Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Is playing a guitar with the bass strings on the bottom, highs on top, the best way?

  1. #1
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    Posts
    3,296

    Is playing a guitar with the bass strings on the bottom, highs on top, the best way?

    Oh! I would have thought this is a thread topic I should have started right away.
    That's how I play, basically, with a right-handed neck on a left-handed body.
    When I was a teenager, I was playing my brothers' acoustic guitar,
    my neighbours' acoustic guitar, my other neighbours' electric guitar,
    my high school friends acoustic guitar, who let me change the strings to be left-handed.
    That meant I had to buy a new set of strings for him after I gave it back.
    I was playing right-handed, left-handed and left-handed upside down.
    That was easy, because I wasn't playing barre chords.
    I had a violin and a trumpet, what I really wanted to play, even if I was a slacker,
    just getting into it whenever I felt like it.
    It was hard to find the same note twice on the violin. and the trumpet gave me a headache.

    When I saw Jimi Hendrix and dropped out of high school for a steel factory job, in 1970,
    I bought a '64 Stratocaster and a Marshall amp with effects, now hot to play electric lead guitar.
    That was five months before Jimi Hendrix passed away. And yes, it was a right-hander.
    I got semi-agonista every day about how to play, right-handed or lefty like Jimi,
    when I thought having the bass strings on the bottom with highs on top was easier.
    And when I say easier, that's just how it felt on my fingers, softer, and the bends.
    I was pulling the high strings down, getting bends I thought Jimi used a tremolo arm for.
    I knew his albums were heavily dubbed together, doing any and everything they could,
    and the riffs I was catching with his albums, some recorded and played backwards,
    showed me you had to play some of them with the bass on the bottom.
    You can't let the G, B and E strings ring open, feeding back with effects,
    and play the E, A and D without having the highs on top.

    I'll save my story about Mr. George Benson taking me backstage to help me decide, in 1970,
    for later, if anyone is interested.

    What got me going today is seeing this photo for this YouTube video of Jimi playing bass.
    I've been looking at everything Jimi ever since I saw him at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto,
    and this is the first photo of him playing a bass left-handed.
    I've seen a video of him playing an S.G. left-handed, so I should look for that,
    if anyone is interested.

    I can also get into seeing Jimi in Toronto, the real Jimi, and his "axis of sound",
    more about the very original and one-of-a-kind P.A. he had set up.

    After I upload this video, I'm going to look for an Eric Gale video,
    so you can see how he plays upside-down.
    I actually believe he's not as much of a lead guitarist as myself,
    but then, if anyone is interested, or challenges me, and I always want to be called out,
    I'd be willing to make a video of myself playing in ways he doesn't.
    You can also blame some of my attitude on Mr. George Benson.
    He was laughing at me, what I could do that he couldn't,
    and it was a very good laughter we both shared. He made learning amazing.

    Even if this is pre-1970, you can see how much bass you can play, as you play lefty all the way.



  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    Posts
    3,296
    Eric Gales is making a big name for himself in rock band circles, and he's jazzy too.
    I'm not sure if he first made it big playing on the Jimi Hendrix estate sponsored tour.
    This song is "Little Wing", a Jimi Hendrix original, and a song a lot of players play,
    becoming iconic as a cover tune.
    Now, when I'm saying I can play more than Eric Gales does, here's just one simple reason.
    He's playing a right-handed guitar upside-down.
    The first thing I did when I took my 1964 Fender Stratocaster, a sunburst, home,
    was take my fathers' hacksaw and cut the right-handed body scallop to be level with the left,
    thinking it was even like an S.G. so I could have the same upper fret access that right-handers had.
    Jimi never did that, don't ask me why. I've got a lot of opinions on why he only used a right-handed guitar onstage.
    I just looked enough to see if it works, so I'm going to look at this video again.


    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-18-2018 at 14:05.

  3. #3
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    Posts
    3,296
    Right away, warming up, I'm thinking the bassist is riffing off some notes and tone like Jaco Pastorius,
    so a more melodic bass could be an innovative and more modern style.
    In a way, losing upper fret access by keeping a right-handed neck on a right-handed body,
    is worth it. If he was changing the strings around to be a mirror image of right-handed guitarists,
    the bass strings would be the longest to the tuners,
    and going through the string retainers would make those big coils bind up more than unwound strings,
    taking you out of tune all the time when you got into some tremolo arm use.
    You can see Jimi is tuning up all the time onstage, and that's one of the reasons.

    Eric isn't making any attempt to play the busy back-up guitar Jimi does,
    and instead of starting the solo with a big bending note, with all the tone you can get,
    he's staying mellow, not a warm jazz tone, but more r'n'b style.
    This is surprising me, considering none of the video comments were getting into that.
    It looks like he's... yes... he hit a foot effect and here we go.
    It's a little fuzzy-buzzy, not up there in the feedback zone...
    and I'm not hearing any wah-wah screaming or crying....
    That's nice... mellowing it out... singing "when I'm bad" instead of "when I'm sad",
    and playing lead along with his singing, something I don't think Jimi ever did.
    Mr. George Benson did that, really nice, and I've practiced to take it where I'm harmonizing.
    Now we're hearing some Jaco style bass, maybe even some Ian Drury "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" bass lines,
    getting off-time funky with it.
    This wasn't the singular musical journey Jimi took you along for, more of an even flow,
    while Eric has segmented compartments, but I'd pay a cover charge and offer to buy him a drink.
    I'd ask him if he wanted to shake left hands with someone who saw Jimi Hendrix.

    Oh yeah! If you're going to read this thread, at least what I've got to type about,
    it's going to be fully fontal, getting both the right and left-handed perspectives.

    Going to see Mr. George Benson so I could ask him to help me make up my mind,
    might be the only time in my life I went out of my way to ask someone to do that for me.
    What did he say that convinced me, and what did he play and move my fingers and ask me to play,
    that not only convinced me even more, but taught him a lesson?
    Fretting fingers should want to know!
    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-18-2018 at 14:28.

  4. #4
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    Posts
    3,296
    Here's an upside-down bassist with more happening than Jimi Hendix.
    He's saying it's an instrumental song, but he's just jamming up a bass riff and holding the groove.
    I can hear myself playing guitar and singing along.
    He'd have more upper fret access if he had a right-handed neck on a left-handed body,
    and he wouldn't have to limit arm movements if the knobs were underneath.
    And if he stood up to play, the imbalance of having strap-holders on the right-handed side,
    would create more problems.


    Last edited by John Watt; Dec-19-2018 at 20:28. Reason: had to add left-handed comments

Similar Threads

  1. Video of guitar strings
    By Dorsetmike in forum Musical Instruments Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Jul-17-2011, 15:01
  2. Bass Guitar Forum
    By dgiddings in forum Musical Instruments Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: Nov-08-2008, 09:37
  3. Playing the double-bass with two bows...
    By Corno Dolce in forum Community Center and Chat Forum
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Mar-14-2008, 19:32
  4. Using a bow with bass guitar?
    By 2kdav in forum General Rock Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Apr-21-2006, 10:25

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •