A Little Inspiration for Bassists

Sources of Bass Guitar Sheet Music You Might Not Have Thought Of

I started my musical career as a bass player in elementary orchestra. If you have a similar background, you know it’s not the most exciting instrument early on. Still, there’s always inspiration if you know where to look. If you can’t seem to find enough good bass guitar sheet music, you might try:



Jim Creeggan, Barenaked Ladies

I start with Jim Creegan, because BNL was my first real exposure to the popular music of my youth (the 90s). He also gets bonus points for spending much of his time on the upright bass, rather than the bass guitar. Understated, overshadowed, and, frankly, unheard of, Jim Creeggan’s rhythms were the bass line to my childhood. But that’s not the only reason I mention him. The man was versatile as anyone. From the jazzy licks of Hello City, to the lamenting tones of Lovers in a Dangerous Time (played on upright with a bow), to the more standard rock and roll style of Too Little Too Late, Creeggan can run with the best of them.

Song to start with: Lovers in a Dangerous Time or One Week



Sting, The Police

I’ll come out and admit it; when I was bored in the back of the orchestra, I used to hum or sing the other parts while I plugged away at my bass. It always resulted in me losing the beat or muttering out some add mess of sounds, so you can imagine why I might be impressed by a guy like Sting. Is he the only singing bassist? No, but his jazz and reggae inspired style produced both thoughtful lyrics and catchy tunes, at least one of which you will have stuck in your head for the rest of the day. How about…

Song to start with: Every Little Thing She Does is Magic



MCA (Adam Yauch), The Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys played their own music; let’s just get that out of the way in case you weren’t aware. They started off as a punk band but migrated to rap at a time when it was still adventurous/risky for them to do so. MCA, in addition to having more rhymes than gray hairs (of which, he is said to have had his share), rocked the bass with as much attitude as the mic. If you have 45 minutes, and you’re rad enough to handle it, check them out live in Glasgow in 1999. If you don’t have that much time, skip to the end to catch them performing ‘Sabotage’. Speaking of which,

Song to start with: Sabotage



Flea (Michael Balzary), Red Hot Chili Peppers

While being a virtual revolving door for guitarists and drummers, RHCP staples Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Flea (bass) have been there from the beginning. As with many riff driven bands, Flea’s talents seem to fade a bit into the background, but they should certainly not be overlooked. Have a listen to the song By the Way and pay close attention to what he’s doing in the background. If you ask me, that song alone qualifies him for Bassist Sainthood.

Song to start with: Well, since I mentioned it, By the Way



Gabe Nelson, CAKE

Though not the bassist on their breakout album, Fashion Nugget, Nelson was part of the band early on and returned for the four albums that followed. His work on the Comfort Eagle album is particularly impressive, in my opinion. In a band that’s all about the unorthodox, it takes a lot of poise and skill to keep up. Nelson managed to flourish through unconventional syncopation and off-kilter melodies and prove himself to be one of the most talented bassists in the business.

Song to start with: Short Skirt/Long Jacket

Got a favorite bassist? Leave a comment and tell me why they rock!