So You’re a Left-Handed Ukulele Player?

I’m right-handed. I don’t want anyone to think I’m implying that I’m left-handed, as I’m not. This blog originated in 2014 because I care about my students’ well-being and ease of playing. When I first started teaching in 2009, I did a lot of anecdotal research on this subject. Luckily, I know a lot of left-handed ukulele players, both from my classes and also from Ukulele Wednesdays. I wanted to get it right, (especially prior to teaching in primary schools, I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment or musical future) so I asked a lot of questions. I sat in on many hours of debate about what the right thing to do for lefties is. It seems there are two schools of thought. Below is a summary list of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Take a look and do your own research, so you can come to your own conclusion and do what’s right for you.

School of Thought 1:

Believe that left-handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles right-handed, which means they use 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.

Advantages:

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

Disadvantages:

1. If this doesn’t feel natural to you, you’re fighting your instinct. 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

School of Thought 2:

Believe that left-handed ukulele players should play their ukuleles left-handed, which means they use the left hand to strum with, in the same way, they use their left hand to write with.

Advantages:

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

Disadvantages:

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

That’s the summary of many hours of research and probing questions wrapped up with 3 advantages and 2 disadvantages for 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 even though they’re left-handed, yet some naturally prefer to play left-handed. 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 already 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

Grab yourself a left-handed chord chart from here

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Comments

  1. Keith Greywood

    I’m left-handed and Lorraine taught me to play right handed. I believe this was the right choice for me as I do other things right-handed too – golf, tennis, darts and I’m right footed.
    I think I could learn left-handed ukulele too, but what’s the point other than a party trick? Right-handed all the way!