The 12 Best Flea Bass Lines in RHCP (With sound and tabs)

Flea playing bass line with red hot chili peppers live

When it comes to Red Hot Chili Peppers basslines, you can pick one at random and it will in all likelihood sound amazing.

Thus, choosing the best ones among Flea`s bass lines was a hard task. Especially so because this is a bassist that has inspired me a lot over the years. Because of this, I had to leave out a lot of songs that are fully deserving of being on this list.

In the end, I did manage to begrudgingly trim it down to the 12 best RHCP basslines. I`ve kept the list diverse to showcase different sides of what makes Flea such an amazing bassist. I also made a point out of including some of his early and later work to showcase how he has progressed and held up over the years.

12. Charlie

  • Album: Stadium Arcadium
  • Year: 2006
  • Style: Fingers

What makes “Charlie” so great is that both the verse and chorus have unique and interesting basslines.

The verse has a groovy line with an unorthodox rhythm to it. By just using 4 different notes it thus keeps the verse rhythmically interesting. Occasionally, Flea adds in a short chromatic ascent of notes to add some variety to it. This works especially well for transitioning between different parts of the verse.

As for the chorus, Flea switches to a simple quarter-quarter-half note rhythm. He does this in a melodically interesting way, playing two root notes followed by the 3rd of the chord an octave above. This makes for a groove that is both deep and melodic while suiting the vibe of the chorus perfectly.

11. Funky Monks

  • Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  • Year: 1991
  • Style: Fingers

Flea is mainly known for playing 4-string basses. However, “Funky Monks” is a rare instance of a 5-string bass song in Red Hot Chili Peppers` discography.

On it, he makes great use of the added range provided by the low B string. He plays it sparingly and saves those low notes for when it`s time to enter a new part of the song. As a result, the transitions are smooth and impactful due to the low notes grabbing our attention.

As the guitar solo begins at 2:35 Flea plays a groovy and melodic line. Then, he switches to a deeper and heavier line that utilizes the 5-string`s range as John Frusciante switches to a distorted guitar tone. To top it all off Flea brings in a contagious funky groove at 4:24 that ends the song on a high note.

10. Naked In The Rain

  • Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  • Year: 1991
  • Style: Slapping

On “Naked In The Rain” Flea plays a catchy 1-bar slap groove that is bound to get stuck in your head.

On it, he uses slapping, popping, mutes, and slides to form a funky groove that he repeats for most of the song. In the chorus he plays a similar line a perfect fifth higher, which perfectly retains the groove of the song while elevating it.

Despite the main groove being amazing, my favorite part of the song is at 2:25. Here, Flea busts out an 8-bar bass solo. It starts off similar to the main groove before he moves way up the neck for a fast and melodic lick. Then it moves back down to a deep grove, and back up again to finish it all off. Thus, If you are looking for tips on how to write a bass solo take a listen to this one.

9. Right On Time

  • Album: Californication
  • Year: 1999
  • Style: Fingers

At its core, the bassline in “Right On Time” could not be any simpler. It consists of two deep root notes, followed by 2 notes played an octave higher. Flea only deviates from this pattern in a handful of places throughout the song.

However, the speed, variation, and melodic switches make this one of RHCP`s most engaging basslines. First off, Flea plays the line in a 16th note pattern at 126 BPM. Secondly, he doesn`t shy away from moving up and down the fretboard, which makes the basic pattern almost sound like a bass solo towards the end of the song.

This song is thus a great example of how Flea is able to turn a simple idea into a grand bassline. While most bassists are able to add groove to a song using octaves, few can do it as well as Flea does on “Right on Time”.

8. Dark Necessities

  • Album: The Getaway
  • Year: 2016
  • Style: Fingers and slapping

The lead single from Red Hot Chili Pepers` 2016 album “The Getaway” shows that Flea has still got it after all these years.

The intro is resemblant to “Can`t Stop”, as it gradually builds up with Flea playing 16th notes. This time around though, the buildup leads into a bass groove rather than a guitar riff. This works extremely well, as the buildup of the intro leads perfectly into the slapped groove that Flea busts out afterward.

In the chorus, he switches to playing with his fingers for a line that makes use of octave jumps and rests. The groove has a unique rhythm to it, as he adds the rests at somewhat unexpected spots. This gives the line a syncopated off-beat feel, that combined with the octave jumps makes the chorus sound both groovy and engaging.

7. Throw Away Your Television

  • Album: By The Way
  • Year: 2002
  • Style: Fingers

“Throw Away Your Television” is a great example of Flea coming up with a bassline, and the rest of RHCP construct a song around it. This gives the bassline space to breathe and lets it naturally build up toward the chorus.

The bassline itself consists of Flea blending 8th and 16th notes at 120 BPM. This makes for a fast and driving bassline. Over its 2-bar duration, he plays 1 bar where he switches between the root and the fifth below it, while the second bar consists of jumps to the octave above it instead.

This adds a lot of movement to the bassline and makes it incredibly danceable. As an added bonus, Flea opts for a slower line during the chorus, which makes the main groove feel all the more impactful when it returns.

6. Torture Me

  • Album: Stadium Arcadium
  • Year: 2006
  • Style: Fingers

In addition to playing a beautiful Trumpet interlude on “Torture Me”, Flea also busts out a gritty and melodic bassline.

He centers the line on switching between the root note and the perfect fifth. He goes up from A# to F for the first 2 bars, and then down from F# to C# on the last two. This keeps the groove within a small melodic range which keeps it deep and groovy. It`s a fast groove, which in combination with Chad Smith`s aggressive drum beat, makes for an intense track.

Another highlight is during the chorus when Flea plays a slower melodic line higher up on the fretboard. It sounds beautiful on its own, and even more so in harmony with John Fruiscante`s guitar lead and background vocals. This helps make the chorus sound tranquil, and with a verse this aggressive it makes the song sound more dynamic as a whole.

5. Coffee Shop

  • Album: One Hot Minute
  • Year: 1995
  • Style: Slapping

Although “Coffee Shop” is a song with a lot of chaotic elements, the most insane among them is without a doubt the bass line.

Despite mainly playing a low E and its octave, the main groove is incredibly funky. This is because Flea mixes up the rhythm and uses mutes and short melodic variations to keep the line interesting.

Most notably, this is another Red Hot Chili Peppers bass line with a solo in it. At 1:35 Flea switches to a spacey and synthetic “wah” sound for his solo part. Then, he proceeds to slap a line that you will not hear anywhere else. This is in part due to the unique bass tone, as well as his unique melodic choices during it.

4. Look Around

  • Album: I`m With You
  • Year: 2011
  • Style: Fingers

“Look Around” has a bassline that is weirdly beautiful and groovy at the same time.

It consists of staccato notes followed by a sustained note which gives it a funky feel. At the same time, the melody it adds to the chord progression also gives it a sound that is almost melancholy.

This is because Flea plays the minor 7th, 6th, and 3rd which strengthens the sad feeling of the minor scale. Yet, the rhythm of the line is upbeat and funky. The result is a unique bassline that combines two artistic expressions together extremely well.

3. Blackeyed Blonde

  • Album: Freaky Styley
  • Year: 1985
  • Style: Fingers and slapping

Behind the animalistic howls in “Blackeyed Blonde”, we can hear Flea playing a fast and funky bassline.

This song comes from the early era of Red Hot Chili Pepper basslines when fast funk lines were common. The main groove consists of a slapped line that makes great use of deep hammer-ons, followed by 4 popped strings. It thus makes for a line that is both difficult to play and to get out of your head.

Flea also plays a fingerstyle groove that consists of long rests combined with short bursts of notes. It`s different, as well as both melodically and rhythmically interesting. Thus, “Blackeyed Blonde” is the perfect place to start if you want to dive into some of Flea’s earlier work.

2. Mellowship Slinky in B Major

  • Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
  • Year: 1991
  • Style: Fingers

The highlight of the bassline on “Mellowship” is without a doubt the verse.

It consists of short bursts of notes, followed by a fast descending fill that leaps across all 4-strings. Together, this makes for an incredibly funky line that shows how rests can provide just as much groove to a song as played notes.

Another great part of this line is the intro and outro groove. Here, the guitar and bass both make great use of the chromatic scale to play a lick that sounds both sinister and danceable at the same time. The riff works well for both starting and ending the song, and thus also makes it feel more connected as a whole.

1. Can`t Stop

  • Album: By The Way
  • Year: 2002
  • Style: Fingers and slapping

For many people, Flea`s line on “Can`t Stop” is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of slapping the bass.

It`s one of the band’s biggest hits, and a big part of its success can be attributed to the bassline. In the intro, Flea repeats a straight 16th note groove that builds the song up for John Fruiscante`s guitar riff. Then, as the verse begins, Flea does something clever and waits for 4-bars.

Then, when he starts playing this iconic slap groove, it makes the bass sound so much more impactful and noticeable. This also makes the middle of the first verse a major highlight, which is an incredibly rare thing to say about any song.

“Can`t Stop” is thus a great display of Flea`s ability to slap a funky line. It also showcases his understanding of how a bassline impacts a song, and how this understanding can be used to great effect.

Honorable Mentions

As I mentioned in the beginning, there are many Red Hot Chili Peppers basslines that are deserving of being on this list.

Thus, here are some of the honorable mentions that you can check out if you are craving some more Flea basslines:

Give It Away

Factory of faith



Higher Ground

Nobody Weird Like Me

C’mon Girl

Around The World

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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