What if a left handed person learns to play the bass as a right handed one?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Hamilton Pinheiro, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. Before all, I have no issues about someone being left handed and playing a left handed instrument. I'm just curious about how the brain processes new skills.

    My question is: is there any issue related to effort, ability, technique, motor coordination... for a left handed person to learn playing the bass as a right handed one? I have always thought that because playing the bass requires strong abilities from either left and right hand, it will not matter if a left handed person starts playing as a right handed. The same thing would be if a right handed one starts playing as a left handed.

    Based on my thoughts, If someday I get a left handed student who wants to play the bass and he or she have never played a stringed musical instrument before, I can give him or her the option to play a left handed or a right handed instrument. Unfortunately, being a right handed person does not give me any experience to confidently advice someone about that.

    I have never had a left handed student and I would like to have some trustful source of information if someday I have to give some advice.

    I would love to have opinions, specially the contrary ones.
  2. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    I've often wondered this myself. I have a friend that wants to learn bass, but, hasn't really tried due to the lack of "left handed" basses out there. I would almost think that having a dominate hand being your fretting hand would be a benefit. But, I'm keen on hearing some feedback here.
    Hamilton Pinheiro likes this.
  3. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Short answer,
    Some can and some can't, they won't know until they try.

    Full disclosure; I am right handed, I play left handed. I did not have any difficulty learning to play left handed,
  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    There are heaps of people out there who are LH dominant, but play right-handed, like me!
  5. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    I've never really understood why the guitar and bass are played the way they are for right handed people. Sure, for me, it seemed natural to pick up a guitar the way I did as a right hander but was part of that simply seeing it more often? My brother is left handed at absolutely everything but when he tried playing guitar he naturally picked it up like a right hander. He could never explain why he did so.

    Do they make left handed saxophones? I know they don't make back-to-front keyboards for left handers...... then again, i'm not sure if i've ever met a lefty that plays keyboards.

    In short, I haven't answered any of the OP's questions, just posted some of my own.
    Hamilton Pinheiro likes this.
  6. InnerBass

    InnerBass Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2014
    Thumpn' Happily
    My take is this - whatever feels "natural" to the player is what's best.

    Kind of like baseball swings, golf swings, "goofy footed" surfers/skateboarders.

    You can learn the opposite way, but you'll learn faster using whatever side feels "organic".

    That's why in MLB baseball, most switch hitters have one side they're avg is better on.

    Then again, there's always a chance you could discover the next Michael Angelo Batio of the bass :D

  7. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Duane Allman and Billy Corgan were allegedly born lefty and learned righty. I've heard that CC DeVille's parents couldn't afford to buy a lefty a guitar, so he learned righty.

    Here's a list of guitarists (which could have easily been bassists if they had more self respect (jk)):
    10 Famous Left-Handed Guitarists Who Play Right-Handed

    Please forgive any sacrilege and misinformation on my part.
  8. the harp unstrung

    the harp unstrung Humankind: be both. Inactive

    Nov 2, 2014
    On The Bus
    What's THIS guy on about?!?
    ;) :thumbsup:
    Hamilton Pinheiro likes this.
  9. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    And my right handed friend who plays left handed.
    Hamilton Pinheiro likes this.
  10. FatFunk


    Jan 5, 2015
    My first "lessons" were provided by a schoolmate that was right handed, and had learned the bass right handed, but then had to re learn it left handed as he played in a Beatles Tribute band. He didn't suffer that much.

    Also, I have a left handed friend that learned guitar as left handed, but didn't change the order of her strings, so she can play anybody's guitar (all her chords are "upside down").... then decided to learn again but with the strings reversed.... she has a guitar stringed each way. Totally nuts.

    I'm right handed. Improving the fingers movement on my left (fretting) hand was so hard at the beginning.... I'm pretty sure I could have tried the other way around and would have been the same. But then again... who would want to force himself to play left handed??? Besides Tennis Sensation Rafael Nadal, of course.

    By the way, my brain couldn't decide between "learnt" and "learned".
  11. Dale Griffith

    Dale Griffith

    Jun 6, 2016
    I'm left handed but had absolutely no problem learning right handed guitar and bass. 50 years ago I probably could have learned either hand but I had right handed guitars available to me. NOW I'd be completely lost on a left handed guitar. Playing right handed and fretting with the left hand always seemed very natural to me.
    TrevorR, Mike C. and bobba66 like this.
  12. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011
    You describe me and the guy who gave me the only formal bass lessons I ever got. The only real purpose my right hand serves is to be a counterbalance to my left, to keep me from walking in big circles.

    I was left handed and my teacher put me on a right handed bass from day one. Said since I didn't know how to play I could learn to play either way just as well and playing right handed gave me the option to own 99 out of every hundred basses made. I doubt the percentage is correct, but the message was clear so I took his advice and learned right handed.
    Hamilton Pinheiro likes this.
  13. rodv66

    rodv66 Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2016
    What happens? Your fretting hand gets really fast.
    Hamilton Pinheiro, ZAR14 and ElMon like this.
  14. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    What if? Indeed.:woot:
  15. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I'm a lefty that plays righty. I had no issues learning that way and I recommend it to most beginning lefties.
  16. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    My most enduring musical partner ever, who happens to be THE best rhythm guitarist I've ever played with, is a lefty who plays righthanded. He (along with his teacher) consciously made the decision when he started playing guitar, for a number of practical reasons. After seeing this guy and his out of this world rhytmic ease I'm a strong advocate for "learn right handed" when left handed kids approach the instrument for the first time.
    TrevorR and Hamilton Pinheiro like this.
  17. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Another lefty who plays righty here. I never gave it a second thought, a buddy had a guitar which I started learning on. It was awkward and alien at first but I'm sure it is for a righty when they start out.

    I taught a lefty kid to play, he started out playing a righty guitar but someone told his mother that it would adversely affect him and she freaked and insisted he switch to a lefty.

    The poor kid had a real struggle switching, I felt very sorry for him and tried to persuade his mother not make him switch but a friend had told her it was bad for him so it must be true.
    Hamilton Pinheiro and bobba66 like this.
  18. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    Welp, my experience is the opposite. I worked a long time with a lefty playing righty, and despite all his knowledge and musical vocabulary he always sounded like a clunky machine trying to play. Picking was strenuous and forced. He would've been really good if he had learned naturally.
  19. baxter_x


    Nov 27, 2013
    Actually, being left handed and playing right handed is the right thing to do. Your "strong" hand is the one who's supposed to play chords, scales... Not the rythm
    Then yes, right handed people should then play left handed instrument for the same reason.

    I know what I'm saying there might be completely crazy for most of you, but if you really think about it, it's just logic.
    Sandman64 and vdbass like this.
  20. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I am a lefty who learned to play right handed and have been playing bass for 43+ years. My fretting hand works just great, but there are issues with my right hand when it comes to palm muting, using a pick and slapping. Since fine motor skills are necessary for these techniques, it's difficult and requires constant diligent practice for the non-dominant hand. I am still not great at these techniques but am making progress.