Great bass solos


Hi all,

I am curious to hear what solos you’d recommend listening to… either to learn, to imitate or just to be awed. I know there are lots, but because of personal listening preferences, I am sure I am missing out on a lot of great solos out there. So, please share!

I’ll start off with Jeff Berlin playing a red hot solo on Allan Holdsworth “Water on the Brain, pt. 2”. Here is a YouTube link, even with sheet music for the solo to read along:



Wow, thanks for the share, that’s gnarly!

Marcus’s solo on this tune (around 3:30) always made my brain explode as a teenager, it’s been fun to listen again in recent years and actually be able to make sense of it:


whoooooaaaa… that Jeff Berlin solo is off the charts.

My favorite bass solo is, still, Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) by good 'ol Cliff Burton. It’s lovely in its composition, it totally shreds, and it opened my eyes to bassists not being stuck in bass land.

Other than that… the entire “Show of Hands” album from Victor is as good as solos get… and it’s an entire album of it.

The last one I’ll share is a Scott LaFaro solo from a Bill Evans trio record. It’s the tune “Nardis” which I’ve always loved. Scott’s solo is so perfectly phrased and so lovely. And listen to how sensitive the band is behind him!! So cool.
Bass solo starts right after the melody, so treat yourself and listen from the beginning!


Very funky - and some machine-gun precision slapping… Funny, I always found Marcus Miller a bit “too slick”, but that is probably not doing him justice!?


Thanks for sharing - I don’t know Anesthesia, so I need to find that one! (Which, of course, is exactly the point of this thread - to get exposed to stuff that I didn’t know yet).

Show of Hands I have in my collection… just wow!

And Nardis… just such a beautiful tune! Nice version!




Thanks :+1:


There’s definitely a “smooth” element in a lot of Marcus’s music, but for my ears, he’s one of the only people who ever pulled that off without it sucking.

I think another part of the “slick” sound might be that he is just so effing precise on records - I imagine he intends to shoot for ideas that he knows he can execute really well, rather than reaching for hare-brained weird stuff, in the context of recording at least. I don’t think he does that to the point of losing soul or fire though, he gets pretty nasty sometimes.

Anesthesiaaaaaaa… I listened to that so many times in high school. Listening again now with a new appreciation for how dope the tone/effect sounds are!


Very good points, Josh! Knowing what you can pull off (and what not) is probably one of the main things distinguishing pros from amateurs. I certainly played in a jazz-rock/fusion band for many years (on drums, not bass), and most of the stuff we composed for ourselves, we just barely could play, LOL - but lots of fun nonetheless!


Maybe, but there are also players who approach soloing and live performance in a less ‘clean’ manner. I think no matter what your level, you can either play stuff that’s comfortable, or you can ‘reach’ which can create messiness.

There are probably more examples I could think of, but off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Victor Wooten. I’ve seen him live a lot, and I think he lives on the “reaching” side of improvisation, so I’ve witnessed many moments of an idea of his not quite working out or coming out cleanly, because he’s aiming for something new. Which I love!

I tend to play like that too, I think in any given show (that’s improv based) I’m likely to do a number of weird, mistake-like things because I’m trying to find new stuff. (And also because I need to practice more :stuck_out_tongue: )


Good points, Josh! I guess I should have been clearer when making my original statement by saying that it doesn’t apply to improvisation. I totally agree with you that improvisation should allow for pushing the envelope, for trying out new things, and for making mistakes as you do so. I guess my original statement was geared towards the music we were composing back then, which was pretty set (fully written out), and didn’t contain much in terms of improvisation, but indeed had solos that were either also composed from the get-go or were developing into a form that then didn’t change much anymore afterwards. The point really was that what we were composing for ourselves was just barely playable by ourselves - kind of like “the spirit was strong, but the flesh was weak” :wink:


Ah, gotcha. Yeah, when stuff is formalized/written down, it’s good to execute it as intended live. At least until we find a way for audiences to hear what we meant to play, rather than what we actually played. :stuck_out_tongue:


I won’t claim to know whether this is his best work or anything, but I like Kai Eckhardt a lot and this is a cool video of him playing solo:


Nice :sunglasses:


The one and only Phil Lesh (the first minute or so isn’t really a solo, but it’s great how he interacts with Jerry…for Phil’s solo you can skip to 8:02):


@joergkutter Dale Peters’ bass solo from the “Lost Woman” cut of the James Gang Live in Concert album (1971) is what got me started. :slight_smile:

Bass solo starts at ~8:51 and ends ~12:10

As a young bassist, I was amazed at the speed and clarity of some of the parts of his solo with that unmistakable P-bass tone. To this day, I’m still fascinated by it and have many parts of it figured out. Hopefully, I’ll get it ALL down before I die! :yum: LOL

All best, Joe


I kind of think of YYZ as a bass solo. It isn’t really, but it’s close enough.


Thanks for sharing, Joe! I will need to find a different version of this song, as YouTube - for some reason - won’t allow me watch it here in Europe.



Sorry to hear that @joergkutter :slightly_frowning_face:

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any other version of this cut. It was done live and was the last appearance of Joe Walsh in the James Gang lineup before he left.

Essentially it consisted of solos by Joe Walsh (guitar), Dale Peters (bass), and Jim Fox (drums) each in turn.

All best, Joe


I had the same problem viewing James Gang vid here in UK. Here is something you may find interesting, Quarter to Africa live ft. Avishai Cohen. A splendid crossover for your Wednesday blues!