The bass guitar is on the Mount Rushmore of instruments for rock and metal bands, but that dosen’t mean a band always has a bassist in the group. There are some bands out there, even a couple legendary ones, that prove that you don’t have to have one of the four staple tools (guitar, bass, drum, keys) to make great music.
The bass guitar as gigging instrument for musicians took a big leap in the 1950′s. That’s when the Fender Electric Instrument Company began making the Precision Bass, a mass produced electric bass that had the general shape of today’s modern guitar.
This was a massive downsize from the huge and heavy upright bass that had been the standard bass instrument in popular music for decades before that. The ease, price and portability of this new bass “guitar” made it a much more enticing instrument for musicians and allowed traditional guitarists to more easily pick it up and play.
One of the issues with not having a bass in the band is how to reproduce that groovy sound. (As glam/pop rocker Suzie Quatro once said “Guitar is for the head, drums are for the chest, but bass gets you in the groin.”) BassOx has detailed a few techniques, some of which are used by the bands on this list.
1. Keyboards and Piano – “A typical piano has 88 keys, which means it has a range of more than 7 octaves. This means it can it can easily handle the range of the bass, and even lower if desired.” Plus, keyboards can be programmed to mimic the sound of any instrument.
2. Guitars – “One solution to this is a 7-string guitar, which has an added low B string, which increases the guitar’s deep range.” Or you can tune down any guitar. Another solution is a Baritone guitar. But many bands use an effect pedal to shift down the pitch of the guitar.
3. Brass Instruments – Not as common a solution, but some acts in genres such as “ska and ska-punk have had success using both deeper brass instruments and bass guitars in the same band.”
Or you can go the another route, which is just to totally ignore the bass sound. Great bands that bail on having a low role player tend to make up for it in energy and rawness, giving them a primal feel.
And on that (high) note, here are the bands that make us move our asses without having a bottom end.
Rock + Metal Bands Who Don’t Have a Bassist
These stripped-down bands are managing fine with just guitar, keyboards and drums.
The Top 25 Best Selling Hard Rock + Metal Artists of All Time
These bands have been sold and streamed more than any other rockers. Sellouts!