The Ultimate Guide to “Can’t Stop” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Are you a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their iconic bass lines? Look no further than “Can’t Stop,” a funk-rock masterpiece that showcases Flea’s incredible bass playing. In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive deep into the song’s structure, techniques, and impact on the music world.


Released in 2002 as part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album “By the Way,” “Can’t Stop” quickly became a fan favorite and a staple of the band’s live performances. The driving force behind the song’s infectious energy is undoubtedly Flea’s dynamic and intricate bass line.

As a renowned bassist and a founding member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea has consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s possible on the instrument. His playing style, which incorporates elements of funk, punk, and slap bass techniques, has influenced countless bassists and helped define the band’s signature sound.

Song Overview

“Can’t Stop” is a prime example of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ unique blend of funk, rock, and alternative music. The song features a fast-paced, syncopated bass line that perfectly complements Anthony Kiedis’ rapid-fire vocals and John Frusciante’s melodic guitar work.

The song’s structure follows a typical verse-chorus format, with a bridge section that showcases Flea’s bass prowess. The arrangement is as follows:

Section Time Stamp
Intro 0:00
Verse 1 0:15
Chorus 0:45
Verse 2 1:00
Chorus 1:30
Bridge 2:00
Chorus 2:30
Outro 3:00

Bass Line Analysis

Flea’s bass line in “Can’t Stop” is a masterclass in funk-rock bass playing. The main riff, which is played throughout the verses and choruses, is built around a syncopated sixteenth-note pattern that emphasizes the offbeats.

The riff is played primarily on the E and A strings, with occasional forays into the higher register during the bridge section. Flea’s use of ghost notes, slides, and octave jumps adds depth and complexity to the line, making it both challenging and rewarding to play.

Here’s a breakdown of the main bass riff:


Techniques Used

Flea playing bass on stage
Flea playing bass on stage

To achieve the signature sound of “Can’t Stop,” Flea employs several key bass techniques:

  1. Slap Bass: Flea’s use of slap bass techniques, particularly in the bridge section, adds percussive elements and highlights the song’s funky groove.
  2. Ghost Notes: By incorporating ghost notes (muted notes played with the left hand) into the main riff, Flea creates a sense of rhythmic anticipation and keeps the line feeling fresh and dynamic.
  3. Slides and Octave Jumps: Throughout the song, Flea uses slides and octave jumps to navigate the fretboard and add melodic interest to the bass line.
  4. Syncopation: The heavily syncopated nature of the main riff, with its emphasis on the offbeats, is a hallmark of funk bass playing and contributes to the song’s infectious energy.

Tone and Equipment

Flea’s bass tone on “Can’t Stop” is punchy, articulate, and slightly overdriven. To achieve this sound, he relies on the following equipment:

  • Bass: Flea primarily plays a 1961 Fender Jazz Bass, which has been his go-to instrument for much of his career.
  • Amplifier: During the recording of “By the Way,” Flea used a combination of Ampeg SVT and Marshall bass amplifiers to craft his tone.
  • Effects: While Flea’s bass tone on “Can’t Stop” is relatively clean, he often employs effects such as envelope filters, octave pedals, and distortion to enhance his sound.

Impact and Legacy

“Can’t Stop” has become one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most enduring and recognizable songs, thanks in large part to Flea’s iconic bass line. The song’s success has cemented Flea’s status as one of the most influential and innovative bassists of his generation.

The impact of “Can’t Stop” extends beyond the realm of bass playing, as the song has been widely covered, sampled, and referenced in popular culture. Its appearance in movies, television shows, and video games has introduced the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music to new audiences and helped maintain the band’s relevance.

Learning Resources

If you’re inspired to learn Flea’s bass line from “Can’t Stop,” there are plenty of resources available to help you get started:

  • Online Tutorials: Websites like YouTube and Fender Play offer step-by-step video tutorials that break down the bass line and provide helpful tips for mastering the techniques used in the song.
  • Tablature and Sheet Music: Many online resources, such as Ultimate Guitar and Songsterr, provide accurate tablature and sheet music for “Can’t Stop,” allowing you to learn the bass line at your own pace.
  • Bass Lessons: Consider taking lessons from a local bass instructor or enrolling in an online bass course to receive personalized feedback and guidance as you learn the song.


“Can’t Stop” is a testament to Flea’s incredible skill as a bassist and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ability to craft infectious, groove-laden songs that stand the test of time. By studying Flea’s bass line and incorporating the techniques he employs, bassists can expand their musical vocabulary and add a funky edge to their playing.

Whether you’re a die-hard Red Hot Chili Peppers fan or simply appreciate great bass playing, “Can’t Stop” is a song that demands attention and respect. So grab your bass, crank up the volume, and dive into the unforgettable world of Flea’s bass mastery.