“Message in a Bottle” by The Police

"Help. It Stings."

“Help. It stings.”

Today’s Classic Bass Line is from the song “Message in a Bottle” by The Police.  Sting played this line on his early 1970’s Fretless Fender Precision Bass.  The bass has an ash body with a fretless maple neck.  He uses a pick, and you’ll want to dig in and pick hard.  (Using a pick with a fretless bass may seem unusual, but it produces an interesting sound.  Check out the isolated bass track below.)

The Police were an English rock band formed in London in 1977. For the vast majority of their history, the band consisted of Sting (lead vocals, bass), Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums). The Police became globally popular in the late 1970s and are generally regarded as one of the first new wave groups to achieve mainstream success, playing a style of rock that was influenced by punk, reggae, and jazz.

“Message in a Bottle” is on their 2nd album, Reggatta de Blanc.  Although Sting is not known as a highly technical bassist, his lines are interesting and deserve further examination.

Below are the videos of the original song, the isolated bass, and a good cover.  Here are the TABS for the tab addicts. Learn it!

“Message in a Bottle” Original Recording


Isolated Bass (Fretless with a pick – great sound!)


Accurate Cover by Curtis Preston  (He’s not playing a fretless or using a pick, but otherwise it’s correct)