Iron Maiden: Run To The Hills (Steve Harris’s Isolated Bass)

We’re continuing Isolated Bass Week 5 at No Treble with one of the greatest metal bassists of all time: Steve Harris.

The British four-stringer’s distinctive style and punchy tone shine on this isolated bass version of Iron Maiden’s iconic “Run to the Hills.” Harris is credited with writing the song, which should help explain why his bass line is about as perfect as you can get.

Every one of his accents helps to build the song’s arc while his trademark gallop drives the band along. His buildup leading into the final chorus is a perfect example of tastefully utilizing the higher register to create tension and release.

Up the Irons!

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Share your thoughts

  1. My favorite bassist, posted on my birthday. Great job, NT!

  2. Very post for Iron Maiden Isolated bass track. Did not realize there was one. Thanks

  3. Jerôme Badet

    That is not Steve Harris playing !!!! it s not good enough! and there is some mistakes that he d never let’em pass on record!!!

    • zaction figure

      i totally agree, thought something sounded a little strange myself

    • Perhaps the mistakes are easier to spot because the bass is isolated.

    • Mike William

      Sorry to break it to you but that is Harris playing. I can hear the specific tonal qualities of the original bass line in this track, there is no doubt. This is what you get with a finger player even if he is one of the best finger players. You just don’t get the same consistency as with a pick, and that is why I mostly play with a pick. There is no mistakes really just inconsistencies.

      • Jay

        Still not convinced !! I m a finger bass player , and without being one of the best , I can do better than this ! I know it s hard to get consistency with fingers , almost at this speed and in this style but I still think that Steve would do much better !

        • Mike William

          If not convinced I would suggest you listen to every attributed bass line isolated you can find on Steve’s playing. I know it was a bit of a let down for me to. I actually was over playing many of his lines and wondering why they were so difficult. Harris has the action on his basses set really low so he can get the job done. His fingers have a lot of Stamina but not as much as you might have originally thought. It’s the lower action that makes some of it more then possible. Check out this track and follow the links to listen to others. He’s still the master finger player but it is what it is.

      • It sounds horribly sloppy on its own but I suppose it works well in the context of the song, since I’ve never thought about it over the past few hundred listens.

        Besides, your opinion on fingerstyle precision might find itself challenged should you give Jaco or John Myung a listen.

      • Let’s hear your world famous recordings … Produce those and then you can talk shit about inconsistencies and “over playing” his parts…Douchebag ..

  4. Jamie

    I’d love to see Vulf visualize this bassline!

  5. jay

    Thank you for posting this!!!!

  6. Mike Matthews

    Steve’s the man; but there is a part of me that thinks this track is being played with a pick… probably just his fingernails I guess.

    • His action is very low, so that’s the strings rattling against the frets. A no-no unless you make it your trademark sound like Harris did. It’s even more pronounced in Hallowed Be Thy Name.

  7. Tommy C

    Almost had me but…. Steve Harris does not play roundwound strings! The chirps on the strings during slides and note changes wouldn’t be there if this were Steve Harris playing flatwound strings. :)

  8. jason m

    Yeah.. this does NOT sound like the correct bassline to that song. I’m not even a big Harris fan but I know this smells fishy. Someone else’s rendition, which is fine on it’s. But it’s being passed off as Harris, that’s all.

  9. Scratchy, clanking, where’t the actual bass-end? #alltreble

  10. MarkR.

    Not Steve Harris!

  11. Piet Piraat

    Played with a pick.
    Definitely not Steve playing.

  12. Erwin

    Bass line is about as perfect as you can get? No way, this is very sloppy…when you play this in the studio you would be kicked out with a decent producer… I tend to think this is not Steve…

  13. Heres the real thing, which as lots of poeple have pointed out isn’t the same as this video by any means. Tone is quite different, and the walk ups in the chorus are in time.

  14. m00

    This is definitely the original. They were taken from the game “Rock band” you can find all of them here:

  15. David

    This is awesome but this track has got really nice drums to it, it would have been really cool if you had a version with bass and drums. But still, this totally rocks my socks off!!

  16. The gallop… gotta master the gallop…

  17. Phil

    I don’t know if this is really Steve or not, but I do know I have recorded in several studio situations throughout my nearly 40 years of playing bass and those people behind the mixing console can do amazing things to “fix” the final product. If you’re doubting whether this is good bass playing or not I’d love to hear YOUR isolated, undoctored studio bass lines. What winds up on the cutting room floor and what makes it to a final glossy product are worlds apart. Just ask Mutt Lang.

    • Linus Abrahamson

      I’m doubting this is good bass playing and I’ll gladly send you my isolated & undoctored bass tracks from any of the 10+ albums I’m playing on, if that actually makes a difference (I guess you wouldn’t ask for it if it didn’t matter). Which e-mail address should I send the WAV (ZIP) file Dropbox download links to?



  19. Bassrage

    I’ve studied Steve Harris since 1985, spent literally hundreds, if not thousands of hours listening to him, and basically cut my teeth learning how to play bass, finger style because of him. Hate to say it, but it is him. ALL his isolated tracks have disappointed me, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t him playing them. Any bass track on its own, tends to sound odd – especially without drums there. But I am still surprised how less than precise his playing really is in the studio. LIVE, I could understand because of his monstrous and athletic stage presence. But the studio stuff is just not what I always envisioned it to be – on its own . However, it IS amazing as a part of the whole Maiden sound on a record. That is really all that counts. His style and sound WORK like magic, with everyone else doing their thing around it. It still is what it is on record! Cheers!

    • Mike William

      I have heard Aces high live isolated. It’s pretty sloppy. I share your views on the whole situation. The good thing is I pushed myself to be better then needed since I thought Harris was better then he really is. I am sure you did the same. Check out my cover of Flight of Icarus, read the story in the description. How I play it is how I thought Harris was but really was not.

      • Bassrage

        That’s for sure, Mike. 100% concur. Aces High live is terribly sloppy, isn’t it? But you’d never know seeing him live. (Seen Maiden twice in 80’s and last two retro tours. AMAZING!) As far as over engineering, I hear you… I actually play with three fingers, because when I first watched him, it looked like that is how he plays. I was shocked when I read him describe his technique in an early Bass Player magazine. But the thing is, I ended up forging my own style anyway. A song like Genghis Khan, for example, almost sounded impossible to play to me at first. I know I overplay it. It’s still a technically difficult song, but now I know it’s not all that it appears to be, based on hearing these isolated lines.

  20. I have a hard time thinking this is Steve Harris. I can play this song cleaner than that with my fingers. Totally sloppy….

  21. What I think everybody is missing in claiming this can’t be the real part(Studio engineer talking here) is that this is the isolated bass part….that means no compression or any other audio enhancement that may be present in the final mix….compression is the bass players best friend, really tightens up a bass line, you would also have master left right compression which would also fatten and tighten up the mix. You would be astounded how some tracks sound on their own…nothing in my experience tells me this wouldn’t be legit.

    • Dave

      Please people, this IS the actual recording. I bet the majority of you were not even born yet when this came out. Like Jade just posted, it’s the ISOLATED bass track on a FENDER P-BASS! It does NOT get any better than this! Don’t tell me you ‘can do better than this’, you arse. You WISH you could PLAY like Steve Harris! I dgaf if you think you can play one or two maiden songs.

  22. Duke

    This is Steve Harris. I transcribed it many moons ago, and when I did I was a little shocked at how sloppy it is.

  23. 1) Yes. This is Steve Harris; Only someone who never really listened to Iron Maiden can confuse (or a deaf, why not).
    2) is not a plectrum, it’s the fingers of Steve, a huge compressor DBX 160 and flat and fat Rotosound 0.50 strings (again … have never heard Iron Maiden ?!)
    3) only two f****g fingers and a huge talent to make the base (listen to the drum track).
    Up the Irons.

  24. I’m thinking many who think this isn’t Steve, call it “sloppy” may have never recorded with a real band and then isolate your bass, but I could be wrong. The thing is, the inconsistency you hear is most because he’s playing to a live band, which no human is perfect…yes even your heroes. The bass needs to lock into the drums, which as for Maiden, i just don’t see them going in and making the drum tracks perfect so the bass, and band for that matter must gel together. I believe their known for just tracking live mostly and not even with a click track, not sure with No. though. Isolate any of those instruments in that case and you will never hear a perfect track. If they played perfect to themselves (say a click) and then pop that into the mix, I can pretty much guarantee it will not sound good at all. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and record with your band the tightest performance you can that sounds killer together and go isolate you track. You’ll feel pretty disappointed in yourself..but don’t be, the most important and natural performance is making a song as a whole sound great,..unless you have that cool bass break, then you’ll want to nail that of course:) But that’s magic. I’ve been playing and recording for over 35 years and this would just be from my experience and opinion so take it as you will:) Rock on! PS, I actually do record with playing my bass track, and guitars for that matter perfectly to a click, then have the drummer record to that (due to limited inputs or just because it’s easier because I’m engineering or producing too) and it make’s in easier, that being said..I always have to re-record my tracks to tighten the song as a whole no matter how great the drummer played to it. Listen back to the bass track, well let’s jast say it no longer sounds perfect alone but great as a whole:)

  25. I’m gonna say if this is Steve playing it may not be the track they used. I play much like Mr. Harris. So I get the whole gallop and tone sounding sloppy, my style is similar, and have experienced this first hand in the studio myself. What I think gives this away as not Steve or not the track they used is the 2:49 mark at the end of the climb and run he does. This take has him climbing and only staying on the B then sliding on the E. Where as the one we’re all familiar with has him climbing and toggling back and forth on that B and E then the slide.

  26. DC

    the imperfections make it perfect. if you don’t like it go listen to daft punk or dragonforce, those guys never miss a beat

  27. Ray Stoinski

    I have been learning Steve Harris riffs since the early 80s…when you technology advanced on the internet isolated bass tracks, music apps that let you isolate and slow down the bass lines…I find that Steve Harris has moments where he is extremely and point it’s the baseline at the beginning of Phantom of the Opera…slow it down and listen to it and then listen to it at full speed…I always wondered why I had such a hard time learning it’s because it’s uneven and sloppy..I actually saw him sloppy live as well but I just figured it was probably because he was tired or what not…Don’t get me wrong I love Steve Harris I think he’s completely awesome however I think he should have cleaned up those lines at least for recording the albums..