Bent's upside-down guitar playing

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    Punj Lizard

      Exchanging emails with my UK psychonaut friends today, one of them suggested he thinks Bent plays his guitars with the strings reversed – that is, lowest pitch string at the bottom, highest pitch sting at the top (which is the opposite of normal). So another friend checked out the Live at the OYA Festival 2006 video on YouTube and during The Wheel you can plainly see that the strings are indeed strung opposite to usual.

      I'm guessing this is not news to many of you, but maybe some of you can offer some comments and more info. Does he always play with the strings reversed? Or just on specific tracks? Why does he play with the strings reversed? What about when he plays 6-string? Can he play both ways – strings in the normal order and strings reversed? Is there anything this man can not do?


        Bent is talking about his bass guitars in the Motorpsycho Haircuts documentary:

        If I remember it well, he said that there was more choice of right handed guitars so he bought those instead of left-handed. And it was easier to keep the strings like that. And now he’s used to it.

        If you have the chance to buy the dvd, buy it! ;-)

        Punj Lizard

          Thanks Blashyrkh – If I have the chance I will definitely buy the Haircuts DVD.

          Does anybody have any further information or anecdotes about this subject?


          He indeed also plays his 6-string this way, you can clearly see it in a lot of videos. This is the first one that came to mind, but there are others:

          This is actually a topic I remember thinking a lot about way back when, because on a lot of (at least early) MP songs it sounded like he was “hitting” the strings the opposite way, with the highest pitched string first. As if a normal right handed guitarist would stroke from the bottom up instead of the normal way of up and down. Anyway, the stringing explained it, and it made a lot of the songs sound more weird and unique to me, and not least harder to play.. (I’m a detail-nerd, I confess;)

          I think this subject was commented on on another thread, and people had a list of guitarists doing the same. In Bents case it was apparently how he learned to play guitar. I guess there were no lefthand guitars in Snåsa;)

          EDIT: The Ballad of Pat & Put comes to mind, though there are also others.. But in Pat & Put you can clearly hear it all through the song, and it gives it a different vibe, at least in my ears..

          EDIT EDIT: Also in this gem

          Punj Lizard

            @ Bartok – Thanks. I've watched that swoon-inducing Mad Sun video a bunch of times but never noticed the guitar set-up. In this case, it's clearly a right-hand guitar just flipped over – the scratch plate is at the top rather than the bottom half of the guitar. Dead giveaway. But while Hendrix also flipped right-hand guitars and could play them that way, he preferred to restring them so the bottom E was back on top.

            EDIT: Thanks for the Feel video link too. Another flipped right-hand guitar. :D


            Yes I guess that’s how more sensible people would do it, if you could ever call Hendix sensible;)

            Punj Lizard

              Here's what they say about Hendrix in an article on lefties on the Gibson website.

              Jimi Hendrix was naturally left-handed but his father, Al, initially tried to force the young James to play right-handed. Al Hendrix reportedly believed playing left-handed was a sign of the devil. Why so? It has its roots in language. “Sinister”, in ancient Latin, means “left” and also “unlucky” – in modern times someone “sinister” is un-trusted or even evil. These linguistic oddities persist. “Right” means “correct” in English, obviously. In French, “gauche” means both “left” and “awkward.” So, even in language, left-handers get a bum deal.

              Jimi Hendrix tended to write right-handed – there are photos of Jimi signing autographs and writing lyrics right-handed. And Jimi did learn to play guitar right-handed, as demanded by his father Al. Jimi modified his first (right-handed) guitars for his natural leftism – restringing and changing the nut. But when Al was around, he felt he had to play a right-handed guitar simply flipped over (treble E at the top). So Jimi taught himself to be “both-handed.”

              Free’s Paul Kossoff, when he was a young guitar salesman in London, once recalled Jimi circa 1967 trying a guitar in the shop where Koss worked, and simply flipping it over so the treble E was closest to his face. And Hendrix still played brilliantly. Maybe all this explains why Jimi could play just about anything on the guitar?


              Wow. Great read. Thanx.


              Hey! I play lefty guitars too and I’m really interested in Bent’s way of playing.

              I’m sure that I’ve seen or read an interview somewhere when he talks about he’s uncommon way of playing, gonna check it.

              Well, Bent always played in the lefty way, but with the instruments strung upside down, in the right-handed way.

              This because when he started playing the bass, he just grabbed a right-handed one and played in the lefty way, without restringing it.

              This is Bent in

              “stated playin the drums a year or so later, switched to bass a few years after that when we had 2 drummers and no bass players/singer for our school band, and got stuck with it”

              When he was younger he used to play right-handed instruments because that for the southpaws where such a rarity:) but nowadays he almost always plays lefty basses (I love the Stavem basses) I think for the comfort!

              About his guitars, I’ve always seen him playing right-handed acoustic ones (you can easily figure out it looking at the pick-guard)

              About the electric guitars, I think the Gibson SG he plays in some songs it’s a lefty model (still strung upside down), but don’t remember clearly.

              Recently, I’ve also seen a photo of him playing a weird dark-green right-handed jazzmaster with bigsby…

              And about the technique, the upside down way of playing it’s such a unique approach to the bass that makes MP tunes more unique and special:)

              The way he plays chords it’s really interesting… Now, I’m thinking about the acoustic version of Madsun, that I really enjoy to play.

              I use to play it in the normal lefty way, but I wanted to try also to play it in Bent’s way… so I just grabbed a right-handed guitar from a friend, and tried the Bent’s experience :D

              It was fun:D chords are easily playable, because they’re a little bit unconventional

              (A simple example, he doesn’t play a standard “C” chord but a Cmaj7 chord, which is easily playable in the upside-down way)













              So these are the chords, Cmaj7, A, Em written in the normal lefty/righty way but you can easily play them with an upside down guitar

              Playing upside-down requires weird solutions and funny things and makes the MP songs even more special:)

              [sorry for my poor English]

              (edit: if u want to try these chords, remember that the acoustic version of Mad sun is a half step higher… you don’t see capos in the video because guitars are tuned-up… but the quicker solution is capo on first fret)




              Check this lovely photo of Bent, back in time when he was playing a right-handed Fender bass… and, funny thing, the G string is missing ;)


                Very interesting talking about Bent playing upside down… I would not get a single simple chord sounding… 😂 Old school photo. Dude.. Awesome…


                If you want to know more about Bent’s lefty universe, I reccomend this letter-Bent himself speaking…

                Bent Sæther – Motorpsycho

                "Hi Arni,

                I think a lefty-page is a fun idea, and would love to contribute.

                Good luck!


                I am 31 years old, a born & raised norwegian, and have played the big B since I was 14. Before that I played the drums for years, but switched when our band found itself with two drummers…

                My first encounter with stringed instruments was at school, and since everything was strung right-handed, I just turned a normal guitar upside down and learned to play that way. This never changed, and I still play with the thickest string on the bottom.

                Having played in a recording / touring band (Motorpsycho) for ten years, I've been through tons of different equipment, and my bass collection numbers approx. 15 ex.

                The most important / used ones are:…

                If you want to read more check this link:



                Punj Lizard

                  @Black-eyedJ – Thanks! Really intersting and informative. :D


                  Very interesting Black-eyedJ, also w regards to Mad Sun, thanx a bunch

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