How to Play Bass Guitar Left-Handed

Fender offers this left handed bass guitar as an ideal starting option, providing an affordable yet solidly built instrument with big sound for its size.

Don’t let conformists discourage you from playing bass; there is an incredible variety of left handed basses available that could suit you perfectly!

Positioning Your Hand

When playing bass guitar left handed it is crucial that one’s hand be placed in such a manner that allows their fingers to move freely without obstruction. Otherwise, fret notes won’t be fretted accurately or may even miss completely!

Students of guitar should understand the concept of “one finger per fret”. This refers to pressing down with their index or middle finger on one fret only – any attempt to spread your fingers beyond this could cause unnecessary strain in their hand, so beginners should aim to maintain this position when starting out.

Left-handed bass players should employ a moveable anchor technique with their thumb, to support and assist their hand as it traverses across the bass neck. Students should experiment with various positions of their thumb in relation to the neck until finding what feels most natural for their hand.

This technique utilizes your thumb as a pivot when playing with other fingers. Position your thumb so it is in line with the second finger and pointing upward in an archway; this provides stability and provides enough strength for fretting notes with other fingers.

Position and technique of your left hand are of critical importance when playing bass guitar. Faulty positions or techniques will require extra effort from your hand in making sound, leading to fatigue during lengthy practice sessions.

New students often make the mistake of placing too much pressure on their thumb when playing. This is problematic as it forces your thumb into an unnatural position that causes strings to bend out of tune when pressing down on them, and further reduces power from other fingers which will then not be able to play as efficiently.


Reducing time between notes relies on one simple concept – each finger taking care to depress one fret. Although this may seem obvious, beginners must remain committed to this practice from day one; otherwise their fingers could collide when hitting strings, rendering playing fast and accurate phrases impossible. Keeping strict to this discipline from day one is especially crucial when learning a new instrument!

As part of their tuition in developing correct posture, I ask students to form the shape of a C with their hands. When doing this, their thumb should line up with all five fingers and be pointed in an upward motion – this allows for good feel while simultaneously freeing the fingers to move freely around the neck and frets without much shifting of hand position (particularly important as bass progresses further up its fretboard, since distance between notes narrows more rapidly).

Students just starting on four strings may prefer anchoring their left thumb on the pickup, so as to reduce how often they touch the strings. While this approach might mute the E string as you play, ultimately it is more beneficial for a student to focus on positioning their fingers correctly on the fretboard.

Traditional bassists employ a first, second, third and fourth finger system when playing lower positions; the third finger works to depress the string. However, many guitarists have developed unique approaches to fingering bass; you might see players like Merle Travis use three fingers for melodies notes instead.

Starting out with the neck block is often recommended as an effective approach to learning the bass. This involves placing their right hand at the fifth fret of A string while their left hand occupies first fret of B string – this will enable them to master all open chords prior to moving onto scales or more advanced left-hand techniques.

Plucking Strings

Beginners often begin by using their thumb to strum the bass, which can become problematic for left-handed players. It will force the string against its fret by pushing against it with their hand and creating fret buzz. One solution for this would be moving your thumb closer to the string you are playing; this will reduce pressure applied and allow your finger to travel quicker across all strings.

As another method, placing your thumb on the string above where you are fretting will help silence any strings you aren’t fretting and prevent accidental string grazing when picking up your hand for change in notes. Some bassists prefer doing this with all their fingers while you should experiment to find what best suits your playing style and desired effect.

Left-handed students of classical music may encounter challenges when learning how to fret using their left-handed fretting hand; this may prove particularly challenging when learning with online bass guitar resources or teachers who are right-handed and you are left-handed.

At its core, playing bass guitar should be enjoyable for you – whether that means learning the fundamental chords or creating songs from scratch. Step one should be finding an instrument suitable to both your playing style and aesthetic – which in a world dominated by right-handed instruments may require extensive shopping around.


No matter which hand is your dominant one, proper fingering technique on bass guitar is key to reaching chords or notes comfortably while also avoiding strain on either arm and potential injury over time. Students must learn to make small and precise movements with their fretting hand for fretting notes while only moving their fingers when necessary to prevent injury over time. Students should practice making these small precise movements with both fretting hands to achieve this result and avoid extra stress on either arm that could result in lasting injuries over time.

An essential aspect of good fretting hand position is keeping the thumb relaxed. Depending on the style of music being performed, students may benefit from positioning their thumb at approximately 12 o’clock towards either the kingpin or pickup selector switch; this enables index and middle fingers to fret more freely without accidental muting of strings by their thumb.

Students should ensure their wrists remain straight when playing bass guitar to prevent unnecessary strain on wrists and arms, especially over longer playing sessions. Many bassists play for hours at a time so having good technique will enable them to remain focused on musical goals without compromising comfort or accuracy with fretting hand techniques.

Students learning bass should aim to strike their strings with an appropriate level of force when striking them with their pick, since varying the force can help create different tones and reduce string noise/distortion. More modern genres such as rock and metal often require greater force when striking strings than lighter styles such as jazz or funk which typically need less stress on them.

Encourage students to depress the strings with just their primary fretting fingers; this will reduce unnecessary thumb pressure while helping the student understand that a full sound on bass can still be achieved when only their primary fretting fingers are used to fret it. Chromatic patterns or exercises such as George Vance’s Progressive Repertoire series may also be beneficial in further honing fretting technique.