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Guido

Left Handed - what to do?

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Wondering about violins for left handed players.

I appreciate there is the option to suck it up and play like a right handed player... but if you really want to hold bow in you left hand... how far do you go with adjustments/ conversions to the violin?

And then for fractional instruments: with how little conversion can you get away? Just a new bridge and chin rest? I.e., how does a violin sound with a bass bar under the e-string and the sound post under the g-string...?

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Guido said:

Wondering about violins for left handed players.

I appreciate there is the option to suck it up and play like a right handed player... but if you really want to hold bow in you left hand... how far do you go with adjustments/ conversions to the violin?

And then for fractional instruments: with how little conversion can you get away? Just a new bridge and chin rest? I.e., how does a violin sound with a bass bar under the e-string and the sound post under the g-string...?

 

 

Violins are already left-handed.

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1 minute ago, David Burgess said:

Violins are already left-handed.

Well now that you say that... indeed it looks like that by the way you hold your violin in your avatar.

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3 hours ago, Guido said:

...for fractional instruments: with how little conversion can you get away? Just a new bridge and chin rest? ...

Yes.  You can get away with that for full-size, too.

 

3 hours ago, Guido said:

...how does a violin sound with a bass bar under the e-string and the sound post under the g-string...?

Sounds like a violin.

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Just don't ever plan on playing in an orchestra left handed! They will not tolerate the possibility of bow interference between players. They all need to go in the same direction!

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1 hour ago, Brad Dorsey said:

Yes.  You can get away with that for full-size, too.

 

Might also need to move the pegs, if the player uses vibrato in first or half-position.

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Who is going to play this violin, beginning child or adult?

It is difficult for a left-handed adult to begin playing a standard violin because the right had is critical to  producing proper tone. A beginning child can probably learn - if Heifetz, et al did.

I recall that at one point several years ago Ifshin Violins was able to provide "left-handed" violins (made to order) from their Jay-Haide production. It might be worth contacting them. These instruments would be reversed internally as well as externally.

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This left-right hand issue crops up often and is always contentious.

The fact that the violin, like the piano, isn't particularly "handed" to begin with keeps getting brushed off as unimportant.

Both hands have an equally important- and different - job. Our brains are quite adept at figuring it all out 

If the bow hand, ultimately, is the "more important" hand, it's not by much, and for all intents and purposes - only after years of practice. By then, the hands are well used to their roles - and it becomes a moot point.

Beginners, regardless of age should just play the violin as it is. No need to create an issue when none exists.

Caveat: the only reason, maybe, to switch, is in the case of an injury or physical anomaly. If you only have one hand - that hand has to play the notes. No option.

 

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I love this debate - let's have it again!

I wonder if a professional orchestra would be legally permitted to reject a player on grounds of left-handedness.

I think the violin has evolved the way it has - asymmetrical - for a reason. For most people the right hand is the "executive" one. The bow arm dictates that something should happen while fingering just helps determine exactly what happens - a bit like a CEO and a functionary. Of course many natural left-handers do manage to adapt to the standard arrangement, but how many give up?

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53 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

Dang it Rue! You just wrote everything I was about to write.  Hey, I have five more minutes in my day, Thanks! :) 

I try to be helpful! :) Enjoy those 5 minutes!!! ^_^

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

This left-right hand issue crops up often and is always contentious.

The fact that the violin, like the piano, isn't particularly "handed" to begin with keeps getting brushed off as unimportant.

lol /@ a left-handed piano.  the first time a person picks up a fiddle i'd guess it's equally totally awkward either way.  if they're lefties maybe they just assume they need to do it reversed

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

This left-right hand issue crops up often and is always contentious.

The fact that the violin, like the piano, isn't particularly "handed" to begin with keeps getting brushed off as unimportant.

Both hands have an equally important- and different - job. Our brains are quite adept at figuring it all out

Beginners, regardless of age should just play the violin as it is. No need to create an issue when none exists.

This has me wondering if there are right and left-handed pianos, with reversed keyboards. I don't know of any, but pianos are not my specialty. Wouldn't it be horrible if I had to acknowledge that pianists are less wimpy and less fussy than violinists? ;)

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@Bill Merkel

Yes.  I think that's exactly what they think.

And when it's a 'one-handed' activity, like writing, or using scissors, that's valid...but playing any instrument that requires both hands to work independently, but together, is totally different.  And that's pretty much all instruments. 

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Just now, David Burgess said:

This has me wondering if there are right and left-handed pianos, with reversed keyboards. I don't know of any, but pianos are not my specialty. Wouldn't it be horrible if I had to acknowledge that pianists are less wimpy and less fussy than violinists? ;)

LOL...are you admitting it?  Or just contemplating?

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

LOL...are you admitting it?  Or just contemplating?

I'm not willing to stick my neck out that far, right now. ;)

I used to have a violin teacher living next door, but now she is gone (her husband got a Chaplain gig at a highly acclaimed East Coast private university) and the only hardcore classical musician remaining on my block is a University of Michigan piano professor (who is, or recently was also the head of the UofM music department) and whose wife is also a piano teacher.

Let's just say that they have never asked me do a smokey burnout in front of their house. :lol:

However, I did once put up a huge cloud of tire smoke in the alley behind the Oberlin Violinmaking Workshop. I think that most of the participants and teachers got a kick out of it, including Joe Grubaugh, who was in the passenger seat.

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9 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

Just don't ever plan on playing in an orchestra left handed! They will not tolerate the possibility of bow interference between players. They all need to go in the same direction!

One gig, in a smaller town in CA, I did encounter a reversed set up violinist as my stand partner.  It was a freaky moment when I realized what was going on.

Personally, I think it's a silly concern.   We could easily set up violins in reverse if people wanted.  But the odd balls who want this just want to be odd balls.  It's difficult to see and good reason for reverse setup violins.  Who can really say the handedness matters that much.  Either way, the fingerboard and bow skills are both difficult and unnatural, both very much learned.

And historical precedence does not show lefthandedness to be an obstacle.  Certainly Paganini managed.

 

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About 5-6 years ago a local amateur luthier, who was instructed how to build violins by my own luthier, let me play 3 violins he had made while he was, in a sort of way, still learning.
Aside that they were quite good, i did not notice that a particolar one was build with a mistake: the bass bar and sound post were inverted in their position.
If he hadn't told me i'd never find out, by only playing it.

 

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I am a lefty that took up violin in my 40s (and violin making in my 50s).  Zero issues - other than it sounds like a cat getting its tail pulled when you first start.  (A few months later it still sounds that way, but its easier to pull its tail.)

The role of handedness in a violin is not a thing.  I also play flute, piano, and guitar.  No handedness thing there either.

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The OP asks what adjustments are necessary to play a violin left-handedly. In another place I think I read a post by someone called David Burgess saying you could string the violin arsey-versey without swapping the soundpost and the bass bar and it made surprisingly little difference to the sound. What does make a difference is the G-string peg which gets in the way of your index finger if you're using it for a E-string.

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1 hour ago, matesic said:

The OP asks what adjustments are necessary to play a violin left-handedly. In another place I think I read a post by someone called David Burgess saying you could string the violin arsey-versey without swapping the soundpost and the bass bar and it made surprisingly little difference to the sound. What does make a difference is the G-string peg which gets in the way of your index finger if you're using it for a E-string.

I read that it is the same for guitars.  The important thing is for the strutting to be asymmetric, it doesn't matter which way the strings are set out.

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12 hours ago, David Burgess said:

This has me wondering if there are right and left-handed pianos, with reversed keyboards. I don't know of any, but pianos are not my specialty. Wouldn't it be horrible if I had to acknowledge that pianists are less wimpy and less fussy than violinists? ;)

Somewhere in my papers I have a glossy brochure from a left-handed professional touring concert pianist who had commissioned one of the big piano makers to make a mirror-image grand piano for them to use on tour.

Can't find it... must have been 15-20 years ago.

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