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Lefties why didn't you start playing a righty?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KenToby, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    Many beginners often ask weather a particular bass is available in a left handed model. My responce has always been, what difference does it make since you have never plaued before and therefore have not developed a preference for either a left or right instrument.

    My question is why do they offer a "Left handed" bass??
    There are no left handed keyboards or violins os horns, etc.

    I don't understand why anyone with no bass playing experience would go into bass playing looking for a left handed instrument.

    Any Ideas??

  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Uhhhh, because they're left-handed?
  3. Most left handed beginners, including one of my friends, just naturally turn a right handed bass upside down, that's just how it is. Jimmy Hendrix played on a right handed strat but played it like upside down cause he was a lefty. Some just find it more comfortable that way.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Wow, so a person shouldn't be allowed to buy a lefty? What is this? Communism?
  5. following that logic, why right handed instruments?
    Its the comfort factor--some people just feel more natural playing a lefty instrument...
  6. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    LOL, KenToby, but I can understand your lack of understanding unless you know a lefty. But in part I also think that a "virgin" player can learn either way, as there are many players out there to prove it.

    In my case, I was born lefty. When I learned how to hold a spoon to eat, I naturally did it with the left hand. When I first started messing around with my Pops guitar when I was 10, I naturally had to flip the guitar and still felt more comfortable playing with the strings upside down than playing righty.

    When I bought my first electric guitar at age 13, some people mentioned to me that I should learn righty, because, and I vaguely quote: "...playing lefty will give you problems when you start playing with a band." I guess he must've been concerned about bumping other guitarist headstocks on stage, or something. . . which yes, still happens. . .

    Anyhow, the same day I got my first guitar, a righty, I had to flip the strings, and that was it.

    Only problem of course has been finding lefty instruments, but is not that bad, specially here in the USA, and in Japan! (There are more lefties in Japan than anywhere in the world, hence why there are so many lefty instruments there.)

    BTW, there are left-handed violins and other stringed instruments; many horns are simmetrical, and saxes and clarinet, etc, are still more simmetrical than most string instruments.

    About piano, both hands need to have similar dexterity when playing piano, so it really doesn't matter whether the player is lefty or righty.

    How about the classical harp? I would normally play the bass strings with my left hand, and the melody strings (higher pitch) with my right hand.
  7. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    I'll try to be a bit more clear. In America as beginners we all learn to drive on the left side of the car; with a manual transmission we all shift with the right hand.
    When playing a piano we ALL play bass lines with the left hand. This goes for countless everyday tasks that we don't give a second thought to. Why would a left handed person walk into Guitar Center for the first in their life and ask for a "Left handed bass" when our brain, fingers, etc. don't know the difference??? Keep in mind, there is absolutly nothing "natural" about picking up a bass the first time you touch one. Remember, you and I both had to aquire the feeling for our very unnatural instruments before we could actually get a quality note out of it.

    Again, I'm talking about a stone cold, day one rookie with no bad habits to break; our minds have no idea that we are to pluck the strings or fret the strings with either the left or right hands. At this point in our playing experience our minds are a blank slate; why choose a limited choice left handed instrument??? I personally recommend all my novice students choose a "Right" handed instrument.

    Again, based on the zero experience, what's the diff????



  8. Assumer


    Mar 26, 2003
    It just felt so natural to play lefty. Trying to play right handed left me feeling really uncoordinated.
  9. I felt uncordinated playing a righty when I first started,but I bought one and now would never think of going lefty even though I'm left handed. I think most bassists that are right handed would play better if they learned on right handed instruments. You do all the work with your fretting hand whilst playing bass or guitar. Not the other way around.
  10. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    I'm not sure how correct the above statement is...I would assume that left handed people are wired to know exactly what feels comfortable or "right" (no pun intended...) to them. To force someone to do the opposite of how their brain interprets these actions could make learning these tasks more difficult.

    I'm no scientist but it just seems to me that people are as they are...

    Have you ever swung a golf club or a baseball bat? What if you were about to do it for the first time and someone told you to do it the opposite of what felt natural? I think it would be more difficult to master.
  11. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    If that were the case, there wouldn't be any lefties. Everybody would choose to do everything right-handed because that's how most people do it. There's obviously some kind of predisposition to do stuff left-handed.
  12. lefty_400


    May 18, 2005
    Haha...Can you guess from my handle what side of the debate I fall on?!

    An insider's perspective:

    I first realized my lefty path a sunny spring day long ago playing an acoustic guitar after school that belonged to my friend's dad. A righty of course. My friend showed me how to play a certain song and then I tried it out just as he showed me right handed yet I had trouble coordinating my two hands, beyond the regular rookie stuff. Before long I flipped that sucker over lefty and before long everything lined up perfectly.

    Why did you start writing with your right hand? Because it felt natural right? (no pun intended! ;p) Pick up a pen and try to write with your left hand right now and you will feel what I felt that sunny spring day long ago.

    p.s. : I don't know about violins because I never been around classical musicians enough to say but I have known of a handful of lefty fiddlers in my day. (http://ashley-macisaac.com). Interesting side note...
  13. phillipmorephil


    Apr 10, 2007
    I'm a lefty, and I play right-handed basses. I'm not saying everyone should, but I like having my dominant hand on the fretboard. Just my two cents.
  14. rfclef


    Jan 19, 2007
    Woodburn, Oregon
    Me neither... though I will point out that trombones, flutes, trumpets, tubas are all played the same way... All brass instruments play valves with right hand (though some have an additional valve or 3 for the left hand) except the French Horn, unless someone has done a custom job. But there are lefty guitars... Never thought of that before...
  15. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    At birth no ones brain is "wired" to know that a bass head stock should be on the left or right side of their body. This is a learned playing position... period. Even though there are plenty of left handed people playing in world class orchestra pits, you will find NO "Left handed" string players in any world class symphonies anywhere on the planet.
    Should there be "Left handed basses"? Absolutly, of course!!!!! Because we may write, throw and eat with our left hands doesn't automaticlly dictate the direction our bass head stock should point right however.



  16. dotlikeimpact


    Apr 19, 2007
    The classical musician thing comes from the fact that the design of those instruments dates to a period in history when being left-hand dominant was unacceptable, due to the fact that it was believed that left-handedness was "devilish". Seriously. Perhaps you know a grandparent that was forced to learn to write with their right hand, though left-dominant? A holdover from those times. The bass guitar, being a very new instrument, dates to a period in which that line of thought had begun to die. Good riddance. The only thing that should be encouraged in people in regards to hand-dominance is ambidexterity, since it does build extra neural pathways. Righty chauvinism is ridiculous. I'm a righty, just for disclosure.
  17. lefty_400


    May 18, 2005
    Maybe people that could have more easily learned left-handed forced themselves to learn right-handed in cost of extra effort because they had no other choice (instruments not available, pressure from people like you ;p, etc).

    My brother, who is much older than me, was told in school that 'writing with your left hand is not natural, writing is for the right hand'. If not for my mother intervening saying 'He will write with whatever hand he damn well pleases' he would probably be writing with his right hand right now at the cost of extra effort, learning against the grain.

    Hell, even Jimi Hendrix supposedly could play a mean guitar right handed that would put the average righty players to shame. He just did it a lot better lefty...
  18. KenToby


    Aug 15, 2002
    I appreciate the side track history lesson however my point is that starting with a clean slate, we can all be easily taught to play either way L or R; there is no predisposition.

    By the way, both my mother and sister are Leftys. Matter of fact mom plays piano with the low notes on the left, imagine that :)



  19. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    And I will still respectfully disagree with you.

    Just because you have no idea what a headstock is prior to picking up an instrument it does not mean that a persons brain is not predisposed to sense that something will be wrong with the "standard" design.

    Any person can walk up to an upright bass, stand on the left side and still play the bass...the bass can be strung either way. This goes for any classical stringed instrument. We may not know that there are left handed players out there but there could be...and no, I have not seen any but that does not mean that there aren't any.

    What about the drummer who sets up his kit to be left hand dominant? I believe Phil Collins plays this way.

    In your OP you wrote this... "I personally recommend all my novice students choose a "Right" handed instrument". Now, you stated above that you think there should absolutely be left handed instruments though you discourage your new students from playing them...why is this?
  20. Being a lefty myself, I was asked a couple of times before... why a lefty bass?

    But the same question may be asked regarding writing... why should not everybody write with the right hand - since before learning to write, there is no given experience as to what hand to prefer.

    I think that this question is somewhat misleading. Most people have a stronger hand with more dexterity. It happens that the majority of people's stronger hand is the right one - wich is reflected in bass builders' catalogues. Most of us seem to prefer using the "stronger" hand (with more dexterity) for plucking.

    So, why should lefties not also have the chance to use their stronger hand for plucking? Yep, a lefty *can* learn to play like righties do - but if we can choose wich hand we want to use for writing, why shouldn't we choose wich hand to pluck with?

    Regarding myself: It simply feels better, and is my natural way of playing.

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