Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

  1. #1

    Default Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Mandolin Cafe newbie and my first thread. I play fiddle with my local community folk orchestra here in England. I'd like to add another string to my bow, as it were, and learn the mandolin. To that end I have splashed out £49 on a Harley Benton, and figuring it may need a tweak or two have already downloaded Rob Meldrum's superb free eBook 'Mandolin Setup', available here. So here's my problem: I'm left-handed but play fiddle the 'normal' way. However, when I've tried to play guitar or mando previously it's been left-handed. The 'correct' way feels totally alien to me. I've looked at a left-handed instrument but the reverse stringing seems equally alien. Should I content myself picking melodies with a limited range of chords, or try and persevere playing right-handed. Suggestions very welcome!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    How do you play a keyboard?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    When I played the piano way back it was just like 'normal' people. Funnily enough I struggle to use scissors in my left hand. I tell my partner I'm ambiguous and she replies 'you certainly are!'

  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    17,055

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Scissors are generally constructed so that the thumb and finger pressures from the right hand force the cutting blades together, making cutting easier, while using them left-handed spreads the blades apart. Plus, the handles are curved to accommodate thumb and fingers of the right hand.

    Lotsa left-handed scissors available, though; example.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  5. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  6. #5

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Quote Originally Posted by zhuologist View Post
    Mandolin Cafe newbie and my first thread. I play fiddle with my local community folk orchestra here in England. I'd like to add another string to my bow, as it were, and learn the mandolin. To that end I have splashed out £49 on a Harley Benton, and figuring it may need a tweak or two have already downloaded Rob Meldrum's superb free eBook 'Mandolin Setup', available here. So here's my problem: I'm left-handed but play fiddle the 'normal' way. However, when I've tried to play guitar or mando previously it's been left-handed. The 'correct' way feels totally alien to me. I've looked at a left-handed instrument but the reverse stringing seems equally alien. Should I content myself picking melodies with a limited range of chords, or try and persevere playing right-handed. Suggestions very welcome!
    Do you ever play pizzicato on your fiddle? Rotate your wrist slightly and play pizz with your thumb.

    Gradually, begin to practice bringing your fiddle down toward a "mandolin playing position" - maybe an inch at a time...playing pizz with your thumb. Also, vice versa, gradually try putting your mndln up "toward fiddle playing position" and play pizz using your thumb.. Of course the idea is to gain feel sharing between them.
    Randal Scott

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,889

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Very strange. Have you tried playing your fiddle lefty? I am not sure how you are used to stopping the strings for notes using the left hand on the fiddle but you would not do the same on the mandolin. It would be an advantage especially when switching back and forth between fiddle and mandolin to play them with the same orientation IMHO. I like Randal/catmandu2's suggestion above.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  8. #7

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Thanks for that, Allen. Just to clarify the scissor situation, I just don't like using any scissors in my left hand. It feels as strange as holding a pen in my right hand. When it comes to trimming my right fingernails, I make do.

  9. The following members say thank you to zhuologist for this post:


  10. #8

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Sometimes we get asked to play pizz in the orchestra, then I hold the fiddle like a guitar, wrong way round, and thumb pluck. But I like your suggestions and will certainly give them a try. It would make life easier and I might just get used to playing the 'right way'! Thanks.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Thanks for your question, Jim. I tried playing the fiddle left-handed just once. It felt even stranger than it looked. I'm going to give Randal's ideas a shot and will give an update on my progress after the mandolin arrives.

  12. #10
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,160

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Ryan Thomson, aka "Captain Fiddle" has written extensively about lefthanded fiddle playing. A right-handed player, he developed focal dystonia in his right shoulder which made him unable to control the bow. He was quite a good fiddler, but rather than give up the instrument, or concentrate on the other instruments (mandolin, banjo, accordion) which he could still play right-handed, he started over, playing fiddle from the other side and became as good LHed as he had been Rhed.

    So, take a look at the various articles he's got up on his site. He's also got some books about playing LHed fiddle, as well as youtube videos.
    https://www.captainfiddle.com/ryanswritings.html

    Niles H

  13. #11

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Hi Niles,
    Many thanks for this information. I've taken a look at Captain Fiddle's website, which I have to say is something of a revelation. His perspective on left-handed fiddle playing and, by extension, most stringed instruments, is refreshing and original. I look forward to seeing his Youtube contributions and reading his book. My feeling now is that I should give right-handed mando playing a serious go when my instrument arrives. Capt. Fiddle makes a salient point when he notes that left-handed fiddle players playing right-handed fiddle lack control in their bowing arms, which I have experienced to some degree. On a tangent, at the age of 70 I have just seen my first Charlie Chaplin movie, 'Limelight', which showcased Chaplin's left-handed violin playing skills. It seems that he was an accomplished violinist, practising for 4 hours a day, and contributing to the orchestration of his movies. Who knew that?! Incidentally, a beautiful and heart-warming movie.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Funny topic, I have recently considered learning fiddle. I've played guitar left handed for 20 years and mandolin left handed for 6.

    But a left handed fiddle looks too odd to me. So I've debated whether to learn it right handed. But that seems like a huge amount of work to train my left hand to "fret".

  15. #13
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,282

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    If they allowed left handed fiddlers in the orchestra when I was young there'd be even more one-eyed fiddlers. So I learned righty. When I picked up guitar it made sense to me to do that right handed as well. This was all over 40 years ago, and I still do a lot of things left handed (aka sinister I always add).

    One thing I didn't expect was using my right hand for bowing and picking improved my coordination with it, and I've become close to ambidextrous as a result. I recommend playing right handed for this and many other reasons that get posted here every couple months.

  16. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    3,437

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Being an orchestral instrument with a firmly established progression in the classical world, I suspect left handed fiddles are something which has never been seriously considered. (I did see a left handed double bass player a while back - it took me some time to decide why he lookep peculiar!)

    You could simply try playing the mandolin upside down. Jim Rooney has always successfully played guitar this way.

  17. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,889

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    It is interesting how the thread as migrated to a discussion of left-handed fiddling. The OP already plays fiddle right handed for some reason—maybe he was forced to do so as a child. In prior generations left handed children were taught to write right-handed.

    In any case, it also sounds like he would play a standard right-handed mandolin or guitar upside down and backwards like Libba Cotten (or Jim Rooney mentioned above) rather than opt for a left-hand instrument. I know a few excellent musicians who do that, one a phenomenal finger picking guitar player who also plays mandolin. Another, of my favorite Québécois fiddle players, Yvon Mimeault, who plays standard fiddle lefty. Pictured below.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Yvon at the window.JPG 
Views:	9 
Size:	41.0 KB 
ID:	197898
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Dec-03-2021 at 10:00am.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  18. #16
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,160

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    One thing I didn't expect was using my right hand for bowing and picking improved my coordination with it, and I've become close to ambidextrous as a result. I recommend playing right handed for this and many other reasons that get posted here every couple months.
    For a several years in 00's I spent time recreationally playing left-handed on mandolin and tenor banjo. One of the results of this ambidextrous training was that it upped my fingerpicking (RHed) skills considerably without having practiced it. Also, my bow control and tone playing viola (RHed) was also vastly improved, again, without practicing it.

    Of course, the best thing about playing LHed was from the instructional perspective; it just showed me how unbalanced and inadequate most beginner (mando) methods were because those were all written by players/teachers who had forgotten what it was like to be back at squares 1 and 2. Which led to a revamping of how I taught new players. And when I took up flute, many of those same excercises and concepts were applied successfully to that instrument.

    Niles H

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	21-11-19 FB LHed post color.jpg 
Views:	27 
Size:	385.9 KB 
ID:	197899

  19. #17

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Hi Jim,
    I recall as a teenager I bought a beaten-up 'beach' guitar from a junk shop. I shared the cost with my brother, and as he is right-handed I didn't re-string it. I managed to learn a few chords from Bert Weedon's famous tutor, but other chords were literally out of reach. And yet the first time I picked up a fiddle it just felt completely natural to hold it right way round. No accounting for it...

  20. #18

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Hi Niles,
    Struth! You write better left-handed than many right-handers. Seriously, you and other formites have convinced me to give right-handed mando playing my best shot, for which thank you all very much.
    Nick B.

  21. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,889

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    For a several years in 00's I spent time recreationally playing left-handed on mandolin and tenor banjo. One of the results of this ambidextrous training was that it upped my fingerpicking (RHed) skills considerably without having practiced it. Also, my bow control and tone playing viola (RHed) was also vastly improved, again, without practicing it.

    Of course, the best thing about playing LHed was from the instructional perspective; it just showed me how unbalanced and inadequate most beginner (mando) methods were because those were all written by players/teachers who had forgotten what it was like to be back at squares 1 and 2. Which led to a revamping of how I taught new players. And when I took up flute, many of those same excercises and concepts were applied successfully to that instrument.

    Niles H

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	21-11-19 FB LHed post color.jpg 
Views:	27 
Size:	385.9 KB 
ID:	197899
    That is brilliant, Niles! There is nothing like getting completely out of your comfort zone. And the experience is also amazing to me, both that you stuck with it for enough time to learn much from the experience. I remember one fiddler who used to play cello style and have tried that a few times especially after watching cretan lyra and other spike fiddlers. Not so easy either. Of course, this also falls into similar categories of learning a completely new instrument as in your learning flute. In any case, you are my hero, Niles, especially in the field of playing outside the box—whatever box we are talking about.

    Now you got me wanting to try lefty playing and see how I can do, just when after decades i am getting pretty OK playing righty. Hmmmm. Actually, Niles, one question: are you still able to play lefty?

    zhuologist, I find your experience very fascinating. However, when left to our own devices, we humans will find ways to make music and when taking off-the-beaten-tracks techniques often affects the ways the music is produced. For instance, my fingerpicking lefty friend while playing a standard strung guitar will play bass notes with his ring finger or pinky while playing treble melody with the thumb or index finger.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  22. #20
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,720

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    I note there are no Left Handed Pianos either..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  23. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    697

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    There's a couple of reasons why left handed fiddling may not be ideal for those who play in orchestras. First, the bracing on fiddle is assymetric - you have a 'bass bar' running longitudinally under the top down one side of the bridge, and a sound post wedged in from top to back close to the other bridge foot. I think the top thickness may also be different on each side (?). Restring it as a lefty and the sound may not work. Second, picture a righty and a lefty fiddler sitting together behind one music stand...

    There have been some well known UK lefty fiddlers, the best known of which may be Scottish style player Angus Grant (senior). I believe he had a number of lefty built violins. His son Angus (junior), sadly deceased who I believe played right handed, was a talented fiddler in the band Shooglenifty

  24. #22
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Augusta, Maine, USA
    Posts
    1,215

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Welcome, Z!

    It sounds awkward - especially since you can already do it righty on a fiddle. But it must be possible. It sounds kind of like using the keypads on calculators and computers versus touch-tone phones. The 0, 4, 5, and 6 are in the same place on both, but 1-2-3 and 7-8-9 are switched.

    So you need to learn it right-side-up and upside-down. And if you're not looking, it's easy to hit, say, 9 instead of 3.

    Personally, I'd just give in to the rightiarchy. But plenty of baseball players can bat both lefty and righty, so why not mando players? We're almost as smart as they are!
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  25. #23
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    17,055

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    I note there are no Left Handed Pianos either..
    Piano players do basically the same thing with each hand, at least as far as finger and wrist actions are concerned.

    I haven't seen the need for left-handed concertinas or harmonicas, either, though on "harp" I do all the vibrato stuff with my right (dominant) hand.

    But that's just me.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  26. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    697

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    I don't think they make left handed wind instruments either? One of the early exponents of 'kitchen piping' (modern style and fancy playing) on Highland bagpipes used to swap hands in the middle of a tune, and play with his right hand on top and left hand lower. I guess lefty players could be at a disadvantage if some of the lower (right hand) notes require more dexterity.

  27. #25
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,160

    Default Re: Right-handed fiddle player, left-handed mando player

    Plenty of left-handed Irish flute players (playing LHed instruments): Michael McGoldrick, Cathal McConnell. As so many flutists start on tin whistle which can be played with either hand on bottom (RHed grip - right on bottom; LH grip - left on bottom), kids just play the way feels more natural to them and continue the same way when they play transverse flute. There seems to be a real lack of stigma in Ireland about playing left-handed.


    a couple of Irish lefties.

    And there are left-handed C concerts flutes. I had a few message exchanges in the past with flute instructors who bought LHed instruments for the same reasons I got a lefty mando. I can't recall it exactly, but there was some saying from a master flutist (from India I think) that went like..."when you think you've mastered things, start playing from the other side."
    viento-left-handed-flute

    NH

  28. The following members say thank you to mandocrucian for this post:

    maxr 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •