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Two questions, which hand and thumb picking

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by jellywerker, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. jellywerker


    Mar 6, 2008
    Two questions:

    First, which hand does one usually use for what? I've been practicing on a right handed bass, but am left handed, and am wondering if I should go try playing some left handed basses. Do people normally use their more coordinated hand for frets or for picking?

    Secondly, I notice I tend to play nearly exclusively with my thumb. Is this bad? Is it due to the fact that my right hand is not as coordinated as my left/hasn't learned coordination yet? If so, should I make extra effort to learn to play with at least two of my fingers?
  2. Marcury

    Marcury High and Low

    Aug 19, 2007
    Mid Hudson Valley, NY
    Hard to answer your first question. There are three options lefties generally use:
    1. learn to play like a right hander: left hand frets/right hand picks.
    2. turn a right handed bass upside down: right hand frets/left hand picks (strings are usually upside down in this scenario).
    3. get a lefty bass (rare but made): right hand frets/left hand picks.

    As far as the second question; using your thumb is a valid technique, but you may find it ultimately limiting, other options are two or three fingers or a pick.
  3. kerley


    Feb 19, 2008
    Something I have always found strange is that a right handed person uses their strongest hand to do the picking. Something I saw as an easier task than the fretting.

    But if I use my right hand to do fretting (I'm right handed) it feels dreadful so not sure what that is all about?
  4. If you have been playing "right" handed basses for a while you should probably just stay that way. However, I would encourage you to take a ride to "big box" music store and grab a squire or something from the rack and sit in the corner and play for a while. See how it feels. No matter how it feels, don't do anything until you have played that way two or three times to get a feel for it. Just in case that first day was a fluke.

    Obviously, righty's have more options in the bass/guitar world. However, comfort and playability trump that.

    BTW, companies like Squire and Epiphone love email/phone calls from lefties and will make you whatever you like and not charge you an arm or a leg.

  5. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    My take on it is that bassists tend to use their dominant hand as the plucking/picking hand because it's the plucking/picking hand that articulates the notes that come out of the bass. The "voice", if you will. To compare it to a horn, the left hand is your "fingering" hand while the right hand is your mouth/embrasure/lungs/breath. It's the right hand that largely gives your sound it's individuality.

    One of my all-time favorite bassists (and doublers), John Patitucci is a lefty playing on a regularly-strung right hand bass. Another favorite, Jimmy Haslip is a lefty who just turned his regularly-strung right handed bass around and played it left handed and strung "upside down".

    Do what feels best but one thing to keep in mind is that if you play on a left handed bass tuned regularly you won't easily be able to sit in at a jam session or wherever on someone else's bass.

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