View Full Version : converting to right handed

10-25-2011, 12:52 PM
Im a very much a left hander in a lot of things I do, but I'm determined to learn to play the uke right handed! I will try my hardest and practise every minute I have spare, but I need tips!

Anyone else out there that have converted? Every tip will be much appreciated!

10-25-2011, 02:13 PM
I'm not left-handed, but I'm a firm believer in the fact that it takes both hands to play. :p

So you might start out with a slight advantage in your fretting hand, whereas a right-hander might start with a slight advantage in their strumming/picking hand. Over time, it all evens out.

Aside from guitar-type instruments, I don't think I've seen anything played left-handed. No left-handed pianos or saxophones. Theoretically, you could string a violin left-handed, but I've never seen an orchestra with one. With bowing going on in both directions, someone might get an eye poked out. :eek:

I know there are some people who insist they're a lefty and can't play any other way. But in the long run, you'll have more ukes available to you if you play righty. Think of going to a meetup where you'd have a chance to check out other people's ukes but you can't because they're strung for righties.

Sorry I don't have any real tips for you. Just hang in there and know that every instrument has a learning curve. :)

10-25-2011, 03:01 PM
Just make sure you go as slowly as you need to to master your strums and chord changes. Speed will come later!

mm stan
10-25-2011, 03:02 PM
I remember when I was six years old...I was born a lefty...my mother used to hit my hand with a ruler when I used it...I was a confused little kid then...

10-25-2011, 03:48 PM
Yipes, whats up with all the lefty hate? If your switching because you feel like youll have some kind of advantage learning, or because you think youll have a easier time playing a friends ukulele, or one in a shop or whatever. Then youre right, you will...switch by all means while youre still a beginner and can. However if youre switching because you think playing right handed "is the proper way to do it" a phrase Ive heard many times, then reconsider. Think about how little innovation wed have in this world if everyone just did things the accepted, or "proper" way. I was always pushed hard to play guitar right handed when I was a kid by teachers. While I know they meant well, I resisted, and insisted on playing the way that felt right to me. Yes it was alot harder, yes I have a hard time playing in shops, and on friends instruments etc...(there are ways around that however). In the long run however I feel like Im better player with a greater sense of accomplishment. It gave me the feeling I was kind of standing for something in a weird way, and made me much more driven in my practice......Despite the annoyances of it I wouldnt go back and change it, playing lefty gives me part of my identity as a musician...............Now if I could just figure out how to write without smearing the ink with my hand Id be king of the world...:o

10-26-2011, 12:04 AM
Well, I've actually seen a violin used left-handed.. never in an orchestra though, for obvious reasons (see itsme's post). So maybe I should instead say I've seen a fiddle played left-handed.

As for left vs. right.. I'm right-handed, but not extremely so. Very few are. I know a few though. Sometimes you recognize them by some small quirk and if you ask some questions you may or may not get the 'extreme handedness' suspicion confirmed! ;) One quirk I've seen is when the right-handed person always use the right hand to turn a newspaper or book page. Most right-handers will use the left hand for this. And, maybe surprisingly, if you see somebody eating with fork & knife with the knife in the left hand and the fork in the right hand it may be that they are not left-handers, instead they're extreme right-handers. I know two. One is my nephew, and he says that he needs to hold the fork in his right hand because with the left he's not sure he'll be able to hit his mouth.

For myself it's generally so that if there's something I'm not trained to do then it doesn't matter which hand I start doing that with. And I switch hands when brushing my teeth, depending on what works best where (but I can't use the other hand in the 'wrong' place: When the muscle memory is there it's not easy to change). But, and I think this is the crux: Even though I feel almost ambidextrous I'm much much better tapping out a rhythm with my right hand, I can do it much faster and better than with my left hand. It's always been like that, way before I started playing guitar as a teenager. I'm sure it's possible to fix that with training, drummers obviously do. But the consensus on RMMGA (rec.music.makers.guitar.acoustic) used to be (after long discussions) that the reason it's more natural to play left-handed or right-handed for some people is just that: For righties timing and rhythm is easier with the right hand, thus you use that one for strumming and picking. Same thing for lefties. Can you switch? Yes, some can. Others cannot, and I suspect that would be those 'extreme' left-handers (the extreme right-handers won't suffer the switch problem, obviously, but may struggle with the left hand technique). Of course even extreme left-handers can probably learn to play right-handed with training, but then we're talking a lot of effort and you may give up instead.

I found an old post on RMMGA by Douglas Adams (HHGTTG author), who was a leftie. He offered the following:

From adamsd@cerf.net (Douglas Adams)
Newsgroups: rec.music.makers.guitar.acoustic
Subject: Re: Left handed guitars-more expensive?
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 93 06:31:53 GMT

In Article <A923896D@fbpmac.msfc.nasa.gov>, Bo Parker
<bo_parker@fbpmac.msfc.nasa.gov> wrote:
>hpman010.uksr.hp.com writes:
>> I'm currently in the process of searching for a left handed
>> steel acoustic for a friend who is about to start playing. He's
>> relying on my advice as guitar owner and player.
>At the risk of starting a holy war, the advice I would give him is to start
>out on a right-handed guitar. If he has never played before, he will not be
>at a disadvantage (IMHO). Plus, he will not have the hassle of only being
>able to play left-handed guitars.
>My O is _very_ H (so to speak), because I am right-handed and play a
>right-handed guitar, _but_ I have never seen, e.g., a left-handed piano, a
>left-handed clarinet, etc.

There are all kinds of different left-handedness. I tried very hard to play
right handed and just couldn't do it. But I hold a cricket bat or gold club
right handed. Mark Knopfler is left handed but plays right handed without
trouble. Paul McCartney became convinced that he simply couldn't play the
guitar until somebody said 'try it the other way round.'
Sure, if you find you can play right handed you've got yourself out of a bug
problem. But if you can only play left handed, then that's the way it is.
There are quite a few instruments that cannot be adapted to left handed
play, and I think that people who can not play right handed versions of the
instrument just don't play that instrument. The piano is a special case in
that both hands are doing similar stuff. I would think that lefty players
just do better stuff in the bass.
-- | --
-- Douglas Adams | adamsd@cerf.net (current) --
-- | dna@dadams.demon.co.uk (dormant) --


10-26-2011, 12:26 AM
A few months ago I was where you are now; a definite left hander concerned about playing a ukulele strung for right handers. As I was learning the basics the realization devloped that you do not play with your right hand but use both hands. That helped me relax and my brain adjust learning patterns, or whatever. Maybe I was lucky but in reality it has been a non-issue. Hope it is for you as well. Lots of luck as this is a fun instrument.

10-26-2011, 01:21 AM
I am a left hander, I do everything lefty, well except for playing the uke. I somehow naturally picked it up righty. weird, yes but that's what I did. I have 3 kids 2 of them are left handed, they both play guitar and I got them both lefty guitars, it was what was natural to them, so we went with it. Yes selection is harder to find, however they are both sticking with it and are happy to play this way. If they pick up my ukes (very rarely) they play it upside down even more challenging, except for the E chord.. it's easier..

I say pick the uke up in whichever way feels comfortable and natural to you. The rest will come (and I will take my own advise here) that you will pick up learning and being comfortable in chord changes etc with practice. either way.. good luck and happy strumming!

10-26-2011, 01:40 AM
Anything is possible but, I feel you have to go with what feels more comfortable to you. I am right handed person for many things but, a lefty in stringed instruments. It is what feels natural to me. I could strum and fingerpick with both hands but, on the fretboard, that is the place for my right hand. I feel way more agile this way and, find it an advantage to have my strong hand for fretting.

By the way, I have seen a left handed piano, they do exist.

Pukulele Pete
10-26-2011, 01:49 AM

Yes , there is ONE . I'm lefty but play guitar and uke in the standard way ( right handed) and I'm glad I do.

10-27-2011, 05:21 AM
Just stick with it. I couldn't do it. I just can't strum with my right hand, lol.

Personally I'd recommend playing it left handed IF it feels more natural to you, but WITHOUT restringing it. So learn all the chords and tabs upside down. That way you're still doing what feels more natural AND you can go out and play any uke you want!


12-05-2011, 05:31 AM
Get a UNI-Ball Jetstream. It was made just for us lefties. The ink dries fast and doesn't smear.

12-05-2011, 08:20 AM
I am struggling with this issue for my daughter, who is left handed, and nine years old, and just picking up the ukulele and wants to play the guitar. I get that she lives in a right-hand world, and if she learns on a 'left-handed' instrument, she will be limited when she is in the guitar store or wants to jam with others, and doesn't have her own instrument.

I hoped for a clear answer. There does not appear to be one.

I want her to be as successful as possible, of course. For now, I think we will keep trying it right-handed. If at some point an experienced player or teacher offers that she is having trouble and should switch, I will gladly do so (and probably be relieved). :)