Basslines are at the heart of every infectious groove.

They’re an essential piece of your mix’s foundation and one of the most satisfying parts to write in your songs.

But what makes a great bassline? And how can you write one if you haven’t tried it before?

Luckily there are a few common patterns you can learn to help you get started with your own basslines.

In this article I’ll break down the 10 most important bassline styles every producer should know.

Let’s get started.

What are basslines?

Basslines are the melodic material played in the lowest voice of a musical arrangement.

They’re typically played by instruments whose range sits comfortably in the bass register. In pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B, the main bassline instruments are bass guitar and synth bass.

Hot tip: You don’t need an expensive hardware synth for a good bass sound. Check out our guide to VST plugins for bass to build bruising bass sounds in your DAW.

Basslines help define the harmonic progression of the song, often by playing the root note of each chord.

Basslines help define the harmonic progression of the song, often by playing the root note of each chord.

But basslines can also provide hooks and melodic flourishes that stand out on their own. They can even be the source of a song’s main idea.

Basslines play an important part in a song’s rhythm as well. The interplay between basslines and drum patterns in a rhythm section is where many songs get their signature groove.

Bassline styles

There are so many great basslines that it would be impossible to round up the best ones.

Every track is unique, and every bassline needs to sound good in context to work.

Even so, there are common bassline patterns and styles that artists rely on to create specific grooves.

If you understand the most common ones you’ll have a great start for writing your own.

Here are 10 bass patterns worth learning to write or play:

1. Root fifth root

This is the classic bass pattern that alternates between the root of the chord and its fifth.

If you’re not sure what a fifth is, head over to our article on musical intervals to brush up.

It may seem simple, but the bouncy alternating motion in this bassline provides a steady rhythmic pulse.

It may seem simple, but the bouncy alternating motion in the root fifth root bassline provides a steady rhythmic pulse.

In fact, this bassline style is the foundation of many classic songs from country to motown.

You can hear it on classic tracks like The Beatles “Love Me Do” and many songs by Johnny Cash.

2. Follow the bass drum

This pattern shows how drums and bass can work together to push a song forward.

If your beat is already giving the song a healthy groove, a bassline that follows the action of the kick drum can emphasize it even more.

The powerful sound of the kick and bass hitting the speakers on the same beat gives the track a muscular feel.

This style is versatile because it can work with almost any drum pattern as long as the kicks fall in a convenient spot.

Earth, Wind & Fire’s classic track “In the Stone” uses this bass pattern to great effect.

3. Heavy eighths

Sometimes the best bassline is all about keeping time.

The heavy eighths bass pattern is exactly what it sounds like—driving eighth notes under every chord in a progression.

The heavy eighths bass pattern is exactly what it sounds like—driving eighth notes under every chord in a progression.

It works by calling attention to the metronomic pulse of the rhythm. This makes space for the drums to have a different groove—a groove within a groove!

4. The slap

Slap bass is more of a technique than a line. But the unique playing style lends itself to a particular type of bass pattern.

Slapped basslines focus on the most percussive elements of the sound.

They’re typically active and funky with lots of short, hard hitting notes.

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Aeroplane” is a classic example of this bassline style.

5. Bootsy on the one!

Speaking of funk, there’s a legend of the genre with a bassline style all his own.

I’m talking about Bootsy Collins of Parliament-Funkadelic and James Brown’s live band.

He pioneered a style of heavy notes on the downbeat of each measure with funky ghost notes in between.

It’s a bouncy style that leaves plenty of room for expressive vocals.

6. Trance

Trance is an EDM genre known for its addictive basslines.

Synths and sequencers have their own unique workflows that can result in signature bass sounds.

One of the most recognizable is the sidechain ducking effect where the bass moves out of the way for the kick drum.


Combined with rolling 16th note arpeggiation, this bassline creates an enveloping sound that draws you in.

7. The melodic

Bass doesn’t have to be boring.

In fact, some of the best basslines steal the show with their satisfying earworm melodies.

If the rest of the instruments in your arrangement are holding a note or chord, it could be time for the bass to shine.

Writing melodies that play out underneath your harmonic material is different than writing lead lines.

Writing melodies that play out underneath your harmonic material is different than writing lead lines.

You might find interesting melodic possibilities with basslines that you might not even known were there!

8. 808

The Roland TR-808 is a legendary drum machine. It changed how music was made and helped launch the success of hip-hop and electronic music.

But while the 808 is classified as a drum machine, it’s technically just a synth.

Creative producers discovered that its kick drum voice could be tuned and extended into a super fat bass tone.


The 808 bass has become a signature element of styles like trap that call for a huge sine-like bass.

9. Octaves

A good bassline needs to emphasize the basic harmony of the song.

It often does that by playing the root note underneath the rest of the music.

But just playing the root doesn’t allow for too much action. Luckily, you can alternate octaves to create strong root emphasis while still keeping the bass grooving.

A great example of an octave shifting bassline is New Order’s “Blue Monday.”

10. Dotted eighths

The dotted eighth rhythm is a powerful musical figure when used in a bassline.

It can give your bass parts a sense of forward momentum that feels like it continues across the bar line.

Bass is the place

Every songwriter knows the power of a good bassline to make a song groove.

But writing your own basslines can be tough when you don’t know where to start.

Practice these bassline styles to get a handful of effective patterns in your songwriter’s toolkit.

Audio LANDR