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Thread: Left Handed Hogwash?

  1. #1
    Shredded Cheese Authority Emmett Marshall's Avatar
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    Default Left Handed Hogwash?

    So my octave mandolin chord book arrived from the UK yesterday. In addition to chords, the author makes recommendations and provides some info for beginners. He writes that a left handed person must play a left handed mandolin or things will, get this: "never" work out because the left hand will never have the "fluidity" it needs.

    As a left handed person who plays right handed, I say this is complete nonsense. It's actually been an asset for me. My left hand frets great and accurately, and is strong, and my right hand - which needs to be relaxed and more fluid.....is.

    What is the deal with his "thinking"? Does anyone else subscribe to this train of thought? From experience, I've never noticed that my left hand has been holding me back at all, and my right hand seems to be more relaxed than many of the right handed people I know.

    Thoughts?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Chris Thile is left handed.....just think how great he would be if he followed this guy's advise! Ha! 😝

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Both my son Dave, and my frequent singing partner Bonnie, are left-handed and play "right-handed" instruments, using the dominant hand for fretting and the "weaker" one for picking. Works out OK for them (though neither's a virtuoso).

    The author's point of view, is why they make "left-handed" instruments (and sell 'em at a premium). It does make some sense that the "stronger" hand and arm provide the more vigorous picking or strumming, but the differences in motion aren't so major that the roles can't be reversed.

    Certainly you can learn to play that way, and if it works for you, why worry what the author says? Perhaps he'd like to sell you a "left-handed" OM...?
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  7. #4

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Although I do take issue with the "never" proclamation....I'm a lefty that plays righty and I have to say there is something to that line of thought, the drive and bouce is coming from the picking hand.

    Lately, in my quest for more speed I discovered that if I turn the instrument over my left hand is much more fluid and relaxed picking than my right. I used to think it was my left hand fretting holding my speed back but now I feel it's my right hand picking that's giving me trouble and I'm working to get them synced up since it's actually my right hand lagging picking trying to keep up with my stronger left hand fretting.

    I'm not going to switch to lefty at this point but I do think that each individual has to determine what works best....


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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    I'm a lefty playing righty, and there never was a thought of playing lefty. My 5th grade violin teacher took care of that!

    However, in retrospect, I think I'm going about it wrongly. My right (or non-dominant) hand will never have the articulation or speed on the pick necessary to really play this thing. And I don't think the requirement of the left hand is as precise. It's a little different on the fiddle, where the left fingers have to be exactly on the spot, and the bow hand has a little more of the gross motor skills going for it.

    And as for that Thile guy, I could show him a thing or two about lack of effort, unrealized dreams, and wasting time on the internet rather than practicing pick movements! I have a point to make, and I'm not letting his freakish abilities get in the way of my misguided and unsubstantiated opinion!
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Handedness exists in a spectrum. Some people are, practically speaking, fully left handed or fully right handed, but most people have some level of ambidextrousness. I think you just have to do what feels right to you.

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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    I'm ambidextrous (due to over zealous school teachers who made all of us write with our right hands, even though we were left). I have thought about learning as a lefty, but went with right as it was easier on me. Two of my instruments are anbidextrous, so I can learn left stuff if I so wish later on.

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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    I'm left handed,except for violin,which I play both left and right,,I play all instruments right handed,,it's a big advantage,the left hand ,the creative side ,is exactly where you need it,,playing the notes,,,the right hand,the mechanical side,,is exactly where you need that,,mechanically driving the pick,,,the best combination,,

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  17. #9

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    There was the early Elvis recording, "I'm left, you're right, she's gone." (followed by "I forgot to remember to forget.") I'm sensing a pattern here.....

    Then George Jones, "I put a golden band on the right left hand this time."

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    Shredded Cheese Authority Emmett Marshall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Wow. I never imagined that there were so many left handed players around here on the cafe. That author really pushed my buttons though. How discouraging to inform left handed people that they don't have a prayer at being any good unless they play a left handed mandolin. I'm still a beginner - 3 years of playing, and up to this point, the only problem I have is not being able to practice as much as I'd like to.

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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn Dudenbostel View Post
    Chris Thile is left handed.....just think how great he would be if he followed this guy's advise! Ha! ��
    Dodged a bullet there. Whew!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    Lefty using a right-handed Strat:
    Didn't Hendrix restring it lefty?

    I have a left-handed friend, Kate McDonnell, who picked up a guitar when she was a kid and played it left-handed, never changing the strings as she assumed that's the way it was supposed to be strung. She stuck with it even after learning otherwise, and developed her own picking style, playing the bass strings with her index and middle finger, high string melodies with her thumb. Sounds A-OK to me.
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    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    I write and draw with my left hand, use a computer mouse with either, play right handed musical instruments and throw a ball with my right hand. Does that make me a sinistal who plays right handed... or a dextral who writes left handed?

    Hogwash... not. Just because I am not "afflicted" with the necessity to play a left handed instrument doesn't mean I believe others are faking it!

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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Yep, I'm another lefty playing right-handed. I don't think it is a big deal, of course I'm no virtuoso either.
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  26. #14

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Didn't Hendrix restring it lefty?
    I hear you.... my point was just that he used a "right handed" instrument and made it work for him.
    But Albert King might have been a better example.


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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by aphillips View Post
    I'm another lefty playing right-handed. I don't think it is a big deal, of course I'm no virtuoso either.
    And I don't think being right-handed gives one an advantage, either. But then, since I'm ambidextrous (with aright-handed preference), I'm either doubly blessed or doubly cursed. I can't decide, with the two hemispheres duking it out all the time.
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Hogwash indeed! When I sold instruments, I had the "I want a left handed" issue all the time. Drove me nuts but, I never sold one! I guess I made the argument well enough.
    I suppose I may have lost a sale or two but, it just does not make any sense to limit yourself to such a small percentage of instruments. I do not believe there are any left handed Loars, or many other "pinnacle" instruments which I always aspire to at least play momentarily at some point in my life, just to do it! My other argument is there are no left handed pianos or other keyboards and you are learning something new anyway, teach the hands to do what you need them to do.
    Again I say Hogwash!
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  32. #17

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    My other argument is there are no left handed pianos or other keyboards and you are learning something new anyway, teach the hands to do what you need them to do.
    Again I say Hogwash!
    It's a lot more complicated than that. Music and the way our brains are wired is involved, individual genetic variations, etc. Anyone interested in this might find David Wolman's book, A Left Hand Turn Around the World, interesting reading.

    Here's an interesting related article: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/left-ha...n=morelikethis
    Last edited by Marty Jacobson; Oct-06-2015 at 1:08pm.

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  34. #18

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmett Marshall View Post
    .....That author really pushed my buttons though. How discouraging to inform left handed people that they don't have a prayer at being any good unless they play a left handed mandolin......
    Speaking as a lefty, I think most of us would disregard that authors proclamation....us lefties always have to improvise, adapt, and overcome things in this mostly right handed world. There are a few pure left handed people I know and cannot do a thing with the right hand but the majority of us...of a certain age....were (literally) beaten into using our right hands for things we would naturally do left handed.

    I (lefty) play golf right handed, Phil Mickelson (righty) plays left handed...in this example I think that's an advantage because your top hand needs to be strong to pull the arm through the stroke so Phil and me are doing it left, I mean right....ha

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    My other argument is there are no left handed pianos or other keyboards and you are learning something new anyway, teach the hands to do what you need them to do.
    Again I say Hogwash!
    Good point. None of us were born knowing how to play the mandolin. We all had to teach our hands their proper roles. The piano comparison really makes it easier to show how BOTH hands have to work correctly to make the instrument do what it's supposed to do. The mandolin (or any other stringed instrument) is much the same way. The hands have different roles, but they are both required to do their jobs with precision. I can see how some might make the argument that being right- or left-hand dominant would be "better" for playing the mandolin a specific way, but in the end, I think it really doesn't matter. Both hands are going to have to step up and do their jobs equally well, or the music will suffer. It's just a matter of teaching them what their jobs are and making them do it well, regardless of which hand is dominant.

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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Hogwash indeed! When I sold instruments, I had the "I want a left handed" issue all the time. Drove me nuts but, I never sold one! I guess I made the argument well enough.
    I suppose I may have lost a sale or two but, it just does not make any sense to limit yourself to such a small percentage of instruments. I do not believe there are any left handed Loars, or many other "pinnacle" instruments which I always aspire to at least play momentarily at some point in my life, just to do it! My other argument is there are no left handed pianos or other keyboards and you are learning something new anyway, teach the hands to do what you need them to do.
    Again I say Hogwash!
    Are you right or left handed? If righty then try to do something left handed and you'll see.

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  40. #21

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    I'm another lefty playing righty. I agree in the "degrees of dominance" argument. The more instruments I learn to play the less dominant either hand has become. Piano being the latest. I'm just waiting for the left handed person that arrives periodically and cuts me to ribbons because, by playing a right handed instrument, I am denying my "inner" left handedness. It's not a badge either way. The sooner we can get back to the best mandolin under 1000 USD the better, for me.

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  42. #22
    Wood and Wire Perry Babasin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Blues guitarist Doyle Bramhall II (has played with Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and many others), plays (amazingly well) left handed but on a right-handed and right-strung guitar.
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  44. #23
    Shredded Cheese Authority Emmett Marshall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    Good point. None of us were born knowing how to play the mandolin. We all had to teach our hands their proper roles. The piano comparison really makes it easier to show how BOTH hands have to work correctly to make the instrument do what it's supposed to do. The mandolin (or any other stringed instrument) is much the same way. The hands have different roles, but they are both required to do their jobs with precision. I can see how some might make the argument that being right- or left-hand dominant would be "better" for playing the mandolin a specific way, but in the end, I think it really doesn't matter. Both hands are going to have to step up and do their jobs equally well, or the music will suffer. It's just a matter of teaching them what their jobs are and making them do it well, regardless of which hand is dominant.
    This makes perfect sense to me. It seems to me like you are right on the money as they say. Whenever someone asks me why, as a lefty, do I play righty, I just respond with, "Nobody ever told me that I couldn't". And this is true. I never gave it any thought and just started playing the mandolin. Maybe I'm just not playing fast enough yet to experience any drawbacks with my right hand doing the strumming and picking, but I don't think so. Things seem to be going just fine. I have had to learn to relax my left hand because, when I first started out, I was pushing down the strings too hard, but this went away after I started paying attention to the problem. You guys/gals are tossing up some very interesting and thought provoking considerations.
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  45. #24
    Happy Picker Robert B's Avatar
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    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    My initial thought was to wonder if the author was referring to playing an instrument 'upside down' so to speak, rather than using a left handed instrument with the bass courses at the top.
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  46. #25

    Default Re: Left Handed Hogwash?

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    teach the hands to do what you need them to do.
    Again I say Hogwash!
    My hands don't "need" to play a Loar. Hogwash, again.

    I'm left handed and play lefty, but on a righty instrument. That makes sense to me, and I did try playing righty, too. It does prevent me from playing some instruments since I wouldn't want to play an instrument that's too asymmetrical (besides the strings). Don't know if I would still drive sales people nuts, but there are a lot of stores out there . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    I'm just waiting for the left handed person that arrives periodically and cuts me to ribbons because, by playing a right handed instrument, I am denying my "inner" left handedness.
    Hopefully, that's not as frequent as right-handed musicians telling left-handed people that they're *lucky* to be left handed because they "get" to fret with their dominant hand.
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