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Thread: Was he really a lefty?

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    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Was he really a lefty?

    I heard today that Orville Gibson was left handed, is this true, and would his prototypes have been lefties?
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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I think Orville realized that you need both hands to play an instrument so, why make them “left handed”?
    Don’t get me wrong, I am as left handed as the day is long but, I am so pleased that I learned to play “standard” I can walk into any store and play (well, attempt to play) anything on the wall. I was able to be the test monkey for Bill Halsey’s prototype which, would not have happened if I had learned “Lefty”.
    I understand some people cannot do it but, I glad I just decided that it didn’t make sense to cut myself off from playing any guitar or mandolin or what have you. I’ve never heard of a left handed typewriter or piano so it was reasonable to use both hands and just teach them what to do from the beginning.
    I’m sure there are countless folks out there who will disagree but, that’s just my take.
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I'm a lefty who plays righty because I never knew playing lefty was an option. At first I thought I had an advantage as changing chords was performed with my dominate hand but now 50 years later I have come to believe that tone is everything and that comes from my non dominate hand. I feel the same way about scissors, circular saws, school desks, etc.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I’m a lefty and agree with Tim and Steve...I play guitar, mando, and golf righty. It does allow for more options because while the availability of left handed items has increased it’s still pretty sparse. However, I do struggle with my non dominant picking hand, at this point I’m not going to change but if I was to do it again I’d consider playing stringed instruments left handed.
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I don't think lefthanded instruments were very common until the second half of the 20th century, he likely would have played righthanded if he was lefthanded.

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    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I didn't want this to be a left/right handed debate, but, if I had developed the first of anything I would have made the first one a lefty so I could use it!
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Discussion of Gibson's left-handedness on Siminoff's website. (Scroll down to the box with Orville's pic; Siminoff is convinced that Gibson was left-handed, not just a "flopped" negative for the pic.)

    Note, however, that the guitar Gibson's depicted as holding left-handed, is strung right-handed. The other pic of Gibson with an instrument, a U-series harp-guitar, also shows right-handed stringing. (Parenthetically, has anyone ever seen a left-handed harp-guitar?)

    So: a "lefty" who played right-handed? Then why is he holding the guitar left-handed? Or a "lefty" who played right-handed instruments "upside down," with the treble strings up? I've known a few of those. Or just an instrument builder who realized that he'd sell 90% of instruments to right-handers, since left-handers are an estimated 10% of the population?

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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    When I started to teach myself fiddle 40 odd years ago I knew from the start I wanted learn to play a right handed instrument left handed. I wanted to be able to borrow a fiddle at a party if need be. When I figured out there were actually fretted instruments that were ALSO tuned in 5ths it didn't make sense to change my strategy. I just play backwards I guess. I can see it causing more trouble if I played anything other than melody but it does add a certain visual symmetry to a group performance so....there's that.

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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I’m probably not going to go too far into this discussion but I will say that I own what is probably the most fancily carved pre-company Orville Gibson made six string guitar and it has what appears to be a substantial amount of left handed ware on it. Of course there is no proof of where that came from but......

    Phil

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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Discussion of Gibson's left-handedness on Siminoff's website. The other pic of Gibson with an instrument, a U-series harp-guitar, also shows right-handed stringing. (Parenthetically, has anyone ever seen a left-handed harp-guitar?)

    ..
    What pic of Orville with a Style U are you referring to?

    Phil

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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Quote Originally Posted by goaty76 View Post
    What pic of Orville with a Style U are you referring to?l
    My bad. The pic of the harp-guitar and its owner here is not of Gibson, but of one Joseph Bistolfi, for whom Orville Gibson built an instrument. It came up in a Google search for "Orville Gibson images," and since Bistolfi bears some resemblance to Gibson if you're just looking at thumbnails, I mis-identified it.
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    I'm another lefty that plays right handed. Started on violin, not many that teach left. Also had a right handed guitar around the house. Sure made buying instruments easier.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Raising my hand for yet another lefty who plays righty. When the teachers in school tried to get me to learn guitar left handed in 4th grade, it felt very wrong. I insisted on trying it right handed, and it was fine. That was also the year I started playing bass in the orchestra, so it probably had something to do with it.

    FWIW, I also golf, bat, throw and bowl right handed. My mom, who is also left handed, does all those left handed. Go figure.

    (EDIT) Am not sure at the time Orville was making instrument, there were that many folks that played left handed. There was quite a movement against left handed folks during that time. Including making left handed writers use their right hand.
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Here are two examples of Orville’s handwriting. Notice the left handed lean.

    Phil

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  21. #15

    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Pretty sure that Tim O'Brien is a lefty who plays right as well
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Hello,I’m a lefty and my hand writing does not slant like that it slants the other way. Of course m teachers in elementary school took great pains to see my hand writdid not slant left.

    Myra54

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was he really a lefty?

    Chris Thile is a lefty (who plays righty). 'Nuff said.

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