Artist on artist: best bass players
26th Feb 2014 | 00:00
Graham Masser, Bad Rabbits
BASS EXPO 2014: Last year you voted in your droves. This year we turn it over to the artists, asking them to name-check the bassist who they think is the best bass player of all time.
The results are a mixed bag with a sweeping range of genres and some stellar talent mentioned, but one name keeps coming up time and time again. We'll give you a clue: he played for both Marvin Gaye and Jackson 5. Graham Masser of Bad Rabbits kicks things off...
Graham Masser, Bad Rabbits
Nomination: James Jamerson
“He always played in the pocket but his basslines were so imaginative, creative and melodic that they added an entirely new element to pop songs that had not existed before. He was the Motown sound and, in my opinion, his basslines were as important as the singers he backed up, like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and The Supremes.
"His playing also had a huge influence on bands like Cream, The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately, he only got the credit he deserved after he had died. He's my biggest influence as a bass player, hands down.”
Dan Maines, Clutch
“Listening to the radio play classic Cream cuts like Sunshine of Your Love and White Room was my first exposure to Jack Bruce. But it wasn't until I bought the Cream Live I and II cassettes that I realized his full range of skill.
"His lines bounce between laying the foundation and creating memorable melodies with ease, he's a consummate improviser, and his tone was the definition of heavy. He was and remains a huge influence on my playing, and he's still killing it today!”
Mike Ferri, We Are The In Crowd
“I grew up in and around the punk scene so in my world the best bass player has been and always will be Matt Freeman.
"I can remember sitting in my room for hours trying to wrap my head around the solo from Maxwell Murder and bragging to my friends in high school when I felt like I was getting close to mastering it. The guy set the bar for bass guitar in punk music. I don’t know that I’ve heard anyone else do anything half as impressive with the genre.”
Logan Davis, J Roddy Walston and The Business
“When I listen to Revolver, I hear a bass player who has mastered the dance between rhythm and melody, a band member who knows how to complement and to step out in a thunderous way when necessary, and a pure musician who uses every bar to cram perfection into the low end of your speakers.
"Put that record under the needle, yank the bass knob to the right, and bring a burnt offering for the rock bass demigod.”
Tom Poulton, Landscapes
“For me, Andy Rourke of The Smiths is one of the greatest bass players of all time.
"I mean, the sheer amount of memorable bass lines that he wrote over the years have really stuck with me like nothing else. I take a lot of inspiration from Rourke as he maintains to keep a tight and solid rhythm while showing the capability to still play with great melody. I hold Rourke and The Smiths with high regard.”
Jon Harvey, Monster Truck
"My favourite is Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. He shreds and may be the only bass player allowed to be that loud in the mix.”
Paul Thomas, Good Charlotte
“I feel that Les Claypool is the best bass player ever. I warm up to Sailing The Seas Of Cheese before shows.
"I just feel he is to bass what Jimi Hendrix was to guitar. He is the most innovative player, and the fact that he sings while playing crazy hard bass lines is just astounding.”
Henry Upton, Lionize
“Wow. That's tough. Let's pick a few. Charles Mingus, Scott LeFaro, James Jamerson, Paul Jackson, John Paul Jones.
"I'm leaving a bunch of amazing people out. But each of those guys has a good case. If I'm backed into a corner I'd say Mingus. He was obviously much more than a bass player. Right next to Ellington with great American composers. Mingus is a bad man.”
Christopher Hutchinson, Outfit
“I was recommended Jaco's first record a couple of months after I had started playing, when I was fourteen.
"It remains the best example of mind blowing bass playing. Jaco is the perfect musical role model for players everywhere. Whether he was racing through super fast chord changes with perfect precision or plucking out the most delicate harmonics, Pastorius brought the instrument into the spotlight in the most flamboyant way on both fretted and fretless bass guitars.”
Aaron Beam, Red Fang
“The most aggressive and forceful bass playing in one of the most terrifying bands ever. The perfect compliment to the heaviest drummer and most 'angular' (remember that word from the 90s?) guitar playing ever. David Wm. Sims absolutely rules.”
Conor O'Keefe, Rise To Remain
"My nomination for best bass player ever goes to Jon Stockman of Karnivool. From massive, punchy, distorted basslines to atmospheric soundscapes and intricate melodies.
"His playing on Sound Awake and Asymmetry showcases the true versatility and range of the bass, and just how creative you can get with tones and effects all whilst keeping it musical, interesting and - most importantly - serving the purpose of the song.”
Aaron Pauley, Of Mice & Men
“My favourite bass player is Justin Chancellor from Tool. The use of his bass and effects creates vast soundscapes in Tool's music, and is often the instrument driving the main melody structure in their songs.
"He's also not afraid to step outside of the traditional bass player box and play a high lead or two over the guitar which is playing rhythm. Add to that his immaculate tone and that's why I picked Justin Chancellor.”
Nick Ghanbarian, Bayside
"Growing up on punk rock and eventually learning how to play bass led me to have Matt Freeman of Rancid/Operation Ivy as a huge influence.”
Bayside's new album, Cult, is out now on Hopeless Records. The band tour the UK with Alkaline Trio in April.
Fil-Thorpe Evans, Neck Deep
“Mark Hoppus was one of the first bass players who was a real inspiration to me. I played guitar before I played bass but he was one of the people who made me realise bass is awesome and isn't just the instrument some nerd at the back of the stage plays.”
Mark Damon, The Pretty Reckless
“One of my all time favorites would have to be the legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson. His sense of groove, tone and melodic innovations created some of the most memorable grooves, hooks and sub hooks in pop and R'n'B.
"From the beautiful simplicity of My Girl by The Temptations to Marvin Gaye’s masterful What’s Going On, and countless other Motown hits of the 60s and 70s, Jamerson raises the bar on what the bass player’s role is within a song. His incorporation of the chromatic approach of jazz, fused with the solid groove of old school R'n'B, and an incredible sense of melody and counter-melody, helped created some of the most timeless recordings in modern popular music.”
Mike D' Antonio, Killswitch Engage
“I would always defer to Steve Harris because of the innovation and how he writes a lot of those tunes.
"I really love bass players that get very involved with writing and obviously performance too, he's one of my favourites to watch he's so good. Plus he's hairy and small like me so there's a comparison there.”
Paolo Gregoletto, Trivium
“John Paul Jones was the quintessential bass player in a band. Not only is he such a solid player, but also as a writer that's a big factor for me.
"He was a writer and studio musician even before Led Zeppelin. I think that's why I would pick him.”