Frits Jochems, avid lefty double bassist from Belgium, started out as a teenager on electric bass in blues groups with his brother on guitar but later took to jazz and classical music whilst a course member at the Turnhout music academy. He has played in the classical chamber music ensemble Turnhoutse Snaar for more than 20 years from baroque to contemporary and everything in between and also plays in New Sound Big Band and gypsy swing jazz quartet Le Hot Club de Campine.
September 28, 2021
We conducted the interview in English. A German translation will be available soon here .
Do you see yourself as a left-hander or a right-hander? Is that a part of your identity as a musician?
I definitely consider myself being a left-hander and it sure is part of my musical identity. Not only that, but it is also visually appealing
Have you always played your instruments left-handed?
Yes, always. It was most natural to me.
Have you faced reservations or concerns from other people about playing left-handed?
No, not really. Even my double bass teacher, a pro at the Belgian National Orchestra, could not find any reservations although it was an awkward sight for him. It never hindered our playing. He did mention I would have difficulty finding good instruments to try out. Indeed, the options are limited, sadly enough..
How did you come by your left-handed instrument? Is it custom-made?
Yes, my previous bass was custom hand-made and the one I use now also.
What are your experiences with playing left-handed in ensembles or orchestras? Have there been any problems?
No, never, since I'm the only double bassist in the classical ensemble, bigband and gypsy swing jazz quartet.
Has your left-handed playing ever caused any funny or strange situations?
No, not really. Some people act surprised when they (finally) notice I'm on the other side of the instrument. My answer: all other bassists stand on the wrong side, I'm the only one on the right (left) side.
Have there been negative reactions?
Only once, by a very reputable international luthier and dealer. His reaction to my left-handed playing was very predisposed and biased. Short-sighted really...
Does playing left-handed present any advantages?
No, but when playing in a duo setting, the mirror-image effect does have some advantages since you're somewhat standing towards each other.
You are the founder of the facebook group „Left-handed (lefty) double bass players“. Please tell us more about this fabulous initiative. Where did you get the idea? Who are the members?
Yes, I'm not an early Facebook-adopter but when I finally took to it, it struck me that there are several groups for lefty players (el. bass, guitar, ...) but there was nothing for double bassists, so I started the group. I keep a list of double bass players world-wide and it is continuously growing (> 50 by now!). Members of the Facebook-group and players on my list include professionals (mainly jazz bassists) and amateurs alike. It also includes EUB players (electric upright bass players).
There's more lefty players out there than we know...