Leftys -- learn right or left-handed?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Plutonium244, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Plutonium244


    Mar 29, 2015
    Hello all,

    I am a left-handed 50-year old who learned to play right handed bass -- mainly because back in the day, all you could buy was what was at the local music store, and there really were no lefty basses in my area. My first bass was loaned to me by a friend a right-handed model.

    Just now I was thinking about buying a Squier Jaguar bass (30" scale) so that either of my kids could try playing bass now or in a few years, when I suddenly realized, I was going to order a righty bass but one of my kids is right-handed and the other is left-handed.

    So, there's the question -- should get a left-handed bass for my lefty 4-yr old to grow into, or a right-handed bass for my righty 7 yo daughter AND son to use? Should the lefty son just deal with a righty bass like I did? Or do I get one of each? Jags are inexpensive and can be had for $162 this weekend at MF.

    What are your thoughts and experiences about people/kids of either handed-ness playing bases of the same or opposite handedness?

    I don't fell like being a left-hander playing right-handed has held me back-- though my right-hand technique isn't blazing fast. But, maybe playing a left-handed bass would have been better for me had I started that way, and might be better for my son. Then, do I get 2 basses, right and left, so each can play their way, and also let the son decide if right or left feels right to him?

    The funny part is, they might not either one like bass, in the end. But I want to start out so they have the best opportunity to enjoy it and maybe develop a talent.

    Righty daughter is 7 and lefty son is 4, in case it figures into things for any of you.

    Thanks in advance for the benefit of your collective experience and opinions. It's a great community we have here.
    LowStringNinja likes this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I am left handed and play right handed. It is second nature to me now. For the same reasons you did it I would encourage your lefty to learn right handed.
  3. SCT1422

    SCT1422 Supporting Member

    I do some things right handed and some left.. Lefty always felt more natural to me for most things and I was going to learn left handed, but my teacher wanted me to learn right handed.. Easier for him to teach and also finding basses in the future...
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
    exidor and Plutonium244 like this.
  4. WhoSeyes


    Aug 18, 2008
    I am also left handed and learned as a right handed.

    When I was 14 I thought to myself "if someday I go to a party and there's a guitar at the place, what are my chances that that guitar will be left-handed and be able to play it?"

    At the time, it was all about the chicks and the ego, so I learned to play as a right handed :)

    Anyway, it has been discussed lots of times, but to play bass you use BOTH hands, and depending on your playing style you will even need more agility with your fretting hand than from your plucking hand.
  5. CRich0205


    Feb 17, 2013
    Started trying to play lefty and couldn't do it. As soon as we flipped the guitar everything got so much easier. My dominant hand doing the work on the fret board made all the difference.
  6. Gnal


    Apr 22, 2014
    I'm a lefty and learned "right handed" bass & guitar. I could have ordered a left handed model when I started (1994-95) but when I looked at the stores selection everything was right handed. Typically you cannot even try a lefty model before you buy.

    Personally, since it was a new skill that used both hands, and especially in guitar where the left hand just holds a pick at the beginning, using my left hand for fretting was advantageous since I had more dexterity naturally.

    I didn't really think much of learning right handed until some friends wanted me to start teaching them guitar and being righties they had difficulty forming chord shapes with their left hand.

    I'm not opposed to left handed folk learning left handed, but I do believe that they are limiting themselves in future gear options and availability. I also feel that we as left handed folk automatically assume that anything labeled as "right handed" puts us at a disadvantage and therefore we need a "left handed" model to perform whatever action is required. This is just not the case especially in bass where you use both hands equally.
  7. exidor


    Jul 10, 2011
    I'm a pretty hard lefty eat, shoot bow & gun but play righty. yes get the righty have them both play on it & have him get use to holding it right & watching his sister. encourage him to understand this is how it is to be played. also the door of choice will be opened.
    Plutonium244 likes this.
  8. Plutonium244


    Mar 29, 2015
    Some good and valuable feedback so far, thank you and keep it coming!

    When I started in music, it was playing violin at age 5 or 6, there were no "lefty" violins! My dominant, left, hand was on the fingerboard, and my fingers on the weaker hand didn't even do anything, it was all bow work with the elbow and wrist, so it just seemed natural and better for the dominant hand to be on the finger board.

    But, bass has more intricate right-hand work than violin. Righty's that play right handed bass still seem to be able to make the chord shapes with their off hand... so it's a tough call. Even after all these years I don't rip off the 32nd notes with my right hand, but I think I play more melodically, with the strong hand on the neck. It's a tough call.

    I welcome more input please! And thanks to all who have chimed in already, I do really appreciate your time and valuable comments.
    Joebone likes this.
  9. I'm left handed, but I play right also. But not because I felt I should learn righty. The first time I picked up a guitar, even before I knew how to play, the right handed position just felt natural. Flipping the guitar over to lefty just did not work. I'm glad it worked out this way because of the better selection of instruments and also my left hand is pretty well developed on the neck, being it my dominant hand and all. Funny thing
    is, I play drums left handed.
    What I would do is hand your kids a bass and don't tell them which way to hold it and see how it naturally sits with them. You never know, your lefty son might just feel more comfortable playing it right handed.
    Tbone76 and Plutonium244 like this.
  10. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I'm left learned right because like you back in the days there were no left guitars or bass to be found. I would have a child learn right handed since left handed instrument's are harder to find still today and in some cases cost more.
    pudgychef, Tbone76 and exidor like this.
  11. Plutonium244


    Mar 29, 2015
    What would make me laugh is if I handed my righty daughter a righty bass, and she felt more comfortable holding it flipped-over, left-hand style.
    Smoove-Groove likes this.
  12. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Just to get this out of the way, I am right handed and play a right handed bass. Opinions on this vary among left handers from what I have seen here. I think that this is due to the fact that guitars, like many other instruments are ambidextrous at least in the sense that they place high demands on the strength and precise motor skills of both hands no matter which way you play them. Giving a left handed child a right handed bass to learn on is not therefore a horrible thing. As far as I know there are no left handed clarinets, there would be little point since both hands do exactly the same things when you play clarinet. There is no advantage to players of either handedness in the standard clarinet design. People of both handedness can play the clarinet equally well. Yeah, I learned to play clarinet as a child in school bands.

    Guitars and other stringed instruments are not as symmetrical in the demands they place on your hands as a lot of wind instruments and keyboards are. So there is no hard and fast answer to your question. Some left handers do exquisitely well on "right handed" basses and they have an enormous selection to choose from. Some left handers, after trying both ways, know that only a left handed bass will work well for them. And some only ever tried left handed basses so they don't know and aren't going to change after all these years! Bass selection is the only obvious disadvantage of playing left handed. Bottom line is that it should be the child's choice. If the child tries both and prefers one over the other, the child is correct!

    And yes, one probably should give right handed children and beginners the same option. There would potentially be a much larger market for and therefore selection of left handed basses if more people did this with right handed beginners!!
    chungweishan and Plutonium244 like this.
  13. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    I always thought it would be better to use your dominant hand for fretting, at least starting out. Generally people have more precise motor control with their dominant hand. It's awkward enough learning a totally new instrument paradigm. Meaning a new way of using your hands.

    After you get used to something it's too late, but I think it doesn't harm anyone long term to start on right-handed basses. If anything offering left-handed basses makes it so people believe they HAVE to use that one if they are left-handed.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
    Plutonium244 likes this.
  14. Plutonium244


    Mar 29, 2015
    Since today is the last day to get 15% off at MF, I ordered a Squier Jaguar 30" short scale, right-handed (they don't sell a left handed model of this). At $152 delivered I don't think I can go wrong.

    I am still considering MAYBE also getting a left handed Ibanez Micro 28" short scale, which would be $170 after discount, and just see which one the littlest guy seems to prefer-- and for that matter, to see which my 7-year-old righty daughter prefers-- but I should probably hold my horses and see how it goes with the righty Jaguar, he's only 4 but of course I am ready for him to start playing bass. :) Discretion is the better part of valor and money doesn't grow on trees... the Mikro, being even shorter scale, might be even better for Tiny Guy, if he takes to the left-handed instruments.

    Jeez, my GAS is extending to kids' instruments now. Little dude has said before he wants to play drums but still looking for a used $50 kid set of those -- would pay more for an electronic set where I can control the volume to save my wife's sanity and maybe my own, lol.

    If having your dominant hand on the fret board is so much better, why are almost ALL stringed instruments set up to have left hand on the board when 86% of people are right handed? Strange world.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I'm a lefty who learned guitar and bass righty for two reasons:

    1. More instruments to play, easier to trade off with others.
    2. Think about it - the more complex movements are with the left (fingering hand). It makes sense to me.

    Or just do this. Get/borrow a cheap guitar (I'm talking $20). See what way they pick it up and play with it.
    Killed_by_Death and Plutonium244 like this.
  16. Antisyzygy


    Dec 8, 2014
    Rondo Music is another good place to look.

    Rondo Music Home Page

    They have 3/4 size and shortscale basses/guitars and whatnot. They also make a kids line of guitars at least.
    Plutonium244 likes this.
  17. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    I tried learning right-handed for a long time. Just couldn't do it. Now that I can build my own, I don't have to contend with the one black model or only Jazz basses.
    mcarp555 and Plutonium244 like this.
  18. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    It is my belief that a lefty can play a right-handed instrument easier than a right handed person.

    Why would you use your dominant hand to strum?

    It seems to me your dominant hand should be the one forming chord shapes.

    I'm a lefty & never for one second considered a left-handed instrument.
    SasquatchDude, Gasman, jubl and 2 others like this.
  19. Plutonium244


    Mar 29, 2015
    I feel ya.

    One reason for your dominant hand on the plucking hand is fast and accurate finger picking. I don't feel like I've missed out on much being a left-handed righty bass player, but my right hand chops could be quicker. I can't spray 32nd notes. But, you have to weigh what that's worth.

    Right handed people seem to be able to form chord shapes with their left hand, so I'd assume a left handed person could form chord shapes with the right hand. I don't think it ought to be that monumentally difficult.

    But I do take your point. It just never occurred to me until this morning that maybe I should at least consider a lefty bass for a lefty kid. Thought I should think about for a minute and poll the congregation. I ordered the righty 30" scale; borrowing and modifying buldog's suggestion, I think I'm also going to hand the little guy my Kala u-bass and see which way he wants to hold it -- it's symmetrical so there is no bias, just his inclination. If he seems to want to hold it lefty than I will see about getting him one on the cheap. He's expressed an interest in drums so rather than spend $ for a lefty bass in addition to the SS righty I just ordered (unless his preference is strong), instead an inexpensive set of Dddrum electronic drums will be coming down the chimney, I think. That way, bro and sissy can jam, and he can try the righty bass just like sister.
  20. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Whenever your kids show an interest in playing, I would let them try out playing both righty or lefty. It doesn't matter what instruments you have on hand... if you have only righties, you can string one up as lefty temporarily, or even just let them play it upside down to get a basic feel for how their hands feel in the different roles.

    When I first started playing, all we had at home was a terrible old righty acoustic guitar. I tried playing it strung up both ways. Turns out playing lefty felt much more natural to me.

    I agree with the concept that most folks will probably be fine with playing righty, even if they are a lefty, but why not find out what actually works best for a specific person?
    rufus.K, Plutonium244 and nerkoids like this.

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