Seeking fingering advice for lefty playing right-handed ukulele

Elderly_Beginner

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Hi Folks -

I am learning to play a right-handed ukulele left-handed without restringing it. So, of course I am playing the chords 'upside down'.

I have read up on other options such as restringing the ukulele or buying a lefty ukulele, but for the time being the 'upside down' approach suits my needs for various reasons which I won't bore you with.

I am not bothered by translating chord tabs designed for righties. I believe that my brain can manage that.

What I need help with is advice about which finger should be on which string / fret for a particular chord. I have not been able to find that advice by searching. If any of you know of an info source on this topic, I would appreciate any pointers.

Thanks!
 
I can't offer direct advice, largely because all of the left-handers I know play their ukes restrung. However, if you look on YouTube at the Southern Ukulele Store (and possibly Ukes with Alex, although he might have them restrung there) you'll see Alex playing a lot of different ukes "upside down". Sometimes I've seen him flip the video to make it look as though he's playing right-handed but it's generally obvious that he's not. You may be able to pick up some tips from observing his technique.
 
Why not just try what's most convenient for you since you're breaking the conventions anyway? A friend of mine in high school in the mid 1960s played guitar lefty upside down and worked out the fingering that was best for him. Think about this, even Jimi Hendrix, who used a right hand guitar upside down, reversed his strings. I actually makes it easier for someone to show you fingering, like a mirror image.

JH lefty.jpg
 
Hi Folks -

I am learning to play a right-handed ukulele left-handed without restringing it. So, of course I am playing the chords 'upside down'.

I have read up on other options such as restringing the ukulele or buying a lefty ukulele, but for the time being the 'upside down' approach suits my needs for various reasons which I won't bore you with.

I am not bothered by translating chord tabs designed for righties. I believe that my brain can manage that.

What I need help with is advice about which finger should be on which string / fret for a particular chord. I have not been able to find that advice by searching. If any of you know of an info source on this topic, I would appreciate any pointers.

Thanks!
Hey welcome! Have you considered simply playing right handed? I'm left handed and instead of trying to invert chords and learn upside down or restring an instrument I play right handed. It's so unbelievably easy and my brain is like "yeah, whatever!" My fast strumming is a bit slower but other than that I have zero issues playing right handed. Plus it's good neuro plastics for the old gray and white matter-your brain!
 
I'm partially left side dominant, and I leaned to play right handed. It's just a whole lot less hassle. Less than 10% of my beginner students have learned to play left handed. They're unique!
But whatever you decide is best for you, good luck!
 
I would have thought that being left handed was a boon to learning a stringed instrument where the fretting hand is typically the left hand? That's where a lot of complexity is! But yeah, follow your spirit and do the right thing for you! Sorry I have no tips.
 
I have not tried, or thought about, playing barre chords from the opposite direction.

I do see an issue with second and third position chords where, especially if you have to stretch to pick up a note on the A string.

This is admittedly more prevalent playing melodies; such as a G chord using the D note on the A string and picking up the E above it. The easiest way to do this is to make the G chord by partially barring on the second fret. I can’t envision doing this from the direction of the G string.

John
 
Cradle the neck of your uke in your right hand and just let your fingers dangle above the string.

See how your index finger is nearest to you and your pinky furthest? That’s how you finger:

1. Index finger uppermost and nearest
2. Pinky furthest and lowermost
3, Unless you have a really good reason to do otherwise, use the pinky last.

Print off a few pages of blank chord diagrams and fill in the blanks as you learn chords. Eventually it will be automatic. The “official” fingerings are suggestions, albeit pretty good ones for conventional players. Ring finger for C looks odd until you wrangle the C-F-G change a few hundred times. But at the end of the day you’re the one who has to finger it, so make whatever modifications work best for your fingers.
 
Do the" various reasons"actually affect you playing right-hand conventionally.... accepting re-learning to do so?
 
I can't offer direct advice, largely because all of the left-handers I know play their ukes restrung. However, if you look on YouTube at the Southern Ukulele Store (and possibly Ukes with Alex, although he might have them restrung there) you'll see Alex playing a lot of different ukes "upside down". Sometimes I've seen him flip the video to make it look as though he's playing right-handed but it's generally obvious that he's not. You may be able to pick up some tips from observing his technique.
Thanks for the reply, BigJackBrass! I'll check out those videos.
 
Why not just try what's most convenient for you since you're breaking the conventions anyway? A friend of mine in high school in the mid 1960s played guitar lefty upside down and worked out the fingering that was best for him. Think about this, even Jimi Hendrix, who used a right hand guitar upside down, reversed his strings. I actually makes it easier for someone to show you fingering, like a mirror image.

View attachment 149753

Thanks for the reply, KohanMike.

I have a feeling that I might have to figure this out on my own, through trial and error.

I've seen tutorials for 'normal' people who play a right-handed instrument right-handed, and the fingering that the presenter suggested was not intuitive to me. I realize that much (all, maybe?) of the finger choice has to do with easing the transition from the previous chord and to the next chord.
 
Hey welcome! Have you considered simply playing right handed? I'm left handed and instead of trying to invert chords and learn upside down or restring an instrument I play right handed. It's so unbelievably easy and my brain is like "yeah, whatever!" My fast strumming is a bit slower but other than that I have zero issues playing right handed. Plus it's good neuro plastics for the old gray and white matter-your brain!
Thanks for the reply, Eggs_n_Ham.

This gets into the area that I had hoped not to bore y'all with, but I will gladly answer your question.

Actually, I have tried playing right-handed, both with a 6-string in the 1980s and with a uke within the past few weeks. As with you, I do not find it unnatural or awkward to play right-handed, except for what I'll explain in the next paragraph.

One of the reasons that I want to explore the 'upside down' approach is that I have a deformity (from an accident when I was a child) that resulted in a permanently enlarged and distorted middle finger tip on my left hand. It is especially challenging to do things like A minor or F chords and keep that enlarged fingertip away from the C string.
 
I'm partially left side dominant, and I leaned to play right handed. It's just a whole lot less hassle. Less than 10% of my beginner students have learned to play left handed. They're unique!
But whatever you decide is best for you, good luck!
Thanks for the reply, Nickie. Your advice is perfectly reasonable for the typical lefty.
 
I would have thought that being left handed was a boon to learning a stringed instrument where the fretting hand is typically the left hand? That's where a lot of complexity is! But yeah, follow your spirit and do the right thing for you! Sorry I have no tips.
I, too, am puzzled as to why righties want to fret with their left hand, LOL!
 
I have not tried, or thought about, playing barre chords from the opposite direction.

I do see an issue with second and third position chords where, especially if you have to stretch to pick up a note on the A string.

This is admittedly more prevalent playing melodies; such as a G chord using the D note on the A string and picking up the E above it. The easiest way to do this is to make the G chord by partially barring on the second fret. I can’t envision doing this from the direction of the G string.

John
Thank you for the reply, 70sSanO.

Your answer is a bit over my head at this time, but I'm sure I'll absorb your meaning eventually.
 
Cradle the neck of your uke in your right hand and just let your fingers dangle above the string.

See how your index finger is nearest to you and your pinky furthest? That’s how you finger:

1. Index finger uppermost and nearest
2. Pinky furthest and lowermost
3, Unless you have a really good reason to do otherwise, use the pinky last.

Print off a few pages of blank chord diagrams and fill in the blanks as you learn chords. Eventually it will be automatic. The “official” fingerings are suggestions, albeit pretty good ones for conventional players. Ring finger for C looks odd until you wrangle the C-F-G change a few hundred times. But at the end of the day you’re the one who has to finger it, so make whatever modifications work best for your fingers.
Thanks for the helpful reply, cdkrugjr!

When playing right-handed and following a tutorial by Bernadette Etcheverry (I hope that she is considered to be a competent ukulele player), I saw that she recommends using the middle finger for the uppermost/nearest string for some chords, and that the index finger sometimes is placed on a lower string (than than some other finger), so I assume that I will eventually find that similar unintuitive finger placements work best for upsidedown playing.
 
Do the" various reasons"actually affect you playing right-hand conventionally.... accepting re-learning to do so?
Thanks for the reply, pondweed.

Yes, the 'various reasons' affect playing right-handed. Please see my reply to Eggs_n_ham, above.

Sorry, but I don't understand "accepting re-learning..."
 
Whichever way you decide to play, learn to play right handed or restring and play left handed, you do need to learn using the correct fingering and not attempt to play upside down. Just pick one.

Most musical instruments require a person to be ambidextrous to some extent.

Learning to play the piano is a great example since it doesn’t matter if you are right or left hand dominate. Your left hand plays the bass line and your right plays the melody regardless of which hand you use to eat your cereal.

John
 
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Whichever way you decide to play, learn to play right handed or restring and play left handed, you do need to learn using the correct fingering and attempt to play upside down. Just pick one.

Most musical instruments require a person to be ambidextrous to some extent.

Learning to play the piano is a great example since it doesn’t matter if you are right or left hand dominate. Your left hand plays the bass line and your right plays the melody regardless of which hand you use to eat your cereal.

John
Right.

In fact, I have been learning to play piano, too, so I totally get it about having to be ambidextrous.

And you identified what I was hoping to get help with on this forum: "you do need to learn using the correct fingering".

I'm starting to get the impression that I represent such a tiny percentage of uke players that a tutorial doesn't exist.
 
I'm starting to get the impression that I represent such a tiny percentage of uke players that a tutorial doesn't exist.
I can't believe that there is nothing out there to help you. That seems exceedingly unlikely. The fact that it's hard to find, though, doesn't necessarily surprise me. Hmm. I also can't believe that there's no one here on UU who's at least tried what you're speaking of.

Here are some experiences from the forum that I found via google:


Regarding fingering - my music teacher actually is pretty flexible about what fingering you make for chord shapes, to a point, depending on where you're coming from and what you need next. I think there's nothing wrong at all with figuring out fingering that works for you and that allows you smooth, musical transitions. How did people learn to play an instrument before the internet if they had no one to show them? They figured it out. I don't think that's a bad approach. The important things about fretting is don't hold it in a death grip, try to get close to the fret so it's less chance of buzzy, and be relaxed. Check out these finger independence exercises, they'd apply just fine to you, too:



And Alex from the Southern Ukulele Store that people mentioned, I think this is his site: https://www.alexbeds.co.uk/ukulele
 
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