left-handed-ukulele

I’m left handed. Can I play the ukulele?

I want to start this blog by saying, honestly that I’m right handed. I don’t want anyone to think I’m implying that I’m left handed, as I’m not. I just care about my students, so I’ve done a lot of research on this subject.

In terms of my experience, I’ve been teaching since 2008 and I know A LOT of left handed ukulele players, both from my classes and also from Ukulele Wednesdays. As I wanted to get it right in the early days, I asked a lot of questions, and I’ve sat in on many hours of debate about what is the right thing to do for lefties. From this, I’ve deduced that there are two schools of thought:

Camp 1:

Believe that left handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles in a right handed tuning. The justification for this is that you don’t see any left handed pianos, or left handed violin players in an orchestra.

Pros:

1. There are more tabs available to you
2. You can play more people’s ukuleles – as there are more people who play right handed
3. Your stronger hand makes the chords

Cons:

1. If this doesn’t feel natural to you, you’re fighting your instinct and that can make strumming harder (though if you’re happy playing righty, that’s great)
2. You’ll find it odd playing lefty after you’ve trained yourself righty

Camp 2:

Believe that left handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles in a left handed tuning. The simplest way to do this is to switch the middle two strings around, as the outside two strings are very similar in thickness. Ideally you’d adjust the bridge and neck, too, but if you’re looking for simplicity you won’t want to do that yourself, so just switch the middle two strings for now. You can see how to change strings here.

Pros:

1. If this feels the most natural way for you to hold it, you’re following your instinct.
2. You can play other left handed people’s ukuleles – as the righties can’t
3. Your stronger hand does the strumming

Cons:

1. There aren’t many ukulele tabs that are written up for left handed players.
2. You’d find it difficult testing out right handed ukuleles, say, in a shop before buying, for example.

So, there you have it, in a nutshell. 3 pro’s and 2 cons of playing left vs right. I think the short answer is to do what feels natural for you. Some people honestly prefer to play right handed when they’re left handed, yet some naturally prefer to play lefty. The right thing to do is what is right for you. Here at Learn To Uke, we’ll support you no matter which hand you choose to strum with.

Grab yourself a left handed chord chart from here.

What if you want to get more technical than just swapping the strings around? Read more here.

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  1. […] simplest way to set up your ukulele to play left handed is to change the middle 2 strings around, as recommended in this post, and if you want to know how to change your strings, please see this video. If you’re new to […]

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