Imagine playing a “righty-strung” bass, upside down and backwards!
By Jon Liebman
June 25, 2018
This week, I had a great conversation with long-time Billy Idol bass player Stephen McGrath, who told me all about growing up in Japan, not speaking English till he was around 6 or 7, studying engineering, working with Tom Petty and Babyface and lots more.
We also talked about the fact that he’s a lefty. Okay, you say, there are plenty of lefty guitar players and bass players, right? Paul McCartney, for one. Yves Carbonne and dUg Pinnick are on the list, as is John Patitucci (John plays righty-style, but he’s actually left-handed).
Stephen is part of the rare breed of lefty bassists who hold their instruments like lefties, but actually string them like righties. In other words, they would take a “righty-strung” bass, turn it over, and play it upside down! Hard as it may be to believe, he’s not the only one. We talked a bit about Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets and Scott Reeder from Kyuss, both of whom play lefty/righty bass. Jason Christopher, who’s played a lot with Corey Taylor and Stone Sour, Ministry, Sebastian Bach, etc., is even more unusual in that, though he holds both his bass and guitar like a lefty, but his bass is strung lefty-style, and his guitar is strung righty-style (upside down). MonoNeon is even more unique. He’s actually right-handed, but plays a righty-strung bass like a lefty (I always thought slapping – and popping! – like that would be impossible, but Mono proves otherwise).
Generally speaking, if life is more difficult for “southpaws,” they don’t seem to mention it, nor complain about it. Still, I think we should acknowledge and commend them for finding ways to “make it work” in a predominantly right-handed world.
Check out my interview with Stephen on ForBassPlayersOnly.com by clicking here. You can also see great interviews with Scott Reeder, dUg Pinnick, John Patitucci, Jimmy Haslip, Jason Christopher and Sir Paul McCartney.