Calling the oddballs with their alternative techniques

I’m wondering if there are any up-side down/lefties/other alternative set-ups players in the house?

So, I’m playing left-handed (even though I am right-handed), and I am also playing with the strings upside down (Grape Drink And Eat :yum: ). Oh, and I only fret with my index, middle, and ring fingers (pinky just cannot bend the right way). Yes, it sounds odd, and you are probably asking why? Well, some years ago I sustained some serious injuries to my hands - now, due to dexterity, I can only play as a leftie and fret with three fingers. (On a more pragmatic note…) I’m playing upside down so that I can pick up any “normal” bass and just flip and play (also, left-handed guitars are rare and expensive AF in South Africa).

The upside-down and three-finger-fretting playing is proving to be a bit challenging (to say the least), as I have to first orientate myself during each lesson before I can play along… Doesn’t really help me to look at the green dots. The tabs are a great help though (now that I can read them the right upside-down way). Regarding the three-finger-fretting, I use micro shifting (with fingers flying for now).

Overall, my progress as a beginner is slow (which can be demotivating), but it is great rehab for my hands (and mind).

Is there anybody in here that also plays with alternative methods for whichever reason? I would love to hear about it, and maybe we can even share some tips and tricks of the alternative way(s).


First, you can’t change what you can’t change - and a lot us have to deal with some kind of injuries, dexterity issues or other challenges from fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, …

You will need to find ways to play given your specific set of challenges. And, yes, that can be done! Maybe you’ll not be virtuoso level in the end, but if you can play what you want to play and derive fun, entertainment and satisfaction out of that, then that is all what is needed.

The only “challenge” I share with you is that I fret only with three fingers as well. Not always the same fingers, but always only three (index-middle-pinky on lower frets and index-middle-ring on higher frets). My ring and pinky are not working together at the same time for various reasons - so microshifting is also an essential part of my “technique” :smile:

As for upside down: there are a few more or less famous and professional players who play upside down: Mono Neon and Jimmy Haslip come to mind (and Jimi Hendrix did it on guitar). I can see why that would be a challenge when learning as no material is really adjusted to that particular style, but “just” requires a bit more perseverance from you. The price for standing apart from the common riff raff :rofl:

Here is Mono Neon:

And here is Jimmy Haslip:

And here is Larry Williams:

Or this one:


Inspired by Sonny T, I setup one of my bass to be an upside down lefty and play right handed. It’s freakishly fun but still limited for me. It helps rewiring my brain a little bit I found a few paths to some interesting fills and muting techniques, I’d pulled it out to practice from time to time.

Here’s my practice


Same as me. My pinky has to go with my ring finger otherwise it stays “sky high”. Knuckle joints a bit shot from the younger days doing silly things. Now and then it might come to the party, but 85% of the time, not. So microshifting is also an essential part of my playing.


Hi @Odious,

Since you mentioned your serious injuries, please take my advice just as a pointer in general (pun intended).

I recently came across a video where the bassist said she tries to point her index finger towards the headstock. For me, that’s a great way to increase my reach.

Mind you, you don’t have to do this every time, there are things to play where you do the opposite. Give it a try.



just gotta say, that Australians girls T-shirt is incredible. Definitely a millennial joke but it is A1 :rofl:


I’m going to need this one explained to me.

1 Like

It is a character named Nigel Thornberry that was voiced by Tim Curry. It’s from a cartoon called The Wild Thornberry’s and his character would always say “Smashing!” whenever something good happened. So here he is riding the Miley Cyrus wrecking ball, clearly a play on his phrase.



Thanks, Eric - I was lost as well… still am, sort of, but better now :crazy_face:

1 Like

Oh, now I get it. I used to watch the Thornberry’s with my kids.

Didn’t Flea do the voice of the little brother?

Edit: yep, he was the voice of Donnie Thornberry.

I think you may be right about that! Used to love that show when I was a kid so it really hits home for me

1 Like

This is awesome.
Thanks for starting this, and I would LOVE to stay updated on what your bass journey is like. I’ve always been mystified and impressed by the people who are able to tackle a bass that is set up differently from every other bass / instruction method / video out there.

I’m so glad people have posted video of the amazing players that have also traveled your road! I hope it helps.

I’m a traditional right handed player so I don’t have any tips to offer.
Even teaching a traditional left handed player has had its moments of confusion and difficulties. I imagine that the reversed strings will bring all sorts of challenges.

I wish you all the best, and really hope you’ll keep us posted on the progress.


Had guitar teachers tell me that normal right handed players actually play the guitar backwards, that we should fret with our stronger right hand and do the easy plucking with the left, so the way you are playing may actually be better in the long run.

1 Like

I should think learning to read music would be really helpful - then you don’t have to put your brain into a twist to think about tabs or green dots or anything else. Just standard musical notation and learning your fretboard, and Bob’s your uncle!


Thanks for the tip, @erg
Bob’s not my uncle just yet. I’m still in the early beginner phases of the bass-playing journey. I just got into the more music theory-orientated lessons (Part 2), and I suspect that I will have to give more attention in class (I’m like the kid sitting in the back, staring out of the window while Josh is talking about theory). For now, I rely on tabs when going through the lessons, but I think you are right that learning musical notation will be valuable. (Josh would agree, I’m sure).


Hey Odious -

I enjoyed your post “Calling the Oddballs with Their Alternative Techniques”.

Well I heard your call so here goes.

First, I just started Josh’s B2B course. I have never played any instrument or music before. Spent much of my first six decades abusing my body, joints, and knuckles in various testosterone filled escapades.

I am trying the singer/songwriter thing and have grown smitten with the bass and all things rhythm. Shooting for a funky/blues sort of thing.

My chosen (oddball) technique is admittedly quite odd — indeed, bordering on sacrilege and encouraging scorn and ridicule.

I’ll be playing “lap bass”; that is I’ll play the bass guitar face up on my lap. I’ll fret with my left thumb only, and “pluck” the stings with the side of my right thumb only (in a one-string strum motion). I’ll mute with a combination of rest strokes, fretting thumb, and right hand index finger on G string (for E & A string strikes).

I know this sounds (and probably looks) ridiculous, but this is the best system I could come up with to play comfortably (I’ve got arthritis in my knuckles and have had multiple broken fingers over the years. They’re a mess.)

I suspect things will get real when I try to increase my speed to “song” levels, as this technique will require continual shifting up/down the neck. But one baby step at a time.

Two guitar legends (Django Reinhardt and Rocco Prestia) fretted with only two fingers, so maybe long hours of deep/deliberate practice and a minor miracle will coax some sweet sounds out of my “lap” bass.

Ultimately, if I can play without strain/pain, and with sufficient speed and good tone, then I’ll take the win. My ultimate goal is to DI play (not program) the bass lines of my songs (at song bpm) into my home studio kit.

If it sounds good it is good — I suppose.


Welcome to BassBuzz @DixonGunn !

I’ve tried playing like that before. It’s tough. Keep us posted on your progress. I hope you’re able to find a way to make this work.

1 Like

Totally! If that helps you play at all and express yourself musically, then that is what you should do!

Maybe you can get some pointers from studying Jeff Healey’s guitar technique?

or perhaps (to a certain extent), how Stanley Jordan plays:

Good luck!


Thank you Eric. I appreciate the kind words and encouragement. It’s going to be an uphill battle no doubt. I’ll give it my best shot.


Thanks! I have looked at Jeff Healey’s technique. This is about as close as I’ve found to (basically) what I’m trying to do – but on a bass guitar. It’s inspiring to see what he was able to accomplish despite his limitations. I enjoyed your response. I just started my lessons. We’ll see how this goes.