The 11 Best Female Rock Bassists of All Time

Categories: Lists

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seanyseult.com
While there are and have been so many notable women in rock-and-roll, and we'd like to honor them all, we've chosen the specific starting point of recognizing rock's best female bassists. As a bassist, I looked up to nearly each and every one of these women as I learned the bass and played in sloppy hard-rock bands in high school, drawing inspiration from the strength and talent of these musicians. Nowadays, women in modern rock are far less often considered "token" band members -- rightfully and finally -- thanks, in part, to many of the women on our list, who shattered taboos and stereotypes and established equality via well-played, quality rock and roll.

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Fucked Up: Daniel Boud
12. Sandy Miranda (Fucked Up): The newest addition to our favorites list, we discovered Miranda at Free Press Summerfest last summer, and became instant fans. While it was tempting to be reeled in by Fucked Up frontman "Pink Eyes," who commanded attention offstage, swarming the pit while his bandmates carried on, we were just as interested in scoping Miranda, who proved herself a tough, talented hardcore bassist -- with some enviable vintage style, to boot.

11. Jennifer Finch (L7): Finch was the bassist in the all-female metal-punk group L7 for ten years, before quitting in 1995 to pursue other musical projects and photography. She and her L7 bandmates were key players in the push for women's rights in the '90s; the band formed Rock for Choice in 1991, a pro-choice women's rights group that organized concerts and rallied the support of other notable bands of the era like Nirvana.

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Melissa Auf der Maur: xmadmx.com
10. Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, solo): The Canadian bassist debuted on the alt-rock circuit as a stand-in, of sorts; in 1994, she joined Hole after the death of the band's former bassist Kristen Pfaff. In 2000, she left Hole and joined the Smashing Pumpkins for their final tour and farewell show, replacing bassist D'Arcy Wretzky. Since then, Auf der Maur has released two solo efforts, a graphic novel, and an environmentally aware concept film.

9. Gail Greenwood (Belly, L7): In 1993, Greenwood joined Tanya Donelly-fronted Belly, until 1996, when she joined metal-punk group L7, replacing the band's former bassist Jennifer Finch. Greenwood is now active in "anti-sprawl" efforts, promoting the retention of open spaces and land conservation, in opposition to land-monopolizing corporations such as Wal-Mart. (Though I'll always remember her onstage with Belly, wearing Doc Martens short skirts and sporting impressively intimidating biceps.)

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Paz Lenchantin: Kleemo/Flickr

8. Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan, The Entrance Band): Perhaps our favorite female bassist stylistically speaking, Lenchantin was a trained violinist before learning the bass. She played in A Perfect Circle before joining Billy Corgan's short-lived pop outfit Zwan, eventually forming psych-rock trio the Entrance Band, in which she currently plays.

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julianahatfield.com

7. Juliana Hatfield (Blake Babies, the Lemonheads, solo): After earning a degree is songwriting at Berklee College of Music, Hatfield formed Blake Babies in 1986, in which she sang and played bass. After the band broke up in 1991, Hatfield released a string of solo efforts, on which she played guitar, bass, and piano. An expert bassist, she contributed vocals and bass recordings on the Lemonheads' 1992 album It's a Shame About Ray.

6. Aimee Mann ('Til Tuesday, solo): After achieving success with new-wave band 'Til Tuesday in 1983 (which she formed with her then-boyfriend Michael Jausman), Mann made a successful transition into a lasting solo-career; she contributed eight tracks to the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia, including her Grammy-nominated song, "Save Me." More notably known for playing the bass in 'Til Tuesday, she now often trades off between playing both bass and guitar.



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28 comments
Andy
Andy

Inititaly, I'm all, WHERE THE F*CK IS KIM GORDON?? And then I'm all, "Oh, right there". Sigh of relief.


But then I'm all, THIS IS STILL WRONG because you don't have Carol Kaye on here which means... well... failure. It's like not having Hendrix on a "best rock guitar" list. Look 'er up.

silvana.oriani
silvana.oriani

Enid Williams? Suzi Quatro? Pia Maiocco? Share Pederson? Gil Weston?

Theuglytruth4u
Theuglytruth4u

Best Bassists of All Time - completely absent of any chick bassists... hahahaha

Oliver Harper
Oliver Harper

I'm happy Tina is in there but what about Gaye Advert? The list is great!

Jettfan
Jettfan

Suzi Quatro!  Hello?!?!?!?!?

bass guitar picks
bass guitar picks

It's a good thing that this post also acknowledges the best female bass players. They are indeed notable women in the music industry in the realm of playing the bass. Indeed, women rock too!

Andy Funchar
Andy Funchar

Carol Kaye has played on more hits (hell, probably more recorded songs) than any of these 11 combined. Seriously?

Rob
Rob

How about David Bowie's female black and bald bass player - Gail Ann Dorsey?

Mike
Mike

My vote goes to Tal..

Black
Black

Candice Belanoff from Walt Mink blows away more than half the peeps on this list.

Grrrl
Grrrl

How about a list of women who are great at playing instruments in a band that AREN'T the biggest stereotype ever? Chick in the band? SHE PLAYS BASS, LOL. Come on.

Bruiser
Bruiser

Jackie Fox - The RunawaysCindy Toth - The Reivers

Yargh
Yargh

Laura Ballance (Superchunk), Fontaine Toups (Versus). Hell's wrong w/ you?

washington23
washington23

Nice list, but I really think Jill Emery (Mazzy Star, Shadow Project, Super Heroines and Hole) belongs on it.

april5k
april5k

Kim Gordon's like, my total hero, but BEST? I mean, it's already been said but CAROL KAYE.I mean, unless you have another genderless list of best bass players and she's on the top of that one. Maybe that's the answer.

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

For my money, none was tougher than Black Flag's Kira Roessler.  Not only was she a woman in the world of hardcore punk, but she had to try to fill the shoes of Chuck Dukowski.

Thomas Lively
Thomas Lively

Carol Kaye is way better than anyone in this top 10 and would probably make each of them cry too.

Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford

Gimme some Karen Cuda and some Corey Parks from Nashville Pussy... I never saw any of these other girls on this list breathe fire.

Clf
Clf

Johnette Napolitano - Concrete Blonde

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Tal Wilkenfeld was good enough to tour with Jeff Beck for three years. 'nuff said.

Jeff
Jeff

It's true, particularly in the last 20 years. Not only is it a cliche, it's insulting to women ("You're just a girl, so take the "easy" instrument") but also to bass players. I've played with some monster female musicians and NOTHING pisses them off more than that stereotype. One of my dear friends, who is a brilliant rock guitarist in LA, hates it when she tells someone she's in a band and they respond, "Oh, are you the singer?"

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Christine Perfect - Piano oops, sorry, that's a cliche.

Karen Carpenter - Drumsuhmm... let's see ...

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

Probably true on both counts.  Any idea if she's been on stage / on tour? I guess I could look for her website and etc but too darn lazy...

Neph Basedow
Neph Basedow

I forgot Corey! I interviewed her years ago, in Chicago (with the Chelsea Girls), and man, is she one colorful chick! Good call.

Neph Basedow
Neph Basedow

Thanks. Was trying to stick to rock, exclusively, and considered Tal more blues/jazz- she's outstanding, though. Otherwise, I'd have included Luscious Jackson's Jill Cunniff, too. Another talented bassist, kind of alt-hip-hop.

Clay Wisner
Clay Wisner

If Tal gets busted for drugs, dresses sleazier, or maybe kills someone, then she can make the list.

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