Chris Squire: “Roundabout” Isolated Bass (Isolated Bass Week)

Today we’re kicking off a week-long celebration of bass with a number of isolated bass tracks, starting with the bass work of Chris Squire on the classic Yes hit “Roundabout”.

“Roundabout” is the opening track for the 1971 album Fragile, and was Yes’ 2nd all-time highest charting tune in the U.S.

Thanks to Steve Lawson, who shared this. If you have a favorite isolated bass track, send it our way.

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Share your thoughts

  1. I freaking love this! One of my all time favorite bass lines.

  2. I could have used this track, 40 years ago, when I was trying to learn the song! ;-)

  3. Great track. Even with the fret noise…Richenbacher and Ampeg..Can’t beat that sound..

  4. So cool! Love this one!

  5. This has so much more grrove when it’s isolated. Pretty classic tone too…

  6. Wow, I’ve been playing the riff wrong! this great

  7. Love the loose rough sound, perfect fit with the other tracks! Awesome talent and influence.

  8. Actually, there’s more to it than this. Chris also plays a 12 string (Acoustic) an octave higher and is doubled right on top of this track on the studio. Chris shares many cool techniques and tips in a great interview in a book by Dan Hedges back in the 70’s. It features the who’s who of rock guitar and bass at the time including Beck, Page, Hackett, Rutherford, Chris, Howe, Harrison, Clapton, Frampton and many more. By the way, Tracy the fret noise is a signature part of his sound and no it’s not an Ampeg it’s a Marshall head with Sunn speakers. He started his first American tour with Sunn head and amp and for the next 6 tours but eventually went back to his Marshall with two Sunns with a custom speaker configuration. For Studio it’s the Marshall with a low powered 4×12″ speakers config.

  9. The bass part is double tracked, and this is only one of them, it’s pretty cool hearing just the one track isoltated!

  10. its very amazing do it with more songs I learn it well!

  11. Hey there, I’m the one who uploaded this video. First thanks for sharing! If you want to download the tracks directly, here’s the link where I got this from :

  12. Gotta love it when the bassplayer doesn’t play like a PUNK! hahaha! NICE POST!

  13. I wonder if he detuned a half step or whole step for extra rattle.

    • Nope. If you’ve ever played a real Rick, no efforts are necessary for extra buzz, aside from playing it with a firm touch!

    • I’m sure you know about the split pickups (with the beefier pickup going into a bass amp, while the trebly one went to a Marshall guitar amp). The thing that surprised me in hearing this was the degree to which the sound seems to come from super-low action with the fret buzz emphasized by picking really hard.

  14. This man forced me to learn how to play bass with a pick when I was a kid. Thanks Mr. Squire.

  15. A long time ago I read a mini biography or maybe it was a magazine article about Paul. When asked the question about his bass lines I remember one part of his answer. I am a bassist and the words have stuck with me ever since that time. He alluded to the fact there was an epiphany for him when he heard the Beach Boys recording of Good Vibrations. The article said that song changed the way he thought about the bass and writing bass lines. He incorporated more melody in those bass line from that moment. I don’t know what album that occurred on but his later albums showcase his melodic bass playing and steered him away from being a “root” bassist. The Beatles had a very simple but distinct writing style. They were masters of using the common I, IV, V progression and all of its inversions. Plus they came up with many beautiful melodies. No wonder they still sell millions of recordings. Each generation can see the and hear the beauty of their music. I believe they will never have an equal.

  16. Rick Klein, what Paul probably didn’t know at the time he listened to “Good Vibrations” was that the bass was played not by Brian Wilson, but by studio player Carol Kaye. See if you can find the video documentary about her.

    • On a lot of tracks for the Smile recordings Brian recorded Carol on bass guitar plus the same line on a string bass. I’m not sure if that was the case for Good Vs?

  17. would you consider posting Chris’ work on “Heart of the Sunrise”?
    Mr Squire is the reason I’ve played bass my whole life…thus far…

  18. The fret noise makes it gritty, and therefore – Rockin’! Also, the “goink” of the open E when he slams it with that weird pick he used. One of my faves.

  19. His bass sound is like an old door creeking in the wind. That’s the only way I can describe it. Check out some of his later work on The Ladder. It’s not all Ricky but just as good.

  20. Growly bastard beast of a bassline that rips your guts out – always LOVED IT!

  21. I would like to request all of Relayer please.

  22. He needed some adjustments made on this bass when he recorded this :-)
    Great track though!

  23. Rickenbacker + Rotosound roundwounds + Sunn = move over lead guitarist.

  24. It cracks me up that I, and most bassists I know, work so hard with a combination of technique and instrument setup to eliminate buzz and clank in our playing (ok, except maybe if playing metal) and here’s Mr. Squire buzzing and clanking away like crazy… all the while creating one of the most iconic bass lines ever.

  25. nothing like the ATACK of a pick on a RICK ;.;. and yes even billy sheenan says he likes a little string buzz ;.;.;.

  26. It’s hard to detect here (unless left off for this demo and only one track was isolated) but here is a quoute from Chris the about ‘Roundabout’ recording. ” in a video interview, Chris revealed that he actually double tracked this bass line in real time. The first track was with the Rickenbacker, the second was with his Photon bass, which is tuned one octave higher. This explains the brightness and snappiness of the sound which is heard on that track. It also reveals his propensity to think outside of the box–who would have dreamed that he had laid down two identical tracks with different instruments!

  27. bvdon

    Chris Squire was my first intro to prog rock – all the early 70’s Yes stuff was just incredible. They don’t make music like that anymore.

  28. Adrian

    Best bass line ever!!!

  29. Jim


  30. Doug Kirk

    Best thing on the web. Would love to hear Dave Hope’s line on Mysteries and Mayhem.

  31. A lot of fret buzz. Sounds great!! His string height must have been super low.

  32. David

    R.I.P. Chris

  33. Pal Joey

    In reality…the composition is excellent…his bass-playing technique is .. OK.

  34. David Desmond

    Chris Squire made an art of sounds that other bass players hated. You hear a bass with treble. Lots of fret buzzing. Played with a pick which gave his playing a percussive sound while the majority of bassists never use picks and even make fun of bassists who use them. The sound was not so much a Rick-it was how he played it. Chris made it all work and certainly was one of the top 100 bassists.

  35. tv

    An friend of mine used to be Chris Squire’s bass tech in the 70’s he said he recorded with a modified Ric that had Fender Jazz pickups to get that extra grit and Trebble tone. I saw his scrapbook, its all real.

  36. Bryan

    My fave bass line of all time……
    Too Shy by Kajagoogoo

  37. Stephen Tomczyk

    Thanks! These are awesome!

  38. Tim Young

    I practiced this till my fingers literally bled. It’s so much fun. Chris was a master bass man and awesome harmony singer.

  39. Big mart

    He does tune low…and guitar shaved thin

  40. Steve Mac

    brilliant … one take : ) what a sound : )

  41. Leo M Whitebird

    Deep deep influence on my bass playing… I am a guitarist by training but have been playing bass all of my life as well; Squire is a major influence on my melodic work and punctuation…listening to this almost makes me miss a pick….

  42. Leo M Whitebird

    No substitute for a Ricky and Rotos!

  43. Douglas

    When I was a kid, in the early 80’s I loved everything this man did. He was my rock bass idol. I wore out Fragile and Close to the Edge learning (or trying my best) to pull off his lines. Now I find out I’ve been playing this track wrong for over 30 years. :(
    PS: It’s amazing how much string noise is concealed in the full track. That’s the byproduct of really high gain at the preamp. And a little to do with the quarter he used as a pick I’m guessing. Amazing nonetheless.