an incredibly effective one and having the solo fit a song this well also landed Nivram a spot on my list of the best rock bass lines of all time.

20. Guns n Roses – Sweet Child O` Mine

  • Genre: Rock
  • Bass Player: Duff McKagan
  • Solo Starts at: 0:15

Sweet Child O` Mine starts off with Slash playing one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in all of rock n` roll. However, to me, the highlight of the intro has always been the bass solo that Duff McKagan plays on top of it.

It has an atmospheric character to it as Duff McKagan`s bass tone has a lot of chorus to it. As a result, it takes up a lot of space in the mix and can easily be heard alongside the piercing guitar riff.

All in all, it`s a short and sweet solo. Not only does it sound beautiful in its own right due to the melody and tone, but it also does an amazing job of leading the song from the intro to the verse.

19. Helloween – Eagle Fly Free

  • Genre: Power Metal
  • Bass Player: Markus Grosskopf 
  • Solo Starts at: 2:57

While tapping is more common in guitar solos, this doesn`t mean that bass players can`t do it too. If you need an example, just listen to Markus Grosskopf on Eagle Fly Free.

His solo is technical, fast, and melodic. In my opinion, it is also made even better by how the other members of the band back the bass up without being intrusive to the solo.

They do this by coming in with intermittent hits that make the solo sound much more dynamic. Then, towards the end of it, the whole band joins in to create a crescendo that leads into a guitar solo. As a result, this bass solo manages to impress in terms of technique while suiting the song well at the same time.

18. Cake – I Will Survive

  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Bass Player: Victor Damiani
  • Solo Starts at: 4:01

This cover of Gloria Gaynor’s hit song I Will Survive is consistent with Cake`s sound while also doing the original track justice. This is an impressive feat, especially so when listening to Victor Damiani’s bass solo on the track.

He busts it out late in the song at the 4-minute mark, just after the last chorus. Thus, it serves as a groovy and rhythmic part, while also providing a fitting cooldown before the final instrumental crescendo.

The solo leans more into sounding funky and smooth, than technical and piercing. Thus, if you are looking for inspiration on how to play a low-register bass solo, this is a great song to learn.

17. Death – The Philosopher

  • Genre: Metal
  • Bass Player: Steve DiGiorgio
  • Solo Starts at: 3:06

Towards the later parts of an already great song, Death`s The Philosopher ends with a dueling bass and guitar solo.

Most bands on this list make room for the bass solo by either having it play alone or solely with the drums. Not Death. Instead, we get heavy down-tuned guitars churning out deep chords during the bass solo.

Despite this, Steve DiGiorgio is able to cut well through the mix. As a result, the solo has a unique and heavy sound, which no doubt many bands would have struggled to pull off as well. It also makes you wonder why dueling guitar and bass solos aren’t more common.

16. Joe Henderson – Inner Urge

  • Genre: Jazz
  • Bass Player: Bob Cranshaw
  • Solo Starts at: 0:55 (Rudy Van Gelder Edition 2014)

For a musky and groovy double bass solo, listen to Inner Urge by Joe Henderson.

On the track, Bob Cranshaw plays a solo that lasts well over a minute. During this time, he explores a vast set of rhythms, as well as a range of different jazz bass scales. As a result, the solo sounds dynamic and unique and will give you at least a couple of new ideas on how to write your own solos.

I also recommend paying extra close attention to the drums on this one. I say this because Elvin Jones`s playing is constantly adapting to the abovementioned changes in the bass line.

This way, the rhythm section is able to take you on a constantly changing musical journey, while sounding cohesive throughout its entirety.

15. Symphony X – Seven

  • Genre: Metal
  • Bass Player: Michael Lepond
  • Solo Starts at: 4:27

I didn`t know how cool a bass solo could sound before I heard the male choir back up Michale Lepond`s tapping on Seven.

The solo is suspenseful and chaotic due to its shifts between 4/4 and 7/4 time and its use of tritone intervals. It is also insanely fast, as Lepond is tapping 16th notes at a 160 BPM pace throughout it.

Thus, if you are looking to learn how to play metal bass, learning to play this solo could be a great long-term goal. I say long-term because playing with this level of speed with this level of control will take years of practice.

14. Rancid – Maxwell Murder

  • Genre: Punk
  • Bass Player: Matt Freeman
  • Solo Starts at: 0:59

There is no denying that Matt Freeman is one of the best punk bassists of all time. I say this because he`s been consistently great since 1980 with his career in Rancid, as well as Operation Ivy and Devil`s Brigade.

His most iconic moment as a bass player though is his bass solo on Maxwell Murder.

This solo kicks off the first song on Rancid`s iconic 3rd album …And Out Comes The Wolves on a high note. On it, Freeman focuses on speed and melody in favor of rhythm and feel. This makes for an intense solo, that accomplishes to do a lot melodically in a short amount of time.

The album was certified platinum in 2004, almost 10 years after its release. Given that this bass solo is one of the first things we hear on the track, it`s safe to say that Freeman played a major part in this success.

13. Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

  • Genre: Progressive Rock / Progressive Metal
  • Bass Player: Colin Edwin
  • Solo Starts at: 6:42

Colin Edwin’s solo on Deadwing is a bit different from the rest of the entries on this list.

This is because it is preceded by a whole minute of ambient noises. Thus, when the bass finally renters with a solo, it sounds incredibly impactful. Thus, despite the solo being both mellow and slow, the context in which Edwins breaks it out makes it sound amazing.

The solo would not work in a 3-minute-long song, but at the right spot in a 10-minute song, it sounds just perfect. Thus, Deadwing is a masterclass for any bassist who is looking to write progressive music or play long songs in general.

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Way Traffic

  • Genre: Funk
  • Bass Player: Flea
  • Solo Starts at: 3:17

Flea has been active since 1982, and is one of the most notable 90s bass players. However, my favorite bass solo of his comes off RHCP`s 2022 album Unlimited Love.

The song in question is One Way Traffic, and the bass solo serves as a crescendo to the song after the final chorus. It has a raw free-form vibe to it, and it is varied. It`s also fast and makes great use of bends and unexpected rhythms to make sure that you never know what`s going to happen next.

The song also has an amazing bass line that easily could have made it onto my list of Flea`s best bass lines. Thus, I recommend listening to the whole song if you give this one a listen, cause it builds really well toward the solo that comes toward the end of it.

11. Between The Buried And Me – Viridian

  • Genre: Metal
  • Bass Player: Dan Briggs
  • Solo Starts at: 0:47

Arguably the most beautiful bass solo on this list, Dan Briggs` bass solo on Viridian is guaranteed to evoke some emotions.

The solo spans about half of this song. This works insanely well, as during the first part the guitars set up a melancholy backdrop for the bass solo. Then, we get some much-needed time to process what we just heard, before the track perfectly transitions into the closing track of the album.

As for the solo itself, It`s slow and it`s fast. This push and pull in speed and intensity never feels anything but perfectly fitting for the track. When a band is able to back up the bass this well, and the bass is able to fill this lead role this proficiently it is thus difficult to not be moved by it.

10. Pink Floyd – Pigs (Three Different Ones)

  • Genre: Progressive Rock
  • Bass Player: Roger Waters
  • Solo Starts at: 0:10

While Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall are legendary albums in their own right, Animals is right up there with them if you ask me.

Related reading: The 10 best Pink Floyd bass lines

One of the many reasons for this is Pigs and the bass solo at the beginning of it.

On it, Roger Waters combines 32nd and 16th notes to create a beautiful descending melody. However, due to the song’s slow tempo of 64 BPM, the song sounds anything but shreddy or flashy. Rather, it works together with the menacing keyboard part to set the gloomy mood of this epic track.

9. Yes – Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)

  • Genre: Progressive Rock
  • Bass Player: Chris Squire
  • Solo Starts at: 12:13

In addition to being an epic 21-minute prog rock masterpiece, Ritual has a bass solo that highlights everything that made Chris Squire one of the best bass players of all time.

The solo sounds mind-bending, hard-hitting, and melodic all at the same time. On it, Squire makes melodic ascends and descends up and down the entire fretboard. The melody, in conjunction with his rattly and rumbling tone thus results in a solo that is both heavy and beautiful.

It`s one of those solos that sound so well-crafted that you know there are many years of experience behind it. Best of all, it serves as the highlight of an already epic piece of music.

8. My Generation – The Who

  • Genre: Rock
  • Bass Player: John Entwistle
  • Solo Starts at: 0:55

Not only is My Generation by The Who an iconic part of rock `n roll history. It also features one of John Entwistle`s best bass lines and bass solos.

My Generation differs from most other solos out there. It consists of parts where Entwistle is playing alone and parts where he is playing together with the rest of the band. As a result, the solo parts sound like short and sweet interludes. This also makes for a dynamic and unique solo as a whole.

While it`s not the most beginner-friendly song out there, the solo is far from the hardest on the list. The rest of the bass line is also relatively undemanding. This makes My Generation a great song to learn for bassists who are looking to take the step from a beginner to an intermediate level.

7. Primus – Tommy The Cat

  • Genre: Progressive Rock
  • Bass Player: Les Claypool
  • Solo Starts at: 2:59

Not only does Tommy The Cat have an incredibly difficult bass tab. The song also has a unique and challenging bass guitar solo as well.

To me, the short solo at 2:59 almost sounds like a string of different bass fills strung together. Yet, despite the chaos of the individual parts, the solo as a whole sounds incredibly cohesive. It sounds like it was written by a mad genius, which is the same reason that makes many of Claypool’s bass lines so enjoyable.

Thus, in addition to having one of the best Primus bass lines ever, the bass solo in Tommy The Cat will warp your idea of what a bass solo can be. And all of that, only in a span of 10 seconds.

6. Marcus Miller – Power

  • Genre: Jazz Fusion
  • Bass Player: Marcus Miller
  • Solo Starts at: 0:03

Throughout his long-lasting career, Marcus Miller has written many great solo bass songs. For example, I ranked his song Detroit as one of the best jazz bass lines of all time. However, as I have to to pick just one song for its merit as a bass solo I have to go with Power.

The solo combines percussive slapping, with smooth melodies and hard-hitting chords. Thus, it is not only impressive in terms of technique but it is also one of the finer examples of great songwriting on this list.

Furthermore, Miller is can be a very expressive player. Power is a great example of this, as his way of articulating notes with different intensities is what elevates this track from great to legendary.

5. N.I.B – Black Sabbath

  • Genre: Metal
  • Bass Player: Geezer Butler
  • Solo Starts at: 0:00

Geezer Butler has had a massive influence on every single metal bassist ever. The first step to understanding what made him so great is to put on N.I.B.

The song starts off with a solo bass intro with a lot of unique elements to it.

In addition to Geezer utilizing a heavy and rattling tone, the bass also fades in and out on the studio recording. Combine this with the jammy and free-form character of the solo, it`s safe to say that this is one of the best metal bass lines of all time.

4. Rush – Vital Signs

  • Genre: Progressive Rock
  • Bass Player: Geddy Lee
  • Solo Starts at: 3:07

In truth, Rush`s entire discography is full of bass solos and melodic lines, and it is hard to pick just one. But, since I`ve featured YYZ and Malignant Narcissism several times before, I decided to highlight a different side of Lee this time around.

Related Reading: How to sound like Geddy Lee

Vital Signs has a slow and atmospheric bass solo. It is far from as technically demanding as most of Geddy’s work. On the flip side, the solo showcases his versatility and adaptability.

He plays it towards the end of the closing track of their iconic Moving Pictures record. Thus, he ends the album with a solo that stands in stark contrast to many of the fast bass lines that preceded it. As a result, not only does it sound great on its own, but it also works amazingly well in the context of the album.

3. Weather Report – Teen Town

  • Genre: Fusion Jazz
  • Bass Player: Jaco Pastorius
  • Solo Starts at: 0:09

We can`t talk about songs with bass guitar solos without mentioning Teen Town. I say this because it is one of the most iconic bass lines, of one of the most iconic bass players of all time: Jaco Pastorius.

Related Reading: The Bass Of Doom (Jaco Pastorius` Fender Jazz Bass)

In essence, the song is just one long bass solo. The track has supporting instruments, but the bass is at the center of the attention through almost the entirety of the track.

It is full of great bass licks, it is varied, and it is cleverly written. It is also as fun as it is challenging to play.

Teen Town will challenge your rhythm by purposely coming in a 16th note too late. It will also test your finger dexterity by moving across the entirety of the fretboard of your bass. Thus, I highly recommend trying to learn this song for intermediate bassists looking to progress to an advanced level.

2. Metallica – Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)

  • Genre: Metal
  • Bass Player: Cliff Burton
  • Solo Starts at: 0:03

Not only does Anesthesia showcase why Cliff Burton was one of the best metal bassists to ever do it. In terms of technique, creativity, versatility, and feel, this is also one of the best solo bass songs you will ever hear.

With a heavily distorted tone, Cliff uses all 24 frets of the bass to show us how well the bass can work as a lead instrument. It has everything; melody, heavy riffage, harmonics, odd time signatures, chords, triplets, and bends.

Thus, this is not the type of solo a decent bass player writes on a good day. Anesthesia is a full-on showcase of what a once-in-a-generation bass player sounds like at their best.

1. Victor Wooten – Classical Thumb

  • Genre: Jazz / Classical
  • Bass Player: Victor Wooten
  • Solo Starts at: 0:00

Without a question, one of the most difficult bass tabs on this list, Classical Thumb is not for the faint of heart.

It is a solo bass song, with no other musicians than Wooten appearing on the track. Despite this, at times Wooten sounds like a full ensemble all by himself. Thus, the track is not only impressive in terms of how technical it is, but it is also high-level solo bass composition.

Therefore, if you are not familiar with how amazing Victor Wooten is as a bass player, listen to this piece. The whole track is 4 and a half minutes, but you will see what I`m talking about after the first 30 seconds.

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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