There are a few bass lines that earn the distinction of being legendary, and the line Chris Squire plays in Roundabout by Yes is one of them.
Most people are shocked when they learn Roundabout was released in 1972. Many believe the song to be from the late ’70s or the early ’80s, but no, it is an early ’70s song, appearing on the scene right around the time when the hippie era in the United States was ending (which adds even more mystique to the song because it’s not “acid rock” nor “hippie rock” at all).
Where bass tone is concerned, the most immediately noticeable thing is what you don’t hear. Bass frequencies. There’s really not much bass in this bass line mix. Tons of midrange and high-end, but the lows have been rolled off (or “out”, as it were) significantly. But even with the lows off, you can hear everything Chris does in this song loud and clear.
How to get this sound?
The answer is not simply “Get a Rickenbacker”, especially if you don’t like Rickenbacker basses. You need a pickup that has some serious punch to it. The big poles on certain Delano pickups will work. Bright Tone (meaning more high end) pickups from Bartolini will also work very well here.
Original studio mix
Geddy plays Roundabout? Indeed, he does.