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Thread: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting ?

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    Default Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting ?

    I've played guitar for over 40 years right handed. It just seemed to be the best way to go, back then. More guitars to chose from and all the complicated stuff was on the fretboard, I thought. I have no real issues finger picking but I can't do super fast strumming. Think The Who's " Pinball Wizard ". I can't get that speed. I can do alright though. After looking at a lot of mandolin videos, I can see quick hands come into play a lot. I've never tried to do the " tremelo " or fast triplets I see many players pull off. It'sd not a guitar thing.

    If your a lefty playing righty, what's your experience with the speedy right hand picking stuff?

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    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    It never stopped Chris Thile from playing too many notes….

    For me, it took several revisions in my right hand technique (over many years) to really increase my speed. I don’t think it’s as easy to work on your right hand technique being a lefty, but it is doable.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I didn't know Chris was a lefty. Good to know.

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    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    So is Tim O’Brien.
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Also lefty who plays righty. I hate my metronome but I practice with it all the time, guitar and mandolin.
    Kentucky KM-250 Mandolin

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    This is one of those recurring threads that can get heated. People take on a religious zeal when espousing their position.

    I'm one of many naturally left handed people who plays musical instruments right handed. I started on violin, in an orchestra class. Everyone is trained to bow in unison, and there are plenty of colliding bows as it is.

    If someone saws left while the other bows right, if they're sharing a stand they have to face each other. So you'll end up with one-eyed fiddlers. It's just not done.

    So I learned right handed, and found I had to use both hands to play....
    When I branched out to electric bass and acoustic guitar, then mandolin I was already comfortable with my left hand on the finger/fretboard.

    Handedness is, like everything in the real world, analog and NOT digital. Along this spectrum we find people who are basically mono-handed - their dominant hand is the only one they can use. On the other...hand....(heh heh) there are fully ambidextrous folks. And there's everything in between.

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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I understand the fantastic Scottish guitarist (and occasional mandolin player) Tony McManus is also left handed but playing right handed.

    I use the examples of him and Thile to show it not only can be done, but it can lead to being the best in the business.
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Really, is there anything "right-handed" about simply playing a stringed instrument in its normal, traditional orientation? Both hands have to be strong, fast, and perfectly coordinated with each other. I think most string players in the world don't give "handedness" the slightest thought, they just play it the way it's played.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Bruce,

    In short, yes there is. You don't notice if your best hand is doing the important parts. " The way it's played " is, well right handed. They made them that way when it was invented because 90% of players would be right handed and at least that many creators of the instruments were right handed. They must have thought about what would be best for themselves and built around that. You can move a drum kit around, but you can't change a piano. I don't know enough about the brass and woodwinds to know which hand gets the biggest workouts.

    In my case, I think I can handle the small muscle skills and movements well enough with my right hand, but bigger muscles moving fast in a complicated rhythm is really hard. I guess I'll find out if the flat picking patterns will come easily or hard. As soon as I get a mandolin in my hands.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I'm a lefty playing right handed. FWIW, back in 1966 my first guitar teacher, Sam Mabe, discouraged me from starting left-handed.

    BEST advice I ever received. 55 years later, playing music, (guitar, banjo, and mandolin) is the only thing I stuck with over the years -- where other interests have come and gone....

    Agree with Bruce, dexterity is needed on both hands, IMHO...

    Also, agree with the OP -- better selection of instruments, both new and used -- big consideration, for me.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Nov-03-2021 at 10:28pm.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Another lefty playing right handed. Started on classical bass in 4th grade and it was just more natural feeling for me to play right handed. Same when I picked up guitar. Which really shocked my teacher as he thought I should play left handed. I fought that for about 2 minutes before he gave up. That was in elementary school. Never looked back.
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW63 View Post
    In my case, I think I can handle the small muscle skills and movements well enough with my right hand, but bigger muscles moving fast in a complicated rhythm is really hard. I guess I'll find out if the flat picking patterns will come easily or hard. As soon as I get a mandolin in my hands.
    I think you solved your problem. I use my wrist, not the bigger muscles in my forearm. It would be hard for me to use the bigger muscles for tremolo and playing fast, and I am playing right handed. I am not left handed.
    Last edited by pops1; Nov-04-2021 at 11:28am.
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    This is one of those recurring threads that can get heated. People take on a religious zeal when espousing their position.
    This so true, and it took me by surprise. If I inadvertently step into it, I beg your forgiveness. I am right handed and my brother is left handed. We have talked for years about it, and it is our perception that handedness doesn't seem to mean stronger, or faster, in that hand. It seems to be more of a foreground background type of thing. Drinking a cup of coffee while carrying a donut - that kind of thing. The dominant hand does the foreground thing, and the other hand does the background thing.

    With something like mandolin, guitar, violin, I am not sure that either fretting or picking is necessarily the foreground thing, or that it makes much of a difference once you get going. Everything feels awkward at the beginning anyway.

    Since you have experience playing righty on guitar I think playing righty on mandolin will feel less awkward. After that I believe, as can be expected, that practice and playing regularly with others will overcome every slight bias one way or another, and all things considered handedness is down the list of things that are difficult about playing well.

    I know lefties that play left handed with left handed instruments, and I know lefties that play right handed.

    The most curious I have seen is the English folk singer Jez Lowe, who plays left handed guitar and mandolin, though he is right handed. He grew up with a poster of Paul McCartney on his wall and just thought that was the way to do it.

    And for you conspiracy theorists, I have heard reputable people claim that Paul McCartney is actually right handed, and does everything right handed, except playing guitar.

    So yea, I would go righty, and yea you might have some speedy right hand picking issues. Don't we all.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Another lefty playing right handed. Started on classical bass in 4th grade and it was just more natural feeling for me to play right handed. Same when I picked up guitar. Which really shocked my teacher as he thought I should play left handed. I fought that for about 2 minutes before he gave up. That was in elementary school. Never looked back.
    If you lok into hockey players there's not much correlation between righty/ lefty and how they hold the stick, when I hold lefty stick i feel more dexterity, when righty I think I can hit the puck stronger. Personal decision of a kid what he prefers in the beginning...
    When I shoot bow I hold it lefty (I'm natural rihgty person), it felt more natural to me when I first tried it and on many ocassions I feel that I need the strength of the right hand holding the bow for good calm aim.
    Getting to high level at any of these activities always depends more on synchronization of both hands. High speed picking needs not only right hand but both must work together at the speed.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Lefty who plays righty here and I think you should try lefty. There are inexpensive left handed mandos now that you can give a go and see how it feels, then if you don’t jive with it sell it.

    Alot of us lefty’s learned righty because we HAD to. When I took up golf, used scissors, sat at the desks in grade school, used a soup ladle, can opener, took up guitar, etc the lefty options were next to none so I made do…now we don’t have to.

    You mentioned trouble with speed, in bluegrass it comes from the picking hand, many times the freting hand is doing next to nothing.

    If I had it to do over again I’d go lefty, when I flip my mando over and just pick with my left hand along with metronome it’s effortless and I get to speeds I only dream of with my right hand. I’ve decided to live with it as I don't want to go thru changing at this point.

    Be prepared, as mentioned above this thread will get heated. It doesn’t matter than Thile and O’Brien play right handed and are great it matters what you are and you said you’re not happy with your right hand.

    Google left handed mando and check them out. You can always string a righty mando lefty and try it…I recently met a guitar player who turned a righty guitar over without restringing it and is a fantastic bluegrass picker (no-one can follow the chords though).
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Google left handed mando and check them out. You can always string a righty mando lefty and try it…I recently met a guitar player who turned a righty guitar over without restringing it and is a fantastic bluegrass picker (no-one can follow the chords though).
    I know of a mandolinner that did that.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    My kid's lefty, plays a right-handed guitar. So's my singing partner Bonnie. You can train your hands to take roles different from the standard "dominant" side for strength, "un-dominant" for dexterity.

    I like the suggestion of trying it both ways, alternating the stringing on a mandolin. On the other hand (no pun intended), you're already playing guitar with your "weak" hand, correct? Have you considered reversing the stringing on your guitar and seeing what happens?

    I think it'd be more confusing to play one instrument right-handed, the other left-handed. And don't worry; there are a helluva lot of us who can't play as fast as Pete Townsend, with either hand or both.
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I tried changing the way I play guitar many years ago. It lasted a week. The brain pathways were already in place and it just felt like I would imagine a stroke victim would feel. I could think the hand to do stuff, but it didn't know how to do it.

    I've been involved in these sort of topics over at the AGF and the best we came up with is that handedness can be on a spectrum from " I can't do anything well with my right hand " all the way to " I could do this either way " which would be ambidextrous. It may depend on the activity as much as anything. I changed from lefty to righty playing golf. Instead of pushing the club through the stroke, I was pulling it. I lost some distance, but I gained accuracy. What putter I used on any given day depended on how things went on the warmup.

    If I was playing with my Gibson Deluxe air guitar, it feels liked I could be a pretty good strummer in short order. The forearm motion is better on the left. The finger picking on the other hand ( pun intended ) feels rather poor.

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  24. #19

    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I had no idea that some folks who are left handed played an instrument right handed. Cool stuff.

  25. #20

    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Also a lefty playing righty. Came from necessity - only lefty of 6 kids and the others are all righties.

    Once you get into playing finger-style and jazz guitar the complexities required by both hands becomes equal. It's the little fingers that are toughest to train.
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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Submitted for your consideration....



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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting


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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    I’m one

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    'Worked out ok for these guys:

    Mark Knopfler
    Gary Moore
    Steve Morse
    Duane Allman
    Elvis Costello

    My last apprentice and current one are both lefties. It makes for some challenging recoveries in the shop some days.....

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    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will being a lefty, but playing right handed be more limiting

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus CA View Post
    So is Tim O’Brien.
    Some more lefties that play righty.

    Jorma
    Johnny Winter
    Robert Fripp
    me

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