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Thread: Lefty playing upside down

  1. #1

    Default Lefty playing upside down

    Just wondering if any left handed players played a right handed mandolin upside down.

    I play guitar left handed and when I finally decided to take the Mando plunge I bought a cheap right handed instrument. My idea is if playing upside down doesn't work out I can give converting it to lefty a try. The thing is playing upside down feels so easy and natural Im afraid I'm missing something. The whole it's to good to be true thing.

    Anyone with experance or knowledge as to any issues I'm facing but just don't see please chime in. I'm worried about investing a lot of time and then hitting a wall.

    Thanks

    Richard

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I suspect that almost anything could feel easy and natural once you get used to it. It only becomes problemadical if and when you use chord charts or fingering charts or DVDs or youtube videos to learn a tune. It will get to be a pain, I think, to have to do trigonometry every time you get advise based on a right handed instrument played right handed.
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Can offer no personal advice, but I have seen The Bluegrass Brothers perform, the mandolin picker is a lefty who picks a righty, upside-down. Terrific picker and you'd never know, if your eyes were closed.

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    Registered User Rodney Riley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Had a lady play my righty lefty. She played a lot better than I do. Was still strung up as a right handed mando. I would have thought she would have needed it restrung... go figure...

    Just go back to a saying heard a lot in the Seventies... "If it feels good, do it!"

  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I have a friend who is an excellent musician and he plays right hand guitar upside down as well a mandolin. hey, if it was good for Libba Cotton it would be fine for the rest of us mortals. I can't quite tell tho if the OP plays a right hand guitar upside down. I would think that unless you do the same, it would be pretty confusing to play the bass noted where the trebles would be and vice versa. I picked up a friend's lefty mandolin and could not figure out how to even noodle on it.
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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    There's a well-known bluegrassy band out of Athens, GA that has a great mandolin player who had a left handed mandolin built and plays it right handed. Sounds great. He said something about using his dominant hand on the fretboard. The owner of the music store where I worked encouraged all beginning string players who were left handed to try playing right handed first on the basis that most lefties are not true lefties or are ambidextrous, and because trying to find left handed instruments really limits your options and they tend to be more expensive. He pointed out that nobody makes or plays left handed violins, horns, etc..
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommando View Post
    He pointed out that nobody makes or plays left handed violins, horns, etc..
    I don't know about horns, but I know that left-handed violins do exist.
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommando View Post
    There's a well-known bluegrassy band out of Athens, GA that has a great mandolin player who had a left handed mandolin built and plays it right handed. Sounds great. He said something about using his dominant hand on the fretboard. The owner of the music store where I worked encouraged all beginning string players who were left handed to try playing right handed first on the basis that most lefties are not true lefties or are ambidextrous, and because trying to find left handed instruments really limits your options and they tend to be more expensive. He pointed out that nobody makes or plays left handed violins, horns, etc..
    Yes, I'm sure it's the same guy I saw at Everretts Music barn in Sawanee,Ga playing left handed and backwards. I didn't notice at first since the scroll is correct but the Bass/Treble strings were reversed. I wonder if there was any advantage to the chord shapes major/minor and so forth that could be gained from playing that way. It did not handicap his playing in anyway that I could see. Very talented guy.

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    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I'd have thought, that playing a mando upside down would give you the guitar tuning you are so used to. (EADG)
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    My own hokey take on the issue:

    For a raw beginner, pressing one finger on one string at one fret is "relatively" easy, while getting a pick on a string, or strings, hanging out in space is "relatively" more difficult (emphasis on the "relativelies"), so we generally revert to picking/strumming w/ the dominant hand while fretting w/ the non-dominant one. Buuuut... By time we're grooving right along, it becomes apparent that fretting can involve more gymnastic moves than most picking does. Sooo...

    Maybe the majority of us have approached it bass-ackwards, and the "right-hand-playing" lefties actually have it dialed in: Fret with your dominant hand!

    FWIW, there's a strong parallel in the skiing world:

    - It's easy to be a beginner-to-intermediate skier because we all know how to stand on two independently-moveable feet, but difficult to become "advanced" because so much of it is counter-intuitive, like trusting that the skis will turn w/out twisting your ankles, or pushing DOWN the hill to gain control and ski slower vs leaning back to lose control & move faster.

    - It's HARD to be a beginning snowboarder because we don't inherently know how to stand with our feet immovably locked to a wooden plank, and the first 3 days of snowboarding can be pretty painful. But once that balance threshold is met, the jump from intermediate to advanced is FAR easier than for skiers, almost fully intuitive.

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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I do believe Larry Sparks had a mandolin player that played this was, and he was a heck of a mandolin player.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    This is not uncommon for left handed players. I have known quite a few great players that played upside down. I have even converted a few left handed F styles to right handed stringing.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Thanks so much for all your replies. I wasn't expecting for it to feel so natural the first time I picked up the mandolin so I figured I must not be thinking it through all the way. Glad to hear its more common than I thought.

    Thank you

    Richard

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    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Quote Originally Posted by mandodan1960 View Post
    Yes, I'm sure it's the same guy I saw at Everretts Music barn in Sawanee,Ga playing left handed and backwards. I didn't notice at first since the scroll is correct but the Bass/Treble strings were reversed. I wonder if there was any advantage to the chord shapes major/minor and so forth that could be gained from playing that way. It did not handicap his playing in anyway that I could see. Very talented guy.
    Yep, upside down and backwards. He said it just felt completely natural to him and made more sense. I figured the chop would sound different, but it sounded great. They play a variety of fast music, and he showed no difficulty getting to any chord or hitting any note in his breaks.
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard98 View Post
    Thanks so much for all your replies. I wasn't expecting for it to feel so natural the first time I picked up the mandolin so I figured I must not be thinking it through all the way. Glad to hear its more common than I thought.

    Thank you

    Richard
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Doesn't the blood all rush to your head?

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    Registered User sarai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Hey great topic... I was posting in another thread about starting my boys of on some strings (they are 5 and 6) and they are both lefties. This came up last night because my 5 year old when I asked what instrument he wanted to try he said "the thing like you got mom" (the other one wants a banjo). So I put it on him and had him pick the first 2 notes of cripple creek. And I thought - is it ok that I teach him as a rightie? I guess so - since he's starting young I imagine it won't hinder him.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I have had a couple of left handed players start on left handed instruments and then switch over to right handed versions claiming it was easier. This is not the norm, but I think it proves that it is more a personal preference than anything.

    I play right handed, and my dad had a left handed bass. I wanted to record bass tracks, and started playing it upside down at first. That worked fine and I was able to play bass lines with no real learning curve. I then decided to learn to play it left handed mostly to see if I could (yeah, I had too much free time). At first it was like starting from scratch, but it came pretty quickly and within a month I could play it to some extent. It took a few months to play well enough for what I wanted.
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  20. #19

    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    Doesn't the blood all rush to your head?
    That's an excellent point I'm going to go tell my wife I need a carbon fiber mandolin right now. I'd sure be a shame to pass out and crush a nice instrument.

    Thanks

    Richard

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    Registered User raulb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    It's not quite the same, but I know a lady who plays left-handed on a right handed instrument. She says that way she can play any fiddle and not just one strung for lefties.
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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Robert Crumb, who's quite a good mandolin player, plays all the string instruments he plays (guitar, tenor banjo, mandolin, fiddle, ukulele, etc.) strung right but played lefty:



    It really solves a lot of problems—mainly you have enormous choices in instruments to play. Most lefties just bite the bullet and play righty, but a few have to either do what Crumb does or just reconfigure and play the instrument as a full lefty.

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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Paul McCartney auditioned for John Lennon's Quarrymen by playing "20 Flight Rock" on a borrowed guitar. He had learned it on a guitar converted to left-hand, which is how he plays, but had also taken the time to learn to play it upside down, perhaps for just such an occasion. He got the job......
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    Café habitué Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    It's a bass guitar.
    .
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  26. #24

    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    Actually my post was in reference to six-string guitar; Paul did not play bass guitar until Hamburg, after Stu Sutcliffe had gone. He was playing piano at that time as his cheap guitar had already fallen to pieces even before Sutcliffe had left.

    http://www.beatlesagain.com/breflib/paulbass.html
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    Default Re: Lefty playing upside down

    I play a right-handed mando upside down lefty, as well, and have not run in to any major problems. I started this way because I also play the ukulele, but strung left-handed. I find that I can not try out other peoples' ukes - they're all strung right-handed. So when I started with the mandolin, I wanted to do it upside down righty so I could play any mando I wanted (although an f-style looks mighty funny upside down!).

    So don't worry; you're not missing anything.
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