“I’m a lefty, can I play the ukulele?”
Most left-handed people who are interested to play the uke frequently ask this question. And the answer is, “Of course, you can!”.
Ukulele is a very user-friendly musical instrument and you can easily learn the basics in a matter of days... even if you are a left-hander.
Now, you must be wondering, is there a ukulele for left-handers like you?
Well, here’s the good news.
There are available four-stringed instruments that are specially made for left-handers. Really cool, right?
With that said, I’m going to give you a few guides before you buy your first left-handed ukulele.
Sounds good? Great! Let’s proceed.
Do you really need a left-handed ukulele?
This has been the subject of many debates among the lefties. There are actually four options that you can do. Let’s dive into details:
Option 1. Play right handed.
1. You won’t have any problem playing different ukuleles as there are more people who play right-handed. When you go to a ukulele group meet-ups, you’ll get the chance to play and experience all your friends’ ukuleles. You will not be limited to your own instrument.
2. Your stronger hand(left hand) will do the heavy lifting on the fretboard.
3. There are more available tabs that you can imagine.
4. You’re now part of the ukulele secret left-handed society (alright, I just made that up).
1. It feels unnatural to you especially when you’re just starting to get the feel of the chords. You’re going against your natural instinct as a lefty and this makes the strumming more difficult.
2. It will take more time for you to learn and practice because you’re trying to shift your brain to play like a right-hander.
Option 2. Flip the right-handed ukulele and restring to a lefty.
1. It creates an exact mirror image of the right-handed way of playing. Some ukulele players say that this method presents a better way of reading chord boxes on song sheets as they project an image that best represents what is on the neck. Well, better try it and see if it fits your taste( some lefties still prefer reversed chord charts).
1. If your ukulele has a pickup, volume controls or a cutaway, they are most certainly installed with the right-handed player in mind. You flip it and those things will end up on the wrong side of the ukulele.
2. Another disadvantage is the need to reverse the bridge and saddle. Some players will say that this is not necessary. Oh well, they must be talking about those cheap ukuleles with dead straight saddle and has poor intonation. Also, the nut slot has its own thickness according to the size of the string. And if you change the order of strings for a leftie tuning, the strings will no longer fit well with the nut slots.
Option 3. Flip the right-handed ukulele but don’t flip the strings.
1. It gives you the benefit of playing in the left-handed position without the hassle of changing the string order. Albert King played the guitar in a left-hand position with the strings upside down. So basically this can be done as well in a ukulele. I guess you may need to exert more effort though.
1. You may need to strum and pluck the strings in reverse. This can be quite more difficult to pull off.
2. There’s also the issue with the pickup, control plates and cutaways which will go on the wrong side of the instrument when you flip it.
Option 4. Buy a lefty uke.
1. It feels more natural to play since you’re following your instinct as a left-hander.
2. You look cool and unique as there are only a few people who can play a lefty ukulele. You’ll sometimes feel that you’re one of those very rare left-handed mutants (aka The X-Men) and Professor Xavier will be more than happy to keep you. I wonder if Wolverine is a secret lefty. Who knows?
1. There are a limited number of ukulele tabs designed for left-handed players.
2. When you go out on a meetup with your ukulele group, you are only limited to playing with your uke and won’t get the chance to play other instruments as most players use right-handed ukuleles.
3. There are a few manufacturers who focus their efforts on making these left-handed ukes. Nevertheless, you can still find a good quality lefty uke. You just need to exercise caution and perform due diligence before buying.
Now, if you decide to play the ukulele in a left-handed position, I would suggest you buy a lefty uke. Why? Well, because they are practically made for left-handed people like you. The stringing is already set for lefties once it comes out of the factory. You no longer need to waste your time restringing it (which is tedious when you do it yourself).
Also, the design and feel of the left-handed ukulele specifically made to accommodate left-handed players.
However, if you have no choice but to restring a right-handed uke, here’s a quick guide on how to restring it to a lefty ukulele.
How to string a left-handed ukulele
The right-handed tuning looks like this:
Left-handed ukulele tuning string order should look like this one:
Confused? Well, that’s because the only difference is that the position of the ukulele was flipped to the opposite side. But the tuning still has the same pattern as GCEA (from top string to the bottom).
In a nutshell, If you position the ukulele in the right-hand way of playing and put the tuning of a leftie string order, it will look like this:
What is the best left-handed ukulele for beginners?
Well, the first thing that you need to consider is the ukulele size. You have to know which one is the most comfortable for you to play. If you are not yet familiar, there are four ukulele sizes:
Some players prefer the Soprano or Concert ukes especially those who have small hands. Most professional musicians usually play the Tenor uke as it has more frets and has a solid sound. The Baritone is a perfect crossover for most guitar players who want to try the ukulele. That’s because the tuning resembles the four lower strings of the guitar.
If you want to know more about the ukulele sizes, you can check our Buyer’s Guide for details.
The second one is your budget. How much are you willing to spend? If you just want to test the waters on this instrument and you are on a tight budget, I would suggest you look into the price ranging from $100-$250.
Bondi Mahogany Series Leftie Concert Tribal Bundle
Avoid cheap ukuleles at all cost. Especially those items below $50 as most of them are poorly made with really bad intonation.
As a left-handed person, your choices are there to explore. You just need to try and see which one will make you comfortable to play the uke. Don’t ever think that being left-handed is a handicap as some people do.
The world of music is gifted with so many talented left-handed players. Think about Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain to name a few. Now have a go and grab a lefty uke!
What to try next...
If you are thinking about getting your first uke, then you have to know more about the best ukulele for beginners.