Playing Ukulele Left-Handed?

About 1 in 10 people are left-handed.  When it comes to playing some music instruments left-handed, marketplace offerings do not make it all that easy.

Take for example the traditional 6-string acoustic guitar designed for right-handed play.  You cannot just flip the instrument around, re-string or re-tune in reverse order and start playing.  Many hindrances.  One is the increasing string gauge … the 6th string is over four times larger in diameter than the 1st string; guitars have several components designed around this parameter to play in tune.  So a left-handed learner is often encouraged to play right-handed, or must seek a guitar built for left-handed play (among a more limited selection).

Good News! The concert size FLEA ukuleles featured in our kits are very easy to re-tune for instant left-handed play.

Just flip the ukulele around. Tune the strings in standard G-C-E-A order as you progress from the redefined top/4th string to the lower/1st string.

Why?  Ukulele string diameters also vary, but to a much lesser degree.  Plus, the ukulele’s reentrant tuning (4th string tuned an octive higher than following the natural sequence as you progress from strings 1-3) makes the string diameter pattern more symmetrical.  The two inner strings have a diameter ranging 0.025 – 0.035″, whereas the outer two strings are thinner and have a diameter close to 0.020″.

To be more exact, you can re-string (when ready for new strings) in left handed order. Nut/bridge notches on the FLEA ukulele will accommodate the reversed sequence of string diameters without binding or making string fit sloppy.

The challenge remains for finding instructional materials (e.g., chord diagrams) and music published specifically for left-handed play.

Fortunately, much of the music written for right-handed ukulele play (e.g., lesson materials in Musician Maker Kits) is about using basic strumming techniques with simple chords.  You can envision and learn the “mirror image” of chords diagrammed for right-handed play, then jump right into playing the songs. The strumming methods taught in Musician Maker Kits are versatile … you simply use your “natural” left hand to master the same up/down strumming patterns and rhythms.

Several other resources are available online (just click titles below) and written specifically for left-handed play. The chord charts let you see the actual chord fingerings … skipping the need to envision “mirror images”. The technique books also provide chord diagrams, but are designed mainly to help serious players understand chord theory and master chords up and down the fingerboard. They do not provide simple song collections for beginners.

GOOTAR Four String Chord Generator website – this cool tool lets you quickly see and hear virtually any ukulele chord for “lefty” strumming

Left Handed Ukulele Chord Chart – a very nice set of chord charts posted by a ukulele club at a New York elementary school

“A Guide to Ukulele Chords for Lefties” by Curt Sheller – a 54 page method book that teaches chord understanding and proficiency for left-handed play, plus an intro to jazz chords; also available as a downloadable eBook/PDF

“Neck Anywhere, Lefty!” by Washtub Jerry – a 28 page method book for learning how to master “movable rhythm chord shapes” up and down the ukulele fretboard (book is listed near the end of page entitled “Music and Book Projects”)

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder


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