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so...why do we use our hands like we do?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by coolrunner989, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. I've been pondering this question for a while now.

    So, most of us (I'm assuming) are right handed. OUr right hand is stronger and more dexterous than our left. So why did we first start playing bass with our left hand doing the more complex and difficult parts? Same goes for guitar. Why dont we use our right hand to fret and our left to pluck?

    Now, after so many years of playing the standard way it is very difficult for me to play "backwards" but I dont think this would be the case if I had started out the other way.

    Just wondering what you're opinions are and if there is any historical background to this
  2. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    My left hand is stronger/dexterous? and I play normal. :)
  3. Etbass


    Apr 26, 2007
    Cooranbong, NSW
    I wondered the same thing. 20pts to anybody who comes up with a really good answer, and involves no reference to classical guitar.
  4. some people do play backwards like that

    my friend is left handed but he plays righty guitar.

    he generally has a tougher time strumming and picking, but he picks up fast on fingerings and scales.

    I think its just tradition.. anybody can learn either way. haha would be interesting to learn both ways!
  5. Umm... in case you haven't thought about it, there are some left handed Bassists out there... Sir Paul Mcartney is the first one that comes to mind. Ponder that...
  6. I know there are plenty of left handed bassists. Im wondering about right handed people who play "lefty". Why isnt it the other way around?

    I'm gonna take my P-bass and string it "upside down" this weekend and see how it goes...should be interesting
  7. well it will feel just as bad as the first time you held a bass, but any person can learn with either hand doing either job...
  8. What the OP means is that why would a right-handed person use their left-hand as the fretting hand, assuming that you believe that fretting would require more strength and dexterity than plucking.

    I think we use our dominant hands as our plucking hands NOT because of strength and dexterity, but because of motor control. It's more important to be able to react rhythmically, and to control your rhythm with your plucking/strumming hand, and most of us non-ambidextrous folks would use our dominant hand for that job.
  9. +1

    though it CAN BE DONE either way...
  10. rockwarnick


    Jul 29, 2006
    Rockville, MD
    i think someone mentioned this in a thread before and i remember a comment about a ...i dont know what to call it...a myth? possibility?...whatever, that the man who created the first guitar-type instrument was left handed and created it so he could use it and it just caught on like that. there was a whole webpage about it.

    i am actually a lefty who plays right.
  11. Yep. Thanks.

    I guess that makes sense, the idea that motor skills in the right hand going towards rhythm rather than different notes is better.
  12. yea I can understand how that would be most important. the weaker hand does a good enough job fretting anyway....
  13. Don't get me wrong. I think if you're starting out, you can force yourself to learn either way, with either hand becoming the dominant, plucking hand. However, I think we CHOOSE to use our ALREADY-dominant hand as our plucking hand, because that's one less step we have to learn/unlearn.
  14. well not that you dont have to still develop it, but i see your theory that the dominant hand learns proper timing and plucking control more easily. too hard to proove if that is true or not but I think it is safe to assume.

    Here is the best reason to pluck with your right hand though..
    ALOT more basses to choose from (unless ergonomics mean nothing to you like jimi hendrix)
  15. and cheaper. Lefties usually cost more.
  16. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    Historically, the bass is a member of the violin family, and not related to the classical guitar. The electric bass is a hybrid of the double bass and electric guitar. So, it's only a distant 2nd cousin to the nylon string guitar.

    About the really good answer, I think people do what feels natural.
  17. Illbay


    Jan 15, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    Opposable thumbs springs to mind.
  18. Illbay


    Jan 15, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    There are a lot of left-handed guitarists (and bassists, I assume) who do play a right-handed instrument, mainly because that was what was available to them to learn on and they really didn't "know" any better because they started out self-teaching.

    Mark Knopfler is one name that comes to mind. I have a book of some of his music, that contains an interview with Guitar Player or some such magazine from several years ago.

    Knopfler mentioned the advantage to using his "dextrous" hand (actually, I suppose, his "sinister," but I quibble) to fret the strings. For one thing, he said, he can litterally bend three strings at one time, essentially a whole triad, which is a characteristic sound of his that you seldom hear from anyone else.
  19. OK, lets think about drummers.
    Usually the are using their right hand to meter the tempo with hi-hats. the same is for guitar, simple right hand plucking lines are usually can be done without any brain work... kind of running in background (if we are gonna use computer words).

    I think right hand can do simple things without much brainwork, you don't have to concentrate on it, left -- cannot (vice-versa for lefties), so you can use your brain more efficiently and to think about fretwork and your left paw.
  20. DavidRavenMoon

    DavidRavenMoon Banned

    Oct 20, 2004
    The word "dexterous" means right handed (dexter = right)! If you are left handed you are "sinister"! (sinister= left) .. no really.

    It is very interesting that we play with our dominant hand picking the strings instead of fingering them. I've often wondered about that. When I play violin, I think they always have you play as if you are right handed, otherwise your bow sticks out the wrong way when playing with an orchestra!

    I've become quite ambidextrous since I started playing.

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