10 Best Bass Intros Of All Time
There is a common saying a good song is as good as its bassline. As often the most under-appreciated instrument in music, basses are the foundation and rhythmic anchors of every song. And a good bass intro is a great way to start a song, highlighting the awe-inspiring low-end activities.
Whether in rock, metal, pop, or blues music, you can find amazing bass intros. While it is not a very common approach, they give a chance to bass players to shine with their amazing low-end sound and smashing riffs. Bass intros make songs unique and unforgettable, giving them a different place in music history.
So, here are some of the best bass intros of all time. Although there are not many songs to choose from, this is still not a definitive list but just a collection of some of the best bass intros from different genres, eras, and styles.
- 1. The Beatles – Come Together
- 2. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls
- 3. TOOL – Schism
- 4. Muse – Hysteria
- 5. Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
- 6. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
- 7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Around The World
- 8. Graham Central Station – Hair
- 9. Pink Floyd – Money
- 10. CHIC – Everybody Dance
1. The Beatles – Come Together
One of the most recognizable bass intros is featured in the famous “Come Together” of the legendary Beatles. Paul McCartney slides up and down the fretboard with a unique melodic rhythm and tone, making the riff one of the best in history.
Paul McCartney used a Höfner 500/1 violin bass known for its woody tone in the recording with a bit of gain and some studio echo added to his tone. Combining it with a bit of wooden percussion, you get one of the most iconic bass tones of history.
The Beatles only have a few songs with bass intros, which makes “Come Together” stand out from the rest. The riff is simple but striking, the best thing McCartney achieved in his playing. His only concern is finding the best composition, not the perfect sound. “Come Together” is, without a doubt, the summit of his bass mastery.
2. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls
The thrash metal giants Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” starts with a killer metal bass riff played by the master Cliff Burton. His unique lead bass style is heard almost like a guitar solo, especially in the song’s live version.
The intro riff features high notes, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and even bends in the live versions. Burton adds distortion to his tone, making it as bright as possible for his lead-style bass playing. It is ultimately one of the best and most memorable bass lines in history.
3. TOOL – Schism
“Schism” by the iconic progressive metal band Tool starts with one of the most remarkable bass intros ever written. The intro riff is also the main riff of the song, played by the virtuoso bass player Justin Chancellor. The riff alternates between 5/8 and 7/8-time, making it sound second to none.
The intro starts with a short and mellow chord progression played with double stops before leaving the scene to one of the most catchy and unique basslines of music history. The riff features fast repeating triplets with an alternating time signature.
The unorthodox rhythm of the song, catchy melody, and crisp bass sound as well as the virtuoso hands of Justin Chancellor, make this tune one of the best bass lines ever written and played.
4. Muse – Hysteria
Often voted as the best bassline of all time, the famous Muse tune “Hysteria” has a killer rock bassline intro with many notes, fast changes, and a high tempo. The distorted bass, playing a relentless 16th note chug with lots of fretting hand movement across the strings, sounds on fire.
The riff is very fast and requires insane stamina and technique to play. It sounds quite aggressive with the 16th note plucking attack and distorted synth fuzz bass tone. Chris Wolstenholme’s epic riff features a chromatic approach with different notes added to the scale, which makes it sound unique.
Overall, the killer bass riff is the heart of the song and is one of the best and most memorable basslines ever.
5. Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
The iconic Queen song from 1980, “Another One Bites The Dust,” is a great song to witness the musical genius of John Deacon. The prolific bassist created a great disco groove with an amazing bass tone that sounds fat and funky, which is the heart of the song.
The bass intro is also the main riff of the song. It is simple yet catchy as it can be. It has a warm and clean approach with a short riff repeated throughout the song. In the end, the riff is one of the most recognized, listened to, and covered bass riffs of all time.
6. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
One of the most famous and highest-charting pop hits ever, “Billy Jean” by the great Michael Jackson, starts with a wonderfully written bassline. The short and catchy riff repeats throughout the song while other instruments create the movement.
The riff is simple, with a basic pentatonic box shape and an all-8th-note straightforward pattern. Played by a great bass player, Louis Johnson, the riff is a hypnotic and captivating groove with a clean and balanced tone.
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Around The World
With his signature popping funk style, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers is an amazing bass player. In the song “Around The World,” he gets the spotlight, starting the song with crazy-busting, intense bass guitar riffs.
The bass intro riff starts with slaps to the open string before giving way to a rock-solid bass lick with plenty of repeated hammer-ons and walk-down to lower notes. It is a great bass riff with plenty of character, overdrive, and an aggressive approach.
8. Graham Central Station – Hair
The inventor of the slap-style playing technique, Larry Graham, is one of the greatest bass players to listen to and get inspired. His 1974 tune “Hair,” with his band Graham Central Station starts off with a wonderful funky bass riff. His melodic approach, bass thumps, and preens make this one unique.
Graham blends funk and R&B perfectly to create a great groove considered one of the funkiest in music history. He uses different rhythm patterns, a surprise half-time feel, and great slaps and thumps. His tone is as funky as it can be, with great snap and pop sounds. Overall this bass intro is a gem for every bass player with its innovative and unique approach that changed the bass world forever.
9. Pink Floyd – Money
The iconic bass riff from the legendary rock band Pink Floyd’s “Money” is one of the greatest opening riffs ever. Roger Waters created the top-quality bass intro in a 7/8 time signature with a killer tone and extreme clarity, which led to one of the most memorable classic bass riffs ever recorded.
The clarity and the beauty of the bass riff, combined with the chaotic sounds of coins and cash registers, create an impressive contrast that adds to the beauty of the intro. The riff is quite simple and feels like it is played in 4/4, although it is actually in 7/8 time signature. The riff is in the pentatonic scale and is pretty straightforward to play, even for beginners.
Waters’ tone is also quite iconic in the song. He uses a pick, a P bass, and steel strings with an unaffected clean circuit to get his bright, natural, clear-sounding bass tone.
10. CHIC – Everybody Dance
Famous for its amazingly funky bass intro, “Everybody Dance” by CHIC is another great funky song with an impressive bassline. The virtuoso bassist Bernard Edwards uses his so-called “chucking” bass technique to play the riff, creating one of the greatest and most challenging bass intros.
The riff is quite challenging to play due to the unique technique Edwards uses. He slaps and pulls the strings with short-attack and short-sustain notes so well that the riff gets funky as it can be. He uses his fingers like a plectrum and creates an amazing groove with a great feel of rhythm.
His mid-heavy in-your-face tone, syncopated and infectious hooks, unique funky playing style, and dancy rhythms make him one of the best bassists in history, and “Everybody Dance” a milestone in the bass world.
Bass intros add a lot of character and unique flavor to songs, making them stand out from the rest. While there are not many tunes with bass intros, there are still plenty of them to choose from. So, remember that this is not a definitive list but just a small collection of impressive bass intros from different genres. Every individual’s list may differ, but I am sure everyone would agree that these bass intros are among the greatest in history.