Unusual Bass Technique

rob aylestone

Well-known member
This isn't a recording question but just an observation on something I've never seen before, despite being a bass player for a very long time.

Got taken to watch a tribute band. I've worked with the originals many times and know they music well, so discovering I was front row was kind of a bit like a busman holiday, so I started to look at the equipment and instruments. Guitars were a bit unusual. A Strat, Tele, electric banjo and a 335 style 12 string. Odd for a searchers band where you'd expect a Rickenbacker 12 string for authenticity. That done I looked at the basses. A Gibson SG 4 string - not that common a bass for a band where the bass player plays a Precision. His spare was a 5 string in Jazz style - but an unknown make to me. Kit looked like a nice DW, and was probably the nicest part of what I was about to get. The second guitar was a Strat - nothing special but not too bad sounding.

They appeared and to my surprise the bass player put on the Gibson SG - the wrong way around! He put it on left handed so the knobs were at the top. Low strings nearest the ground and the high strings closest to his head. He had learned to play a right handed guitar upside down. He was a decent bass player but it was so strange to see his fingers all working the wrong way around.

I've never seen this technique before? Has anyone here?
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I haven't seen it on bass, but it's pretty common for guitar players.

Eric Gales plays upside down.

This kid, Sammy Melchi, plays upside down. I first met him about 10 years ago at event at the Parsons St factory in Kalamazoo. The folks at Heritage made him a custom guitar, it's a lefty version strung righty, so that it plays upside down. The knobs are in the normal position.


 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Why? Has any string instruments ever been played like that in the orchestra? All left to right, not right to left.

Seems like a person is just being difficult. Next he will want special tab's. No points awarded for innovation this time.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Here's a weird fact. Eric Gales is naturally right handed, but learned to play guitar from his brother, who is a lefty. I guess when you're poor, you just buy whatever guitar you can afford and learn to play.

I forgot about Albert King..... another upside down left.
 

Farview

Well-known member
I was in a band with a guy that played that way. He used to learn licks by watching vhs guitar videos hooked to a small TV turned upside down.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
I am ambidextrous, and still cannot think of why to train yourself to do it incorrectly. At some point you would have respect for yourself, the instrument, and the craft. Say, if I am gonna do something, I'm gonna do it right.
 

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
Why? Has any string instruments ever been played like that in the orchestra? All left to right, not right to left.

Seems like a person is just being difficult. Next he will want special tab's. No points awarded for innovation this time.

When I was at school I experienced a lot of grief for being left-handed and not being able to write legibly with my right. This wasn't me "being difficult". It is how my brain is wired. My left-hand writing was pretty good, but that was unaceptable at that time.

As years went by I discovered I wasn't totally left-handed. There are things I do with my left hand, and other things with my right, but I'm not ambidextrous. I can't do the same thing (e.g. use a hammer) with either hand. It's always one or the other (hammer and most tools only with left hand, but scissors only with right hand). When I first picked up a guitar, I automatically played it right-hand.
 

Mick Doobie

Resist We Much
I remember the wonderment of seeing it live years ago, lefty playing upside down. Impressive at the time, but is it? I mean, it's not as if one of us righties flipped it over lefty and learned all over again, which would be impressive, I reckon. It's just the way they learned to play, lefty, and upside down.. No doubt there was more of a learning curve, more difficult to glean/steal/learn by watching others play, the vast majority of whom are righties. Given the information age, it's less of a novelty than it used to be.

Things that make you go, hmm?: Fat chance you're ever going to find a left handed piano. I wonder who among well known keys players are lefties, and if there is any discernable to the listener differences in playing style, dynamics, and such?
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
I am ambidextrous
That explains a lot, regarding you. You have "mixed brain dominance." 😖
and still cannot think of why to train yourself to do it incorrectly
There are actually extremely few human endeavours in which there is only one way to train in doing something. Some of the greatest innovations have come about by doing something "incorrectly."
At some point you would have respect for yourself, the instrument, and the craft
I have no respect for a musical instrument in and of itself.
I'm not interested in "the craft." I'm interested in the sound. I remember reading some years back, how young sitarists have to give themselves over to a master and be tutored in this and that for 7 years and I thought "later !!"
I'm not interested in all that. I need to know how to make the sound I want and hey nonny no. Self-respect has absolutely nothing to do with how one learns an instrument.
Say, if I am gonna do something, I'm gonna do it right
You sir, are a prime candidate for the art of thinking outside the box and letting your giblets blow in the wind ! 🥳
Why? Has any string instruments ever been played like that in the orchestra? All left to right, not right to left
Who cares ? Is the orchestra the only form of musical aggregation, or the standard-bearer ? Orchestras can be quite limiting, orchestral musicians even more so. Whereas the inventors of most instruments didn't place strict limits on their usage.
Seems like a person is just being difficult
If they can play the instrument, then what does it matter ? A blind person or someone listening to the radio or a record or CD or MP3 could care less, how the musician of the song they're listening to learned to play.
I've never seen this technique before? Has anyone here?
I'm not sure I would know it, even if I saw it.
But mentally, I've been kind of doing it with a mandolin for the last 30 years, because I was a bass player for 10 years before that and the mandolin strings are the same as the bass but strung backwards !
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
I have no respect for a musical instrument in and of itself.
I'm not interested in "the craft." I'm interested in the sound. I remember reading some years back, how young sitarists have to give themselves over to a master and be tutored in this and that for 7 years and I thought "later !!"
What? I never...Whatever. You play music with freinds(usually) , your group learns at different rates and you get the benefit of that in discussions. You decode your favorite CD by ear, and jam the song together. In a short time through competition you excel and become proficient. It is a short ladder to playing pop songs.

Give yourself?
Study?
A master?


What the hell are you into Grim.

That is training over time. Innovation, needs to be better than originally engineered. Otherwise, its nothing special, but a freak in the freakingdom.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
If they can play the instrument, then what does it matter ?
A bass doesnt really have chord forms, so flip it whatever.. A guitar..That will require rewiring the brain a bit more.
I'm not sure I would know it, even if I saw it.
But mentally, I've been kind of doing it with a mandolin for the last 30 years, because I was a bass player for 10 years before that and the mandolin strings are the same as the bass but strung backwards !
Why? Why string upside down anything? Playing is training, so who cares what's easiest. We dont do things because they are easy, we do them because they are hard.

If you strum a upside guitar for what..the sound of the up rake on a down?
 
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Farview

Well-known member
Some people are process based and others are results based. Both have their place. The problem comes when you are not agile enough to switch between the two modes at the appropriate times.
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Some people are process based and others are results based.
When I was learning, the guy would play it once. If I didn't get it , he would 'half joking' say..'what the fuck is wrong with you' and ' I just fucking showed you the progression' , or ' what's fucking wrong with you'..Jack David,, man they were jerks. I hate em to this day, we can only say so many words before we start arguing...old bandmates...cheers.
 
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Farview

Well-known member
When I was learning, the guy would play it once. If I didn't get it , he would 'half joking' say..'what the fuck is wrong with you' and ' I just fucking showed you the progression' , or ' what's fucking wrong with you'..Jack David,, man they were jerks. I hate em to this day, we can only say so many words before we start arguing...old bandmates...cheers.
Not sure how that relates to what you quoted...
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Not sure how that relates to what you quoted...
The process....and getting results

The people I played with were highly competitive. They would increase the pressure to perform through brutal insults. The competition would make you try harder. The pressure caused us to advance faster.
 
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