Reggae Bass Players Who Changed The World

The world is divided across countries and continents. Each of these countries has their respective cultures and traditions in relation to language and even as to music. Despite all these differences in beat and rhythm, music has found its way to unite the world. Various genres are universal among countries and one of the most famous is reggae.

Reggae music is a popular genre that started in Jamaica in the late 1960s. Beats and rhythms mainly characterize this type of music. To the listener, it gives that chill and carefree dance vibe. Reggae is created through a mix of instruments, one of which is the bass guitar. To the musicians, the bassist is the backbone of the beat.

That said, here are some of the most popular reggae bass players that have made a significant impact across the globe:

  1. Tony Gad

The UK’s greatest reggae band is Aswad. Among its members, one of the most famous is Tony Gad, their bassist. Gad has made a name for himself all over the world through being a bass player with a forward and recognizable style.

The band’s overall unique style was also through Gad’s ability to underscore the bass lines, not just with a guitar, but also through the keyboard. In fact, Gad started as the band’s keyboard player.

  1. Aston “Family Man” Barrett

Aston Barrett, regarded as one of the best reggae bass players ever in history, is a self-made man. He learned the bass by himself, and he also made his first bass guitar at home. As an expert, he has schooled many of those who came after him, such as Bob Marley. It’s even noted that Bob Marley wouldn’t be known for who he is, if not for Barrett.

Aston Barrett’s reggae style is focused on the upright jazz sound. Through Barrett’s experience, it’s safe for you to say that you don’t need to buy an expensive bass guitar yet for you to be an excellent player. There are options of a cheap bass guitar to jam on, to help you get started with your rhythm and style.

  1. Donald “Danny Bassie” Dennis

Once labeled as the fresh kid on the block, Donald Dennis is one of the youngest veterans in the reggae bass industry. Dennis is the premier session bassist of Kingston. Through his expertise, he laid down the foundation of studio work for many artists, yearly.

If you’re a reggae fanatic, it would be very easy for you to spot Dennis’ style of playing. His styles are focused on funky, dancehall, roots, and dub music. He’s also one of the players that can create exquisite natural compression of the bass.

  1. Robbie Shakespeare

The surname Shakespeare rings a bell not just for literature enthusiasts, but also in the reggae music industry. Another one of the best reggae bass players is Robbie Shakespeare. A protégé of Aston Barrett, it’s safe to say that he has learned from the best. Since then, too, he developed his unique style of playing.

Robbie Shakespeare’s accomplishments in the reggae industry are second to none. He has played for many of the famous names in the music industry, such as The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, and Mick Jagger.

Robbie Shakespeare plays with a four-string Paul Reed Smith guitar. His style is so distinct that his dominant finger in playing the bass is his thumb.

  1. Derrick Barnett

One of the dancehall’s greatest live bassists is Derrick Barnett. His expertise focuses on his showmanship, creating a high standard for live performances. He started in the year 1982 by being the first member of the Reggae Sunsplash house band.

With performances being nothing short of successful, he continued to perform in collaboration with other bands and musicians in the dancehall music era.

  1. Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen

Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen is Jamaican by birth, so it’s safe to say that reggae is present in his blood. He made his name in England, playing for the Steel Pulse band. From the years 1978 to 2015, he has consistently been performing and writing arrangements.

This makes his name an unforgettable one in the reggae industry, as even when he wasn’t performing, he was busy writing arrangements for different musical beats and performances.

  1. Lloyd Brevett

Lloyd Brevett is an unforgettable name in the reggae music industry, as he’s referred to as the father of Jamaican bass. Music is in Brevett’s blood, as it’s one that he inherited from his family. His father was also a bassist who made it big in the ’40s.

Brevett is famous for his exceptional style of playing, labeled as laid back, but also punchy. He’s also most famous for his mix of Afrocentric Jamaican sound and Cuban music.

reggae guitar players


whether you’re reading this article as a bass player or an aspiring one, there’s so much for you to be inspired about by learning about the success and the contributions of the names mentioned above. As they’re some of the best in the reggae industry, there’s so much for you to learn from them.

The goal isn’t to imitate them. It’s to use their style as inspiration for you to improve your reggae bass skills up to the next level and find a style that’s uniquely yours.


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