View Full Version : Can lefties play right handed?

Dec-20-2005, 8:46am
I have a son who is left handed...8 years old. I just bought him a Baritone Uke... Tuning it like a guitars DGBE.

Question, should I teach him right or left handed. Have any of you lefties learned right handed? #When starting out can you learn right just as easy? #Sure would make life easier and cheaper doing it right handed.

Would like input before Christmas.. cause I will have to switch strings around.

Thanks ya'll.


mando bandage
Dec-20-2005, 9:16am
Chris Thile does, and rather well in many people's opinion.


Dec-20-2005, 9:28am
I have no problems being left handed and playing right handed. It makes things a lot easier finding instruments.

John Flynn
Dec-20-2005, 9:44am
My best friend in high school, who taught me to play guitar and who later made his living as bass player, was a lefty who played right handed. He learned on his older brother's guitars and they were righties. FYI, just switching the strings around on that uke may not produce good results. There is more luthiery that needs to be done to switch from right to left, like re-cutting the nut and re-setting the bridge. Also, if your son learns right handed, he will have a greater selection of instruments to choose from. FYI, almost all fiddle players play right handed, even if they are left handed. There are very few exceptions.

Dec-20-2005, 10:06am
Great input thank you. #Confirms my thoughts that learning right handed would be best. #I didn't know Chris T was a leftie... yeah, he plays pretty good... #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Thanks for the tip on the nut... I was aware of that and looking at the nut on this inexpesive Johnson wasn't sure if I saw a difference in the groove width. #Knew it might buzz.

In any case I am going to leave it the way it is and teach him right handed.

Thanks so much!

If you want answers Mandolin Cafe is the place to go!


Hey, would love to hear other stories if you want to keep it comin! #

BTW Have any of you guys/gals seen lefties playing a guitar upside down? #I have, it's cool to see what a guy will do when he wants to play.

Dec-20-2005, 10:08am
I am left and play righty and I have no trouble. Thile does is and like said earlier, it works from him too. Overall there is just more to choose from even outside the would of music. Just like Tiger Woods is left handed and plays golf righty, as I do the same thing...just not with as good results as Tiger does...or Thile for that matter.

Scott Rucker
Dec-20-2005, 3:13pm
I'll echo what others have said. I, too, am a lefty playing right handed. My twin daughters, one of whom is a lefty, started violin lessons at age 8. The lefty is doing just fine on the right handed instrument.

mando bandage
Dec-20-2005, 5:09pm
Okay, this is a stretch, but somehow it seems relevant. I know identical twins that both play guitar, one lefty, one right-handed. When they perform on stage, they are "book-matched" or mirror-imaged. It just seems odd that identical twins with as close of a genetic make-up as possible would throw different side dominance. On second thought, maybe not. With so little room in the womb, maybe it's a natural result of no elbow room during the gestation period.


Dec-20-2005, 7:11pm
I'm a lefty and I play righty for two main reasons.
No.1: My left hand fingers are stronger than my right, which makes fretting less difficult.
No.2: Everything else in this world - such as doorknobs, can-openers, coil-bound notebooks, etc. - are are all designed for right-handers, so if you can't lick 'em, join 'em. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

John Eichenberger
Dec-20-2005, 8:59pm
I am left-handed and play right. #My first teacher refused to teach me left-handed, pointing out the same idea as mandodebbie, the left fingers are stronger. #Now if only I could translate that into speed . . .??? #We lefties have managed to get along in a right-hand world -- that which does not kill us . . . etc. # Also, we lefties are the only ones in our right mind!

Dec-20-2005, 9:40pm
I too am a lefty in a righty world!! #They tried to take the pencil from my left hand in third grade, HA! #I am still a lefty and proud of it. #I have played guitar, banjo, and played sports all throughout school, I did it all right handed. #It really just makes life easier in the long run to learn right handed. #I agree that the fretting just seems to come a little easier to us lefties. #Glad to hear from so many of my left handed brethren.

Mandy http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dec-21-2005, 11:47am
I know that Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple) is a leftie playing rightie, and he seems to do quite well. He's one of those guys you just LOVE to hate, cause he makes it look so darn easy. Heck, he even left music for a while to fly as a commercial airline pilot! I'd just like to be good at ONE job.

I knew a guy in college who played a "flipped" guitar. He was a leftie who just turned the thing over. It messed with my mind to watch him play.

Pete Martin
Dec-21-2005, 12:23pm
Another thought, you need to train both limbs and hands to do accurate skills on an instrument.

I know lots of left handed folks who play fine right handed. My wife Carol is one.

Dave Cowles
Dec-21-2005, 4:53pm
Another lefty playing right chiming in. I started on guitar 49 years ago without ever giving a thought to playing it any way but righty. Didn't even realize I was doing it "wrong" for a lefty. I do many, many things ambidextrously, and playing fretted instruments is one of the things I'm most grateful that I do right handed. My MAS/GAS life is monumentally less complicated.

Dec-21-2005, 5:00pm
I'm kind of a leftie (although i write right-handed), and play right-handed. "Mandocrucian" (Niles Hokkamen) taught himself to play both ways (left and right-handed).

Dec-21-2005, 7:00pm
I just don't get it.This ain't the middle ages,its ok to be lefthanded.Its not illegal just yet.I play guitar fiddle and mandolin left handed and cannot conceive of playing any other way.I have two nieces,(sisters)eight and seven, who are both lefthanded and they want me to teach them to play an instrument.Iam going to be led by them as to which way they want to play.If they feel comfortable playing rightie thats fine,but if they choose to play leftie,Iam not going to give them this, you live in a right handed world ####, so you must conform.Thats a recipe for messing with their heads and turning them off music.

fred d
Dec-21-2005, 7:05pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif I'm a lefty and D### proud of it and yes I think it might be easer for lefty due to the fact that we learn to adapt to the righty world but are left is still the strongest hand besides LEFTYS ARE THE ONLY ONES IN THERE RIGHT MINDS ha ha merry christmas

John Eichenberger
Dec-21-2005, 7:26pm
leftyman you missed the point

Dec-21-2005, 8:55pm
I'm a lefty and it's always felt most natural to me to play right-handed, although I've done it both ways. I don't feel that I'm conforming, but rather that I have a distinct advantage when it comes to fretting. However, now that I think about it, I've always had troubles trying to perfect my bowing on the fiddle-- maybe I should try it the other way!

Dec-21-2005, 10:05pm
Another lefty playing righty here.

I really think that it MAKES you use other parts of your brain that you normally don't. He can do it.

Dec-21-2005, 10:59pm
Oh no! Here we go again. Click here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=13923) and here (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=25;t=29007).

I'm a lefty who plays standard instruments, and I don't believe there necessarily is anything inherently left-handed about placing an instrument's neck in the right hand.

Dec-21-2005, 11:59pm
lefty playing lefty here. I tried gutiar right handed about 10 years ago and it just never felt right so I gave it up. started up again earlier this year with a lefty guitar and its a natural fit for me. now I am trying to play/learn mandolin and guitar left-handed and so far so good. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Dec-23-2005, 7:52pm
My current instructor is a lefty, but plays right. He is a virtuoso who professionally plays and teaches violin, mandolin, piano,and guitar. I asked him one time if there was a difference to learn one way or the other? he told me:

"Its all a pile of BS. Typewriters (keyboards), pianos and many tools are niether right or left handed, but we can all learn to use them with a high degree of skill. He also figures that many people look for mental obsticles and stopping stones along the way, just in case of ill success. If someone really wants to learn something new, it doesn't matter what hand they use. Its all motivation and attitude."

Makes sense to me...Play the way you want. If more lefties purchased lefty instruments, the lefty market would have more to offer. Either way, there are instrumetns made for both. So learn away...


kenny m
Dec-23-2005, 8:06pm
When i started playing I had never seen a left handed insturment so I played it right handed. Being left handed it makes sense that with the percision needed to fret the notes that you would want to note them with your dominant hand. Jokingly I have said right handed people should play left handed insturments.

Dec-24-2005, 2:28am
As much as I love being left handed, I kind of regret learning lefty. It would've been a lot easier for me to find affordable instruments and play on other people's stuff when I visit http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Dec-24-2005, 11:34am
A few years back I was playing in a beginner fiddle group with a few others. One of the guys there had left the group to start playing Left fiddle after a year and a half or learning and playing Right. I seen him a few years later at a jam, now playing left, The switch from right to left hadn't made any difference or improvements for him. But he had a much more expensive fiddle, that was made for left.???


Dec-24-2005, 11:41am

Dec-31-2005, 9:55am
I know this has been hashed over before, but I'll add my own 2 cents again anyway. Some people have a tendancy toward handedness and most are right handed. If it doesn't really matter whether you learn right handed or left handed, then why are almost all instruments right handed? If you consider it a skill that is simply mechanical, then playing a tune involves skills more like typing. If you put feeling into your music, then I believe you will do this best using the hand that you throw, write, paint, eat, hit, etc. with, because the hand that picks or bows is the hand that "drives" the music. Everyone is different and you should learn the best way that you can. I play left handed and regret that I didn't get the chance to learn that way as a child. More of my soapbox can be found at the "left handed" link at my website.

Happy New Year!


Dec-31-2005, 10:16am
Of course (as I've offered many times in the past), I am a stereotypical lefty, and when Grandpa was debating whether to get me a standard or lefty guitar for christmas all those decades ago, I am overjoyed that he opted to go with a standard instrument. I am overjoyed to have stuck with standard instruments.

Almost all instruments are standard because that's the standard and has been since before there was print iconography. To some extent, the construction of all necked chordophones was inspired by the first conceptual ancestor. Inversely, I could offer that if there have always been left handers--some of whom must have been musicians--and if "the hand that picks or bows is the hand that 'drives' the music", then why is the proliferation of instruments built in mirror image to standard an almost wholly new phenomenon? I don't think there was an anti-lefty stigma (akin to that of early christians) in all cultures throughout all history. Still, I am not aware of any ancient, pre-print iconography to portray instrument necks in the right hands of musicians. It may be out there, but I haven't seen it.

There is no way to convincingly answer any of this. The bottom line is if you are compelled to play music, play however you must. I prefer standard, not least of all because period early instruments (or even those of early 20th c. vintage) built in mirror image to standard are almost entirely nonexistent.

Jan-01-2006, 2:33pm
(...)#Inversely, I could offer that if there have always been left handers--some of whom must have been musicians--and if "the hand that picks or bows is the hand that 'drives' the music", then why is the proliferation of instruments built in mirror image to standard an almost wholly new phenomenon? #I don't think there was an anti-lefty stigma (akin to that of early christians) in all cultures throughout all history.
So, you don't "think" there was an anti-lefty stigma (akin to that of early christians) in all cultures throughout all history...
Anti-lefty stigma maybe not, but more simply a "do like righties" thing: till 1950 / 1960 , at school, if you were lefty, you had to learn to write with your right hand, like "everyone". (Facts, here in Europe?)
Concerning "the proliferation of instruments built in mirror image to standard", I don't see 10% of the stringed and necked instruments (chordophones...) available for lefties. As I said earlier, the first left handed instruments availables were guitars, not violins. Cause it's a bigger market, yes, but not only: try to take violin lessons in a lefty way, even if you have your own lefty violin... I (can say I) know, I have tried.

Jan-02-2006, 12:24am
Anti-lefty stigma maybe not, but more simply a "do like righties" thing: till 1950 / 1960 , at school, if you were lefty, you had to learn to write with your right hand, like "everyone". (Facts, here in Europe?)
Of course this happened. However, in specifically addressing music making, this is a rather slim sample compared to the whole of the history of necked chordophones. Pre-christian, pre-print iconography still doesn't portray instrument necks in right hands in spite of the fact that some BC musicians must have been left-handed.

Play as you must, enjoy, and feel no shame for it. I'm still really glad I can make my way with standard instruments.

Jan-02-2006, 8:18am
(...) #I'm still really glad I can make my way with standard instruments.
For these last words, I agree, you're... right!

Jan-04-2006, 6:17am
Like all stigma once it enters the language it stays.The latin/italian word for 'left' is 'sinistre' from where we english speakers get the word 'sinister'I think that says it all Eugene.

Lefty Phil at the moment Iam being really 'guache'have I got that right its the french word for 'left' and also means 'awkward'
For instance Iam being really 'awkward' at the moment to collings by ordering a lefty MT. I think they have made less than twenty lefties,that means to me that there is a lot of lefties playing righthanded MT's with a nut and bridge changeover (there is a lot more lefties around than you think nightmare!).I have done this with oval holes,but as this is my first tone bar #A5,I thought I would push the boat out and get a custom lefty.

Jan-04-2006, 7:32am
Congratulations, Leftyman! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Fortunately we don't live in the Middle Ages : left hand would be devil's hand, or impure hand...
Are there any left wing(ed) angels ? Heaven only knows! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jan-04-2006, 8:03am
Woody, at your website, I found :
playing an instrument requires hands to have "dexterity" (does this word refer to the "right" way?!?)
Yes it does. The word come from (latin)"dexter", which means right. In France we said (Middle Ages)"la senestre" for left hand (came from "sinister"), and "la dextre" for right hand.

Leftyman, the french synonym for "gauche" (awkward) is "maladroit" (adroit means ..."dexterous"!

Eugene, despite I play lefty, as I type I can look at my Calace mandolin (model 16 ? block inlays and flowers) I bought in 1974...

Jan-04-2006, 10:18pm
Given that it was certainly built in standard fashion, I would be happy to put it to grand use if you find yourself suddenly keen unload your Calace on me, Phil. You're a lucky lefty...and, really, keep pluckin' in whatever way works best for you.