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Left handed instruments

Butch 19 Feb 02 - 07:39 AM
catspaw49 19 Feb 02 - 09:29 AM
Gary T 19 Feb 02 - 09:42 AM
catspaw49 19 Feb 02 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,wombat 19 Feb 02 - 10:37 AM
Anahootz 19 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM
Sorcha 19 Feb 02 - 11:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 02 - 01:04 PM
Gary T 19 Feb 02 - 01:48 PM
Crane Driver 19 Feb 02 - 01:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 02 - 02:29 PM
Gary T 19 Feb 02 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,wombat 19 Feb 02 - 02:59 PM
SharonA 19 Feb 02 - 05:05 PM
Kaleea 20 Feb 02 - 01:36 AM
Mark Cohen 20 Feb 02 - 02:31 AM
GUEST,Butch (at work) 20 Feb 02 - 10:10 AM
Crane Driver 20 Feb 02 - 05:40 PM
Mr Happy 23 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM
Jack Campin 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 AM
Howard Jones 23 Sep 09 - 09:05 AM
Mr Happy 23 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM
Jack Campin 23 Sep 09 - 09:37 AM
Howard Jones 23 Sep 09 - 11:05 AM
Jack Campin 23 Sep 09 - 11:28 AM
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Subject: Left handed instruments
From: Butch
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 07:39 AM

Last night I had a customer call and order a left handed banjo. When it came time to total up the charges she was rather shocked when I made no additional charge for the left handed neck. I was in turn taken by surprise when she said that most custom builders charge up to 10% for left handed instruments!!

I have to say, I am not going to change my policy, but is this a comon practice and if so ...why? It seems unfair to me to charge a customer for being left handed. I have built enough instruments (and several lefties) to know that there is not additional time involved, just a bit more planning to make sure you don't screw up. So, lefties, is this what you have to put up with in instruments too? Are ther other builders who do not make this charge? Does it matter to you when you buy an instrument OR do you go for the instrument you like the most and pay what you must? Thanks for you input.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 09:29 AM

Hi Butch......I don't have an answer....Doesn't make a lot of sense to me either. But before Bert shows up and tells the story on me, I'll tell it myself from a past thread. Being a builder yourself, you'll appreciate it.

At the time, I was still actively building Hammered and Appalachian Dulcimers. We ran a thread about how Mudcat affected our lives and I had to tell the following story. You know that at times there are threads which really get you to thinking about something and back then we had a pretty good one going. It was pretty common for me to work awhile and then check in at the'Cat while glue was drying or whatever. So one day...............

I was building a Courtin' Dulcimer for a 25th anniversary present for close friends. I got to thinking on a thread and was not paying a ton of attention to what I was doing. At that time I was insetting the fretboards into the soundbox. A little shave here, a bit of sandpaper there...kept thinking about how nice these looked as they were bookmatched...and still kept thinking about this one thread(I won't say which)...a bit off right there, yeah...really dressed those frets didn't you.......thinking about the damn thread.......they are going to love this...check height/level...just a touch...again...OK ...now be careful to smoothout the preglue........thinking some more all the while about the thread.........'boutright.........hmmm, damn thread.......set one board and light clamp ........thread.......type in response...preglue and inset second board...light clamp...lookin' good.

Next day...1.)Removes clamps 2.) Admires work. 3.)PONDERS WHERE HE CAN FIND TWO LEFT HANDED LAP DULCIMER PLAYERS.


Honest to gawd, I never realized I was setting them in on the wrong sides til the next day! So, as far as I'm concerned, building a lefty is never a problem!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Gary T
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 09:42 AM

I'm left-handed and play a lefty guitar. A 10% surcharge for left-handed guitars seems fairly common among large companies. There are some makers who price them the same as right-handed instruments. And I've seen one who had nearly double the extra charge for one model--but not for other models. Didn't make sense to me.

I can only speculate as to why the charge. Perhaps it's more of disruption in an assembly line situation than for a solo craftsman. Perhaps there's a greater risk of unsold instruments when they're made for the general market rather than for a specific order. They may even be following some precedent without knowing the original reason.

Lefties find their choices in the marketplace are significantly limited. Some manufacturers offer a lefty option in only one or two out of a dozen or so models. Many intrument stores only stock a small handful--sometimes one or two--out of dozens in stock. And some stock none. (I even had one such store suggest I play a right-handed guitar, as it would be an advantage to use my dominant hand for the fingering--by which logic most guitars should be left-handed so that all those righties out there could have that advantage.) So lefties are in the position of sometimes feeling lucky to find a guitar at all, and aren't likely to complain if it costs a bit more than a comparable righty guitar.

I, of course, admire and appreciate makers who offer lefty versions of all their models, and stores that carry a fair number of lefty guitars in stock. If there is no surcharge, all the better.

I have never seen lefty versions of other instruments--banjos, mandolins, fiddles, etc.--in any store. I assume they would have to be made to order.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 09:49 AM

Gary, you'd LOVE my little local store. HE'S a lefty himself and for a small store, let's say he has a high percentage of lefty instruments!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: GUEST,wombat
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 10:37 AM

Most mass-produced guitars cost 10% (Yamaha) to 20% (Gibson) more left-handed. Manufacturers who make no surcharge (Taylor, Martin) tend to make one-offs to order, which means there are never any available to try. Shops never stock more than entry-level lefty instruments. This is the general rule, but there are exceptions.

Seagull guitars are about 5% more left-handed, and availability is good (though mine was shipped to special order). When I spoke to Fylde guitars, they offered to restring R/H examples of their entire range for me to try if I visited the factory. Regent Guitars in Leamington Spa (England) have a decent lefty stock and will try to obtain demo. guitars from other shops for you to try without obligation. They, too, offered to restring an instrument to get an idea of what it plays like.

Nobody makes left-handed guitar cases; you are expected to carry it in the "wrong" hand.

I do, however, play a right-handed mandolin upside down - the tuning is the same as the bottom four strings of a guitar.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Anahootz
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 11:33 AM

Many of the jigs that luthiers use are for right-handed instruments, and the surcharge probably indicates the time and expense of switching from production mode to one-off mode for the lefty work.

'Hootz


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 11:40 AM

I have seen left handed fiddlers, but never a true lefty fiddle. Knowing what little I do about violin making, I think it would be extremely difficult to make one. The whole instrument is designed to be played on the left shoulder and everything would have to be on a reverse plane.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 01:04 PM

I've always fancied having a go at paying a left handed mandolin, for the reason wombat gave - the tuning being (in a sense) the same as the bass strings of a guitar.

How do squeeze boxes fit into this? You could maybe learn to play string instrument the wrong way, and sound pretty goof, but with a squeeze box it'd be pretty tricky.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Gary T
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 01:48 PM

In my view, a significant aspect of a squeeze box, accordian, piano, etc., is that those are held or approached with symmetry. It then becomes just a matter of what each hand does, which is not a major problem. Living in a right-handed world, lefties tend to do quite a bit with their right hands anyway.

The difference with guitars, banjos, etc., is that they are held so that the arm positions are quite different. For many of us with a strong sense of our left-handedness, it's a very awkward feeling to hold an instrument in a right-handed position. Take a guitar, rifle, even a broom and reverse your arm positions as if you were left-handed and you'll likely get an idea of how unnatural it feels. I chose to play guitar left-handed not out of concern over what each hand was doing, but because holding a guitar right-handed felt totally wrong.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Crane Driver
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 01:57 PM

Depends on the 'box. I've got a friend (right-handed) who plays her melodeon upside down, left hand on the keyboard, right hand on the bass. She doesn't know why - she just always played it that way. English concertina - no problem, it's totally ambidextrous, the scale alternates from one end to the other. Any strong preference for one hand over the other, and you're stuffed. Anglo or duet - that's harder. The handles and knuckle straps aren't made to work upside down, it would probably be pretty uncomfortable, but the great thing about us folkies is that, somewhere, some nutter will be doing it. DON'T PM ME WITH THE DETAILS ;-)

Andrew


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 02:29 PM

I wasn't suggesting playing the guitar with the hands reversed. I was suggesting playing it with the strings the other way round. Different chord shapes, and so forth, but when I've picked up left handed guitars I've always had the feeling that it wouldn't take that long to adjust to be abe to play it. It wouldn't be the same, but it might be interesting.

Playing it with the other hand, I think that would be a lot more difficult. Look how Django Reinhardt, with half a hand gone, chose to invent a new way of playing the guitar rather than play it with the hands reversed.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Gary T
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 02:38 PM

Hi, McGrath. I wasn't suggesting playing the guitar with the hands reversed. Agreed, I understood your comment about a left-handed mandolin to mean you would hold it right-handed. My mention of hands reversed was my concept of a major difference between the squeeze box and a guitar. To my mind, where the arms are is a bigger deal than what job each hand has to do.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: GUEST,wombat
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 02:59 PM

The dominant hand is the one which is most dexterous. With a guitar, it is actually the picking hand because this needs the delicacy and accuracy more, especially when learning. Obviously, with an accordion or melodeon, it needs to be the melody hand.

I play the English concertina, because it's totally ambidextrous. I play piano accordion occasionally, upside down. With a melodeon, you can't reach the air valve with the instrument upside down. Although it could be modified, that's a bit like turbocharging a Lada in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: SharonA
Date: 19 Feb 02 - 05:05 PM

A left-handed acquaintance of mine plays a right-handed guitar, strung conventionally for the right-handed, "upside down" with his left hand doing the picking and strumming and his right hand doing the creative chording needed for this method. Okay, there's nothing too unusual about that.... except that he's playing a right-handed cutaway!!! I could never understand the point of that! I guess that the guitar was a hand-me-down, or that he got an incredibly good price on it.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Kaleea
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 01:36 AM

A friend of mine has no hands, and plays with his toes, and seems to be "left footed" when he plays, as well as when performing most other daily chores. Oh, what does he play? Piano, and of course, the Mountain Dulcimer (I got him hooked on that as I thought it the perfect instrument for the left footed player) and several percussion instruments including the trap set. And yes, he does keep his feet washed & smeling clean.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 02:31 AM

Interesting phrase, Wombat: The dominant hand is the one which is most dexterous. "Dexterous", or dextrous, comes from the Latin word meaning "right". And you know the word for "left", of course: "sinister". Those words are certainly "handist"!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: GUEST,Butch (at work)
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 10:10 AM

Thanks to all who responded. It helps to know that I am not totally out of my mind. (Although this thread does not prove anything as to my sanity)

Spaw.. did you ever sell that thing?!?! I really love the story, I will be passing that one along to my builder friends for some time to come. We all have the occasional preoccuped mind/brain fart mistake.. thanks for sharing this one.

Butch


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Crane Driver
Date: 20 Feb 02 - 05:40 PM

Nothing here proves anything about anyone's sanity, Butch. This thread reminds me of a guy in a group called Swan Arcade, who only had one arm (the left). Seeing him play guitar was quite something. He also played concertina.

There is no sanity clause ....


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM

The above mentioned instruments having these limitations seem predominantly strung ones,I'd imagine most blown instruments would lend themselves more readily to being ambidextrous.

Such as whistles,flutes, mouth organs etc

Though I'm right handed,I play whistle 'upside down', that is with the right hand uppermost, as I feel most comfortable playing this way


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 08:52 AM

Keyed woodwinds are almost invariably right-handed. Renaissance instruments with one key for the bottom little finger (like tenor recorders) were sometimes made with the key forked so that either hand could be at the bottom, and if the lowest hole was unkeyed, sometimes two were drilled side by side with the unused one filled with wax.

Cathal McConnell plays a right-handed keyed flute left-handed. He keeps most of the keys shut with chewing gum and rubber bands.

Given the amount of reworking you'd have to do to make a left-handed version of a complex modern woodwind instrument, if any exist they'd cost a fortune. It's not just a matter of reshaping half a dozen pieces of wood, as with a fiddle. Almost every key in a flute, clarinet or sax is asymmetric, and needs to be made on an asymmetric jig.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 09:05 AM

I don't think it should be necessary to make a left-handed wind instrument. With woodwinds, which hand goes uppermost seems to be a matter of convention, rather than handedness. For western musicians, the convention is left hand above the right, which helps if you switch from one instrument to another as the keys will be laid out in that manner. However I know plenty of right-handed whistle players who play it right over left, which suggests that handedness doesn't come into it. The whistle is of course unkeyed so this doesn't matter.

I would guess that in Renaissance times this convention hadn't yet been settled on and instruments were made to suit either hand.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM

Other ambi-instruments would include percussives, drums, bodrhans?


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 09:37 AM

With most woodwinds, the lower hand is more active than the upper one. So usually the dominant hand will be at the bottom, as the standard designs assume.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 11:05 AM

Jack, I don't doubt you're correct. However, a number of right-handed whistle players, who presumably have not been taught that the left hand should go above the right, seem to instinctively play it the other way around, so it cannot make that much difference.


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Subject: RE: Left handed instruments
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Sep 09 - 11:28 AM

One place where a left-handed version would definitely make sense is ligatures. It must be a bugger to tighten one up with the wrong hand.

I can't swap hands on a whistle at all (though I can switch between different fingering systems like clarinet, sax, flute, ocarina or recorder in a second). One of the most spectacular party tricks I've heard of a piper doing was John D. Burgess in a competition. He asked the judges after he'd won whether they'd noticed anything unusual about his performance. They hadn't watched carefully enough when he turned round away from them at one point. While playing a high A (no fingers) he'd switched hands on the chanter and carried on to the end that way.


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