View Full Version : Lefty Mandolins?

May-18-2005, 3:21pm
I just finished my first left-handed mandolin. I would be interested in seeing other left handed mandolins and in particular I would like to see headstocks. So if there are any left handed players or pictures floating around out there, let's have a look. Here are few pictures of my BRW headstock in reverse!

May-18-2005, 3:24pm
...the headstock

May-18-2005, 3:25pm
....scroll on the other side!

Skip Kelley
May-18-2005, 3:48pm
I don't have any pics to post but, that is one fine looking mandolin! As nice a work as you will ever see!! Great job!

May-18-2005, 5:01pm
Strange; approx. 20% of the population is left-handed, yet only one out of approx. 60 BRW mandolins was built left-handed. Does this mean the vast majority of left-handed mandolinists play upside down and re-strung?

May-18-2005, 7:29pm
Strange; approx. 20% of the population is left-handed,
I've read it's more like 12%.

I think the more likely explanation is that many left-handed people learn to play right-handed. Chris Thile is left-handed (or at least he writes with his left hand). Or maybe left-handed people are more likely to be at least somewhat ambidextrous because they grow up in a right-handed world?

Will Kimble
May-18-2005, 7:31pm
Here's a shot of my only left handed mandolin, luckily I didn't have to do anything unusual with the headstock since it is symmetrical. I'm looking forward to doing a left handed F some day... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Will Kimble

May-18-2005, 11:41pm
Darn! I wanted to see you mirror the BRW logo. Bob Givens made a left handed F5 copy about 35 years ago, with a left handed flowerpot, and the owner debated on having him inlay "The Gibson" as a mirror image as well. (That was about the time he built the "Mastertoad" banjo neck to meet an alcohol inspired customer's desires, with the flying eagle pattern inlays modified to resemble posed toads.)

May-19-2005, 5:37am
I built this left handed M23 three or four years ago for a guy in Colorado. The logo was a real problem and the only mistake I made was to cut the fingerboard the "right" way. Fortunately it was reusable!

May-19-2005, 6:40am
This is my 1983 Hutto. This is the first instrument that John put "The Hutto" in the peghead. Before this one he used The Gibson.

May-19-2005, 8:00am
Nice mandolins guys, I think it is amazing that on Will's mandolin even though most of the instrument is symmetrical all it takes is a pickguard on the left to really change the appearance. It really surprises me how accustomed our perception becomes to the balance of the instrument's design. The fingerboard extender is what really changes it for my eye on the left handed model. When I look at the F body without the fingerboard it seems to have the same natural balance that I see in a right handed model, but once that fingerboard goes on (and pickguard) the visual "weight" seems to be drastically changed. It makes me wonder how much the fingerboard end plays into the aesthetic appearance on the right handed models. I guess I just don't notice it as much because of my familiarity with the right handed models which seem congruent with the ever common left-to-right symmetry that we see everyday all around us. I prefer to use a more modern symmetrical fingerboard on my F models rather than the classic "Florida" shaped one. I feel that the physical symmetry of the modern fingerboard end leaves the perceived object symmetry of the F body shape unchanged, which I prefer. But I more often am requested to do the "Florida" shaped end which I believe changes the perceived symmetry of the instrument in a presence versus absence type of determination. I wonder if the historical familiarity of the "Florida" shaped fingerboard end or the change in overall symmetry perception it creates has more to do with the desire for a traditional extension versus a modern one. This is assuming of course that there is no physical difference in the case that the traditional extender is scooped or fretless to remove its function. I am sure that different factors affect different observers. I think that the left handed models have convinced me that I personally prefer the more modern symmetrical extension because I think it does less to change the visual "weight" of the F-Style body and I personally like the balance of the F body shape unchanged. In a similar fashion the headstocks look just as good to me in reverse until the inlay is put in. The inlay affects the balance and I notice that right away when I see it in reverse. The problem with the inlay is that even though the headstock is reversed we still read left-to-right and there is no changing that so we are forced to fit our lettering into a different space and therefore change the balance. Hans had to really work to fit his J and B up into the interstice between the bindings on the scroll side of the headstock. The reason I asked about headstocks in my original post is precisely because I noticed right away that the object symmetry has to be changed when putting in a logo backwards and I was interested in seeing how that played out on left handed mandolins other than mine.

oldwave maker
May-19-2005, 10:25am
Bravo Ben! what an adventure. I get dizzy just looking at that reversed f5 peghead. Was once going to make a lefty fiddle cuz I was scaring the cockroaches trying to saw righty, asked VSA's Sam Compton about making a lefty, he went down the all-star list of lefty fiddlers who play righty, from Paganini to Perlman, so I abandoned the project and fiddlin either way. Most recent ow birdseye/engelmann/desert ironwood lefty a, #351:

May-19-2005, 11:12am
Here's a shot of my only left handed mandolin
If that's your only one, then it must be the one I saw in the hands of my friend Jeff Vogelsang the other night. It sounded good.

Will Kimble
May-19-2005, 11:25am
Yup, that's Jeff's mandolin! #I am hoping to hear him pick on it one of these days.

Will Kimble

May-19-2005, 2:22pm
You're right, BRW. Here's a french 1988 left one. Now, I have a second one to be build, and there will be no name on the headstock ( but luthier's name engraved on the James tailpiece) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

May-19-2005, 2:52pm
heres one

David Houchens
May-23-2005, 10:41pm
Will, I have also heard Jeff's new lefty mandolin. I agree with John,Very Nice.


May-24-2005, 11:16am
I think a lot of left-handed people play right handed. I am left-handed and play right. It's the same in gold too. Tiger if left-handed and plays right, Phil is right and plays left. In my case it was because everyone I knew played right-handed so I just copied what they did. But who knows.

Jun-25-2005, 2:26pm
I'm left handed as well. I don't feel awkward playing either way really. Many people around me play guitar and whenever the topic comes up they tell me to play a lefty. They even tell me how some southpaws who stuck to their right handed instruments limited their potential and hit a sort of barrier later on.
I currently play a Fender FM52E FM Series Acoustic-Electric Mandolin, Its right handed for now. What would I have to do to make it a lefty? Can a local music shop handle that for me?

Jun-25-2005, 2:30pm
Original Left-handed A4 snakehead.. with virzi!


Jun-25-2005, 3:12pm
Another vintage lefty.. 2 inlaid pickguards..


Jun-25-2005, 8:26pm

The A-4 virzi looks normal to me with the fingerboard ext.
what maks it an original lefty?

Jun-26-2005, 5:40pm
I agree woith you, Michael, This A4 hasn't the right fingerboard ! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Here is a real lefty scroll.

Jun-27-2005, 12:01pm
Actually it does have a "Right" fingerboard!

The pickguard, nut, and bridge were original lefties.. that's enough for me.. I guess they didn't mirror the fingerboard like you would have expected. Extension under the bass strings?

Darryl Wolfe
Jun-27-2005, 12:40pm
The A-4 and left handed concept bears a bit more discussion. It has a left handed guard and the bridge and nut were originally done LH. #It does seem that it would have been easy and far more correct and "cool" if the fingeboard had been reversed and the "The Gibson" inlay rotated at an opposite angle, so that it wouldn't be upside down. #I think turning the stamping on the tailpiece would be too much to ask though

Jun-27-2005, 1:24pm
It does seem that it would have been easy and far more correct and "cool" if the fingeboard had been reversed and the "The Gibson" inlay rotated at an opposite angle, so that it wouldn't be upside down. #I think turning the stamping on the tailpiece would be too much to ask though
We didn't find any "good" solution for the peghead, except this one !

Jun-27-2005, 1:29pm
Lefty tailpiece with luthier's name (thanks Bill James).

Darryl Wolfe
Jun-27-2005, 2:01pm
nice concept Lefty. I had a guitar done that way on the back of the peghead (slot head 45 style torch on front, maker logo on back)

Jun-27-2005, 3:56pm
Thanks a lot, F5journl. I really like it too (slot head 45 style torch on front, maker logo on back). Here, it's a fern like front peghead.

Jul-05-2005, 9:38am
Thought y'all might like see my left-handed Wayne Henderson