Learning to play the bass guitar is similar to learning to play a traditional guitar. There are fewer chords to master and the fingering techniques are not as complicated as the ones used in an acoustic guitar. The strings are heavier though, making finger strength and dexterity very important.
Of course, when starting out its important to find the right songs to help you learn the basics of bass guitar playing. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of music to choose from so we can almost certainly find something that interests you. You can pick a rock n’ roll classic or even an orchestral piece. There are more contemporary songs that are perfect for the modern-age bass guitarist, too.
In this article, I’ll only include easy bass songs that are also fun to play. Having fun and enjoying the process increases the chance you practice and get hooked on playing the bass guitar.
So, get your bass guitar ready and start learning these easy bass guitar songs for beginners.
Here is a List of Easy Bass Guitar Songs
1. Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
I think you will all agree with me that the bassline of this song is simply irresistible. To say that “Smooth Criminal” is a very beautiful, funky music is an understatement. Its basslines have been tweaked and used in many contemporary songs. This is a great song that introduces you to basic bass guitar patterns.
The bassline of this song is not as easy as the other songs on this list. You have a standard tuning, which is great for beginners. The only issue is that the rhythm is a bit faster than usual. At 118 beats per minute, you will have to push the capabilities of your playing fingers.
The good news is that it is always okay to start slow. Even when you reduce the rhythm to a more manageable 80 bpm, the bass will still sound great. The pattern is the same when you play the intro and the verse. It changes a little bit once you get to the chorus and the bridge. None of these will tax your fingers, however.
Like learning most new things, learning the bass will come easier to some people than others. If you’re one of these people that is having difficulty, don’t be flustered. Be patient and learn the fundamentals. Sooner or later, you will get the hang of it.
2. Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down
You’ve got to admire 3 Doors Down for making fantastic songs that have a unique rhythm and groove. This is due in part to the remarkable bass playing skills of Todd Harrell. And if you listen to “Kryptonite”, you’ll know that what really drives the timing and the rhythm of the song is Harrell’s bass guitar.
Newbies will love the slow bass intro and verses. There are no complicated fingering techniques on the fretboard. And even as you begin to play the chorus, the chord pattern is still very simple. The only thing that changed is the rhythm. You will be picking the strings at a much faster rate than in the beginning of the song.
For this song to be as authentic as the original, I advise you to use an electric bass guitar. This will give you the ability to mimic the sustained sound effects of the original. You can still use an acoustic bass guitar, of course. You will have to employ a specific fingerstyle for it.
3. Another One Bites the Dust by Queen
All aspiring guitarists should always have at least one Queen song in their collection of must-learn songs. This band has excellent taste when it comes to making music. Most of their pieces are one of a kind, too. And if you’re inclined to become a bassist, then you should consider John Deacon as your idol and this 1980 Queen song a must-learn.
What I find very useful in learning “Another One Bites the Dust” is the simplicity of its basslines. It follows the chord progression of the song. The string that you will be playing most of the time is the 5th string. The rhythm is easy and the song requires only a few fretting movements.
Learning the basslines of the song will help you prepare for other great songs with exceptional bass. It’s more about establishing the rhythm of the song. You can think of the bass guitar as a fully-capable replacement for the drums. Having said that, you can master the basslines in as little as an hour making it a great bass song for beginners.
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4. Chameleon by Herbie Hancock
I know some of you will question my choice of song for aspiring bass guitarists. A song like this is hardly the kind of musical piece that a beginning musician should learn. I beg to differ. Composed as a jazz standard, “Chameleon” is perfect for beginning bassists. Why? For starters, this song has a very familiar funky beat. Hancock also composed it with a very specific bass line.
The song lasts a full 15 minutes and 41 seconds. However, there are only two chords that you will be playing throughout the song. That’s Eb7 and Bbm7. You only need to learn two very basic patterns, each one having 6 notes. The first 5 notes of both patterns are the same. Only the last note will be different.
Once you have mastered these two bass patterns, you can play the entirety of the song. That is why I also picked this piece because it can be a great way to develop your stamina. The arpeggios can also be a good foundation for other fingerstyles.
5. Yellow by Coldplay
This alternative rock song is one of the best that any beginning bass guitarist should consider adding to his or her repertoire of learning pieces. The bass range of the song has a very minimalist approach. It is perfect for those who are absolute newbies to the world of bass guitar playing.
The tempo is moderate at about 88 beats per minute. This is ideal for those who are still struggling with their fretting and fingerpicking skills. The song is made even easier using only three notes: E, B, and F#. The chorus has different chords, but none that is going to make life miserable for the learner. One thing I love about this Coldplay song is the different variations you can have. Most of the time, you will only be picking on a single string and that the frets are not that far from each other.
Learning to play “Yellow’s” basslines is crucial for learning the basics of rhythm. It can also introduce you to the basics of fingerstyle.
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6. Under Pressure by Queen
What does Queen and Vanilla Ice have in common? How about the fact that Vanilla Ice’s characteristic beat in his “Ice Ice Baby” is very similar to the bass rhythm of Queen’s “Under Pressure”? You can call Vanilla Ice as a copycat. You can’t blame him. John Deacon’s signature rhythm has been the inspiration of many contemporary artists. And while many of them went the extra mile of tweaking Deakey’s beat, there’s no shame in playing one of music history’s most iconic bass riffs.
Like many Queen songs, the basslines of “Under Pressure” follow the same melody and structure of the sound. This is a good example of how bass can provide a very stable foundation for the rest of the song. The basslines are constant right from the very first note. There’s a subtle change towards the chorus, but none that will be too complicated for the novice bassist.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you can create your own bassline after learning this song.
7. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
The song’s basslines may not be as easy as the ones I already listed. However, “Billie Jean” has one of the most recognizable beats on the planet. Listening to the first few bass notes is often enough to let you start feeling the groove. A few moments later and you will already be tapping your foot or even humming the tune.
You’ve got to give credit to Louis Johnson for his fascinating bass playing skills. He is a bassist who is so in-demand that Grammy A-listers line up to have him play the rhythm in their songs. Unfortunately, this bass legend is no longer with us. He did leave behind one of the most iconic beats of the 20th century.
The song plays in standard tuning. The fingerstyle is easy. It is the movements of the fretting fingers that you will need to master. The tempo is moderately fast, but it’s not something that a beginner will not be able to handle with ease.
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8. Come Together by The Beatles
There are more than 200 songs that The Beatles wrote during their 8-year heyday from 1962 to 1970. Many of these songs have stood the test of time, still enjoying significant airtime on many radio stations and popular streaming platforms. And if you’re a Beatle fan who wants to follow in the footsteps of Paul McCartney, there’s no better song to master the basics of bass guitar than “Come Together”.
This is one of those songs that I love beginning bassists to learn. It is especially useful in learning one of the neatest guitars playing tricks on the planet. Transitioning from the 2nd to the 3rd note requires sliding your fretting fingers from the 4th fret all the way to the 10th fret. There are other variations of the technique. And you will get to master them in this song. The sliding technique gives the song a unique ‘twang’ that is almost like steel-string acoustic guitars.
Learn to play the basslines of this song and you’re destined for greatness.
9. Seven Nation Army by White Stripes
If you’re looking for a song that has a very recognizable bassline, then you shouldn’t look any further than “Seven Nation Army”. The bass riff complements the simple drumbeat of the song. This is a song that is worth playing with your newbie bandmates. Not only is this song very fun to play, but it is also instrumental in the revival of garage rock.
Newbies can play the bassline of this song by tuning your guitar down. However, if you already have a bass guitar, then you can start learning how to play it right away. There is a total of 7 notes that you will have to practice. Most of the notes are in the A string. You can play the song on a standard bass guitar tune.
The only tricky aspect of playing the song’s basslines is the movements of the fretting fingers. Nimble fingers are a must when it comes to fretting some of the notes. It remains doable, of course. Constant practice should get you the right rhythm.
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10. Stand by Me by Ben E. King
Something about Ben E. King’s Stand by Me is an easy bass song that is almost magical. This song was written almost 6 decades ago. However, I can still hear it getting played in many digital streaming platforms. There are also radio stations dedicated to playing such musical greats. The lyrics may sound corny to you, but its melody and rhythm are still way better than contemporary music.
Learning the bassline of this song is a breeze. There’s no need for the complicated tuning of your bass guitar. Also, the tonal patterns are almost similar throughout the song. The key here is to break the song into 4 sections. This will make it a lot easier to master the basslines for each section. As always, I advise going slow. It will help you gain confidence in playing the song.
One thing I like about this song is that you can play only the bass and you will still end up with an amazing song. It is also fun learning the basslines that are the foundation of many contemporary bass songs.
11. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
Not everyone who loves music today knows Bob Marley. But any aspiring musician knows the impact of Bob Marley’s works in the continuing evolution of contemporary music. He always infuses a sense of spirituality into each of his songs. This guy also put Jamaican music on the world map.
One of Marley’s most popular songs is the 1977 hit “Three Little Birds”. I say it’s popular because countless artists have already given their take on the classic song or at least covered it. The song has that very Caribbean feel to it.
Learning the basslines of this Marley song is not that difficult. There are three grooves that you will need to learn and master. The tune of these grooves is not that different from one another; except for the third groove. You also get to perfect your sliding technique, while maintaining a classic fingerpick. These are all essential movements that will help develop your bass guitar playing skills.
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12. Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry
There are many songs in the 60s and 70s that can be good sources of material for aspiring bassists. One of these is the 1976 song “Play That Funky Music”. Vanilla Ice gave his own interpretation of the song in 1989. However, I still prefer the original version from the Wild Cherry. Not a fan of rap, I guess.
So, why do I consider this song easy? How about the fact that its basslines only involve two chords: Em9 for the verses and Gm9 for the chorus? The verse also only requires playing the notes on the 5th and 7th frets. There is also a break during the pre-chorus where you get to rest your fingers for a few seconds. This is essential because the chorus will somehow test your finger flexibility fretting on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th.
What some may consider tricky is the transition between the notes. It is quite fast. It’s great for exercising those finger joints, getting them, all warmed up.
13. Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins
One of the alternative rock group’s most popular songs, “Tonight, Tonight” comes with a very catchy tune and a feel-good vibe. The song was a commercial success in 1995. It enjoyed significant airtime exposure in many radio stations all over the world. It has a unique sound that makes it seem more cinematic. The dense layering of the sound is quite phenomenal.
The first time you hear this song may want you to think that the bassline is difficult. Not necessarily. The only thing that is quite tricky is the tempo, which is quite fast. What is crucial here is to master the art of picking the right strings. You can do it with a pick or with your fingers. Once you have accomplished this, it should already be easy to play the entirety of the song.
I promise you; this song has one of the easiest basslines that any beginning bassist can ever learn.
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14. I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown
It is without a doubt that James Brown’s 1965 masterpiece is one of the most enduring tunes in the world. Many companies use it as a jingle or as an element in their advertisements. Organizations love the tune and many films have included portions of the song into their musical score. On top of that, “I Got You” happens to be the 78th greatest song ever to grace mankind. This is according to the Rolling Stone magazine.
The familiarity of the song makes it an easy pick for the best song that any budding bassist should play. While the original version is brass-heavy, the song still sounds beautiful on the bass guitar. The arpeggio may require some getting used to. This is because the picking and fretting techniques require a lot of finger movements. You will need absolute finger joint flexibility. On that note, this song should be a great exercise for your fingers.
Playing the bass of this song will make you an instant hit among your friends.
15. Like I’m Gonna Lose You by Meghan Trainor
This 2015 song may not ring a bell to many people. However, many music critics praised Trainor’s song as a welcome respite from her usual works. This song focuses more on Trainor’s vocals. While some say the song is a very old-school, formulaic ballad, it was still able to enjoy commercial success in Australia and New Zealand.
So, why did I include this song in this list if its strength is its vocals? Well, this song has a very easy bassline that even a grade-schooler can easily master. The slow tempo of the song also makes it incredibly easy to play. The fingerstyle isn’t that complicated, either. The song will never make you flex your fingers to the point of popping them off their joints. The rhythm is also something that you can always swing to with your eyes closed.
Overall, the song is an excellent introduction to bass guitar playing. You’ll learn the basics of rhythm and a few fingerstyle techniques that are indispensable for any aspiring bassist.
16. Should I Stay or Should I Go? By the Clash
Radio stations all over the world began playing this punk rock classic in 1982. And while the song was not a huge commercial success, it did enjoy a good following. This is especially true among aspiring musicians who would like to follow in Paul Simonon’s legendary skills in playing the bass guitar. Fast forward 9 years after its release, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” leveraged on its partnership with Levi’s to gain greater attention.
As one of the world’s 500 greatest songs, this The Clash hit is a must for every aspiring musician. The basslines are simple. The groove is quite easy to memorize, although it does require some degree of finger flexibility and coordination. This is great news for those who are only starting to learn how to play the bass guitar. They can learn and master the fingerstyle, while also developing their talent for keeping up with the song’s rhythm.
It’s one of those songs that are easy to learn and definitely very fun to play.
17. Money by Pink Floyd
There is no mistaking the popularity of this Pink Floyd classic. The song gets deeply entrenched in modern pop culture every time there is a generation of musicians that gets introduced to the music of Pink Floyd. Like many of Floyd’s songs, “Money” has a very distinct bassline that helps define the song. It provides an overall structure that is so easy and fun to play.
The song has a unique time signature: 5/4 and 7/4. Some people may find this odd and more difficult to learn than the conventional time signatures of ¾ and 4/4. The fact of the matter is that mastering the time signature will make it very easy for you to tackle almost any other piece out there. Plus, the rhythm is something that gets glued to your memory. It would be nearly impossible to get it out of your system.
This Pink Floyd song is perfect for mastering a few basic arpeggios. It’s a good way to flex your fingers, too, while mastering the art of rhythm. All in all, it’s an easy bass song that’s fun to play.
18. Otherside by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Drug dependents know this song too well. Red Hot Chili Peppers created the song to underscore the battles that substance abusers must wage to try to get better. Flea, Smith, Kiedis, and Frusciante worked together to write the piece that would become their tribute to their fallen comrade, Hillel Slovak. The founding guitarist of the band succumbed to complications resulting from an overdose of heroin in 1988.
Played on a standard EADG tuning, “Otherside” offers a bassline that beginners should find very easy. There are no fancy fingerstyles. However, this is one of those music pieces that make use of the slide from the 3rd fret to the 14th fret. The notes are a breeze to master and the rhythm is easy to pick.
This Red Hot Chili Peppers song makes a fascinating piece for novice bassists. It has a very fun melody and a rhythm that instantly sinks into the consciousness. Mastering the rhythm will give you more than enough to tackle almost any other bass guitar song.
19. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
It would be pointless to single out a song that best characterizes the music of Nirvana. There is way too many songs to choose from. When it comes to its basslines, very few Nirvana songs can match the popularity of the basslines of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Almost three decades have passed and this Nirvana creation still finds itself getting playtime on just about every alternative rock radio station.
The song has a punk rock vibe; thanks to the intense guitar chords of Kurt Cobain and the powerful basslines of Krist Novoselic. The bass and the treble unite in a seamless fashion to give you a song that is worth listening to for many centuries.
The basslines of the song can be quite challenging for some people. However, I do believe that this is a good piece for developing the stamina of future bassists. They need to maintain the accuracy of their rhythm, while also focusing on perfect timing. They also must maintain this over long stretches.
20. All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
I bet you didn’t think I’d put this song on this list, did you? Well, I love this Meghan Trainor song because of its very playful vibe. It has this uncanny ability to transport you to the golden era of contemporary music in the 1960s. It is a hodge-podge of rhythm & blues, doo-wop, and bubblegum pop that can make anyone who hears the tune go crazy.
I think a line of the lyrics says it all. Putting emphasis on bass, instead of the treble is nothing short of extraordinary. The basslines of the song only use three chords. You learn these chords, master them, and you are already playing one of the hippest and most fun tunes of the new millennium.
I think the biggest advantage to this song is the overall structure of its bass. You can practice the timing of your rhythm, while also having absolute fun. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be bouncing like Tigger all around the Hundred Acre Woods.
21. Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
Aspiring heavy metal bassists should always consider the works of Ozzy Osbourne if they want to master some of the most classic heavy metal basslines. The former frontman of Black Sabbath used his musical genius to create a song that bewails his getting kicked out of the band.
One thing you will notice about the song’s bassline is that it has a very fast tempo. At 138 BPM, you will be pushing the ability of your fretting fingers to coordinate their movements. The easy part of the bassline is its groove. There are two of these. Master these grooves and you could be on your way to rocking the 4/4 song.
The key to learning the bassline of this song is to take note of the silence in between notes. Start slowly before you decide to attack the groove. This is an excellent song for creating your own heavy metal bass riffs in the future. It provides some of the foundation for classic heavy metal.
22. Momentary Bliss by Gorillaz
Released just this year 2020, this Gorillaz song is already becoming one of the favorites among lovers of punk rock and rap music. The song is the opening salvo of the group’s Song Machine initiative. The group aims to release several singles over the course of 12 months, with each single being a collaboration with other artists. This song marks the group’s collaboration with Slaves and Slowthai.
I decided to include this song because the bassline is quite easy to execute. It should also be a good piece for aspiring punk rock bassists to develop their own signature bass riffs. The song is in the standard EADG tuning. It will never put a strain on your fingers. It also helps that its tempo is not that fast. The chorus will require a faster fingerstyle, though.
This is a song that will allow you to play a bassline and look cool while doing it. It is a fun way to learn some of the fundamentals of bass playing.
23. Super Freak by Rick James
I really wanted to include this song because of its super cool bassline. Perhaps this is because it has this very familiar tune that MC Hammer popularized in the 90s. Yes, the bass and rhythm of “Super Freak” is uncannily similar to “U Can’t Touch This”. This is because MC Hammer sampled James’ original song to appeal more to a growing rap fan base in the 90s.
It goes without saying that learning to play the song’s basslines will help you feel and look cool. The bass riff is uniform through the song. There are no major departures from its standard groove, except towards the end of each chorus.
You need agile fingers to play this song. The fretting movements can be dizzying to the uninitiated. Taking it slow should help you build confidence, while also familiarizing your fingers to the different movements of the bassline. The funky vibe of this song is perfect for entertaining your friends and family.
24. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
Every time Fleetwood Mac goes on stage, the band would always open their act by playing “The Chain”. It is very interesting to note that this song is made of rejected materials from the band members’ previous works. This creates a song that has materials coming from all five members of Fleetwood Mac.
I included this 1977 song because it remains a very popular song. Also, the basslines are not that tricky to master. In fact, you will not begin playing the bassline until about the 52nd second of the 4-minute, 28-second song has passed. This gives you enough time to get into the song’s groove without ever playing anything. And once you strike the first note on the 5th fret of the E string, you should already be in the groove.
Keep in mind that you will only be playing the bassline at the song’s chorus. This is what makes this song ideal for beginners.
25. Longview by Green Day
One of the most important skills that any budding bassist will have to learn is the fingerstyle. You will have to command your fretting fingers to be as flexible as possible. It is also important to ensure their coordinated movements. This is especially true for certain songs that require the fingers to move across the fretboard at different points.
Green Day’s song should be a great exercise for any aspiring bassist. It has a very nice tempo that follows the usual 4/4-time signature. Your fingers will play the strings in a more casual manner. The fretting fingers, however, will have to push their limits. This is especially true for the last 4 fingers as you attempt to hit the right notes.
This is a very fun tune that will have everyone in the room dancing to the beat. Above all, it is a good piece for learning fingerstyle and a few other bass guitar basics.
26. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz
One of the best alternative songs ever to be played in the middle of the first decade of the new millennia is this song from Gorillaz. It featured De La Soul, one of America’s fast-rising hip-hop group. The song is the band’s most successful single, reaching double platinum status in the UK and platinum status in Australia.
The song makes it is easy for you to impress your friends with your bass playing skills. The tuning is the usual EADG. To mimic the beautiful, layered sound of the original recording, you might want to employ an octave pedal. This will give you a bass synth layered effect. You can still play this without the pedal, though. And it will still sound amazing.
The rhythm is predictable and the fretting techniques will never tax your fingers. It is a very fun song that you can play anytime, anywhere.
That does it for this list. Let us know if there are any easy bass guitar songs that we left off this list that should be included. As always, let us know if you have any comments or questions below!
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high quality music related content as well as some of the most accurate and in-depth gear review and demo information on the internet.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 (over 15 years now) and am an avid collector of all thing’s guitar. Amps, Pedals, Guitars, Bass, Drums, Microphones, Studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University and with my engineering experience I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.