Help finding a left handed violin
Hi all. New to the site. I am 50 and deciding to take up the violin. I am looking for a reasonably priced left handed student violin. I’ve seen Gliga’s site but I wouldn’t mind one or two more options. I know the pickings are slim to none but I was hoping you all out there could help me out. Trying to keep the budget under $800.
Just to be upfront. I will not play a traditional violin. I am dead lefty. I brush my teeth, write, throw, eat, play tennis with my left hand. All the activities that take finesse and accuracy. Just as using the bow requires from what I have read endlessly. Please I need genuine help for sources I can get a left handed violin other than Gliga. Any small luthiers, Chinese makers or whatever. Thank you in advance.
Hi and welcome. I think Gewa makes some left handed violins. But I'd encourage you to reconsider the following statement:
I don’t know that your progress would be much different if you started with a regular violin, but I do know you will run into heartache if you ever want to upgrade to a nicer instrument later. Your first violin will never be enough for you once you reach a certain point and it could possibly make you give up the instrument entirely if you are stuck with a violin that you don’t like or holds up further progress. Both hands are equally difficult in my opinion, but you’ll have to wait for one of the professional teachers in here to tell you if it is worth limiting your selection of instruments for your dominant hand.
Hello fellow leftie! I was taught the violin the normal way, and while my right hand had to work a bit harder to become more stable, these days I have no issues.
If you have already called all the local shops within a reasonable drive then maybe you could start emailing shops that are farther away and if they happen to have one in your price range they could mail it to you to trial for a few days.
My left handed colleagues ALL play the violin"normally".
"If you do get a left-handed violin, you'll not be welcomed in any orchestra". So much for equal opportunities! I don't imagine that any amateur orchestra would reject a player on such unfair grounds
A quote I read somewhere, I suspect from someone right handed here, on the same topic;
On your bio, you’re linked to a blog from April,last year on chin rests and you say you’ve been playing without a shoulder rest, ...
A conventional violin already IS a "lefty" violin. :-)
If you have more money than sense, you can have a left-handed piano made for you.
'"If you do get a left-handed violin, you'll not be welcomed in any orchestra". So much for equal opportunities! I don't imagine that any amateur orchestra would reject a player on such unfair grounds/'
I am left-handed and play a conventional violin.
Aaron. I too am a “dead lefty” and I started violin at an older age than you. My personal experience has been that as a lefty, you are much more ambidextrous then most righties are by necessity of living in a right handed world. I play a right handed violin and I consider my left handedness to be an utter advantage. As noted above, violin requires dexterity in two hands but to start, getting the exacting finger spacing down on the string is harder to master than the elementary bowing required of a beginner. By the time you need good dexterity for the bow your right hand will have developed the muscles to achieve that need.
James wrote: "I suggest renting a righty violin and start off that way. Give it 1-2 months and you will see the advantages lefties have playing right handed violins."
The best violinist I know personally (a top pro with a decorated career as a chamber musician) is a lefty too. He plays tennis left, writes left, conducts left, and all that. But not violin. Another vote for renting a right-handed instrument for a while and giving it a college try. Just remember that if you can't play Mozart concertos at the end of two months, it's not because you're playing a right-handed violin.
LOL! Or 20 months, or 200 months... :D
I agree with others here - rent a "regular" (righty) violin and give it a go if after a few months you still feel strongly about the leftie issue, then you can trial a leftie violin. My guess is that you are trying to reduce your chances of failure, and you think that starting with a leftie violin will increase your chances of success with it. A leftie has less "thinking" to do with in terms of fingering - and that is an advantage! Whereas, for the righties, there is less "thinking" in with regards to bowing. It's apples and oranges really - one is not equal to the other, and both dexterities have their advantages and disadvantages *in the beginning*.
Another lefty violinist here! I've played since I was 5 and always learned it the "right-handed" way. The points made above about orchestras are absolutely correct - there are practical issues involved with a left-handed player in an ensemble, not to mentioned aesthetic ones (think of how it looks to have one player moving in the opposite direction of everyone else). Violin is an ambidextrous activity, so I'd agree with those above and learn the violin the "normal" way - you'll have more opportunities, and once you start learning on a lefty fiddle, it would take even more work to undo habits formed if you ever wanted to switch. There are several advantages and disadvantages to being a lefty playing a right-handed instrument. You'll have superior left-hand dexterity, and intonation will likely be an easier concept for you to grasp than the average player. The downsides are that you'll have a weaker bow hand, which can be a bit of handicap in terms of learning to use the bow intuitively to phrase and produce sound. In addition, your left hand may be too strong for its own good - you'll be tempted to apply strength when what you really need is agility. Consider all of this to be sure, but know that these are challenges other people (including myself) have overcome. Don't shoot yourself in the foot because you believe there is no other way.
Aaron I join the others. Bad idea. Look up Leonidas Kavakos. He is left-handed too.
I didn't see any mention of learning with a teacher vs. going at it on your own. If going with a teacher, insisting on a left-handed configuration would also narrow the pool of teacher options.
Does anybody here think playing guitar arsey-versey is a such bad idea? Anyone play violin one way and guitar the other?
"sinistral" ooohhh ... great word there Steve.
How about "gibble-fisted"? That isn't a gun in my pocket it's a thesaurus and I'm not afraid to use it
Oh dear, Erin the Lefty player sighs; why is this still such an issue? I have read that there are violinists playing left-handed in European orchestras (Copenhagen is the only one I remember right now). Rudolf Kolisch https://www.allmusic.com/artist/rudolf-kolisch-mn0001819620 was playing lefty in the Pro Arte Quartet when I attended the University of Wisconsin, so I never formed an unfavorable opinion of playing left handed. I started left-handed on a regular violin that was modified for left-handed play (cost: $25 back then to reverse the strings, make a new bridge, and re-arrange the pegs). I later modified 2 more violins to play left-handed. A couple of years ago I had a left-handed violin made; to tell you the truth, I really don't hear a difference between the modified violin and the lefty-built violin. All those arguments above are theoretical; there is no valid reason not to play left handed. I have played in three community orchestras and none of them insisted I play righty. It will be some time until the idea of playing left handed without objections overcomes the present obstacle of conventional "thinking," but that should not stop someone who is a lefty from staying that way on the fiddle today. Just DO IT!!!! NOW back to your original question: how to find a lefty violin. I think you have a far greater choice if you look for a regular violin that you like, and then have the strings, bridge and pegs modified for left-handed playing. In my opinion, some fine sounding violins are older ones that are played in; I find too many new instruments are shriller in tone than old (75 years+) ones. Old German trade instruments are a bargain; they vary in quality, so it's a smart idea to have a luthier and/or teacher evaluate the instruments you find to your liking before you put down your cash; an approval trial period of a week is pretty standard. I wish you the best in your search--take your time and you will learn a ton. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about pursuing your goal of staying lefty!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYjyxGAo_7U
Steve, when I first picked up a fretted instrument more than 50 years ago, dedicated left-handed instruments were almost no where to be found. So I just played like everyone else.
I don't think our responses intend to stigmatize left-hand violin playing. The point is that you're not giving yourself an advantage by playing left-handed, and there are many disadvantages you'll have to overcome. Finding a good violin is tough, and finding someone who will take on coaching or teaching you is also tough. And if someone who plays conventionally agrees to teach you, they're going to find it challenging, so the quality of any teaching you might receive is already lower than if you were playing conventionally. If you were missing fingers on your left hand or had some other sort of impairment that precludes fingering, and you wanted to learn violin, then you'd have to face those additional challenges. Why make something that is already extremely difficult even more difficult?
Of course it's a lot easier to adapt a right-handed guitar for scrammy-handed playing than a violin, as evidenced for example by Hendrix in his early years. I think it's the inconvenient asymmetry of the violin (chiefly the bass bar) that impels teachers to enforce the right-handed way, when their pupils might develop faster and further if they were allowed to do what comes naturally. For most people the right hand is the "executive" one that determines when the note should sound. It seems wholly natural to me that most of those who use their left hand to execute a tennis stroke might want to brandish their bow similarly.
I am a lefty, play as normal, but i try to keep one properly converted left-handed instrument in the shop. Wolf Primo shoulder rest, Flesch chinrest, the rest is up to you!
The percentage of left-handed string players in my professional orchestra is disproportionately greater than that in the general population. All are excellent players and all play right-handed.
I teach several left handed adults left handed (And one child). All of them use gligas and they work just fine. That's the only option that I know of (aside from paying an actual luthier 10k+).
The body and brain are highly malleable. We don't always need to rely on our initial beliefs and prejudices, and that is particularly directed toward the OP.
Converting a normal violin to a left-handed one (although I agree with David, they all are truly left handed) is not just a matter of swapping pegs and cutting a new bridge. The bass bar must be removed and a new one fitted on the other side. And then you need a sound post replacement. Redoing the bass bar is not a trivial modification.
Erin mentions bridge, pegs, and strings (obviously), but doesn't the nut need to be reversed as well for left-handed playing?
Just play it in the mirror... ;)
I'm still on the fence. Obviously natural left-handers can learn to play the right-handed way, often very well. Some top players have even managed to swap sides in mid-career, e.g. Reinhard Goebel. Apparently this was on account of problems with his left hand and I don't know how strong his handedness is in other skills. However in our enlightened (?) age we don't force children who instinctively pick up a pencil with their left hand to learn to write with their right. Does Mr Suzuki have anything to say about it?
I am ambidextrous and from my experience both hands are difficult - just sharing my perspective. :)
You wouldn’t reverse the keys on a piano because you are left handed. You don’t need to reverse the orientation of a violin for the same reason. I think you are under the assumption that one hand is more difficult than the other for the violin. Both hands are an eternal struggle and they both require fine motor skill and accuracy.
The piano makes a different case because the two hands are essentially performing the same task (albeit maybe with more fine articulation for the right). With the violin I don't think it's a matter of difficulty; it's the bow arm that calls the shots and is mainly responsible for establishing tempo, articulation, dynamics and expressing emotion. These one might see as responsibilities of the "dominant" hemisphere, which of course is the left hemisphere for right handers and also most left-handers. However, to make sure we aren't putting a minority of left-handers at a disadvantage, shouldn't the option of a left-handed violin be made more easily available?
I have never had the bass bar or sound post reversed to convert my violins to lefty models. After commissioning a lefty violin, with the bass bar and sound post all on the 'wrong' side, I really can not tell the difference, so I don't suggest bothering with that change if the OP finds a standard violin he likes and reverses it. Chacun a son gout.
Thank you Erin and Steve. So many things to say. From everything I’ve read about playing the violin is that the tone, tempo, feel, dynamics is all created with the bow. The fretting hand is mechanical. You learn the intonation by muscle memory. Tone, feel, dynamics and tempo can be learned but would be much better off left to the arm/hand that is more suited to those tasks. That’s why I swing the tennis racquet with my left arm, why I brush my teeth with my left hand/arm, and other certain activities I won’t mention are done with my left hand/arm BECAUSE they need that finesse for it to be done to its potential. Doing those things with my right hand/arm they won’t. Could I physically play tennis right handed, yes. Will I ever play as good or will it feel natural and comfortable, absolutely not. I can say that. I don’t need to prove it. If I was five learning the violin maybe you all would have an argument perhaps but as adult who has done many things I know what my body is capable of and what comes naturally. No the violin does not look natural to play at all but to give myself a fighting chance I’m not going to leave the job of feel to the hand/arm that does not have the ability of the other. Say what you want but if you had to choose what hand you would want the bow in I bet you would choose right every time for the reasons I listed above and not because of playing in an orchestra or because you can find a teacher or whatever. We all play music because it feels good so why not play the way it feels good.
It's interesting that left - handed violinists are encouraged to play right handed and that there are a very limited supply of lefty violins when you contrast that with the guitar world. Left handed guitars are relatively common and nobody is ever told to suck it up and play right handed guitars as far as I know.
Guitarists don't play in large ensembles or use a bow. The violin has been commonly used in large ensembles almost from the beginning of its existence, and the bow creates a much greater chance of physically running into other musicians.
Aaron, the need for super dexterity in the bowing hand is reserved to those who need to use all of the classical bowing techniques. I submit that as someone beginning violin in their 50’s that perhaps your playing goals are more modest: you are not looking to play in quartets or as a member of an orchestra?
Hi James. My goals are to learn classical violin. Maybe down the road I’d like to play some Klezmer but for now strictly classical. I am aware I am wayyy behind the eightt ball in terms of how far I can progress technically at the age of 50. For me it’s about maximizing my potential and being as “relatively” comfortable as I can. I have been to my local violin shop and attempted to play both violin and cello right handed and left handed, switching back and forth with the bow. Without questions the coordination and dexterity on just the basic moving across the strings feels much more comfortable and relaxed. Thank God the owner knows me as I bought my daughters violin there so she was very patient and understood what I was trying to do. At this point just because I won’t reach a certain potential because of my age shouldn’t derail me from giving my all and that means using what I perceive as my strengths I. order to accomplish that. I certainly would like to play with other players some day but it will be for fun and if me being left handed is a problem for them then I move on. Ultimately I want to see how far I can go.
FYI, Fiddlerman sells several models in left-handed versions. I believe the prices are comparable to their right-handed versions.
Hi Aaron. Ok so classical is your eventual goal. Lots of lessons then in your future. I remember when i first played around on my violin, before any lessons and before I knew where to put my fingertips on the fret board. I was bowing open strings and my bow was sliding all over the place. I didn’t have the proper bow hold and all my mental attention was on how bad my bowing was. After a few lessons my mental energy was laser focused on my left hand, getting the fingering down with acceptable and repeatable intonation and learning the hand positions taught in the Doflein violin method. The bowing was a far, far a secondary consideration.
Brain imaging studies indicates that there is significant additional cortical representation in the brain for the violinist's
@Lydia. The word "dominant" is often misused in describing brain asymmetry, including by me. I certainly wouldn't argue that the task of the left hand is any easier or less complex than that of the right, and it wouldn't be at all surprising that metabolic activity increases in the cortical representation of the left hand digits but not the right where the digits are less active. But I would argue that the right arm is the "dominant" one for most violinists since it controls the music in a temporal way. This may be a direct consequence of evolutionary development which has also tended to favour the right arm in the use of tools and weapons. We all have asymmetric brains so it seems entirely natural that musical instruments reflect that asymmetry. And some people really do have the converse asymmetry as compared with the rest of us.
Lydia, reading the link you gave, I did not see that the study distinguished between left handed and right handed people. Do some reading on the differences in cortical organization in left-handed vs. right handed people. I do not understand why people insist that the usual violin set-up favors lefties; the day I brought my first new violin home, I was able to play familiar tunes by ear while bowing left-handed, but not nearly as well right-handed; that's why I decided to go lefty. Several years later I took up cello, but rented so I could not reverse the set-up. I have been bowing my cello right-handed. When I got my own cello, it seemed quite awkward to switch bow hands, and I have been bowing cello right-handed ever since. From my experience bowing both ways, I find my left hand is much better at bowing! Hope this gives some courage to lefties to do what feels best rather than conform to an uncomfortable protocol.
i agree with Erin. I have several colleagues who think that me being a lefty makes my life easier, and I don't find that to be true at all. Over the years, I've had (and still have) awkward bow habits that contribute to certain notes being unwittingly accented or emphasized in a way that disrupts my phrasing. This is because my bow tends to follow my left hand rather than taking charge of the musical line. Sound production has also been tougher, as my right arm has lacked the implicit strength to learn how to use arm weight on its own (as opposed to having a teacher basically show me). These things have made my phrasing and overall sound production weaker than the average violinist at my level of playing. I have usually not struggled with intonation or left hand dexterity, but having a solid left hand doesn't usually distinguish you as a player, since the left hand is the more mechanical/execution-based side of the instrument. It's the colors and phrasing ones does with the right hand that makes us think one violinist is more skilled or unique than another. I'm in my 17th year of playing the violin and in some ways am still overcoming these disadvantages. There are definitely been situations in which I have been judged a relatively immature player even though my left hand technique is strong because my sense of phrasing doesn't sound as seamless and compelling as it should. I find it telling that the same colleagues I mentioned above could never fathom having to bow with their non-dominant hand. Don't mean to poo-poo right-handed violin playing, but I think it's inaccurate to somehow imply that left-handed people get some measurable advantage from right-handed violin playing.
There are (very few) high end pros playing inverse. Especially in orchestra where space is rare, these players aren't easy to integrate. In different settings, like quartet or other chamber music, it's either absolutely irrelevant, or even has its own chances.
I personally do understand your wish. My son, after almost 4 years of medium intensive violin playing, is really skillful on the fingerboard. Shifting, various kinds of vibrato, intonation, super fast scales - he has it all. But playing an easy tune with good tone is still seems to be some kind of miracle to him...
Hello Aaron. I am a VERY left handed person, and I play a "normal" cello. Playing a stringed instrument is not like swinging a baseball bat or playing tennis. There really is no distinction between being left handed or right handed - each hand does very important work. You are much better off getting a normal instrument and learning the conventional way.
Whoever suggested the Fiddlershop thank you! I found a mid priced left handed violin. They will do a pro set up on it and have it play to its potential. I am very excited to say the least. For whatever reason anyone feels that the lefties have it easier or that both hands have equal tasks I just disagree not only by my own intuition but by several accounts above outlining the very reason why I don’t want to play the right handed way. I do not want to be bogged down by a right hand that will not produce the tone, color and expression that I believe my left can do better. My right will learn the fingerings just as your left hand does so to me I will be on equal footing so to speak with a right handed beginner. By the way how do you contact people who post on here.
Aaron, just click on the avatar in the thread here and you'll get into the person's profile. Everyone has a private contact button there.
How does that CONTACT button work? I have had no success contacting anyone with it; I get a blue screen with a white envelope outline and then I am asked to log into an email service. I don't get how one contacts someone. Any help will be appreciated!
I tried to edit my profile to include a CONTACT button but it kept asking me to log in again using the correct password
I worked on that when I initially set up my profile. Everytime you want to edit your profile, you have to log in again - just to be sure noone else has taken over by grabbing your electronic device.
I was able to update my account and add a contact. I can help if anyone needs it.
Ah right, got it now, thanks
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