Left handed playing

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,974 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 months ago
166 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 months 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 months ago
166 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 months ago
2,073 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 months ago
166 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 months ago
315 posts

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

Dan
Dan
@dan
2 months ago
164 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 months ago
2,073 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-turtle
2 months ago
1,592 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-turtle: 06/24/22 12:30:17PM
Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
2 months ago
185 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 months ago
893 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 months 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 months 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!