Left handed playing

Salt Springs
Salt Springs
@salt-springs
8 months ago
208 posts

I finally  (OK, I'm slow and not the brightest light on a Christmas Tree),  figured out how to avoid the aggravation. dulcimer   Since I have some issues with my right hand, (think lousy Rugby player 50+ years ago) being used to strum so I used to always string up for left handed play.  A bit frustrating and all that goes with it, such as chord charts etc.    So............I learned to play Galax style.......4 d strings and a noter........makes no difference how you hold that critter, works just fine.   So I recommend you give that a whirl and if it doesn't suit 'ya you can return to that "bac'ards ciphering."  You can also finger pick a unison Galax stringed instrument and finger dance too. Listen to Phyllis Gaskins and you'll be amazed what that style of play can do. hamster  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 months ago
2,137 posts

Few of the lefties I know string their dulcimers the other way around.  If your dominant hand is doing the complicated task of fretting, and your off hand is doing the simpler task of strumming, that's a good thing.

shanonmilan
@shanonmilan
8 months ago
66 posts

Some re string their instrument to help improve their learning curve.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
last year
277 posts

Sam:


Then there's me. I'm Un-bidexterous. Can't do anything with either hand think



Haha! Thats why some guy invented the harmonica holder ! 



thumbsup

Sam
Sam
@sam
last year
169 posts

Then there's me. I'm Un-bidexterous. Can't do anything with either hand think




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
last year
2,278 posts

BTW Nate, I appreciate the fact that you are obviously using the site's search feature to pull up relevant and interesting discussions on topics you are interested in, rather than simply starting new and possibly redundant discussions.
This is one of the good things about a site that keeps older content easily accessible, as opposed to a FB type site where everything prior to the current week gets impossibly buried.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
last year
2,278 posts

Good point Nate.

Another weird thing- If you play a lot, your fretting hand will actually be able to stretch more than your strumming/picking hand. Due to making stretching moves thousands of times to fret on fingerboards, while the strumming hand does not.
I've played stringed instruments for decades. Both my hands appear to be exactly the same size and length. But when i stretch my hands out to create the most distance between my thumb and pinky tip, and place my palms together, I see that my left/fretting hand can stretching over 1" more from thumb to pinky than my right hand. It's like the way a gymnast or dancer can perfect doing a split with longtime practice.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
last year
277 posts

Wow I didnt realize how many of the folks here are left handed! It's neat to think about how both hands are doing tricky stuff and both need a lot of practice anyway. I feel that playing musical instruments has made me noticeably more ambidextrous over time and there are a ton of things I can do with my left hand that I definitely couldn't before I started practicing instruments. 

Sam
Sam
@sam
last year
169 posts

Thank you Staylor. It's my granddaughter and for better or worse, she's moved on to gymnastics. 




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Staylor
Staylor
@staylor
last year
10 posts

I'm left-handed, too, and could never play right-handed on guitar, uke, banjo or mandolin.  My dulcimer was right-handed when I received it, and I thought I'd immediately take it back to McSpadden in Mountain View to convert it...but someone kindly noted that chords can be played as mirror images of themselves and suggested I try playing it as it was built.

Playing this way puts the bass string under my thumb, right where I'm used to playing bass strings on other instruments, so I mostly fingerpick and it's very comfortable and natural.  For al the other instruments, the obstacle was in my hands and what felt most natural doing, but with the dulcimer, it turned out the obstacle was my expectations before really trying!

No matter what, I hope your daughter finds joy in the dulcimer.  Music just seems to fall effortlessly out it!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
2,278 posts

Here is a working link to Ken's article:

https://fotmd.com/strumelia/group_discuss/2316/ken-hulmes-i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what-article




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Sam
Sam
@sam
2 years ago
169 posts

Ken Hulme:

kristinrichmond  -- here's a link to a beginner's guide that I wrote a number of years ago called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?:
It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding your new friend.   Feel free to copy and print the booklet.


Ken, I'll pass this along to Kristin, Sadie's mom. Sadie is back into gymnastics, music, voice and dance in a studio and the dulcimer has been lain aside for a bit. Thank you for the info.




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Fharlm
Fharlm
@fharlm
2 years ago
5 posts

Thankyou so much Ken for sharing this all beginners like me:) 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 years ago
2,137 posts

kristinrichmond  -- here's a link to a beginner's guide that I wrote a number of years ago called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?:
It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding your new friend.   Feel free to copy and print the booklet.


Sam
Sam
@sam
2 years ago
169 posts

kristinrichmond:

Thanks everyone! She does not seem to have a preference at this point, so we will give it a go and start with learning right handed. Thanks for all of the helpful advice. 😊

I'm sure you both will have questions not covered or easily found in the books I brought so ask any time and don't forget the huge combined knowledge base here!




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
kristinrichmond
@kristinrichmond
2 years ago
2 posts

Thanks everyone! She does not seem to have a preference at this point, so we will give it a go and start with learning right handed. Thanks for all of the helpful advice. 😊

Sam
Sam
@sam
2 years ago
169 posts

Ok, lets all just gang up on the old guy. Nice bunch ... punch




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
2,278 posts

Sam indignant about his emoji: oldman




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Sam
Sam
@sam
2 years ago
169 posts

Thanks for all the really great advice and suggestions. The bridge is not slanted and I can regroove both the nut and bridge if Sadie opts to play left handed. 

And ... Dusty, HEY! nahnah




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
2 years ago
404 posts

I too am a leftie who has had no trouble at all learning and playing in the usual manner.

Dan
Dan
@dan
2 years ago
185 posts

I'm left handed but play right handed. Some folks can't! I let her try right handed for awhile....

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
2,278 posts

I and a ton of other lefties have no trouble playing 'right handed' instruments. Both hands have important jobs to do.

Switching the strings will make it harder to follow written tab, for sure, and following instructions for making chords with certain fingers would be a whole different experience. You'd more than likely have to (eventually) make new leftie bridge and nut as well. Selling leftie instruments is way more difficult if you need to sell it later.

I believe more than 50% of left handed people play like right handers on stringed instruments. Why not let her start right handed and see how it goes?- for beginners, BOTH hands will feel extremely awkward anyway for a while when just starting out on a stringed instrument. Keep in mind that some awkwardness and frustration will be there whether she is right or left handed.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
2 years ago
1,741 posts

@kristinrichmond, you've received good advice so far.  The first thing to figure out is if your daughter wants to play lefty.  Have her play a little right-handed for a spell and then flip the dulcimer around and have her play left-handed.  See which way she feels most comfortable.  Some lefties play right-handed with no problem. Both hands are involved, after all.  But others find that the strumming or picking hand should be the strong hand.

If it turns out your daughter does want to play lefty, then you can just reverse the bass and melody strings, although as Noah and Ken explain, the melody string might buzz a little bit. There are some ways to "MacGyver" that issue short of getting a new nut and bridge, so if that's an issue chime in here again.

I wouldn't bother putting on a new nut and bridge until you determine that your daughter really wants to play lefty, that the strings are buzzing or the intonation is off, and that she is going to stick with it for a while. And if that's the case, perhaps her grandfather oldman will buy her an instrument build for lefties and you won't have to lift a finger!

By the way, that old man smiley is an exact portrait of @sam, isn't it?




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty: 06/24/22 12:30:17PM
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 years ago
188 posts

I’m left handed.  The left hand is the more active hand; moving; playing chords.  The right hand is in place strumming or picking.

 I think the usual stringing is great for left handers.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 years ago
1,117 posts

Some left handed folks have no problem playing right handed. Let her give it a try. If that doesn't work, try restringing, but as Noah cautions, you may find some strings buzzing or binding. In that case you will need a new nut and saddle (a.k.a. bridge).

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Noah Cline
Noah Cline
@noah-cline
2 years ago
7 posts

Mainly, the nut and bridge would need to be replaced so that the thinnest string (melody string) is closest to her. You might be able to get away with just reversing the strings, but depending on if the bridge is slanted for intonation and how the slots are cut, you may run into the melody string buzzing in the bass string slot, and the notes being off. 

kristinrichmond
@kristinrichmond
2 years ago
2 posts

We are brand new to learning the dulcimer. My 8 year old daughter is left handed. Will we need to re-string for her? Any advice is appreciated!