There are not many instruments that the incredibly talented Sir Paul McCartney can’t play and, in truth, there aren’t many he didn’t play on The Beatles records. That said, one instrument will always be attached to the iconography of Macca, his bass guitar.
The singer-songwriter has been famed for his voice, for his exceptional ear for music and his uncanny pop sensibilities. But atop of all that he is a fantastic bass player too. The isolated bass track on ‘Come Together’ is a shining example.
McCartney’s landmark guitar, bought when Paul was only 18, had humble origins: “Eventually, I found a little shop in the centre of town, and I saw this violin-shaped bass guitar in the window,” he told Tony Bacon for a Bass Player cover story back in the summer of 1995.
The original guitar McCartney bought was a Höfner 500/1 violin bass, a right-handed model that he turned upside down for the equivalent of around £40. While the guitar was stolen during the late sixties, he did have a spare which was given to him by Höfner in 1963. The instrument was seen and heard starting as early as ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ which was released that very same year. Macca played the guitar from then all the way until the final ‘Let It Be’ rooftop concert in 1969. Some say Paul still has the setlist from the last Beatles, from 1966, taped to its side.
While we can’t be sure on that fact, we can be sure that what he did with that guitar, and any other guitar he’s picked up, created moments of pure, blissful musicianship. None more so than on one of the most iconic basslines of all time, Abbey Road‘s ‘Come Together’.
The Höfner may have a woody tone that feels entirely unique to Macca. The truth is, however, while McCartney played a few different bass guitars across The Beatles records, it wasn’t the guitar but the person playing it that brought that typical Beatles rhythm.
‘Come Together’ was written primarily by John Lennon but credited to Lennon–McCartney. It acts as the opening track on their 1969 album and was also released as a single coupled with ‘Something’, it remains one of the Beatles’ fans favourite ever songs from the Fab Four. Something that would not have happened without the song’s legendary bass line.
Listen below to Paul McCartney’s isolated bass track from ‘Come Together’.