Left handed and lost

March 4, 2014 at 12:32 AM · I don't own a violin yet but I'm going to look around soon.

I'm left handed and I read that I should not get a left handed violin. Why is that? I also read that the harder hand is the bow hand. So would I not want the bow in my left hand?

Replies (30)

March 4, 2014 at 01:02 AM · In order to get a left-handed violin, you will have to pay someone a boatload of money to convert it, which means switching the positions of the bass bar and sound post. This is major surgery, and will have to again be switched (at your expense) if you ever wish to sell or trade it in.

No one will want you in their orchestra unless you sit by yourself in the back.

Neither hand is more difficult--each has its own complications. I would only recommend this in the case of some physical injury that makes it impossible to play the usual way.

March 4, 2014 at 01:23 AM · The main reason, and I know from first hand experience, is that you will forever be tied to your own fiddle. You won't be able to play any other instrument but the one you bring with you, or try out a new one when it's time to move on. Playing left handed, at least when you are in the years where it's relatively easy to learn to play the other way will keep you back in musical progress. You won't be able to impress girls at a party unless you brought your violin along, or sit in on improptu sessions if you are a fiddler. It's just more limiting, in the long run, than you can imagine when starting out. Of course I didn't listen to advise either. Must have something to do with being contrary.

March 4, 2014 at 01:51 AM · "Why would I not want a left handed violin?"

Why would you?

If someone has given you the impression that a conventional violin is inherently a "right-handed" instrument, you might do well to seek out better advice. ;-)

March 4, 2014 at 03:44 AM · Jason:

A left handed Chinese violin is advertised by Yita Music for $260+$60 shipping. From what I've read on v.com, Yita has a mostly good reputation.

That said, playing the violin requires training of both hands to do different things at the same time. What each hand does is of great importance. Therefore I agree with the other respondents that buying a standard instrument is the best choice both for now and for the future unless there is some physical problem. Being left handed is just a difference and not a physical problem.

Playing the violin for a number of years tends to make one somewhat ambidextrous.


March 4, 2014 at 03:58 AM · There are left-handers who play right-handed. I am one, and another violinist in a small string ensemble who sits at the stand next to mine is another. I don't think it's that uncommon anymore. I think you'd be making your life much more difficult by trying to play lefty.

March 4, 2014 at 04:31 AM · I concur with the advice to play "right-handed" if at all possible. I know a fiddler who plays lefty, and had his fiddle custom made. He's interested in something with more power, but he's stuck... can't sell what he has, and any other fiddle would have to be converted. And conversion might not work perfectly, as the top and back are often not thicknessed symetrically.

March 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Thank you all :) you have been very helpful.

March 4, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Scott wrote: "No one will want you in their orchestra unless you sit by yourself in the back. "

I was trying to figure why. Certainly, if you sat in the left chair your scrolls would be in danger of colliding and I guess you might be bowing at each other. But if you sat in the right it would seem you would both have more room. Or maybe the irritation would be cosmetic? That you would break the symmetry of the violins. I would hope orchestras are not that petty - a left handed violin might introduce some visual interest...

March 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM · I wouldn't want to sit next to a lefty -- we would either be bumping knees, or slamming scrolls or stabbing each other in the eye with our bows. Of course, the bumping knees wouldn't be quite so bad if she was a hottie :-).

To answer the OP, violin is already a left handed instrument. It just so happens that quite a few right handed people have adapted and play right handed. Consider yourself lucky.

March 4, 2014 at 01:34 PM · I prefer to think of the violin as neither left- nor right-handed.

It's more like a piano. Both hands are equally important and play equally important roles...

March 4, 2014 at 02:45 PM · Good point N.A. Has anyone ever made a left-handed piano??


March 4, 2014 at 05:28 PM · other than some cars where you drivers seat is on the right side, there isnt really any lefty manual cars and i dont think anyone ever considered cars to be for right handed people. If anything its just stick is a bit harder for lefties. same thing could be applied here.

I also knew a lefty guitar player who used a normal guitar, but those silly guitarist with their frets and lefty models and electric tuners and tabs :)

March 4, 2014 at 05:32 PM · Some people though dextrous in both hands have natural proclivities for which side in responsible for which task. I am really ambidextrous but that means for me that I use my left hand and fingers for tools, writing, eating, and use my right for golf, throwing et. This sets one up for the wrist and fingers of the left hand to want to guide the bow or pluck the strings. I used to think it was because I put my hands across the TV from Gene Autry and got stuck that way. I do wish that I had listened to my guitar playing buddies, and switched over in my young years. I had a Guitar Shop for twenty years and could never play all of the cool axes that floated through except upside down. Jimmi and Lisbet did it but I couldn't

March 4, 2014 at 10:56 PM · PLEASE, try a standard fiddle for a while before you decide that you HAVE to have a "left handed" one. Nearly all the people I have met who "had" to play left handed had never played at all, so had no real reference. At least one that I know well has not had much success with his left handed one either. Or the left handed banjo before that.

March 5, 2014 at 02:49 AM · Ty Lyle

March 5, 2014 at 09:58 PM · This is from a left handed fiddler who plays a conventional instrument...

If you're aiming to play classical, I'd go conventional if at all possible - most orchestras would be very wary of taking on a left handed player. Historically most left handers have managed fine, as the dearth of left handed instruments suggests.

If you're playing less formal styles you have a choice, provided you're not put off by the limited choice of instruments.

My own take on this is that the bow arm generally involves large swinging movements, like throwing a ball. The hand that fingers the strings generally involves small, precise movements - rather like writing.

It so happens that I throw right handed and write left handed, so I find the conventional setup very natural.

If you do both left-handed you're going to have to train up your right hand to do something, so it might as well be bowing - stick with a conventional fiddle. If you write with your left hand, using it to stop the strings should feel natural.

The only situation where I'd even consider a left-handed fiddle is where you strongly favour throwing with your left hand and writing with your right hand. I'd guess this doesn't apply to you, as people generally define their handedness by their writing hand. And even in this case I'd suggest you try a conventional violin to see how you get on first.

Playing a left-handed fiddle should definitely be a last resort when all else has failed...

March 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM · Greetings,

the lefties I have known over the years have had superb technique. Makes me wonder if it might not be an advantage...



March 5, 2014 at 10:54 PM · I'm left-handed; I've always been happy playing the conventional way. I sort of feel like it's an inherently left-handed instrument, played the traditional way!

March 6, 2014 at 12:17 AM · Typically, the dominant hand is best at manipulations - that is finger dexterity - while the recessive hand is better at positioning, if you like hand activity.

Thus, one might predict that the right hand should be doing the fingering and the left the bow...

I think the OP should get a left handed violin so that he does not have any advantage :P

March 6, 2014 at 08:07 AM · I agree with Buri and Laurie - if anything, lefties have an advantage with the conventional setup...

March 6, 2014 at 12:10 PM · "I agree with Buri and Laurie - if anything, lefties have an advantage with the conventional setup..."

Aha! That explains why my son is so much better than I am -- at least he will be soon. Same genetic make up, but he is a leftie and I'm a rightie. He has an unfair advantage; I'm being forced to play a left handed instrument, right handed.

March 6, 2014 at 05:48 PM · Was intrigued enough to do a little Googling, and it seems that the convention of fingering with the left and bowing/plucking with the right is universal.

Seems that it's just as common in Africa, India and Japan as well as Europe.

Which begs the question of why. It suggests there's some cognitive reason behind the convention. Does anyone have any insights?

March 6, 2014 at 05:55 PM · wonder how much is psychological; 'right-handers' write with the right hand, and the bow may appear closer to a writing implement than fingering does.

that's the only reason i can see for preferring to reverse the setup--and it's all in the mind.

playing violin requires 'dexterity' (sorry, that means as much 'right' handed as 'sinister' means 'left') in both hands. different strokes for different folks is all.

March 6, 2014 at 06:00 PM · Geoff - a very interesting question indeed. The left side is controlled by the right brain and vice versa so if it was a brain-organization associated issue one might predict that the hand doing the most calculated actions would be controlled by the left brain (right hand) and most 'intuitive' actions the right. At first sight this looks the wrong way round: finger control would seem to be more calculated and structured than bow action. However, if the most difficult task is precise intonation (ear-finger-reflex) one might make a case that that should be a right brain specialty.

Trouble is that (older) fretted instruments - lute etc - are also held the same way and there there is no advantage to intonation. But maybe that's the clue - fretted instruments are plucked and that might be predicted to be a left-brain function.

Of course, I'm just writing right brained and intuitively here - gotta get to my dance lesson!

March 6, 2014 at 07:39 PM · Greetings,

I trust you are going to dance all night.

Maybe it`s because the part of a bow that needs to be cocked, as in weapon, is usually pulled back by the right hand which may be stronger (?)

Of course the Japanese pull (or is that push) the wood part of the bow forward which takes a dump on at least part of that theory....



March 6, 2014 at 09:45 PM · Buri - you may be onto something - aiming. Just as the arrow is held by the right hand in archery, the bow has to be accurately directed over the strings - and that could well be a left brain strength.

March 6, 2014 at 10:05 PM · "Greetings,

I trust you are going to dance all night."

I could have danced all night, and still have begged for more, if I wasn't a geeky violin maker. ;_)

March 6, 2014 at 10:58 PM · Greetings,

I thought you became a -high end- maker by dancing all night. All those jetes and whatnots......



March 6, 2014 at 11:17 PM · I danced for but an hour. But how I danced...

March 6, 2014 at 11:36 PM · I need to go and lie down for a few minutes.

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