BEING A SOUTHPAW MAKES FINDING A DECENT BASS A challenge. When I started playing the bass in the summer of 1990, I first did the Hendrix thing by flipping the strings on a right-handed bass. Of course, this is far from ideal, especially for a fingerstyle player: I kept turning down the volume unintentionally with my left hand. This prompted the search for an actual left-handed bass. On the far left of the picture you’ll see an early ’90s, off -white Charvel with Jackson elements, my first genuine lefty bass. It’s a passive P/J that served its purpose for several years, but I eventually replaced it.
As my financial status improved, so did my lust to buy a better bass. This was before the advent of Internet bass forums, so I spent many an afternoon talking basses with Paul Sips, owner of Paul’s Bass Matters in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. In the end, I settled on a custom a 4-string built by German luthier Sandberg, who gives left-handers all the same options as right-handed players and without extra charge. It’s truly an excellent-sounding bass with two humbuckers, 3-band active EQ, flame-maple top, and a personalized infinity symbol inlay on the 12th fret. Two years later, I bought another Sandberg, this time a double-humbucker 5-string; the lows on this one are truly gut-wrenching. It has Sandberg’s signature zebra-stripes milled out of its ash body, with a red finish and pearloid pickguard. And I recently fulfi lled my lifelong dream of owning an original MusicMan Stingray. The vintage sunburst, single-humbucker, tortoise pickguard bass is seen on the far right.
As for amplification, having had only combos for practice at home and borrowing stuff for gigs, about a year ago I was fed up with this dependency on others and decided to buy a Gallien-Krueger rig—this setup soiled my pants the moment I tested it. The Fusion 550, accompanied by a 2x12 Neo cab, is incredible: clear, crisp tone, louder than hell, and it delivers both funky slap tones as well as metal growls. I can honestly say this is the best money I ever spent on bass gear!
Although sometimes I still envy right-handed players who can walk into a music store and play different instruments off the rack, I could not be happier with the rig you see here (picture by Ronald van Maaren). Besides, lefties do it right!