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A List of the 10 great funk bass players

Updated on September 4, 2017

The 10 best funk bass players in the world

Creating a list of the 10 best funk players is never easy. This top 10 list gives an interpretation of the word funk pure thumping bass funk. on the one..

The top 10 of the best funk players includes Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten and Bootsy Collins. But for me Chris Wood is incredible funky as well, although maybe he should be classified as jazz .

However the funk music comes from the jazz. As they say Jazz is the teacher, Funk is the preacher, and Hip Hop it just won't stop. The funk music was not only George Clinton or James Brown bands where Bootsy Collins both performed as funk bass player. The funk music is as well incorporated into the Jazz with Herbie Hancock and the band Weather Report of the late Joe Zawinul where Jaco Pastorius was bass player.

The whole idea of the top 10 funk bass players came to me, because I love funk music, especially when it is related to soul or Jazz. Of course this list of the 10 best funk bass players is personal and some bass players didn't make it, like Level 42 player Mark King or John Patitucci. But you have to make a choice, and it's a top 10 !!!

So here they are my personal top 10 funk bass players :

Marcus Miller

Victor Wooten

Stanley Clarke

Bootsy Collins

Jaco Pastorius

Meshell Ndegeocello

Larry Graham

Bernard Edwards

Louis Johnson

James Jamerson

in random order because it's hard to compare all the top funk bass players with there own distinctive sound.

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The amazing Marcus Miller ; number 1 bass player - nr.1 Marcus Miller , a great funk-jazz bass player

The greatest funk players : Marcus Miller - Silver Rain
The greatest funk players : Marcus Miller - Silver Rain

To me Marcus Miller is the greatest funk bass player of the universe. (Sorry Bootsy...) It's perhaps a matter of taste, but his musical talents are so amazing. I've seen a concert of him in Paradiso (Amsterdam) where he managed to excell in not only playing the bass guitar like crazy but as well the clarinet.

Marcus Miller, yes, is a classical schooled clarinet player, and playes the instrument beautifuly. Besides clarinet and electric bass he players the piano to and has composed tons of songs. .

Marcus Miller is besides a phenomenal musician a great composer and producer. He played/produced over a 500 albums. A short list of which includes Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Mariah Carey, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Frank Sinatra, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Grover Washington Jr., Bill Withers, Chaka Khan, LL Cool J, and Me'shellNdegé etc. etc.

Before he began his own solo career he worked with Miles Davis (at for instance the record Amandla, which is one of my fav.), McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Liston Smith, the list simply is to long. He won three times in a row the award of "Most Valuable Player", and won several Grammy Awards for producing records for Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Chaka Khan.

MArcus Miller

Marcus Miller - The Best funk bass player of the world!!!! - A great funk dvd by Marcus Miller


An incredible record by Marcus Miller. The first song Blast realy sets the wheels in motion. It's one of those records thas makes you wahna dance. It's full of joy and musicality. Get it if it is still out there.


Top 10 best funk bass players : number 2 - Nr. 2 - Stanley Clarke the master bass player

greatest funk bass players - Stanley Clarke Band
greatest funk bass players - Stanley Clarke Band

Stanley Clarke was born in 1951 in Philidelphia and started his career in 1971 in New York after having graduaded at the Roxborough High School in Philadelphia. In New York he worked with famous jazz musicians like Horace Silver and Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Chick Corea, Pharoah Sanders, Gil Evans and Stan Getz.

Stanley Clarke has an incredible career, jazz wise as well as playing the funk, cross over and fusion jazz.

As a jazz musician and composer he is known for his innovative and influential work on double bass and electric bass guitar as well as for his numerous film and television scores. He is famous for his funky music he made with his fusion band Return to Forever.

Top 10 best funk bass players : number 3 - nr. 3 - Victor Wooten , the fast and melodic electric bass player.

the best funk players - Victor Wooten - Life in America
the best funk players - Victor Wooten - Life in America

Victor Wooten is the youngest of the top three bass players and to me a more freaky bass player. He started incredibly young. At age of two his brother Regi began to teach Victor Wooten to play bass, and by the age of six, Victor was playing in front of crowds with his brothers in their family band, The Wooten Brothers Band, and toured supporting Curtis Mayfield, among others. Well do I need to say more, listen to the music and you here the virtuosity in his music.

funk bass guitar books and dvd. - Learn to be the greatest funk bass player.

Top 10 best Funk Bass Players : number 5 - nr. 4 - Bootsy Collins

greatest funk bass players
greatest funk bass players

Ah, the name is Bootsy baby.... He is definitely mister Funk himself, starting his career at the band of James Brown he learned the funk (on the one, play on the one baby) from the grand master of soul and funk himself. James Brown being a hard and tough teacher did not ruin his typical loose playing. Bootsy Collins has a very personal way of playing the bass. But well what can I say, he is a special personality altogether, his funky outfit was and is followed by many funkatiers. Nothing but the P Funk , uncut Funk - Pure Funk.

Glory B Da' Funk's on Me! The Bootsy Collins Anthology

Top 10 best funk bass players : number 4 - Larry Graham - top slam bass player

best funk bass player - Larry Graham
best funk bass player - Larry Graham

Larry Graham was the bass player from the funk band Sly & the Family Stone from 1966 to 1972

He is credited with the invention of the slapping technique, Using the thumb to make a typical funky sound on the electric bass. The slap-popping way of playing the bass is said to come from the fact that Larry Graham had to imitate the drum in his mother's band, because there was non available. The slap of the thumb being used to emulate a bass drum and the pop of the index or middle finger as a snare drum.

Larry Graham started his own band Graham Central Station. The name is a reverence to the Grand Central Station of New York. A cross point, where many nationalities meet , go and arrive. On of his biggest hits with the band was "Hair".

In the mid-1970s, Larry Graham worked with Betty Davis.

An interesting detail is that Larry became a Jehovah's Witnesses in 1975 and converted Prince to the faith.....

But whatever religion he may be attracted to, he is a great musician and funk master

Top 10 best funk bass players : - Jaco Pastorius

best bass funk players
best bass funk players

Jaco Pastorius's fusion bass influence can be heard at the many records he played on with the band of Joe Zawinul, Weather Report. Joe Zawinul, an amazing keybord player saw Jaco Pasorius playing in Miami and promptly asked him to join the band. Oner of my favorite albums of Weather Report is Black Market with the song Canon Ball.

Meshell Ndegeocello - Getting high - best funk player ever

Meshell Ndegeocello - an amazing funk bass player - Jazz funk at its best

Meshell Ndegeocello
Meshell Ndegeocello

Maybe her name may be a bit difficult to pronounce, Meshell Ndegeocello, he distinctive funky sound is hard to miss. Besides her cool and funky music she's also powerful in the way she expresses herself within the lyrics of her song texts. Meshell Ndegeocello is a forgotten jam in my own funk bass player collection. She has always been in the background of my record collection, or should I say mp3 funk library... But I've never forgotten her.

I saw her for the first time at the North Sea Jazz festival, ages ago, and she stole my heart there and then. Powerful, funky, feminine and full of energy.

Top 10 best funk bass players - Chris Wood

best funk bass players - Chris Wood
best funk bass players - Chris Wood

Chris Wood is the bass player of Medeski, Martin and Wood, one of the most influenced contemporary jazz bands. There group plays incredibly funky jazz, and without jazz no funk.

I put him on the list because, he may not be so outspoken funk orientated, but he definitely is playing a strong rhythmic funky beat under all the Medeski, Martin and Wood records. This band changed the jazz landscape, and brought jazz back to where it bonged, on the dance floor.

Top 10 best funk bass players - Bernard Edwards

greatest bass funk players - Bernard Edwards
greatest bass funk players - Bernard Edwards

Bernard Edwards was a bass player and record producer, both as a member of the Funk/Disco band Chic and producing his own albums.

And What is Chic without a bass ? the bass lines of Chic are used many times over by other bands, especially in the hip-hop scene. The Chic bass-line from "Good Times" was credited on Sugarhill Gang's "Rappers Delight" in 1979, which was the breakthrough for hip-hop worldwide.

Although Edward probably was more a producer than a bass player, his influence on the bass scene was big time and not to be underestimated.

Top 10 best funk bass players - Louis Johnson

the best bass funk player : Louis Johnson
the best bass funk player : Louis Johnson

Luis Johnson was one of the brothers of the funk,dico group The Brothers Johns, well known for the hit Strawberry Letter 23. But he also played on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall, Thriller and Dangerous. The songs Billie Jean and Don't stop 'ti you get enough are famous the world all over.

Soon after Larry Graham started his slap-bass playing Luis Johnson promoted and adapted this style as well and brought it to a bigger audience.

Top 10 best funky bass players - James Jamerson

best funk bass player - james jamerson
best funk bass player - james jamerson

James Jamerson was a member of the studio musicians The Funk Brothers. This small group of musicians performed on the vast majority of Motown recordings during most of the 1960s. Jamerson's earliest sessions for Motown were performed on double bass, but in the early 1960s he switched to mostly playing electric bass.His bass playing was considered an integral part of the "Motown Sound". And he was a big inspiration for many bass players who followed him like, Victor Wooten, Paul McCartney,Jaco Pastorius and John Patitucci.

He was the father of them all. A great musician.

Paul Jackson with Herbie Hancock

Paul Jackson a funky bass player.

Although maybe not as famous as Bootsy Collins Paul Jackson is by many insiders a top favorite for being one of the best bass players around.
He played with the funkiest people around the globe and helped to realize many albums that hit the top. He's not to be confused with Paul Jackson Jr. who is a great musician too.

The in Oakland born Paul Jackson is perhaps most well known for his contribution too albums like Thrust, Man child and Headhunters. Amazing albums by Herbie Hancock. The Jazz, Fusion and Funky keyboard player who made so many albums with style and feel.

Paul Jackson is definitely someone to check out. With his group the Headhunters they made blazing funky music.

Play that funky bass.

Who is the most funky bass player off all ?

See results

Richard Bona together with Bobby McFerrin - Check this guy out, a great bass player with a wonderful voice.

Richard Bona is an amazing bass player with a beautiful voice. If you play an instrument you know how difficult it is to play and sing at the same time. Especially rhythm instruments. Richard Bona does so in an out off this world way.

Did you miss your favorite Funk bass player,

let me know, and what is your favorite funk record ?

Hi there funky bopper. - say it loud...

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    • profile image

      Chazm 12 months ago

      ...except terry Lewis was the bass player for The Time when it wasn't Prince. Jesse was the guitarist.

    • profile image

      Sam Winfield 14 months ago

      1. Louis Johnson

      2. Mark Adams (Slave)

      3. Bootsy Collins

      4. Larry Graham

      5. Jesse Johnson (The Time)

    • profile image

      GFunkOh 2 years ago

      This is a good list of serious bassists. Yet there is an important element missing.

      Pure F.U.N.K.! That list would begin with Boosty since he's the original. Adding to the list: The Great Larry Graham, Louis Johnson, James Jamerson, Stanley Clark, Marcus Miller and of course Mark Hank and Wayman Tisdale.

      All the others are great bassists. Nothing to take from them. But this is strictly about The F.U.N.K.!

    • profile image

      saxman 2 years ago

      Put Louis Johnson on that list.

    • MichaelBowman25 profile image

      MichaelBowman25 2 years ago

      This list of bass players are totally flawed because most of them are not FUNK bass players!!! The only legitimate funk players Bootsy and Louis Johnson. The rest can be replaced by a guy Mark "The Hansolor" Adams of Slave.

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 2 years ago

      Thanks TP, yes it's difficult to name them all. I had restricted myself to 10 great funk bass players. I will make an alternative list. It's difficult anyway because I fully know that such a list as this is hardly impossible. There are many great funk bass players and it's not possible to make an objective list.

    • profile image

      TP 2 years ago missed a couple.

      Mark Adams (Slave)

      Marshall Jones (The Ohio Players)

    • profile image

      GMoney 2 years ago

      Great history!!! For great musicianship, beautiful chords in rhythmic harmonies, so smooth, producing colors that carry you away.....James Jamerson

    • profile image

      Funkster 2 years ago

      collins. Mark Adams Nathan Phillips FLea Aron Mills Rodney Curtis Curtwood Koatley Ed Riddick

    • profile image

      danny ogans 3 years ago

      larry graham larry graham larry graham the funkiest ever

    • PeterStip profile image

      PeterStip 3 years ago

      thank you JP - I will have a look at the vid.

      Keep the vibe alive.

    • profile image

      JP 3 years ago

    • profile image

      cRaigy Boy 3 years ago

      No Mark King are you serious?

    • profile image

      Jason Sositko 3 years ago

      Bootsy is number one in my book. He IS the quintessential funk bassist.

    • robertred24 profile image

      robertred24 4 years ago

      I have listen to Marcus Miller's YouTube "So What" video so many times....

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Funkiest in a rock band: P-Nut (a.k.a. Aaron Wills) of the band 311.

    • Eric Mayo profile image

      Eric Mayo 4 years ago

      Bootsy should be #1. No Dion Estus?

    • JRLSolutions profile image

      Joy Lynskey 5 years ago from Moneta, Va

      Great lens!

    • LifestyleNetwork profile image

      LifestyleNetwork 5 years ago

      i would put bootsy collins on one...

    • profile image

      SororPeregrina 5 years ago

      Stanley Clarke and Victor Wooten fan here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Seriously, a funk bass list without Meshell is like a day without sunshine. And curiously, most of the vids selected here contain audio that sounds like they were recorded with a cell phone. As in, no bottom end. Just sayin.

    • mikes-cool-stuff profile image

      mikes-cool-stuff 5 years ago

      For my money Larry Graham is the funkiest bass there ever was. That slap pop style and the speed at which he played it just made everything funky.

    • profile image

      nata86 5 years ago

      Victor Wooten, best funk bass guitar player, best five string bass player.

      i love the style of music.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great stuff, thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great stuff, thanks!

    • Zhana21 profile image

      Zhana 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. So great to see a lens that references Bootsy Collins, George Clinton and Stanley Clarke. You have made my day!