Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Playing A Right Handed Bass Guitar Left Handed

I started playing the bass guitar, left handed of course about six years ago after I began writing my own music. I produced my first CD and needed a bass for the tracks. I had an old right handed electric bass laying around the house which I never played before, and decided to fix it up and take a stab at playing the bass guitar myself. It was missing a string and the nut was broken. I installed a new nut and replaced the string.

I had never played the electric bass before but did have a little experience with the upright fretless bass. Making the transition from a fretted guitar to a fretted bass guitar wasn't as easy as I thought, but much easier because I am a guitar player. Just imagine you're playing the bottom four strings of a guitar, but try to not play chords. It's much easier to play a right handed upside down bass guitar left handed when playing single notes.

The problem that I had and still have is remembering the notes to play to correspond with the chords that the regular guitar is playing. I had to constantly put the bass down and pick up my acoustic guitar to find the fingerings and try to memorise them. Once I had the song memorised I could then start recording. It worked out OK but don't ask me to improvise on the bass. I can play my own music on the bass, but I am by no means a real bass player.

There are several video bass lessons available on YouTube and I use them when I have time and am in the mood for it. I've learned a few intros to popular songs but haven't taken it much further yet.

Other Left Handed Instruments

About 20 years ago I took a stab at playing the banjo. The one that I owned was right handed. This may be the most difficult instrument to play left handed upside down only because of the 5th string peg. It gets in the way and you have to work around it. I decided to play it right handed. I started out doing pretty well but couldn't get used to playing right handed so I eventually lost interest and sold the banjo. You can find left handed banjos now on the Internet where the 5th string peg is on top of the neck.

I also play the right handed mandolin left handed upside down. Like the bass, I use it to accompany my music and I play very little lead. I mostly chop chords. You can buy a left handed mandolin. I'm not sure if they make a left handed violin but it's possible. I play a little fiddle, right handed. They even make left handed drum sets. You could possibly build your own drum set by checking the Internet looking for cheap drum sets. I highly doubt that you can find a left handed piano but I don't see a problem or handicap for a left handed person who wants to play the piano.

4 comments:

  1. i just started playing in jan. of 09 and i am righthanded and pickup the guitar upside down.It just made sense to me, the low string and the bottom and the high string at the top. And reading taps is very easy because of the layout. maybe I will upload a video or something but im ok; selftaught and started taking lessons in dec of 09. My main instrument is the drums I can play open and closed,I picked up the piano about 4 yrs ago and that made my transition to guitar very easy.

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  3. Thanks Andrew, good luck with the site. Ben

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  4. I enjoyed this post, a bit different to the usual.
    I had a go on a fretless bass years ago. Felt really good to play but was hard. I loved sliding on it.
    You need to put your fingers tip right where the fret should be to get the right note and not behind the fret. It takes a good ear same as when you bend strings to a note.

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Ben Willis demonstrating the "left handed upside down guitar method".


A chord

B Chord

C Chord

D Chord

E Chord

F Chord

G Chord

B Barre Chord

D Barre Chord

Contact Info

E-mail Ben Willis at
bwillismusic@gmail.com