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 do, however, care about my students’ wellbeing and ease of playing, so I’ve done a lot of anecdotal research on this subject over the years.
I’ve been teaching since 2009 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, (especially prior to spending years teaching in primary schools, as I didn’t want to scar or ruin anyone’s chances at a musical future) I asked a lot of questions. I’ve accidentally 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. I’ve tried to list the pros and cons of each so that you can come to your own conclusions:
They believe left-handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles right-handed, using the right hand to strum with. The justification for this is that you don’t see any left-handed pianos, or left-handed violin players in an orchestra.
1. There are more ukulele tabs, readily 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
1. If this doesn’t feel natural to you, you’re fighting your instinct and that can make rhythms and strumming harder (though if neither hand feels natural, it doesn’t really matter)
2. You’ll find it odd playing lefty after you’ve trained yourself righty
They believe that left-handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles using the left hand to strum with. If you want to, and you’ve bought a right-handed ukulele, the quickest and simplest way to change it from right-handed to be a left-handed ukulele is to switch the middle two strings around, as the outside two strings are very similar in thickness. Ideally, you’d ask a luthier to 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
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
1. There aren’t many ukulele tabs that are written up for left-handed players.
2. You may find it difficult to test 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 left-handed because it feels weird to fight nature. The right thing to do is what feels right for you, so you’ll be happy and comfortable playing. Here at Learn To Uke, we’ll support you, no matter which hand you choose to strum with.
If you’ve enjoyed this, here are some more posts of ours that might help:
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How to play the G chord, here.
See how to play Bb chord on the ukulele, here.
How to play the E chord, on the ukulele here.
Get a free ukulele chord chart (and help with how to read it) from here.
Do you want 6 basic strum patterns to get you going? See more here.
Have you already got a ukulele? You can find our recommendations, here.
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Updated on 27/9/2019.