Everyone knows that guitars are the heart and soul of rock 'n' roll, but it's the bass that plays the unsung hero. Without a solid rhythm section, there's nothing to carry the song along as the guitar takes off into solos and scales.
Basses are important too, so here are 10 of the most iconic ones in rock history.
10. 12-String Hamer Bass – Tom Peterson
When you get right down to it, there's actually nothing that exciting about the Cheap Trick bassist's signature instrument. Much like how there was no need for the seemingly endless amount of necks they were willing to throw on guitars, this is just more strings on a relatively bass-ic piece of gear. That said, it's still one of the only 12-string basses, so it counts.
9. Space Bass – Bootsy Collins
Alright, Bootsy Collins might not exactly be "rock 'n' roll," but how could his special bass get left off the list? It's a shiny star-shaped bass that was so cool it was once stolen from the funky artist himself. Collins can still lay down some great bass lines without the eccentric tool, but who would really want him to?
8. Fender Signature Jazz Bass – Mark Hoppus
The world needs more pastel-colored basses. Hoppus is known to play both seafoam green and light pink instruments, and it's refreshing to see someone go with more unconventional colors. Maybe you think you can rock out harder on a black or red one, but he'll be the one laughing when you're asked to play at an Easter celebration.
7. Custom Alembic Guild Starfire – Phil Lesh
As any Deadhead knows, Lesh's monster of a bass is a sight worth seeing in person. Nicknamed "the Godfather," it's a mishmash of knobs, pickups, and a couple of stickers for good measure. Also, you won't get a feel for just how big it is until you see it in person. Seriously, it's impressive.
6. Modulus Funk Unlimited Bass – Flea
One of the greatest bassists to ever slap the strings technically has a variety of instruments he's been seen with, but it's his love for the Modulus models that stands out the most. Whether you're a fan of the sparkly blue one, the darker sunburst variation, or the classic multicolored "punk" look, you know Flea's basses when you see them.
5. Rickenbacker 4004LK – Lemmy Kilmister
Is there any more metal bassist than Motorhead's star? Of course not. Lemmy's signature bass is every bit as iconic as his black hat, flawless facial hair, and trademark growth on the side of his face. At first glance, it might not be exactly the bass you'd think a rock god would play, but Lemmy's not your average rocker.
4. Axe – Gene Simmons
Since any normal looking bass guitar wouldn't be enough for KISS, Simmons had one custom made to look like an axe. The instrument would go on to be reproduced by Kramer, but only in small enough numbers that it's an exclusive treasure for diehard KISS fans. Does it play well? It doesn't matter, it looks like an axe.
3. Gibson EB-3 – Jack Bruce
When Bruce wasn't playing his custom fretless Warwick Thumb bass, the rhythmic portion of Cream was creating new sounds and inventing bass distortion with his EB-3. He's one of the best bassists in history, and the red Gibson model is synonymous with his name and sound.
2. Fender P-Bass – Paul Simonon
From time to time, an instrument is more famous for its demise than its life. Such is the case with the Clash's most famous bass. You don't know much about Simonon or his bass? That's not surprising, but it's virtually guaranteed you've seen it. Hell, anyone who's been alive for the last 40 years has probably seen it. It's the one getting smashed on the iconic cover of London Calling.
1. Hofner "Violin" – Paul McCartney
So many basses look more or less the same, it takes something really different to stand out over the entire history of rock 'n' roll. That's exactly what McCartney's bass does, with its small violin-like shape and its obvious presence throughout the Beatles' reign. Of course, it helps when you get played by one of the founders of modern rock and pop music as we know it.