View Full Version : Left Hander Advice Please

05-02-2010, 02:24 AM
Hi All... Looking for advice from any left handers out there.
I play uke right handed but my 10 year old son is left handed. He has his first concert uke and I have strung it 'upside down' for him. Do you think this is a good idea as it makes chord charts a bit confusing. Do you think it would be better to string it normally but just hold it left handed.
What was your experience. Any thoughts welcomed.
Thanks, Nick

05-02-2010, 03:49 AM
Here's a chord chart for left-handeds
(scroll to bottom of page)

05-02-2010, 04:33 AM
If he played the piano would you be looking for a left handed one? Anyone can learn to play with either hand doing the fretting. If he learns to play a conventional uke it'll be easier to buy, try, play other ukes. It'll also make any and all instruction easier to understand. Think of all those sweet deals on used instruments he'll have to pass up for the next seventy or eighty years if he can't play conventional ukes.


05-02-2010, 06:19 AM
I agree with Jude. I'm left-handed but play the ukulele in the conventional way, and I don't think playing it the other way around would have made it any easier for me. Apart from being more restricted in buying future instruments, your son won't be able to take full advantage of the vast library of online lessons and tabs if he plays the ukulele left-handed.

05-02-2010, 07:27 AM
I agree with heyjude and kwartje. Starting out, a right hander may have a slight advantage when it comes to strumming/picking and a left hander may have a slight advantage when it comes to fretting. But it takes both hands to play and overall it evens out.

05-02-2010, 07:40 AM
Get the thought of will it be easier to buy a conventional uke in the future out of your head. That is not a valid argument. The best advice is to have him play the way that is most comfortable to him. I have tried to play righty and just can't do it. I am a lefty and playing lefty always seemed the most natural for me. It's funny because I never even knew a chord chart for lefties even existed till just a moment ago. And honestly, when I looked at it, it just confused me. Grab your uke, hold it and go look in the mirror. That reflection you see is playing left handed. They are making the same chords shapes as you, the G strings are both closest to your head and the A string is closest to your feet. That is how I describe it and show righties what chord I am playing if they ask me. When they think of it as a mirror image, then things get so much easier. But don't confuse the issue.
As a lefty, I can look at any online lesson or tabs and read them. There are no special lefty online lessons or tabs. That argument is out the window too. I think righties tend to overthink playing lefty. But it really is simple as long as it feels natural for the player. Along with it being fun, feeling natural is the most important part in my opinion.
As far as buying instruments, true, I can't just walk into a shop and play. But I don't have any shops around me that sell good ukes so that is not a big deal. MGM strung my Flea up lefty for me. Nalu strung my tenor up lefty for me. And I have a custom Moore Bettah that everyone wants to see but can't play because it is upside down to them (so they know what it feels like for me). Since I usually have a uke on me, it's not really a big deal. But all my ukes but 1 are conventional ukes just restrung lefty.
So, if he decides to play righty, cool. If he feels more natural lefty then that's great too. Let him be an individual and play the way that feels best for him. It will make it that much more fun for the two of you to play together.

Pukulele Pete
05-02-2010, 08:43 AM
Im a lefty but play guitar and uke righthanded. Being a lefty is a pain in the ass sometimes. I'm really happy I play right handed. I can go into a store and try different guitars and ukes . I can play my friends instuments. I dont have to special order anything. Part of what I like about being able to play is being able to try new instuments. You really limit yourself if you play left handed. By the way ( i'm amazed by this ) Tiny Tim played guitar and uke both lefthanded and right handed.

05-02-2010, 10:36 AM
You can just take any video you download, or images, and flip them horizontally......

05-02-2010, 10:46 AM
It wouldn't be too difficult to read a backwards chord name, maybe if there was full text but I don't think it would be an issue. I would play what's comfortable, because you play right handed, you can shop for ukes with him and play them for him right?

05-02-2010, 02:19 PM
Southpaw who plays "upside down" here. Though there are many ways in which I can be ambidextrious, the only way that I can be comfortable playing is with my right hand as my fretting hand.
And somehow reading regular chord charts and tabs works out for me and my brain.
I treated myself to a lefty acoustic/electric cutaway from MGM not too long ago. And requested it strung righty. My excessively many other ukes are regular. Works for me.

05-02-2010, 09:02 PM
I'm left-handed and believe it's best to allow people to play instruments in the way that's most comfortable and natural for them. It's true that playing left-handed limits my choices with instruments--and it's been frustrating at times. I wouldn't wish those limitations on anyone.

But I'm so grateful that the people who introduced me to making music empowered me to do it my own way. I embraced it, and they didn't make it traumatic. My life would've been much less rich without music, and if I'd been forced to play right-handed, I might've missed this joy.

05-02-2010, 09:11 PM
There's actually a reason Ukes (guitars, banjos, lutes, etc...) are held the way they are for right handers. The right hand, being the dominant one is set to "auto-pilot" and easily accomodates complex strumming and picking chores, while the brain concentrates on getting the left hand fingers to cooperate. Trying to play "backwards" messes up the natural order of things with the dominant hand wasted on doing the easier chore of fretting, leaving the other one struggleing to pick the strings.

It's usually better, at least with stringed instruments, to get one that fits your "left handedness" rather than force your brain to try and reverse the whole process. If it could do that, you could have switched everything you do to right handed. You don't do that, so why struggle with forcing your hands to play "backwards."

Do what feels natural, right or left and have fun. It shouldn't be work.

05-02-2010, 10:37 PM
Thanks for your thoughts guys. I've only just joined the forum and appreciate the wealth of advice you've given (been uke-ing about 8 months - the guitars and synths are getting dusty now!)
You've given me plenty to think about. Putting all that together, I think the way to go is try for right handed playing if it works for him, but if he just doesn't feel comfortable the go with left handed. I have tried playing my righty uke left handed and it's a struggle (but then I'm a lot older than him!). Will see how he gets on with my uke for a bit and take it from there. Hankthetank... interesting that you can work with conventional lessons and chord charts. Sasasa1... I did download that lefty chord chart and will keep it in reserve.
Cheers guys

Pukulele Pete
05-03-2010, 01:57 AM
One last thought. Are there any left handed pianos? Clarinets? Oboes? Lefthanded violins? Lefthanded saxaphones? Lefthanded upright basses? Why is it some lefthanded people find a need to play the opposite way ?

05-03-2010, 03:41 AM
One last thought. Are there any left handed pianos? Clarinets? Oboes? Lefthanded violins? Lefthanded saxaphones? Lefthanded upright basses? Why is it some lefthanded people find a need to play the opposite way ?

"Find a need to", that's a rather rich judgement.
It is what one gravitates toward, what feels most natural. Akin to what side someone sleeps on, what makes you comfortable is what's right.

I can honestly tell you that even as a kid playing air guitar, it was always left-handed for me.

05-03-2010, 04:05 AM
One last thought. Are there any left handed pianos? Clarinets? Oboes? Lefthanded violins? Lefthanded saxaphones? Lefthanded upright basses? Why is it some lefthanded people find a need to play the opposite way ?

My father, who was born left handed, was forced to learn to write with his right hand. Maybe his teacher was one of Pukulele Pete's relatives. Oh, and the uke for the most part is symmetrical. At least played re-entrant. It has a straight saddle and doesn't need any conversion other than restringing. And yes, there are left handed violins and double basses. Wind instruments don't have two entirely different techniques needed for each hand. Nor does piano. So it's not as much of an issue. Left on!!

Pukulele Pete
05-03-2010, 04:48 AM
I think it depends more on which way you start. I f you start holding it left handed it will feel more natural the more you do it. I don't think the two techniques for each hand matters. If you have never done it before the way you start holding it will determine which way you play. Maybe some right handers who play lefty will respond.

05-03-2010, 11:24 AM
When I was as young as 6, the only way I could hold a stringed instrument comfortably was so that I could strum with my left hand. On my own, I tried to play my first guitar right-handed, but it felt unnatural. I had no real choice in the matter: Either play left-handed, as my nature required, or give up the notion of playing stringed instruments--the only ones that interested me.

I play uke, mandolin, and guitar and can form enough chords on them "upside down" to audition right-handed instruments in a music store. We lefties, when allowed to do what feels natural to us, manage to make pretty good music, too--and we learn, by necessity, to adapt to a world that's mostly designed for right-handed folks.

Nick from PA
05-03-2010, 11:29 AM
I'm a lefty who has played guitar & electric bass left-hand since I was a kid. When I was in college I started playing upright bass, and my teacher had me play it right-handed. It was like starting over, of course, but for several years the upright was my main instrument. Now I play mainly guitar and uke (lefty). For myself, I don't see one way as being better than the other. Both hands have important work to do. If I could do it all over again I'd just play everything right-hand, as it makes finding instruments a MUCH MUCH easier task. (Fortunately, most ukes are very easily converted to lefty!)

But I tell my lefty students, play whichever way feels most comfortable to you. And if you don't have a preference, play righty.

05-03-2010, 11:50 AM
One last thought. Are there any left handed pianos? Clarinets? Oboes? Lefthanded violins? Lefthanded saxaphones? Lefthanded upright basses? Why is it some lefthanded people find a need to play the opposite way ?
Actually there are left handed violins, and lefthanded upright basses I believe. Why do some lefthanded people find a need to play the opposite way? Because they are left handed and that is what is natural to them. I don't see what the big deal is. Play however it feels natural for you. Lefty, righty, it is all the same in the end.

05-03-2010, 09:07 PM
I would set him up with a couple of inside curves and then give him a fastball down and away.

On the uke or guitar I would string it normally and have him hold it like a right-handed person. I'm left-handed, and think I had an easier time learning because the left hand is the one you're making the fingerings with. That's the hard part. My right hand is stronger although not as sensitive. Those are good qualities for the tone producing hand. I've had no trouble learning uke, guitar, banjo, clarinet, sax, oboe, violin, etc, over the years. I DO have some trouble with piano - I want to play fancy bass parts with simple right hand melodies, and most music is the other way around.