The following is a very subjective list based on how these bass players’ work hits my ears. It is not a controversial list, I don’t think, but maybe is missing some people you might consider more technically capable players. Hence this is a very specific and constrained list; keeps things more manageable to just stick to living bass players specifically in hard rock who are not the mastermind behind the band Rush that is Getty Lee.
6. Geezer Butler
The original heavy metal bass player, the man behind the blueprint for heavy metal bass playing, which partly involves the bassist mirroring the guitar player’s lines and licks and turned up loud and heavy in the mix, Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath needs no further introduction. That said, I have a word minimum I want to hit so let me ramble a little more about how innovative and important Butler is to the history of hard rock music.
5. “Fat” Mike Burkett (NOFX)
4. Mike Dirnt (Green Day)
The word to describe Dirnt’s playing is “satisfying.” He plays the right notes at the right time.
3. Matt Freeman (Rancid)
2. Jason Newsted
Yes, he plays with a pick and he was in Metallica; get over it.
1. Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
The finger-picking madman behind the formation of metal giants Iron Maiden, Steve Harris took Sabbath’s style and put it on some Ritalin to create his own brand of loud-in-the-mix bass playing.