Calling all lefty bassists out there – have you ever found yourself frustrated by the sheer mass of right-handed bass guitars out there, wishing that there was some sort of “Best Left Handed Bass Guitars Guide” to ease the pain? Well, I’ve got some incredible news for you – you’re about to read that guide right now!
Whilst I’m not left-handed myself, my younger nephew is, and earlier this year he decided to embark on the exciting journey of becoming a bassist. Let’s just say that it was an absolute nightmare, and I can relate to your pain. I helped him throughout this as I’ve been playing the bass (right-handed, mind) for around seven years, and I learned a ton along the way.
I’ve decided to compile everything that I learned into this best-handed bass guitars guide, hoping that I can prevent someone from going through the frustrations that my nephew and I had to. So, whether you’re a left who’s looking for their first bass guitar or a lefty looking to upgrade to something more professional, this is the guide for you – read on to find out more!
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re in the market for a
How to Know if You Should Buy a Left or Right Handed Bass Guitar
If you’re reading this guide, there’s a high chance that you already know that you are a left-handed bass guitarist. After all, most people figure out their dexterity from a young age and tend to stick to the same hand for every skill and hobby. However, I’d encourage you to take a moment to rethink that, because music can very much be an ambidextrous skill.
I say this from experience – you wouldn’t believe the number of people that I know that struggle at some point in their life with playing right-handed instruments, even though they had always identified as right-handed. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case, but I can only assume that it is something to do with how using a fretboard is not exactly a natural movement for your hands.
If you have already begun to learn the bass guitar as a right-handed player and you are getting on alright, then you probably have nothing to worry about. However, I would personally recommend that every
Are Left-Handed Bass Guitars As Good As Right-Handed Bass Guitars?
We’ll be getting on to the qualities that you should look for in a left-handed bass guitar very shortly, but I just wanted to clear the air about a common misconception. At least once a year, I hear my music students claim that left-handed bass guitars (or left-handed instruments in general) are not as good as right-handed alternatives. These people claim that bass guitars were initially designed with the neck to be to the left of the body and that any other way is just a poor compromise.
This is such a load of rubbish, every time I hear someone saying this I feel like I have to prove them wrong. Have you ever heard of a man called Paul McCartney? He’s only the most famous bassist in the entire world of music, and he played left-handed. Usually, I mention that fun fact, and the left-handed bass guitar haters stop talking pretty quickly.
If you feel more comfortable playing a left-handed bass guitar, you should stick with that. There is no reduction in quality, disadvantage, or any other disability regarding playing the bass left-handed. Left-handed musicians historically seem to be better at their instruments than their right-handed comrades. If Paul McCartney wasn’t enough to prove this, just think about other iconic musicians such as Jimi Hendrix on the electric guitar, or Phil Collins on the drums. Yup – that’s what I thought!
What to Look For in an Excellent Left Handed Bass Guitar
Right – now that I’ve got my rant about how there is nothing wrong with being a left-handed bass guitarist, let’s begin with our deep dive into the qualities that you should be keeping an eye out for when you are shopping for a left-handed bass. I’m going to break things down into five key categories – comfort, aesthetic, tone, electronics, and cost vs. quality.
Considering that we are talking specifically about left-handed bass guitars, I think that it’s important to start with comfort – this is the most essential part of learning any musical instrument, but when it comes to dexterity, this is particularly important.
Before you even think about buying a left-handed bass, you are going to need to ensure that it feels comfortable to play. One of the best ways to test this out is to head to a music store such as Guitar Center and ask the staff nicely if you could try out both a left and a right-handed bass guitar. There’s no better way to figure this obstacle out than to get some hands-on experience with both dexterities, and I guarantee that you will know soon enough.
Don’t just try a single left-handed bass out though – bass guitars come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes, and weights, and all of these elements will affect how comfortable the instrument is. Try out a few different models and you will soon discover not only whether you prefer right-handed or left-handed bass guitars, but also which style, size, and shape works best for you.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s think about something more universal to any bass guitar, not just left-handed bass guitars – tone. The tone is perhaps the second most important factor to consider when purchasing any form of stringed instrument. It determines how the instrument is going to sound when you plug it into your amplifier, and the root of this all comes down to the bass guitar’s body.
Whilst shape is certainly an important contributing factor to the tone of a bass guitar, and even more important element is the tonewoods that have been used. These determine how the frequencies resonant from the strings and around the instrument before they are picked up electronically. There are many different bass guitar tonewoods, but perhaps the two most commonly found are Northern hard ash and the appropriately named Basswood.
Northern hard ash is a popular tonewood that is very heavy and dense, producing a tone that I have always described as balanced yet bass-heavy with snappy mids. It makes it excellent for rock, pop, and metal bass guitarists, but it can be a pain if you are looking for something a little lighter. When my nephew and I were testing out bass guitars, Northern hard ash was simply too much for him, and we were recommended a bass made out of basswood.
Boy was that a good move – it was significantly lighter, yet it sounded just as good, if not better than the tone that came out of the Northern hard ash. Both of these tonewoods sound fantastic and I don’t think you could say that one is better than the other as it is all down to personal preference. However, the weight has a lot to do with it.
Let’s be honest – whilst playing the bass guitar is a super fun hobby, an excellent way to express yourself musically, and an overall great way to spend your time, it also looks pretty cool – period. For this reason, I think it would be crazy not to seek out a left-handed bass guitar that has an aesthetic that you like, so you should spend a bit of time thinking about this.
Some bass guitar elitists will say that looks have nothing to do with bass performance, and whilst this is true, I think that it contributes greatly to the personality of an instrument and thus how it is played.
For example, if I had found a left-handed bass guitar for my nephew that had stunning tonewoods and optimum comfort, but was neon yellow, I doubt that the poor kid would ever want to join a band – he hates yellow! However, he was a huge fan of the sunburst finish bass that we found him, and to this day I am sure that it had a dramatic impact on how often he plays the instrument.
Imagine practicing on your new left-handed electric bass guitar for months, writing your compositions with some friends, and finally scoring your first gig. You finally made it! As you strut onto the stage with your wonderful left-handed bass guitar, something terrible happens – the ¼ jack input on your bass starts playing up, and you can’t get any sound out into the bass amp!
I witnessed this exact scenario at a gig once, and the bass guitarist was left-handed. This was an absolute disaster, because whilst other bands sympathized and offered for him to borrow their bass guitars, they were all right-handed. No options were remaining other than for the poor dude to give up, and just like that, the gig was canceled.
That may all sound very dramatic, but it struck a chord with me. Electronics are at the core of a good electric bass guitar, and whilst they may not be too complicated, they truly do need to be configured perfectly.
Sadly, it’s a fact of life that left-handed products sometimes do not receive the care and attention that right-handed products do. I think it’s because they are less common and therefore some companies simply knock up a left-handed model at the last minute, without really thinking about the quality.
Don’t worry too much though – as long as you purchase your left-handed bass guitar from a reputable bass brand with a stellar reputation and excellent reviews, you should be good. I’ve only ever come across faulty electronics on extremely cheap bass guitars, so as long as you don’t try to cheap out, you should be absolutely fine.
Cost Vs. Quality
That last point brings me to the final factor that you should look for in a left-handed bass guitar – an excellent cost to quality ratio.
It’s a sad fact of life that expensive musical instruments generally are of a higher quality. It’s the same with cars, clothes, houses, and jewelry, and it’s certainly the case for left-handed bass guitars. However, this fact is also contrasted by the classic phrase that “it’s not the tools that you use, but the way that you use them”.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing a cheap left-handed bass guitar, and if you are on a budget, it may be your only option. You will still be able to master the instrument just as much as you could on a $2,000 bass guitar – that’s a fact.
However, I’m not saying that you should spend as little as possible on your electric bass. If you are serious about learning the instrument and you have some cash to splash, you should consider saving up a decent wad of cash for it.
My Top 3 Left-Handed Bass Recommendations
Phew – that sure was a lot of information to cover! We’ve investigated everything from how to know whether you should choose a left-handed bass guitar, what makes an excellent bass, and why nothing is limiting about playing left-handed! So, without further ado, let’s take a look at three of my top left-handed bass guitar recommendations – I’ve picked one from three different price ranges, so I’m sure there will be something there for you to check out!
I struggled to choose a budget
The bass looks lovely with its classic black finish, the tone is punchy and clear, and the lightweight tonewoods make the bass super comfortable to play for beginners of any age. Best of all though, it even comes with a soft case, a guitar cable, a guitar strap, spare strings, and most impressively of all, a 15W amplifier!
When you consider the low price of this left-handed bass guitar, that’s a stupidly good deal. Perhaps a better option will come along in the future, but right now, this is the deal of the century in my books!
- Extremely good value for money
- Lightweight, making it ideal for a comfortable
- Comes bundled with a soft case, guitar cable, guitar strap, spare strings, and 15W amp
- Whilst it’s a great value for money bass, the quality is reflective of the cheap price
Fender Player Jazz Bass
The next left-handed bass guitar that I wanted to recommend is for all you jazz heads out there – it’s the Fender Player Jazz Bass, a stunning bass made out of Brazilian Pau Ferro wood, giving it sonic characteristics that are very similar to the stunning smooth tones of rosewood.
Straight away, the name should give things away here – it’s a Fender bass, and that can only mean one thing – high-quality! Fender has always been fantastic at producing high-quality instruments at an affordable price, and I can say from experience that their customer service and warranty program are second to none.
It’s undeniable that this is more of an intermediate left-handed bass, and the price reflects this. It’s a great option for bassists who have been playing for a couple of years on something like the previously mentioned LA, and are now looking to upgrade. If you’ve got the cash to splash and you’re craving that jazzy bass tone, sure – you could use it as a
- Made out of Brazilian Pau Ferro tonewood, giving it similar sounds to rosewood
- Designed by Fender, a brand with a stellar reputation
- Ideal tones for jazz musicians
- If you’re not a fan of jazz tones, you might not be a fan of this bass
- More of an intermediate upgrade than a
Dingwall NG-3 5
The last guitar on my list is the Dingwall NG-3 5-string left-handed bass guitar. You heard that right – it’s left-handed, and has five strings! These are the kind of features that most bass guitarists will breeze past, wondering why anyone would ever want to purchase such a bass. Well, if you like the progressive riffs of djent and progressive metal, and you are left-handed, this could be the perfect bass for you!
It must be said that this is a very expensive left-handed bass guitar, and it’s not just because it’s got five strings. This one-of-a-kind instrument was designed by none other than Adam Getgood, the bassist of the djent band Periphery (if you know, you know). He added a bunch of interesting features to make this bass stand out – it’s got a carbon-fiber pickguard, and a range of interesting racing-inspired finishes, but perhaps most importantly of all, it features a Darkglass Tone Capsule pre-amp!
That last feature is important because it allows left-handed bassists to take a step away from jazz and rock, and pull off the insane tones present in djent and metal music. Sure, it’s seriously expensive and certainly not a
- Designed by the Periphery bassist Adam Getgood
- Carbon fiber pickguard
- Darkglass Tone Capsule pre-amp
- Stunning selection of finishes
- Sleek and angular body
- A seriously expensive bass guitar, not recommended for beginners
- Not a very appropriate left-handed bass guitar for jazz or pop musicians
Question: How Do You Know If You Need A Left-Handed or Right-Handed Bass Guitar?
Answer: Regardless of your usual dexterity, you should always test out both left and right-handed bass guitars before purchasing one, as different people find different setups comfortable.
Question: What Qualities Should You Look For In A Left-Handed Bass Guitar?
Answer: Every good left-handed bass guitar should be comfortable to hold, have reliable electronics, suit your aesthetic preference, have decent quality tonewoods, and have a reasonable cost to quality ratio.
Question: What Are The Most Popular Tonewoods for Bass Guitars?
Answer: The most common tonewoods found on bass guitars are Northern hard ash and the appropriately named basswood
Question: Do All Bass Guitar Brands Produce a Left-Handed Bass?
Answer: Whilst the variety of left-handed bass guitars may initially feel limited, most bass guitar brands will still produce at least one left-handed alternative.
Well, that brings us to the end of this guide to the best left-handed bass guitars! I truly hope that I have helped make your bass journey a little easier, and hopefully, you will no longer have to experience the struggle that my nephew went through.
If I was buying a left-handed bass guitar as a
I wish you all the best on your left-handed bass journey, and remember – if anyone ever tells you that right-handed instruments are better, remind them that Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Phil Collins were all left-handed – good luck!