12 Fun Punk Bass Tabs (That Are Not Just Root Notes)

punk bass tab layered on top of punk bassist playing live

To me, punk has always been one of the most fun genres of music to play on the bass. However, finding fun punk bass tabs can often be a challenge, as many of them just consist of straight 8th note grooves that repeat the root note.

Therefore, I decided to make a list of some of the best punk bass tabs I`ve found over the years. This way, you can jump straight into playing some exciting grooves instead of searching for tabs,

We`ll start off with some relatively beginner-friendly but fun basslines so that bassists of all skill levels can find something to their liking. I`ve also kept the list diverse by including punk, punk-rock, ska-punk, and everything in between.

So dial in a gritty punk bass tone, and do some finger warmups, because these punk bass tabs consists of everything but holding down the root note.

12. Rancid – Roots Radicals

  • Tempo: 150 BPM
  • Album: …And Out Come The Wolves (1995)
  • Bassist: Matt Freeman

There`s a good reason Matt Freeman is at the top of my list of the best punk bassits of all time. He`s fast, he`s creative, and he knows when to dial it back.

“Roots Radicals” is the perfect Matt Freeman bassline to start out with. The verse showcases how to add interesting harmony where many bassits would have stuck to root notes. In the chorus, he plays an elevating melodic groove, which makes the chorus so much catchier.

This is thus a great showcase of how the bass can make a punk rock song come to life and add melody without being overly complex.

11. Dead Kennedys – Kill The Poor

  • Tempo: 210 BPM (Intro is 111 BPM before the tempo switch)
  • Album: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)
  • Bassist: Klaus Fluoride

Dead Kennedys has shown just how much a punk band can stand out within the genre. They were an incredibly inovative and unique band, and the same can be said of Klaus Fluoride`s basslines.

On “Kill The Poor” he plays a simple but rhythmic groove. Using the chromatic scale is a staple of his style, and he makes great use of it in the chorus of the song. On top of that, he throws in small variations throughout it which will keep you on your toes if you decide to give the song a try.

Despite being somewhat fast and melodic, this song is also relatively beginner-friednly. “Kill The Poor” is thus a great song to learn if you are looking for a fun, easy, and groovy punk bassline.

10. The Offspring – Original Prankster

  • Tempo: 140 BPM
  • Album: Conspiracy Of One (2000)
  • Bassist: Greg K (1984-2018)

“Original Prankster” features a fairly simple, but fun and groovy bassline. By incorporating rests and chromatic descents it manages to add a lot of groove to the song by playing just a few notes.

The song also has just the perfect amount of variation to not get stale, and it`s going to take a while before you are able to get the main groove out of your head.

I thus recommend this song for any punk bassits that are looking for an easy, yet groovy punk bassline to start out with.

9. The Clash – Magnificent Seven

  • Tempo: 120 BPM
  • Album: Sandinista! (1980)
  • Bassist: Paul Simonon

I put Paul Simonon`s riff on “Guns Of Brixton” at the top on my list of the best punk bass song ever. But not only was this guy amazing at his best, Simonon also consistently wrote great basslines.

One of these can be heard on “Magnificent Seven”. It`s an unique line for a punk song, and is in many ways more resembleant of a funk bassline. Despite this, it is incredibly catchy and fits the song perfectly.

The bassline is repetitive, but incredibly fun. Thus, if you are the type of bassist that loves to hold down 1 amazing groove rather than switching between 5 mediocre ones, try this one out.

8. Anti-Flag – Angry, Young and Poor

  • Tempo: 220 BPM
  • Album: Underground Network (2001)
  • Bassist: Chris “Chris #2” Baker

If you are looking for a fast and melodic punk bass tab, most “Anti-Flag” songs will do the trick.

For most of “Angry, Young and Poor” Chris #2 is playing melodic 8th note lines. It gets gradually harder towards the end, as he goes from repeating two notes at a time, to playing individual notes.

Overall, this is one of the hardest bass tabs on this list, mainly due to the speed of it. Thus, I recommend it for intermediate bass players who are looking for song that`s fast and fun, and challenging.

7. Alkaline Trio – Armageddon

  • Tempo: 192 BPM
  • Album: From Here To Infirmary (2001)
  • Bassist: Dan Andriano 

If you like the bassline in “Angry, Young and Poor” but find it too difficult, try “Armagaddon” by Alkaline Trio instead.

It is 28 BPM slower at 192 BPM, but otherwise, it is another melodic 8th note line. It is also fun song through and through, as it rarley falls back on playing straight root notes.

Thus, I recommend this song for punk bassists that are looking for a fast and melodic song, but one that is not overly difficult.

6. Chocking Victim – Five Finger Discount

  • Tempo: 220 BPM
  • Album: No Gods/No Managers (1999)
  • Bassist: Shayne Webb (1996–1999)

You only need to listen to the first 2 seconds of “Five Finger Discount” to understand why this is a fun punk song to play on the bass.

The main groove of the song is fast and melodic. While somewhat challenging, it is easier to play than it might sound like on first listen. This is because you are only ever fretting notes at the 2nd and 4th fret. Thus, it can be played with just two fingers, which pulls down the difficulty.

Notably, this song requires you to tune your bass a half-step down. It can still be played in E standard as the lowest note in the song is an F1, but this will increase its difficulty of it noticeably.

5. Lagwagon – Foiled Again

  • Tempo: 200 BPM
  • Album: Duh (1992)
  • Bassist: Jesse Buglione (1990-2010)

For a song that will test your plucking skills, try “Foiled Again” by Lagwagon.

Just like “Five Finger Discount”, this song is played a half-step down tuning-wise. However, the difference is that this song makes use of the low Eb1, so you will need to tune down your bass to play it.

The dotted quarter notes at 200 BPM in the intro, combined with the ocasional triplets makes for a unique rhythm. Thus, if you are tired of the same old 8th note picking patterns, try this song for nice change of pace.

4. Goldfinger – Here In Your Bedroom

  • Tempo: 172 BPM
  • Album: Goldfinger (1996)
  • Bassist: Simon Williams (1994-1999)

If you are looking for a bassline to test your sense of rhythm, there`s no better sub-genre to dive into than ska-punk.

“Here In Your Bedroom” start off on an off-beat, and blends 8th and 16th note pauses into the same groove . Thus, it might take some practice before you are able to play the line cleanly. Getting it down though, is an incredibloy staisyfying feeling.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with rhythms of this kind it will be a useful practice that will improve your overall playing going forward.

3. Catch 22 – Keasbey Nights

  • Tempo: 120 BPM
  • Album: Keasbey Nights (1998)
  • Bassist: Pat “Mingus” Kays

Whether you prefer Catch-22 or Streetlight Manifesto, one thing is for certain: Both bands have amazing basslines.

“Keasbey Nights” is a great showcase of how to make a bassline fit into a complex ska-punk song. It leaves space for the horn section and vocals when needed, but also has several melodic parts that make it stand out.

It also makes good use of both sustained and staccato notes, slides, and chords at the perfect spots. The song is therefore a lot of fun to play, and requires you to nail down various different techniques in order to make it sound right.

2. NOFX – The Desperation`s Gone

  • Tempo: 100 BPM (90 BPM in the Intro)
  • Album: So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes (1997)
  • Bassist: Fat Mike

While bass chords can sound muddy, on “The Desperation`s Gone” Fat Mike shows us that they can also sound beautiful.

The song starts off with a calm bass intro before it kicks into a fast punk line. Despite the groove being fairly straight-forward for the rest of the song as Mike has to play bass and sing at the same time, the buildup of the intro prevents it from ever feeling stale.

Thus, if you like the idea of playing chords on your bass, or you like some tranquility mixed into a hard-hitting punk song, give this one a try.

1. Minor Threat – Salad Days

  • Tempo: 160 BPM
  • Album: Salad Days (1985, released post-breakup)
  • Bassist: Steve Hansgen (1982-1983)

Something you won`t find in most punk songs, is natural harmonics. However, the bass intro on “Salad Days” showcases just how well harmonics can work in a punk song.

If you are unfamiliar with playing harmonics, the intro on this song is a great introduction to them. It`s a slow and simple line, but producing the harmonics with clarity will take practice.

As for the rest of the song, it features a fast punk groove, as well as some chords and some additional harmonics throughout. Thus, I recommend this song for intermidate punk bassits who are looking to incorporate advanced techniques into their playing.

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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