10 Greatest Bass Players In Rock Music History

Masters of the Low End.

Flea and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chilli Pepers performing on the Main Stage, at the Isle of Wight Festival in Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight.
Yui Mok/PA Archive

The role of the bass player has pretty much been written out of rock music ever since it began. If you're having a hard time with the singer outshining you, imagine how the guy who's holding down the bass in the background is feeling. That being said, there are still some bassists who manage to hold their own a lot better than others.

These aren't your average four stringed musicians who just hold down the root of the chord. Anyone can do that. These are the guys who see the bass as just another part of the musical orchestra you're creating onstage, and are willing to push themselves to the absolute limit to get the sounds that they want to hear.

A lot of people forget that bass is also a part of the rhythm section, so you're holding down the melodic side of things while also trying to keep the groove going.

It's actually a much bigger job than you probably realize, and yet these guys have been able to rise to the challenge in their own unique way. Hell, some of them end up being so good that they even outshine the guitarists in the band.

Compared to the usual low end you get out of most rock bands, these are the masterclass tests that will put you through your paces.

10. Justin Chancellor - Tool

The common problem that every bass player find themselves in is having to play second fiddle to the guitar.

Even though you might have the most juicy bass riff imaginable, it's not going to get nearly as much attention as a face melting solo. If you have the right idea, most of the time the bass is able to shine through all of the distortion.

After a few shakeups with their lineup in the early days, Tool's recruitment of Justin Chancellor was practically a godsend, bringing with him a heavy vibe and a a strange sense of rhythm that completely gelled with what Danny Carey was doing behind the kit. Back in the Undertow days, most of the bass grooves just felt aggressive for the sake of being aggressive, only to be given a more intellectual vibe on albums like Aenema and Lateralus.

Hell, if you were to listen to songs like Schism, the bass guitar is practically the lead instrument, carefully moving everything along as the guitar decides to just follow in the background.

Using everything from chords to random time signature flips, Justin Chancellor isn't the kind of bass player who keeps things in line. This is a guy who is here to intentionally try to mess with your internal rhythm, and you'll end up thanking him for it by the end.


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