Rock music doesn’t, well, rock without a hard-hitting bass player that remains true to the deep, booming and emotionally-charged low groove that make up the lower end. While is proud to give so much love to guitarists, we also recognize the importance of the rumble of a great bass, and how it can make or break a band. Here are some tips for the many bass players out there, a la the finest bottom-enders in rock and metal.

Testament bass player Greg Christian on his picking style, as told to


“I recorded Ritual [1992] with a 5-string and a pick, but that was a weird phase for me. Primarily, I use my first three fingers and my thumb, because that’s how I learned as a teenager, and if I ever brought a pick to lessons, my teacher would take it away from me and say, ‘Nope, you’ve got to learn to play with your fingers.’ It was a lot of work. I would have to learn how a song went and then go home and spend hours working out the patterns between two and three fingers.”

Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on whether it’s important for the bass player to have a good rapport with the guitarist, as told to Guitar Center:

Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Yeah, of course, especially in a band situation where you're with someone all the time. That's what it's all about. When you're with someone all the time, on a bus or in the studio, wherever you are, you have to love that person. You have to be able to live inside their energy and love it. Yeah, that's what it's about.”

Tim Commerford from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave on his “secretive” tone, as told to

Rage Against the Machine

“I’m like the Pablo Escobar of bass. If a dude works on my amp, it’s almost like I have to kill him when I’m done. I don’t, but more than a few times I’ve told people, “If you let anyone know what you’ve done to my amp, I’m coming back.” I’m scared of fools ripping off my sound… You can try to figure it out, but there’s no way you ever will… “

Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and Sixx: A.M. on his signature Gibson Thunderbird, as told to


“The attention to wood is important. With the Thunderbird, for me, I feel like I can’t stand on a stage and not have a Thunderbird in my hand. It’s like my skin. It completely fits me like a glove. The way it fits in my hand and lays in my hand, the way it leans against my body, everything about it. It’s been amazing to have a relationship with Gibson and have Gibson work with me on certain types of pickups and wiring. These are just very little things that may not mean a lot to someone else, but are very personal to me.”

Green Day bass player Mike Dirnt on whether he feels the need to take up the extra space in a three-piece band, as told to Guitar Center:

Green Day

“I try not to overplay, basically. I'm always leery of not crowding anyone and of not overplaying. I think less is more… As we play along, if it seems like it's fitting and if I keep hearing something in my head, I'll ask the guys what they think. A perfect example of that is "Minority" I had that bass note in my head and Billie wrote the song. At first it was just power chords. I had this melody in my head and we were playing it like a standard Green Day format song. I asked the guys if they minded if we tried something different and I played them the melody that was in my head. Billie really liked it; he changed the vocal melody at the end for a little turnaround. I asked Tre if we wanted to commit to the song being kind of Irish sounding, if he wanted to go to the snare and do a kind of marching drum roll. And he nailed it.”

Mike Inez of Alice in Chains on how he comes up with bass lines, as told to

Alice in Chains

I’ve always gone for countermelodies first. Jerry [Cantrell] will throw a riff at me and I’ll play a bunch of counter parts, so initially it sounds like I’m overplaying. But I’m just trying to find the cool notes—the ones that rub against the riff or complete the chord. Then I’ll strip it down to come up with the tastiest line that fits the song and the time feel, without trying to be showy.

Former AC/DC bass player Mark Evans on what makes Gibson basses special, as told to


“Oh, boy! If I knew exact what it was, I’d be making guitars myself! A lot of it has to do with the heritage of company, in that it’s been around so long. But, I think it’s also the workmanship. I have quite a few vintage Gibsons, but I also have newer guitars that I’ve bought over the past five years, and the Gibson guitars they’re making now stand up to the vintage ones extremely well. The way they put together the guitars is unbelievable. Gibsons are beautiful guitars, and they’re put together with a lot of care and love.”

Korn bass player Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on his “hip-hop” grooves and percussive tone, as told to

“I always call myself a percussion pass player. I really am more like a drummer. A lot of the lines I play are really just beats, hip-hop grooves. If you took my bass lines out of Korn and put more basic ones in there, we’d probably be considered a straight heavy metal band. But my hip-hop influence works because when we’re writing, the drums usually come in last, which is weird. When our drummer, David, is learning his parts, he actually listens to Munky, one of the guitar players. He doesn’t play off me at all. So I just let them do their thing, and it leaves things really open for me. we’ve been playing together for ten years, and I finally figured out why I have room to play so much. It’s because our drummer is listening to the guitar player! I’ve never heard another band do that, but it’s perfect for me and my style.”