Despite their ambitious and complex sound, Pink Floyd’s bass lines always held their songs together.
This can in large part be attributed to Roger Water`s songwriting skills and his great understanding of how to serve the song. With that, his basslines were more focused on doing their job rather than being flashy.
David Gilmour is also credited for playing bass on many of their recordings. This kept Pink Floyd`s low-end sound varied and adaptive. As a result, this band was a powerhouse when it came to writing basslines.
For this reason, I decided to make this list of the best Pink Floyd bass lines.
The bass lines I picked out span from the band`s first to very last album. As a result, there are some vastly different grooves on the list. This also says a lot about how consistent Pink Floyd has been over multiple decades.
10. One Of These Days
- Album: Meddle
- Year: 1971
In order to not sound overly low-end heavy and muddy, few songs have more than one bass part. However, “One Of These Days” is a rare case of a song with two bass tracks.
This is especially noticeable during the first half of the song. During it, the two bass tracks make the song sound claustrophobic with their echoing main groove.
The bassline itself is a fairly straightforward line. However, the doubling of it creates an effect that I have not heard anywhere else.
The feeling this song evokes would not have been possible without both of the basses. Thus, it is a great example of how creative songwriting can take a simple groove, and turn it into an impactful centerpiece.
9. Hey You
- Album: The Wall
- Year: 1979
“Hey You” has a fairly straightforward bass line throughout most of the song. There are however a couple of things that land it a spot on this list.
One of these is the bass tone. It`s played on a fretless bass and thus has a smooth and warm quality to it. This gives it a unique tonal character that makes it stand out in Floyd`s discography.
Another reason is the bass solo at the start and middle of the song. I find the bass solo after the bridge to be particularly impactful as it does so well at filling the void that`s left after the “And The Worms Ate Into His Brain” lyrics.
This, combined with the downtrodden solo in the intro, make this a unique bass line in Pink Floyd`s discography.
8. Fat Old Sun
- Album: Atom Heart Mother
- Year: 1970
On “Fat Old Sun” David Gilmour shows how much a melodic bassline can elevate a slow song.
I imagine most bass players would choose to play sustained whole notes on this one. However, Gilmour had a different idea and went with a groovy line with a lot of movement and high fills.
Not only did he make that work with the rest of the instrumentation. The bassline ended up changing the whole feeling of the song, without being disruptive to its tranquil elements.
Thus, this bassline is not just a great showcase of Pink Floyd`s ability to come up with melodies. It also showed that just because a bass line is serving a song, it does not have to be simple.
7. Lucifer Sam
- Album: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
- Year: 1967
“Lucifer Sam” has one of those rare bass lines that sounds smooth and sinister at the same time.
The bassline is full of chromatic descends and ascends, which gives it an evil character. At the same time, it`s syncopated and funky. This, in turn, makes the line sound groovy and makes you want to dance.
The result is an ambivalent bassline that does a lot at the same time, while still suiting the song perfectly.
6. On Noodle Street
- Album: The Endless River
- Year: 2014
While Pink Floyd is mainly known for their iconic albums from the 60s and 70s, there are also some noteworthy basslines on their later work.
One of these can be hard on “On Noodle Street”. This bassline is played by Guy Pratt, who in addition to Pink Floyd has worked with the likes of Iggy Pop, Madonna, and Michael Jackson.
It`s a repetitive, yet catchy and funky bass line. Spanning two bars, it is based around a sustained C# followed by 2 different fills. While simple, it adds a lot of groove to an otherwise tranquil song, and it loops around itself so well that it is incredibly hard to not be captivated by it.
5. Let There Be More Light
- Album: A Saucerful of Secrets
- Year: 1968
Listening to “Let There Be More Light” in this day and age is a mindboggling experience. This is because the intro sounds like a modern-day metalcore guitar riff. Yet, it was recorded in 1968, on a bass, by a psychedelic rock group.
It`s a fast bassline that is based around playing pull-offs high up on the G string while playing an open G. This makes for an intense line, and as the song starts off with it, it creates a massive amount of buildup.
Thus, this bassline shows the heavier side of Pink Floyd. Considering how modern the riff sounds, it is also a major testament to how ahead of the times this band was.
4. Have A Cigar
- Album: Wish You Were Here
- Year: 1975
“Have A Cigar” is one of the funkiest songs in Pink Floyd`s discography.
A big reason for this is Waters` bassline, which moves across most of the fretboard throughout the song`s duration. It also makes great use of rests, syncopated notes, and occasional octaves. It even has a couple of bends in it, which adds a lot of groove to it.
It`s also barely noticeable when the song shifts to 5/4 time during the chorus. This is largely due to the bass playing a long sustained note during these bars, which makes it lead naturally back into 4/4 time.
Thus, “Have A Cigar” is a great showcase of both Roger Water`s ability to sound funky when he wants to, as well as his deep understanding of musical time.
- Album: Dark Side Of The Moon
- Year: 1973
I rated “Money” as one of the most famous basslines of all time. Thus, it should also come as no surprise that it is one of Pink Floyd`s best grooves as well.
What makes this line special is that it’s played in a 7/8 time signature.
Holding down a bass groove that feels natural in 7/8 can be demanding. However, not only did Waters manage to do that on “Money”, but the bassline was so good that it was used as the main theme of the song.
A big reason the bass line works so well is how it combines sustained and staccato notes. Because of the occasional unsustained notes, the riff loops around itself incredibly well and sounds groovy. This also makes the odd time signature sound like the most natural thing in the world.
- Album: Meddle
- Year: 1971
Not only is “Echoes” a prog-rock masterpiece. It also has a bassline that adapts to and enhances all of the song’s vastly different parts.
During the intro, the bass works as a smooth backdrop for the guitar solo. As the solo progresses though, the line takes on a more melodic role, and can at times feel like a second solo instrument.
Then we get a verse groove that is just out of this world. It fits with the floaty vibe of the verse by combing long sustained notes with melodic fills. On it, Waters moves freely around the fretboard and makes a smooth transition to playing octaves towards the end of it.
The bass line in the following instrumental interlude is another highlight. Here, Waters switches between the root and the octave at a quarter note pace to add drive to the song. On top of that, he also joins David Gilmore in playing the chromatic ascents and descents in the main riff. This adds a lot of flavor to the bassline, and harmony to the song as a whole.
1. Pigs (Three Different Ones)
- Album: Animals
- Year: 1977
There are so many great things to say about “Pigs”; The menacing keyboard intro, the lyrics and vocal line, and the instrumental part at 4:13 to name a few. However, among all these great parts, the bass line still manages to be the highlight of the song.
Despite playing guitar on the track with Pink Floyd, Roger Waters sang while playing bass when performing this song solo later on.
It starts with a high bass solo which makes great use of the slow tempo of the song. At 64 BPM, the 16th notes combined with the hammered on 32nd notes work extremely well with the longer sustained ones.
The bassline also does well at tying the verse together. The vocal line in the verse takes 5 bars to repeat, and each of them has a different feel to it. This is in large part made possible by the bass adapting to these changes and transitioning seamlessly between them.
To top it all off, the 11:26 song is full of bass fills, without the fills ever sounding overdone. With that, this is a great showcase of how a complex bass line can still tie a song together, and one of the greatest bass lines in rock history.