My Top 5 Bassists Of All-Time…

April 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm (Music)

When I first started playing guitar I thought all bass players were merely failed guitarists that couldn’t handle six strings. As time has gone by, I have started to realize the uniques skill that is required to play good bass..heck a few bands now a days are centered around the bass! With that in mind, here is my top 5 bass players of all-time:

5.) John Myung, Dream Theater– This guy is as technically good as they come…some of the bass lines he plays with Dream Theater are even more intricate than the guitar riffs, and that is saying something in that band! The song “Panic Attack” comes to mind when I think of truly great Bass intros.

4.) Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath- Butler is one of the true greats of metal, contributing both lyrics and a bass lines for the first great metal band. Butler was innovative in his own right; using the Wha-Wha pedal with the bass is a move that influence many that came after him (see N.I.B.)…He was also one of the first bassist’s to down tune his guitar to match the lead guitarists sound (Tony Iommi was famous for tuning his guitar down to C sharp, or one and a half steps down).

3.) Victor Wooten- Wooten is first guy on this list that doesn’t play for a metal band; in fact, he is mostly known for playing himself! Its almost impossible for me to describe how hard it is to make music using just a bass guitar, but he pulls it off exceedingly well. To get an idea of what I mean, check out this youtube clip: Victor Wooten Bass Solo.

2.) Cliff Burton, Metallica- Burton would likely be #1 on this list if he didn’t have so little material out there; he tragically died right before Metallica hit it big and thus many short change his greatness. This guy could absolutley wail on the bass..he was so good that he often outplayed then guitarist Dave Mustaine who went on to become the iconic leader of Medgadeth! When Burton comes to mind, so does the intro solo to For Whom the Bell Toll’s. What a talent.

1.) Les Claypool, Primus- When Cliff Burton died, Metallica had to tryout new bass players for their band. When Les Claypool entered the auditions and began to jam, Metallica front man James Hetfield was taken aback…When asked later about why Claypool didn’t get the job, Hetfield remarked that he was “too good” to play in Metallica. That gives you an idea of just how talented this guy was and still is. In Primus (the band he founded) the guitar played second fiddle to the bass which is almost unheard of in rock music. He is technically great, innovative (slap bass anyone?), and makes truly unique music. Here is one of my favorite Claypool songs: The Awakening.

Honorable Mention:

Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers (Bass Solo)

Geddy Lee, Rush (“Driven”)

David Ellefson, Megadeth (“Peace Sells”)



  1. Robert said,

    Lists… Always a good way to start a discussion. Here would be mine with my limited knowledge of the jazz/blues greats:

    Les Claypool, Primus
    Victor Wooten, solo
    Geddy Lee, Rush
    Billy Sheehan, Mr Big, Steve Vai
    John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin

    And those who may not be the most technically gifted but defined their bands and changed the industry along the way:
    Paul McCartney, The Beatles
    Roger Waters, Pink Floyd
    Gene Simmons, Kiss
    John Entwistle, The Who
    Sting, The Police

    And some I just love to listen to:
    Bootsy Collins, P-Funk
    Steve Harris, Iron Madien
    Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue
    Lemmy, Motorhead
    Chris Squire, Yes

    • jonathancadien said,

      Steve Harris is the guy I totally forgot about while compiling this list, he was awesome. Of course many of the Jazz and Blues guys are probably way better than any of the guys either of us can name, I am comfortable with my selections. You should really start listening to Dream Theater…they are awesome.

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