I am kind of indifferent when it comes to bass. I am glad it’s there in the band, but I don’t obsess over it like a guitarist. I know the bass is important and there are hundreds of bass players that should be on this list rather than the ones I have, but these are the guys I like. I am not into the flashy bass players like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden of the weird players like Les Claypool. I like my bass players to hold down the rhythm and keep the songs chugging along.
Jeff Ament (Green River, Mother Love Bone, Three Fish, Pearl Jam)
Jeff might below the radar when you think of great bass players, but this guy can hold his own and do it quite well. From punk to rock to world music, Jeff has a style and talents to make it all sound great. Plus, he’s made the stand-up bass cool again and he is a talent when it comes to art.
Cliff Burton (Metallica)
I am off the minority that I like Jason Newsted better than Cliff Burton as a bass player. Don’t crucify me just yet. I think Cliff is a killer player, if in doubt just listen to “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” With his flowing main, cheesy ‘stache and bell bottoms this guy took the bass to a new level for metal bands.
The Female Bass Player
In making this favorite bassists list I couldn’t help but to think of how many really good female bass players there are in rock. These ladies couldn’t be omitted, so here is my 10 favorite ladies who rock the bass: Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins); Cristina Bautista (Visqueen); Kim Coletta (Jawbox); Paz Lenchantin(A Perfect Circle, Zwan); Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde); Meshell Ndegeocello; Maggie Vail (Bangs); Kim Warnick (Fastbacks; Visqueen); D’arcy Wretzky (Smashing Pumpkins); and Sean Yseult (White Zombie)
Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Rock, check. Funk, check. Punk, check. Soul, check. You name the genre and Flea can play it. This guy is a pure music enthusiast who knows the history of music, I like that a lot. Even though the Chili Peppers aren’t crazy as they used to be, Flea’s made his mark as one of the premiere bassists in music.
Mike Inez (Ozzy Osbourne, Alice In Chains)
Anytime I hear Mike’s name the intro to the Ozzy song “No More Tears” enters my brain. That’s when I first heard of this kick ass bassist and have thought he was one of the best out there when it comes to that heavy low end. His resume speaks for itself – Ozzy, Alice in Chains, Black Label Society, Heart and more. He can rattle that four-string with the best of them, plus he just has that cool rocker look.
Duff McKagen (Guns N Roses)
Duff is the prototypical cool rocker. He looks and dresses the part; he plays his bass hung low and can rock it without any trouble. Even though he doesn’t play bass much anymore since becoming the guitar-playing front man in Duff McKagan’s Loaded, he can still hold down a strong rhythm with a bass.
Nate Mendel (Sunny Day Reak Estate, Foo Fighters)
Nate is the quiet guy in Foo Fighters, but when you have Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins in the band how could he get a word in? As a bass player is is such a clean steady player unassumingly driving the songs as he never strays to far from his spot on stage. Nate is the consummate bass player.
Jason Newsted (Metallica)
It’s nearly impossible to replace a legend but that’s what Jason had to do when Cliff Burton tragically died. The Metallica purist will say the band lost a lot when Cliff died and Jason came in and that’s fine, but Jason was part of taking this band to a level they had never seen before. He took everything he learned from Cliff and expanded on it to become his own player. The best thing Jason did was remain himself when he joined the band and didn’t try to become Cliff part two.
Tom Peterson (Cheap Trick)
The first man to play and 12 and 8-string bass. That’s all you need to know. Tom is an innovator with the instrument and has that classic cool sound and vibe when he plays. All bas players should look to Tom first when they are starting out.
Doug Pinnick (King’s X)
A left handed black man with a mohawk playing bass in a hard rock band? Yep, that’s Doug Pinnick. Influenced from everyone from Sly & the Family Stone to the Beatles to Black Sabbath, this guy loves it all and incorporates it with his playing. Doug has been grinding it out for more than 35 years and he still keep on going, not for the money because he is broke most of the time, but because he loves to play music. That’s how it should be.