Bass Position

I was just starting out my Bass ‘career’, and trying to track down a good place to learn how to play. I been to about…’all’ of them…before coming here, and I’m actually kinda hesitant =/. Mostly due to the fact my last ‘school’ that I went to noticed that I don’t play my Bass ‘traditionally’. As has the group I joined on Facebook. The way I play is with my right hand fretting, and my left hand is plucking. My Bass is for ‘right handed’ people I believe?…I tried that way, but my left hand couldn’t Fret at all and my right hand was producing weak sound =/. The ‘school’ I went to told me I should ‘decide’ which way I want to play, and most teachers will play ‘traditional’. But I have gotten as far as learning my strings, a few notes, etc the way ‘I’ play…so…I’m on the fence….does anyone else play like that?, or got any tips?. I ‘really’ don’t want to get rid of my Bass as she’s my first and after playing a little bit before my ‘issue’, I got ‘really’ attached ^^;. So any tips or tricks would be great!…I would really appreciate it! =3.

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If your bass is a right handed bass, you are going to have a very hard (impossible) time learning if you try playing like that. No shape, chord, arpeggio will be shown correctly to you in any sense. You either have to play a right handed bass right handed or a left handed bass left handed (you are suggesting you are playing left handed). Are you left handed? If not, flip the bass into its proper position.

If you are a lefty, you can do one of two things, play either way with the appropriate bass. I suppose you could restring a right handed bass lefty, but will need some nut work done, but you will have some trouble higher on the fretboard and the bass wont sit right at all (strap buttons in wrong place, etc. This is not worth the trouble.

My advice though, give up trying to do it ‘backwards’, this will only cause you endless confusion while trying to learn.

Your fretting hand - SHOULD BE confused at this point. What you are mentioning is normal. All of our left hands were like confused little stumps in the beginning. You are asking your non-dominant hand to do a lot of work on the fretboard. This takes time and it will come. Sooner than you think too. Don’t give up, keep at it, and let Josh be your guide.

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This is proof that you too can tame your left hand.


You could always buy a Hoffner style bass like McCartney did for a short while. It’s left and right right handed. There’s also plenty of left hand basses for sale.

Otherwise as John says, you’re gonna have a very difficult time. It won’t take you long to adjust to the ‘traditional’ way because it’s just muscle memory, and the way you’re playing now is not something that you’ve been hard wired to do.

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You say you believe your bass is for right handed people.
When you hold it so you fret with your right hand, so neck to the right side, I assume the lowest sounding string is the string nearest to the floor, right?
Then it is a right hand bass. Usually, the lowest sounding string is the top string, which can cause some confusion for beginners in itself.

You could keep playing like that, but it is highly unusual, and unusual probably isn’t the best way to learn something new. (On the other hand: doing stuff because everyone else is doing it that way might also not be the best way to approach things).

The thing with the unusual way is: You are on your own when it comes to learning things.
Also, doesn’t your bass have any knobs? If you are holding a right hand bass with the neck out to the right, the body is upside down, the knobs are then on the top and get in the way of your plucking hand. All the ergonomics of the bass are upside down, and this alone will give you a hard time.

If you play left handed, the best way is to use a left hand bass.

Having said that: There is a point to be made about playing a right hand bass the normal way, with the neck to the left, as a left hand player:
My brother is left handed, and when he ventured into playing guitar, someone told him that he should just get a normal right hand guitar and play it fretting with his left hand. With an electric guitar, it is kinda that usually your left hand has more stuff to do anyway. The right hand is just plucking with the pick, in case of bass with finger style the plucking hand just uses two fingers most of the time, whereas the fretting hand uses all the fingers.

But I also should mention that my brother didn’t stick long to learning guitar, so I don’t know if this approach holds any merit.

To me, it made kinda sense.


Left handed basses are available.
I am mostly right handed, but I had the same issue as @cobaltblue13. It never felt comfortable playing right handed. My first guitar was a right handed Strat copy strung upside down. You can make it work, but a real left handed instrument makes a difference.
If you are just starting, both hands are going to feel weak and uncoordinated. That is just how it goes. But I will echo the others, a bass played upside down and strung right handed is going to make learning difficult. Not impossible, just difficult.


Yea, the knobs are on the top, and the lowest what I assume is string is near the floor…E right?. Well in ‘that’ setting anyway maybe!. I can try and see if I can go traditional, I been doing it on and off, and really they all sound the same?. Maybe it’s me =/…or because I’m a rookie and don’t know my notes by ‘ear’ yet o.o. I did see that there was left handed Bass but I wasn’t entirely sure, cause I was a righty, so…I figure I should ‘play’ that…but now I’m not sure XD;. I appreciate the help and advice though! =3

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I agree with your previous teachers. You should either play your current bass right handed, or buy a left handed bass. What you are currently doing makes no sense.

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It actually really looks weird. The headstocks to the other side. Something like the “uncanny valley” effect.

This is how I’m holding her, with the G string on the top =3. Hope that sheds some light XD


While I’m only about 5-6 weeks into my journey and only about 3 days into the B2B course, I would suggest if you are right handed and your bass is a right handed bass, that you play that bass as a right handed person would play (fret with left hand and pluck with right).

When I brought my bass home and began playing it, things were pretty awkward for me. It got better, but it’s also greatly improved even in my first 3 days with B2B. It just takes a bit of time and of course practice.

I’m not sure what the history is with your bass (if it was new, used or what). But you might also benefit from having a basic setup performed on it.

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Don’t do that. Do you know your strings and a few notes? It takes a week of 20 minutes a day of practicing the fretboard, to know the first 6 frets by heart. On the other hand, even a bad thumb posture will take you a month of frustrating playing to actually erase the bad muscle memory and correct even the smallest technique mistake.

I think I am quite a smart cookie, but after a few months of learning on the bass, you, as I did, will simply learn that the basics are set in stone, not because of dogma, but because of the limits of the instrument and human body which have been discovered by thousands and thousands of people.

Your school didn’t point out that you don’t play “traditionally”, your school pointed out that you play wrong.

I’m familiar with them, yea, and I am learning a few notes here and there, I don’t know how to quite play by ear yet, but I think I’m slowly getting there. I got a few pictures I been going with to double check, and kinda practice with, just to see.

You will have a lot of time to memorize the s*it out of theory. The most frustrating thing right now you can do is to develop some kind of limiting technique. It’s not hard to learn notes, shapes, chords, scales. The hardest thing is to learn your hand to be on the right note at right time. It’s the hardest thing, period, so it’s not surprising that no matter how you pick up the bass, it will feel crap. Both for fretting and plucking hands.

I would strongly recommend not trying to play the bass upside down. All resources available will be useless to you, it will be more difficult to communicate with others, and your most-used strings are now on the bottom.

Instead, you could get a lefty bass, or the nut from a lefty bass and string it upside down too, putting the strings in the correct place. But what you are doing now is just going to be a persistent roadblock.


How are you even going to put a strap on that bass

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Unless my full application of coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, the photo you just posted looks like a left handed bass.


I got a strap on her, it was a pain, but I got it XD

@jtaylor801 you’re the only one awake in this thread… You’re right: that is a left-handed bass, unless the picture was mirrored somehow. I missed it myself as well!

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I didn’t even notice. You’re right.

Now I am confused - @cobaltblue13, you said you are fretting with your right hand, but that looks like an upside down left handed bass to me too.

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Never mind: the picture was mirrored. Check the Seymour Duncan logo on the pickups.