Riffs are a great way to get started on bass because they are relatively quick to learn (quicker than full song) and they’re usually quite catchy. So you can play them to your friends and feel like a rock star!
- Another One Bites The Dust – Queen (time – 1:10)
- Stand By Me – Ben E King (time – 15:16)
- Billie Jean – Michael Jackson (time – 29:51)
- Come As You Are – Nirvana (time – 33:53)
- Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream (time – 38:29)
Another One Bites The Dust – Queen
This riff by the great John Deacon might sound really simple but there are a few challenges in there for the beginning player. There are 16th note skips (good for developing technique) and there are changes in note duration (good for developing your groove and feel).
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Stand By Me by Ben E. King is a great riff to learn because it simply repeats all the way through and it’s a great example of how we can weave a line through a chord progression.
In the original recording there’s no drum beat. It’s just a triangle, some percussion and the orchestra so I’ve written a basic drum beat that should help with your practice.
Please Note: The original recording of this song is actually in the key of A Major. So if you want to play along with that version, here you go:
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
Billie Jean by Michael Jackson is a really short riff in the key of F sharp minor and really popular with beginners. There are several different ways of playing the riff but I’m going to show you a simply fingering that’s easy for beginners.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
For this lesson we’ll be playing Come As You Are in the key of E minor but it is worth noting that the live versions are commonly in F minor. I think this is possibly due to Nirvana tuning down to D on the original and then down to E flat on the live versions.
Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream
Lastly let’s look at one of the most famous rock riffs of all time: Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream which is played by Jack Bruce.
There are several different variations on this riff depending but we’ll just work through the line used in the intro
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Where can we find Top 5 first you made it ?
I would like to keep it , but I can not find it in the your web anymore ?
thanks a lot
Do you mean the Top 5 Slap Riffs? Check out the Lesson Map ‘Slapping’ section
also looking for the tabs of the top five first for downloading but can not find them 😗..
Great lessons Mark,if you can teach me (and I’m learning) it cant be bad! a three chord wonder with a skiffle background (73’s old)Bass playing was not a choice until I saw your lessons on talking Bass,now after 1 month I feel buying a Bass guitar was a brilliant idea.Many Thanks
funny and super instructive… thanks mark!
Excellent work Mark…Never thought I would be able to learn an instrument this late in my life, but you are getting me there.
I might be retarded but….
I wish you had done this and preferably other related videos with on screen notation so that I can find the notes you’re playing more easily. I’m just not that comfortable with the bass guitar yet.
Oh forgot to mention, I’m a lefty so everything you do I have to learn as though looking in a mirror- sorry.
Hi Mark, does it matter that i don’t know how to read music? Thanks
This helped so much thanx!!!!!!!!!!!!
This helped so much thanx
So glad that I found your courses on YouTube!! I found your style so much easier to follow by the way you broke them down. Looking forward to learning more on the site.
This is a cool way to learn, thanx
u r a bad mo fo,,, I love u man,,,,,,,
Mark, as a 68yr old beginner on Bass I absolutely love your video lessons. You explain everything in easy to understand terms, and your vids are fun,informative, and such a great help! Thanks for all the work and effort you put in – you obviously love the instrument so much!! Respect!
What?? You mean that I am not the only 68yr old beginner!!
I fully agree with Mac’s remark. you make things easy to understand.
A wink and a blink away from 70, I am enjoying the bass more than I thought I would. Marc does an excellent job for us new players of any age, thanks.
Great lesson I really like how you explain how the song was constructed based on the scale
Hello mark, I’m inspired and I really want to thank you…. Also, keep the good work on…. Bless you
Hey Mark….i’m a 54 year old beginner and i find your lessons the easiest to understand i have come across…thank you so much for making things much simpler to understand….your teaching style is brilliant….thanks again!
IM A 53 YEARS OLD BEGINNER I THOUGHT I WAS THE OLDEST !! , KEEP IT UP AND ILL FOLLOW YOU !!
I’m 69 and loving every minute of learning something new.
Where do you get all the back track songs (drums rythms)?
I create them using Cubase
PLEASE CAN YOU GIVE ME THE NOTES INSTED ?
CANT READ MUSIC , SO WONDERING IF YOU COULD PUT THEM IN ALPHABET FORM OR FRET
The fingering on the frets is in the TAB below the music in the pdf files.
GREAT CLASSES , GOOD VIBE , EXTRAORDINARY SISTEM , THANK YOU !!
IM 53 YEARS OLD AND THIS IS THE MOST UNDERSTANDABLE LESSONS OF THEM ALL , AND I LOOKED ARROUND…
I am 76 and struggling with digital wizardry but having seen your lessons on u,tube I find them informative and challenging.All I need now is motivation it,s taken me a while to find my way into your lessons so I intend to start from the beginning . I would like to get these lessons on my desktop where I can watch and try to play at the same time wish me luck. Thanks a million.
I believe with your lessons I will learn how to play minor keys very well because I hardly play minor keys, Thanks am from Nigeria
How come the tab for Billie Jean is different from what you are teaching ?
What could really help me is to know which finger presses on which string in wich fret, at least in the beginning till my fingers can easily adapt
I’m writing to you from Croatia, and I wish to thank you for all the time you’ve spent on preparing this fabulous material for us!!
Thanks for every moment of every single lesson!!!
At the end I have a fast question: Do you have any peace of paper (PDF) where all the chords are described on tablature and as notes? I think this would be great peace of paper to start, and to play scales all day (and night) long, to became familiar with our instruments, but also with harmonics.
It’s fantastic to find so many people “of a certain age” learning. I am 65 and started at the beginning of December as a friend lent me his Bass. I love it but find it frustrating, not quite getting it smoothly, and not quite getting the timing. Again and again and again. Is there a support group anywhere for those of us who lose heart and need encouragement?
This is a great opportunity for me to return to the bass after. 30 years and now having Parkinson’s after the last 20years I. Am. Starting to feel the best again Your repetitive lessons are great! You are great!!
Thanks man for doing this.
Thanks for the riffs, Mark. I am a little tired this new year years morning and a little sad to hear about all the bass greats we lost in 2016. I really was unaware.
Help me mark!
In the practice room, there’s Seven Nation Army in the beginner riffs, but it’s just watching you play. There is sheet music, but I can’t read bass sheet music yet (I only started the day before I sent this comment). Is there a video that could teach me how to play it? ?
Thanks Mark. Your lessons are really helping. The worship team found out I played bass once upon a time and are pushing me to play with them Sundays. It is really hard to pick the bass back up after 50 years. At 67 I am not quite as quick as I was as a teenager, but your lessons are helping me to pick it back up and correct a lot of the mistakes I picked up as a teenager.
This was a great start for me, thank you very much Mark. I checked hundreds of bass channels on Youtube and decided to go with you.
I have been listening to the beginners videos for about two weeks before I even got my bass out and I already feel more knowledgeable and more comfortable playing the bass.. Great Job Mark.. I am slowly progressing.
Turned 50 last september. I thought it was too late for me to learn or study music, especially plying bass… I guess not! Thank you guys for making me feel “young-er” 😄👍🏻 And thank you Mark, for the very in-depth & very “easy to understand” lessons, you have inspired us and so many more out there! A BIG THANK YOU! Keep up the good work, and continue INSPIRING PEOPLE!
16th notes are killing me
Just bought a bass guitar. And found your site. Looks like what I’m looking for. Where should I actually start?
Thanks for allowing me to sign up for free membership.
I enjoyed your lesson covering the five riffs for beginners but!
I am confused as the tabs in no way seem to match the notes of the music if the bass is strung as EADG.
Great site, really appreciate all the courses posted. Thank you so much for doing all this for public.
Did u say I could download the drum beats ?? where??
Hi Mark, I am really enjoying your YouTube vids & considering signing up for your classes. Is there a time limit to the access once I start a lesson?
Also curious to know what guitar you are using in your vids. Looks like an Ibanez with some extra pickups. Beautiful instrument! You rock as a teacher btw! :)
I am another 63 year old beginner, although I did play bass in a schoolboy band when we were 16. I restarted when my younger son bought me a 5 string bass as a birthday present. I have decided to use it as a four string bass with a long thumb rest for the moment, as I cannot find any bass sheet music with the lower notes included.
Thank you for the starter riffs, it is hard to play anything that my family recognise at the moment.
also looking for the tabs of the top five first for downloading but can not find them 😗..
Your an awesome teacher and I’m really enjoying practicing. I’m a guitarist that really likes the beat and want to learn the bass. It’s a lot of fun! I find myself occasionally using hammer ons and pull offs and wonder if I should avoid that? I don’t want to compete with the guitar.
Thanks for all the time and effort you’ve put in to these videos!!
Please, Mark! No tabs! I know how to read music. I find that tabs make me lazy and do me more harm than good. Please offer lessons that have tabs or no tabs. I appreciate it.
Cindy, I agree with you about tabs, but I understand that a lot of people rely on them. My solution is to download the music as picture files, then to edit out the tabs using software, such as paint.net. I hope this helps.
EXCELENT. HI FROM ECUADOR SOUT AMERICA
Hi I found your lessons easy to follow so like how much will I need to pay for the full lessons
It helped a lot! Thank You, I also am super happy its free (Because I am a student)!!!!
Awesome riffs Mark !! Thanks so much !!
Fantastic!! Trying hard learning….but practice tracks are not being played… please help me out Sir!!
I have been trying to download the track for another one bites the dust. Its not in sound cloud. Can someone please help?
I am a beginner, i see you are using a 4 -string bass for your lessons. Is it okay to learn with a 5-string bass?
My second riff out of the five , getting in there,
thanks a lot Mark
My second riff out of the five , getting in there, three more to go
thanks a lot Mark
Great Lesson, Mark.
Just one question, The backing track on soundcloud is not appearing. Is soundcloud not being utilized? Thanks!
My five best riff for beginners are done, i am so happy and i thank you Mark:)
Hi Mark! Where do you get the drum backing tracks for these songs? And what hardware are you using to play them?
I program all drum tracks myself. I use Superior Drummer by Toontrack for the sample set and Cubase or Superior Drummer itself as the DAW for sequencing.
Just a short question: why not use the next string to play the A, but play every note on the E string. Is this on purpose or just for the sake of the beginners exercise?
Awesome! Thanks :))
Hi Mark, thanks for the lessons!
Question: Why would I (for instance on the Stand By Me riff) play a D on the A string instead of using an open string D? This will probably come up a bunch as I learn.
Loving the course lessons. How do you download the backing tracks to keep?