3 Iconic Bass Lines (That Are Great for Beginners)

by Alec Plowman, Jun 6, 2018 . 3 min read

3 Iconic Bass Lines (That Are Great for Beginners)

So you’ve decided to learn bass guitar. Congratulations, and apologies in advance for all the jokes that snotty guitarists will be making at your expense for the rest of eternity!

In all seriousness, bass is essential to all forms of popular music (regardless of what your six string playing brethren might tell you). Along with the drums, it’s the anchor; the thing that holds it all together. The bass might not always stand out in a classic pop tune, but it is vital, and you’ll certainly notice when it isn’t there.

That said, plenty of classic recordings have been constructed around iconic bass guitar riffs. And, the great thing is that some of these riffs are perfect “bass guitar for beginners” material – easy to learn, but sure to impress your friends (and put the smack-talking guitarists in their place).

So, grab your four string, your bass guitar tuner (and your Roadie Bass: the quickest and most accurate way to tune a bass; it’s a must whether you’re learning to play bass or a seasoned pro) and check out these killer riffs.

Come As You Are – Nirvana

For the iconic opening riff of this song, bassist Krist Novoselic mirrors Kurt Cobain’s guitar part to create a fat, ominous, and instantly recognizable sound. The main riff on this one is localized around the open, first and second frets of the D and G string, which is great for starter bassists struggling to stretch their fingers!


Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

Cream bassist Jack Bruce has plenty of notable riffs in his back catalog, but the intro to Sunshine of Your Love is probably his most iconic. Monolithic, it set the standard for hard rock bass upon its release in 1967. This one’s a slow burner, making changes pretty straightforward to master. And, most of the song is variations on this riff, which makes learning the entire thing a whole lot easier.


Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean is anchored by a phenomenal bass riff that is surprisingly straightforward to play. The repeating riff, in F sharp minor, is played around the second and fourth frets on the A, D and G. Instantly recognizable, this one is great for turning heads and doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to master.


So those are our choices. But, there are plenty of other great examples out there. Why not tell us the simple bass lines that you love to play in the comments?

If you’re in the market for a bass guitar tuner that delivers the goods on stage, in the rehearsal room and in the studio, check out Roadie Bass. It’s intuitive, always reliable, and makes tuning a breeze in any situation.

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