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View Full Version : Lefties and Righties alike!



BrittanyClark
04-09-2012, 04:31 AM
My brother is a strict left-handed kid. I'm a ukulele player, and he has been interested in learning how to play too. I'd be glad to teach him, but I also want him to be comfortable in playing as a lefty. I DO NOT want to flip over my ukulele and have him learn chords backwards. I have read about switching the strings and mirroring them, but I'm concerned about any buzzes that could cause since, of course, the strings are different sizes and the nut might not agree with the mirrored action. I was thinking about taking one of my cheaper ukes to Guitar Center (please, no snarky comments about how it's the "Walmart of Guitar shops") and asking them to do this for me and see how it works out. Would you guys suggest this? I am not a do-it-yourself person AT ALL, so please, none of that!

Also, are there any ukes made specially for lefties that are less than $100? Reliable sources please.

roxhum
04-09-2012, 04:41 AM
Any uke dealer that includes a set up should be able to do the left handed set up. Mim and UkeRepublic come to mind. And I am with you I don't do that sort of thing myself. I have no aptitude for it so if the guitar ctr has a tech that can work on ukes. But how much will they charge? It may make more sense to buy a new uke with the set up included in the sale price. Good luck and it is very nice of you to help your brother get started playing the uke.

Bill Mc
04-09-2012, 05:04 AM
Strictly left handed or not a ukulele player must use the right hand for a process that is equally complicated as that performed by the left hand. What makes your brother think he will be unable to learn strumming with the right hand and fingering the chords with his left hand ?

BlueLatitude
04-09-2012, 05:50 AM
I'm a pretty strict lefty myself so I know it's not always a matter of how complex it is for each hand, but in this case it really doesn't seem to make a difference.

I'm learning right handed and it doesn't feel like I ought to be playing left handed (you can always tell when your brain WANTS to do it the other way).

Have you tried him on a right-handed instrument at all? If he's really uncomfortable with it you could go ahead and work out a left-handed one for him, but if he can play a right-handed one he'll have a lot more opportunities to pick up any uke and play it.

Lalz
04-09-2012, 07:53 AM
From what I've heard, strumming with the right hand and fretting with the left one is actually easier for left-handed people than for right-handed people? Something about a famous left-handed luthier setting the trend a long time ago or something like that.
I know some left-handed people who play the uke and they don't seem to have any problem playing it the "normal" way.

staylor
04-09-2012, 11:41 AM
I'm a left-handed player who was never comfortable strumming or picking right-handed, even with my first guitar 40 years ago and a teacher who encouraged me to play as if I were right-handed. Some people can switch, and others, like me, are only comfortable strumming with our dominant hands.

Left-handed players have fewer choices and must learn chords "upside down" to try out the vast majority of instruments...but my experience has been that it's better to do what's comfortable and enjoy some success than to struggle needlessly with mechanics that our brains and bodies may never accept.

As for modifying right-handed instruments for left-handed players, it depends on the instrument: The switch works best on symmetrical instruments whose bass and treble sides are braced and shaped exactly the same. Compensated bridges may need replacement for exact intonation, but you may not notice much difference in what happens at the nut if you simply restring an inexpensive uke left-handed. For example, I simply restrung my Asian-made uke and can tell no difference in sound, action or intonation. YMMV.

Sometimes, folks who didn't intend it made me feel like there was something wrong with me because I'm left-handed or wasn't able to play the way THEY thought I should play. What's more important, I've learned over four decades of playing stringed instruments, is for all of us to play exactly the way that makes us feel good and happy. As long as what you play sounds good to you and helps you feel the joy of making music, what anyone else thinks really doesn't matter.

ejnovinsky
04-09-2012, 02:28 PM
I'm a left-handed player who was never comfortable strumming or picking right-handed, even with my first guitar 40 years ago and a teacher who encouraged me to play as if I were right-handed. Some people can switch, and others, like me, are only comfortable strumming with our dominant hands.

Left-handed players have fewer choices and must learn chords "upside down" to try out the vast majority of instruments...but my experience has been that it's better to do what's comfortable and enjoy some success than to struggle needlessly with mechanics that our brains and bodies may never accept.

As for modifying right-handed instruments for left-handed players, it depends on the instrument: The switch works best on symmetrical instruments whose bass and treble sides are braced and shaped exactly the same. Compensated bridges may need replacement for exact intonation, but you may not notice much difference in what happens at the nut if you simply restring an inexpensive uke left-handed. For example, I simply restrung my Asian-made uke and can tell no difference in sound, action or intonation. YMMV.

Sometimes, folks who didn't intend it made me feel like there was something wrong with me because I'm left-handed or wasn't able to play the way THEY thought I should play. What's more important, I've learned over four decades of playing stringed instruments, is for all of us to play exactly the way that makes us feel good and happy. As long as what you play sounds good to you and helps you feel the joy of making music, what anyone else thinks really doesn't matter.


Damn skippy, nicely said.....if hes left handed and naturally picks up the ukulele lefty then he should play lefty. restring a cheapo upside down like staylor said, and it will be plenty good enough to learn on. As he progresses to a better uke any reputable dealer should have no issue doing a lefty setup. Mike at mainland was kind enough to set mine up wehn I bought it. I hated guitar teachers trying to force me to play right handed. Yes it will be a tougher road, but in the end it will be more fulfilling for him to know he learned on his own terms

heymak
04-09-2012, 04:44 PM
I'm a left-handed player who was never comfortable strumming or picking right-handed, even with my first guitar 40 years ago and a teacher who encouraged me to play as if I were right-handed. Some people can switch, and others, like me, are only comfortable strumming with our dominant hands.

Left-handed players have fewer choices and must learn chords "upside down" to try out the vast majority of instruments...but my experience has been that it's better to do what's comfortable and enjoy some success than to struggle needlessly with mechanics that our brains and bodies may never accept.

As for modifying right-handed instruments for left-handed players, it depends on the instrument: The switch works best on symmetrical instruments whose bass and treble sides are braced and shaped exactly the same. Compensated bridges may need replacement for exact intonation, but you may not notice much difference in what happens at the nut if you simply restring an inexpensive uke left-handed. For example, I simply restrung my Asian-made uke and can tell no difference in sound, action or intonation. YMMV.

Sometimes, folks who didn't intend it made me feel like there was something wrong with me because I'm left-handed or wasn't able to play the way THEY thought I should play. What's more important, I've learned over four decades of playing stringed instruments, is for all of us to play exactly the way that makes us feel good and happy. As long as what you play sounds good to you and helps you feel the joy of making music, what anyone else thinks really doesn't matter.


Damn skippy, nicely said.....if hes left handed and naturally picks up the ukulele lefty then he should play lefty. restring a cheapo upside down like staylor said, and it will be plenty good enough to learn on. As he progresses to a better uke any reputable dealer should have no issue doing a lefty setup. Mike at mainland was kind enough to set mine up wehn I bought it. I hated guitar teachers trying to force me to play right handed. Yes it will be a tougher road, but in the end it will be more fulfilling for him to know he learned on his own terms

Yeap, It just didn't feel right to me trying Righty,just felt awkward and even more uncoordinated. By all means it doesn't hurt to try Righty, but don't force it. It will take away the fun factor.

BrittanyClark
04-10-2012, 04:03 AM
Strictly left handed or not a ukulele player must use the right hand for a process that is equally complicated as that performed by the left hand. What makes your brother think he will be unable to learn strumming with the right hand and fingering the chords with his left hand ?

I'm sorry, but this post makes you seem really ignorant. When I started playing, 'the process' seemed more natural to me when I was fretting with my left hand and strumming with my right. When I try/tried left, it was uncomfortable and unnatural. Nobody should be forced to try and play in a way they don't feel comfortable with. I'd feel the same way if someone tried to force me to play left handed. When I first started writing, I didn't try to write with my left hand because it hurt and it didn't seem like the way my mind wanted me to hold it. Please try to contain your ignorance.

And to everyone else, thank you for your help!

TheCraftedCow
04-10-2012, 05:51 AM
It seems this discussions says that fretted stringed instruments are mentally challenged. Group, the woodwinds player have no such things as left and right handed flutes-saxaphones-clarinets. Non fretted stringed instruments have no left anded cellos-violas-violins.Percussionists have no left and right handed drum sticks, and pianos have no reverse keyboards where the treble side is left and the bass in on the right. Playing is acquistion of skill learned by habit.
Practice does not make perfect...it makes permanent. Hand-eye dominance is not a factor in playing. It really does a dis-service to put someone on a few-of a kind instrument. If he does not take his uke, he becomes audience. Our grandson learned to play with fretting the left hand. He is now a percussionist as well. Both hands exchanging lead. Perhaps someone should develop a test to determine if left handers are somehow mentally or physically limited and incapable of playing the other way.

BlueLatitude
04-10-2012, 06:43 AM
It seems this discussions says that fretted stringed instruments are mentally challenged. Group, the woodwinds player have no such things as left and right handed flutes-saxaphones-clarinets. Non fretted stringed instruments have no left anded cellos-violas-violins.Percussionists have no left and right handed drum sticks, and pianos have no reverse keyboards where the treble side is left and the bass in on the right. Playing is acquistion of skill learned by habit.
Practice does not make perfect...it makes permanent. Hand-eye dominance is not a factor in playing. It really does a dis-service to put someone on a few-of a kind instrument. If he does not take his uke, he becomes audience. Our grandson learned to play with fretting the left hand. He is now a percussionist as well. Both hands exchanging lead. Perhaps someone should develop a test to determine if left handers are somehow mentally or physically limited and incapable of playing the other way.

Actually, I play bagpipes left handed and there are plenty of other people who do as well. I tried both ways when I started and it made a huge difference to me in what I could do, depending on which hand was at the top and which was at the bottom. We had drummers playing left-handed as well.

It's a common thing in all kinds of instructions to see "Left handers just reverse the directions" which is MUCH easier said than done, depending on how many things you're reversing at one time. I believe so many lefties tend to be more creative than right handed people because of a lifetime of dealing with "just reversing the instructions."

Now give a right-handed person a left-handed implement and let them see how well they do with it. That's when they say "Wow, I feel so awkward. I had no idea....."

It's true that in some ways it's easier to go with the flow of what everyone else is doing, but say that person is merely adequate playing "normally", but could be really good playing the way they are most comfortable? What then?

staylor
04-10-2012, 08:14 AM
Perhaps someone should develop a test to determine if left handers are somehow mentally or physically limited and incapable of playing the other way.

Wow. While it's true that the brains of left-handed people are wired--and often operate--differently, I'm gonna bet that most of us would pass a test to determine if we're more tolerant and accepting of right-handed players than some right-handed players appear to be toward us.

Even if left-handed people ARE mentally or physically limited in a way that makes us incapable of playing the other way, what difference does it make if we're making music and having fun? Jimi Hendrix apparently suffered the same mental and physical limitation that I do--the inability to comfortably strum a guitar with his right hand--but I doubt anyone told him to switch hands after they heard him play. Thank goodness no one administered a test that discouraged him from doing what came absolutely naturally--and brilliantly--to him. I hope the OP encourages his brother to play the uke, or any other instrument, in whatever way feels best to him and gives him the best opportunity to enjoy making music.

Tudorp
04-10-2012, 11:04 AM
It will be fine. I have set up several ukes for left hand players, and kids. All I do it reverse the string order and set up with a new re-cut nut. A standard traditional shaped uke, or pineapple works perfect. I might be a little weird on a cut-a-way style tho.. If your not a DIY'er, a shop should be able to with no problem for not much.

Remember the great Jimmy Hendrix was a lefty, but did not use a Left handed Fender strat. He simply played an upside down stung right handed Stratocaster. If you ever see his videos, look at the traditional Fender headstock. It's upside down.. ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tUdUVmnWNc
I would never try to get someone to play right, if they are left. Especially kids. It could be very frustratiing for them, thus turning them off playing at all.

staylor
04-10-2012, 11:30 AM
That's right--Jimi was left-handed, but my point is that he strummed and picked the guitar with his dominant, left hand.

A previous poster implied that there may be something mentally or physically wrong with left-handed people who aren't comfortable strumming and picking with their right hands, and Jimi's a great example of an accomplished musician who went to extraordinary lengths--even holding a right-handed guitar upside-down--to play music in the way that was comfortable to him. The issue isn't with the "handedness" of an instrument, but my belief that a player's "handedness" shouldn't matter to anyone as long as the player enjoys music.

Tudorp
04-10-2012, 11:34 AM
I kinda think that poster made that comment "tounge in cheek". But, yes, left handed people sometimes feel left out, but there are ways to get around it if you have the passion to do whatever it is your doing. somewhere in the 10% range is the number of lefties vs righties, so majority being right handed, thats where the builds typically go. But again, it is easily remedied in most cases. I've done several because I have had left handed kids come to me that wanted to play, but didn't think they could. So, I set up and gave them their left handed ukes, and it makes all the difference in the world to them. They end up being more passionate about their uke than many others.

One kid, about 10 years old was a lefty. I set him up one, and "loaned" it to him and told him he can play if he wants to. I told him if he played me a whole song in a month, he can keep the uke (He was gonna keep it reguardless, but it just gave him the incentive to keep at it thinking he would have to give it back ;)). A month later, he sat and played me an entire song on his own. His parents said they might have to have that uke surgically removed from him now, lol..

staylor
04-10-2012, 12:10 PM
What an awesome story! That must feel great to help and inspire young musicians--good for you!!!!

Gillian
04-12-2012, 07:42 PM
A quick search and I found this site where you can print out chord diagrams for left=handed players.

http://www.gstboces.org/toolbox/template.cfm?ID=2990&P=LP&L=5864&T=Chord%20Chart

Just re-string a uke in reverse order and you have a lefty uke. The only caveat to that would be the nut slot widths are cut to different widths. It might require flipping the nut also.

Bill Mc
04-12-2012, 08:09 PM
I'm sorry, but this post makes you seem really ignorant. When I started playing, 'the process' seemed more natural to me when I was fretting with my left hand and strumming with my right. When I try/tried left, it was uncomfortable and unnatural. Nobody should be forced to try and play in a way they don't feel comfortable with. I'd feel the same way if someone tried to force me to play left handed. When I first started writing, I didn't try to write with my left hand because it hurt and it didn't seem like the way my mind wanted me to hold it. Please try to contain your ignorance.

And to everyone else, thank you for your help!

Brittany, when you posted your request for members' opinions I did not realize that my response should be limited to what you wanted to hear to bolster your preconceived notion of what constituted the correct answer. The answer I gave you was based on some forty plus years of playing musical instruments - I won't even bother you with all the details. However, in the future I will not respond to your posts least I should put forth an idea that rattles the very foundations of your world causing you to respond in a manner much less than polite and not at all grateful for the sincere answer I gave you.

jimmybookout
04-13-2012, 05:13 AM
Wow. As a left handed player for more than 40 years, I always get a kick out of threads like this. This notion that someone should play right handed or else is comical. I started playing ukulele when I was 8 and it felt more natural to play lefty. So I restrung my ukulele left handed and here I am.When I moved on to guitar a few years later, it became more complicated because of the nature of the beast. When I re-discovered ukulele about 8 years ago, it sure was nice to be able to just buy anything and do a little work, and presto, a lefty ukulele. Threads like this show up time to time on Acoustic Guitar Forum and there's always someone that plays the "Guitars (or ukuleles) are not left or right handed" game (and they ALWAYS play right handed), and my answer is always the same....Why do you care? As long is someone is playing....

And here's a pack of lovely LEFT HANDED Kanileas!
Jimmy36284

BrittanyClark
04-19-2012, 04:30 AM
Brittany, when you posted your request for members' opinions I did not realize that my response should be limited to what you wanted to hear to bolster your preconceived notion of what constituted the correct answer. The answer I gave you was based on some forty plus years of playing musical instruments - I won't even bother you with all the details. However, in the future I will not respond to your posts least I should put forth an idea that rattles the very foundations of your world causing you to respond in a manner much less than polite and not at all grateful for the sincere answer I gave you.

It's just that you didn't really answer my question. You came off as very biased, and though I do realize it is possible for lefties to 'learn' to be righties, and vice versa, it isn't a comfortable process and therefore should be respected. Sorry for any rudeness that I may have dispersed; I am just trying to help the kid out.

peewee
04-19-2012, 05:40 AM
There's also the Dick Dale solution, just flip the thing over and learn to play with the string order reversed. Who knows, you might end up with a whole new sound like he did.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8CnurLcxRY&feature=related

On the other hand, I think a leftie instrument strung the normal way might have an overlooked advantage:
if a right hander is showing you a lick, you can stand in front of them and mirror their moves rather than having to mentally flop the fingerings.

Bob-in-Alberta
04-19-2012, 07:40 AM
My two cents worth: I'm a left handed man that plays the uke (not very well yet, but plays) right handed. Why? I took guitar lessons for a short period of time about forty years ago and my guitar teacher thought that it would be easier to learn right handed instead of left. His reasoning was that: 1. Most guitars are already strung for right handed people 2. He was right handed as were most other people so it would be easier to learn if I did it the more conventional way and (here is the one that made the most sense to me) 3. Everyone has a dominant hand. My being left handed just meant that I would be more adept at the fingering part and would have to work on the picking part more. That made sense to me. When I was shopping for my ukulele last fall I picked it up for the first time in a right handed fashion and had my wife (who is also left handed) give me a strange look as she tried to figure out how to hold the one that she was looking at. The habit had obviously stuck for four decades with no enforcement. As a southpaw in a right handed world we're all used to adapting everyday.

heymak
04-19-2012, 08:40 AM
Part of my problem too, was that I had been playing air guitar lefthanded all my life. Hard to switch now...:cool::cool:

Except now I play air ukulele instead.

Kimokeo
04-23-2012, 04:16 AM
What an awesome story! That must feel great to help and inspire young musicians--good for you!!!!

Not just "young" musicians. I'm recently retired, and have wanted to learn to play the uke for quite a while. I'm 61 yrs. old, and left-handed in everything I do. At my age, I will not change now. I just want to learn enough to be able to strum along with some songs, and play a few "easy" ones myself. I'm not looking to entertain anyone but myself! Thanks for your story. I feel better about being a left-handed beginner.

Pukulele Pete
04-23-2012, 04:33 AM
What will you do if he decides he wants to play the piano ?