When Rocksmith originally launched in late 2011, it gave millions of people a new way to learn to play electric guitar – but not bass. Boy, has that changed! Now Rocksmith 2014 offers more than 600 songs for bassists in genres ranging from metal to pop, from country to funk. I asked some of the members of the Ubisoft Studio SF team (many of whom appear on the weekly Rocksmith Twitch stream) for their personal favorite basslines, and added some Rocksmith performances for the tracks in question so you can see for yourself. Here’s the staff’s picks for the high end of the low end!
Anthony Martinez – Notetracker
James Gang – “Funk #49”
This is a song that I learned and performed with my first band when I was in high school, so it sits very close to my heart. The funny thing is, I hadn’t realized just how involved the bassline was until I notetracked it – and boy, was I pleasantly surprised! The bass work is melodic, it sits comfortably in the band’s pocket, and it demonstrates how a good bassline can spice up a simple two-chord progression.
Taylor Benson – Associate Producer
Chic – “Good Times”
The bassline itself rocks, and it’s relatively accessible so it doesn’t take a ton of finger pain to feel like a champ when you’re playing it. Also, I’d be lying if I said the song didn’t hold a special place in my heart since it’s the bassline sample for “Rapper’s Delight.”
Jason Kocol – Technical Notetracker
Duran Duran – “Rio”
“Rio” offers a heavily syncopated bassline which complements the more textural guitar part. It’s one of the rare moments in pop music where bass is in the forefront, particularly where a lot of stamina is required to play the part.
Sharon Marmito – Production Coordinator
Queen – “Killer Queen”
This was one of the first songs I played when I was brought onto the project in 2012, which was also the first time I’ve ever even touched a guitar or bass guitar. As a beginner, the song is very approachable and the level design is great. The bassline moves up and down the neck and it’s a fun, whimsical song that I love playing!
Greg Barr – Notetracker
Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke”
Nathan Watts’ use of fret-hand mutes really enhances the shuffle feel of the song, and his creative fills – especially toward the end – embellish it harmonically as well. And that’s before I even mention the famous instrumental breaks, which span the entire bass fretboard – a technical feat in itself for any aspiring bassist.
Peter Mack – Technical Director
Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
I choose this because I can 100% it! Honestly, if you’re looking for a satisfying first milestone, it’s a great starting point for bass.
Jarred McAdams – Notetracker
Jeff Buckley – “Last Goodbye”
This bassline is incredibly tasteful. Mick Grondahl knows just when to step into the foreground with an ornate fill, but also when to hang back and just play long sustains. He chooses interesting notes, rather than always simply playing the root of the chord at hand. He connects the notes with stepwise motion, making the entire part very melodic. He also injects double stops into the part from time to time, to mark interesting moments in the song. The part has a lot of independence from the guitar part. Rather than sampling supporting the guitar’s low end, he adds a unique voice to the arrangement that gives the song much of its unique character.
Brian McCune – Lead Notetracker
Bill Withers – “Lovely Day”
Such a great groove established by Jerry Knight. It’s an achievable and rewarding bassline in Rocksmith 2014.
Dan Amrich – Community Developer
Michael McDonald – “I keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)”
This is my hidden gem in the Rocksmith 2014 bass library, propelled by a smooth, tasteful Louis Johnson R&B groove. It’s a great example of the instruments serving the song, and it’s really satisfying to master. Plus, learn this and you’ve also learned to play Warren G’s “Regulate.” Step to this, I dare ya.
Now it’s your turn: What are your favorite basslines in Rocksmith 2014? Get your groove on and let us know in the comments below.
For more on Rocksmith 2014, check out these features: