A bassist, or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass (upright bass, contrabass, wood bass), bass guitar (electric bass, acoustic bass), synthbass, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or trombone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk,[2] R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.

Jaco Pastorius (1951–1987) was an influential American jazz bassist, composer and big band leader. He is best known for his work with Weather Report from 1976 to 1981, as well as work with artists including Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, and his own solo projects.[1]

Despite the associations of different bass instruments with certain genres, there are exceptions. Some new rock bands and bassist used a double bass, such as Lee Rocker[3] of Stray Cats, Barenaked Ladies and Tiger Army. Larry Graham, Bernard Edwards, Mick Hogan, Andy Fraser, and Mel Schacher[4] used electric bass guitar. Some funk, R&B and jazz, fusion groups use synth bass or keyboard bass rather than electric bass. Bootsy Collins, Stevie Wonder, Kashif and Kevin McCord(One Way) used synth bass. Some Dixieland bands use double bass or electric bass instead of a tuba. In some jazz groups and jam bands, the basslines are played by a Hammond organ player, who uses the bass pedal keyboard or the lower manual for the low notes. Keyboard driven bass also occurs occasionally in rock bands, such as The Doors and Atomic Rooster.

Electric bass playersEdit

Bootsy Collins in Germany, 1998
John Deacon in 1979
Lemmy in 2011
Pino Presti in 1978

Electric bassists play the bass guitar. In most rock, pop, metal and country genres, the bass line outlines the harmony of the music being performed, while simultaneously indicating the rhythmic pulse. In addition, there are many different standard bass line types for different genres and types of song (e.g. blues ballad, fast swing, etc.). Bass lines often emphasize the root note, with a secondary role for the third, and fifth of each chord being used in a given song. In addition, pedal tones (repeated or sustained single notes), ostinatos, and bass riffs are also used as bass lines. While most electric bass players rarely play chords (three or more notes all sounded at the same time), chords are used in some styles, especially funk, R&B, soul music, jazz, Latin and heavy metal music.

A short list of notable bassists includes:

Double bass playersEdit

Classical double bass playersEdit

For a long list, see the List of contemporary classical double bass players.

A shortlist of notable double bass players includes:

Jazz double-bass playersEdit

For a long list, see the List of jazz bassists, which includes both double bass and electric bass players.

A shortlist of notable jazz bassists includes:

Popular music double bass playersEdit

For a longer list, see the List of double bassists in popular music, which includes blues, folk, country, etc.

A shortlist of the notable bassists in these genres includes:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Jaco Pastorius Is the Most Important Musician You Might Have Never Heard Of". 6 March 2015. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  2. ^ "On Bass: What the Funk?". Archived from the original on 2 October 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Mel Schacher Bio". Archived from the original on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  5. ^ Newcomb, Ming Lee (19 February 2019). "10 Years with Les Claypool: On Sailing the Seas of Cheese and Avoiding Dead Sharks". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on 3 September 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  6. ^ Cohan, Brad (18 September 2013). "FLAG'S Chuck Dukowski Pretty Much Confirms Greg Ginn Is a Total Douchebag". Village Voice. Archived from the original on 10 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  7. ^ Edwards, Briony (21 March 2017). "The 10 best Joy Division/New Order basslines, according to Peter Hook". Louder Sound. Archived from the original on 1 March 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  8. ^ Meltzer, Marisa (2010). Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 130. ISBN 9781429933285.
  9. ^ Suarez, Gary (14 November 2016). "1995: The Year Mike Watt Broke Grunge". Vice. Archived from the original on 10 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  10. ^ Sheppard, Amanda (29 October 2019). "FROM MINUTEMEN TO MISSINGMEN: MIKE WATT AND FRIENDS CARRY ON". Please Kill Me. Archived from the original on 5 November 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2020.