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Arranit
09-03-2017, 06:02 PM
Hey everyone, I tried searching to see if I could find a topic like this, but no luck, so I thought I'd post one.

Long story short, I'm right-handed, but I'm missing a thumb on my left hand, and they surgically moved my index finger when I was 8 months old to work as an opposable "thumb". My three fretting fingers are the "middle" (works like an index for me), ring, and pinky. I've been trying to play, and it's been going decently well, but I do have some trouble playing chords like the G and G7.

So, my question is; do I want to restring my Kala KA-15S ukulele to be tuned for a lefty, and fret with my right hand, or should I move up to a concert/tenor uke and try that instead?

Booli
09-03-2017, 06:42 PM
...and it's been going decently well, but I do have some trouble playing chords like the G and G7.

So, my question is; do I want to restring my Kala KA-15S ukulele to be tuned for a lefty, and fret with my right hand, or should I move up to a concert/tenor uke and try that instead?

Sorry you have this issue. Seems your challenges are going to be a bit greater than most folks. I would think that an exceptional amount of tenacity and persistence are required...on your behalf, with anything, that most of the rest of us take for granted....my heart goes out to you...

What exactly is the trouble with fretting these chords? (aside from the adapted/modified hand / finger transplant)

...without knowing that, it's not easy to answer. Concert and tenor are going to have frets farther apart than a soprano, and without knowing what the issue/impediment is, there's no way to advise if that will help you or make your problems worse.

Frets too close? Frets too far apart?

Neck width (nut width) too big or too small?

Neck width (fingerboard front to back of neck) too big or too small?

Excessive or too little string tension?

Please advise. :)

Arranit
09-03-2017, 06:47 PM
Thanks for the support! So far, the only real issue I have is that the frets are a bit too close for me to comfortably create the proper shape for the chords without accidentally placing my pinky/ring finger ON the actual fret, rather than between them... and also sometimes accidentally spilling over into the next fret with those fingers, even if just by a bit. Plus, the fact that the "thumb" is so long makes it difficult to keep it in proper position behind the neck AND hit the right frets without more strain than is necessary on my fingers and wrist. I tried flipping my ukulele and fretting with my right hand, and it was a bit easier, though strumming and picking was much more difficult.

In terms of stretching my fingers across the fretboard, that isn't too much of an issue, as I've got a lot of flexibility there given the setup of the fingers after the surgery. With practice, I've been able to make the actual chord shapes with my fingers, it's just that my fingers feel too close together, and I usually end up hitting the fret right-on and getting a crummy note, or missing and fretting a bit too far and into the next fret.

Hopefully I explained it well enough?

Booli
09-03-2017, 07:04 PM
...Hopefully I explained it well enough?

Yes, very clear now.

I would suggest that you call around to local music shops and see if they have all of, and at least one of each soprano, concert, tenor and baritone uke in the store, and then go there and see which is a better fit in person. You would need to play them back-to-back in one sitting or one visit to the store...

Otherwise it's just a guess how much more space you need - there's really no absolute way to say based upon hand size or finger length and finger width.

I've seen videos of 5-yr olds with tiny hands, playing a full size 25.5" scale-length classical guitar with apparent ease as well as adults with seemingly 8" long and spider-like fingers playing an 11" scale sopranino with ease, so you have to get the fretboards of different scales in your hand in order to have a spectrum of different reference points...

At least, that's what I would try to do if it were me...and YMMV. :)

Arranit
09-03-2017, 07:09 PM
Yes, very clear now.

I would suggest that you call around to local music shops and see if they have all of, and at least one of each soprano, concert, tenor and baritone uke in the store, and then go there and see which is a better fit in person. You would need to play them back-to-back in one sitting or one visit to the store...

Otherwise it's just a guess how much more space you need - there's really no absolute way to say based upon hand size or finger length and finger width.

I've seen videos of 5-yr olds with tiny hands, playing a full size 25.5" scale-length classical guitar with apparent ease as well as adults with seemingly 8" long and spider-like fingers playing an 11" scale sopranino with ease, so you have to get the fretboards of different scales in your hand in order to have a spectrum of different reference points...

At least, that's what I would try to do if it were me...and YMMV. :)

I'll head into shop I bought my current ukulele at; they had a selection of every size, minus baritone. Thank you very much for the help, I really appreciate it! :)

igorthebarbarian
09-03-2017, 08:16 PM
I think you made a smart move by going for the Ukulele since its strings are lower tension/ smaller scale. I have smaller hands myself so I actually prefer the soprano or concert size.
I am now thinking I take a lot of what I can do (as a very mediocre OK player) for granted.
I sometimes play with some retiree's and they manage to play with limited wrist/hand-strength so it is possible.
Good luck and welcome to the forums here!

janeray1940
09-03-2017, 08:22 PM
... makes it difficult to keep it in proper position behind the neck AND hit the right frets without more strain than is necessary on my fingers and wrist.

Just wondering - are you using a strap with your uke? When you visit the music shop, I'd recommend having them install a strap button on whatever uke you end up choosing. Even with no hand issues, I find having to hold a uke without a strap makes things about twice as difficult as they need to be.

Booli
09-03-2017, 08:53 PM
Just wondering - are you using a strap with your uke? When you visit the music shop, I'd recommend having them install a strap button on whatever uke you end up choosing. Even with no hand issues, I find having to hold a uke without a strap makes things about twice as difficult as they need to be.

+1 on the strap idea. Kudos to Janeray for mentioning it. :)

Recent discussions on this topic have lots of options with links to sources and vendors with more info:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?128119-Alternatives-to-a-strap

and

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?129013-Uke-Lei-Sling

I have straps fitted to ALL of my ukes, regardless of size, and sometimes use them both sitting and standing, and sometimes not at all, but I like having the option when I want or need it.

Pueo
09-03-2017, 09:42 PM
When I was a kid taking guitar lessons, I always thought it made more sense to fret with my right hand (I am right-handed) because it seemed to me that making all those complex shapes with my left hand was a challenge. I experimented with playing lefty but what I learned was while it was equally challenging to make chords with my right hand, it was nearly impossible for me to strum a steady rhythm with my left hand.
If you are just learning, you may have the advantage of playing whichever way feels better for you.

I would not worry too much about a missing finger on your fretting hand impairing your ability to play though.
Have you ever heard of Django Reinhardt? After an accident as a child he only had the use of two fingers on his fretting hand. He was quite a virtuoso player!

zztush
09-03-2017, 09:51 PM
Hi, Arranit! Nice to meet you!

Sorry you have this issue. I just wondering if you know the great jazz guitarist, who had only two fingers available on his fretting hand. His name is Django Reinhardt. I am big fan of him.

https://s26.postimg.org/qceosmfxl/Cp_BKTa_JUAAAS2_AL.jpg (https://postimages.org/)

Croaky Keith
09-03-2017, 10:13 PM
I always advise starting out with a concert scale unless you've played before.
I spent most of my first year on concert scale learning to play.
The instrument isn't too big, but the fret spacing is much better for a beginner.
(There are also concert scale soprano bodied ukes if you particularly want that size of uke).

SailingUke
09-04-2017, 05:16 AM
You might also consider an open tuning like gceg.
This is an open c chord. You might find it a bit easier to find 1 and 2 finger chords.
This tuning will work on any size ukulele you choose.

Nickie
09-04-2017, 05:44 AM
Hi!
You've gotten some great help here.
My suggestion is to try a uke set up right handed, have your other uke set up left handed, play them that way, alternating back and forth until one way shows itself to be superior.
Django was a monster on the jazz guitar, he's he guy that made Gypsy Jazz "acceptable" and popular.
Have you thought about trying to use a bottle neck slide on your uke with the left hand? The action just has to be higher.

AlohaKine
09-04-2017, 12:42 PM
Hi, Arranit! Nice to meet you!

Sorry you have this issue. I just wondering if you know the great jazz guitarist, who had only two fingers available on his fretting hand. His name is Django Reinhardt. I am big fan of him.


Nice one there mentioning Django Reinhardt, to help inspire people.

Hang tough Arranit! :)

robinboyd
09-04-2017, 02:09 PM
I honestly don't know the best answer to your question, but if I were in your position, I would try stringing my uke left handed and see if it worked for me. If it doesn't, you can always go back.

Arranit
09-04-2017, 06:07 PM
Oh wow, thanks for all the replies and support, everyone! I'll give the strap, open tuning, and moving the strings around to make it a lefty as well, just to see what'll work. I appreciate all of the help and tips from everyone, so thanks once again!

Iza
09-06-2017, 02:56 PM
I have a friend who plays semi-professionally and teaches the lute, he's left-handed but plays like he'sright-handed cause that's how he was taught from the beginning. So I think it's possible to learn if you make it a lefty. But as others pointed, it's certainly possible to play with a missing finger, there are many videos on youtube with musicians who do that very succesfully, hell I've even seen people playing the guitar with their toes. However you may be discouraged by the extra effort to adapt some positions, if you're a beginner. Maybe a good teacher could help with that.

cyber3d
09-06-2017, 06:40 PM
Check out Django's story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQhTpgicdx4

Sometimes a disability can be an advantage. If you are smart and not afraid to break the rules finding your own way will make you a unique commodity. Ringo Starr though without a disability is left handed and had to innovate a way to play the drums. His signature style is unique.

Olarte
09-07-2017, 01:04 AM
You would be the perfect person to test my theory.


I'm also a classical guitarist and have thought about this for several years I realized most of the work is done with the fretting hand than with the strumming or fingerpicking hand.

So to me it makes better sense IF YOU NEVER PLAUED BEFORE to simply begin learning to play with regular tuning but flip and maybe retune the uke backwards and fret with your dominant hand.

You get two advantages your dominant hand will do the fingering on the fretboard and your left hand strumming. However I would learn to read standard chords and get used to it or reverse the strings so that the chords or string numbers match regular righty chord sheets.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

I would love to hear how that works for you.


My theory is based on the fact that if you haven't played before then you are simply training your hands to play which ever way you teach yourself in this case you would have your dominant hand do all the fancy stuff on the fretboard.

There is no reason why this would not work in fact you would probably have an easier time with chords than most of us who learned to use our non dominant hand to do the fingering.

As a side note I'm getting serious about playing pool and am learning to hold the stick and shoot with either hand and that works beautifully

Aloha and good luck
Ivān

Tootler
09-07-2017, 10:55 AM
Northumbrian (UK) fiddler Willy Taylor lost the index finger of his left hand in an accident in his youth. It didn't stop him being a very fine fiddler.

There's a story that at a competition one of the judges was commenting on his technique and said that he didn't seem to use his index finger. One of the other judges simply replied "That's because he hasn't got one".

He wrote a number of very fine tunes and a friend of mine, who knew him, told me that none of his tunes go above top A because with his missing finger he couldn't reach to play a B without going into second position.