The Cross-Genre Bassist

How do your musical tastes influence your playing? Do you have a wide or narrow frame of reference when it comes to what you allow to impact and inspire you? I think having as diverse as possible a range of styles and influences at your disposal is of prime importance to your growth and sustainability as a bass player.

Influential Artists

Here are some of mine. A diverse bunch, I think you will agree!


  • Jaco Pastorius
  • Eberhard Weber
  • Arild Andersen
  • Dan Berglund
  • Anders Jormin
  • Stanley Clarke


  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Gene Simmons (Kiss)
  • Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)
  • Mick Karne (Japan)
  • Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo)
  • Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel)
  • Pino Palladino


  • Percy Jones (Brand X)


  • Mark King (Level 42)

These aren’t only artists I like, but each of these players has left their indelible mark on my bass playing. As I play and especially when I hear myself back, I can hear their influences in the riffs, techniques, sound color and figures. This is the product of hours spent over the years listening and emulating this diverse list and not honing my style to one genre in particular. Each and every player has something to say. If you’re not familiar with any of the above artists’ music, look them up.

Don’t Be Blinkered

I think being locked into one style is a little like a horse wearing blinkers. You can only see what is in front of you and it’s very easy to be led into a rut. A young guitarist friend of mine is a talented musician, but will only listen to metal and heavy rock music. There is a lot of good in there of course, but he will not develop as a player unless he removes his blinkers and looks to the right and the left for other influential genres.

No Excuses!

Now, more than ever before, we now have the ability via the internet and associated software titles to access and explore many more diverse musical genres. Websites such as recently under fire for removing ‘play on demand’ streaming, still remain, I feel, probably the best online tool for musical discovery, providing online radio stations based around your chosen artist’s contemporaries and those of a similar genre.

Challenge Yourself

So be challenged; push yourself beyond your comfort zone and listen to players you otherwise may discount on the premise of, “That’s not what I’m into.” Make some time during your practice time to maybe emulate them. I think you will find it both rewarding and inspirational and it will definitely deepen and enrich you as a player.

Get daily bass updates.

Get the latest news, videos, lessons, and more in your inbox every morning.

Share your thoughts

  1. Great article, and great point! I wrote about this years ago in an op-ed that first appeared in Bassics Magazine.

    I Am a Bassist

    All the best, and keep up the great writing!

    Keep Thumpin’!

    Lane on Bass

  2. Nice one!
    I am reminded of something I wrote on the fact that playing bass can itself be a way into incredibly diverse musical genres and music of all over the world:

  3. There are genres of music I choose to listen to “less often”, but I do listen to everything. The influences are innumerable.

  4. Vi

    Oh, you forgot these ones (you wouldn’t do it on purpose):
    Victor Wooten
    Richard Bona
    Marcus Miller
    hugs! & (:

  5. Vi

    Oh, you forgot these ones (you wouldn’t do it on purpose):
    Victor Wooten
    Richard Bona
    Marcus Miller
    hugs! & (:

    • Kelv

      Correct me if I’m wrong Vi, but the 3 guys you listed are pretty much ‘cross-genre’ (and of course) bass players! I personally took alot from Victor and Marcus. Andni do listen to Bona quite a bit. Cool article!

  6. Absolutely! Coyote Run lets me bring in whatever I think fits and propels the song best without any consideration of what makes a “proper Celtic Rock” bass line. I get to pull in Latin, rock, country, slap, fingerstyle-funk, trad jazz walking, chords, tapping, and whatever else I’ve managed to steal from those who go before me…

    …and I wouldn’t have the gig at all if I wasn’t that flexible in my listening and playing. Call ourselves “bassists,” without qualifiers, and we can play ANYWHERE.

  7. Great comments folks. Really seem to have hit on an interesting subject here. Diverse influences are SO important. Always be listening, always be emulating and ALWAYS be learning! :-)

  8. Ilikebass

    Flea is a biggie too. (at least for me)
    He is so aggressive with the bass.

  9. Bobby

    Órale Russ!
    Great article. I agree 100% NOT to wear the horse-blinder’s,and to broaden your listening and musical horizons. BUT, since I’m coming from a “old Skool” 70’s Funk groove, I’d suggest Robert “Kool” Bell, Mark Adams (Slave) ROCCO PRESTIA!,Robert Wilson(The Gap Band) to name a few!
    And, let’s not forget Latin-Jazz-Funk player’s like Lincoln Goines, Doug Rauch, Anthony Jackson, Bobby Valentine (Salsa) and Sal Cuevas (Salsa).