Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Dec 4, 2022 - 12:21:54 PM
264 posts since 6/29/2015


Has anyone on here started off playing left handed, because they write left handed etc and changed to a right handed player?

Just asking as I play left handed but came across a beautiful unique banjo made totally of Ebony. Unfortunately it is right handed but it’s such a beautiful instrument with a deep loud clear tone I decided to buy it. All woodwork on the banjo is lovely black ebony .

Anyhow I digress. Is switching to righty from lefty as hard as it seems admittedly after only one day?

Dec 4, 2022 - 1:51:14 PM
likes this

1672 posts since 4/13/2009

It depends on how much you want it and how much you practice. I have a friend who had to switch due to a serious arm injury. Good luck and practice, practice, practice.

Dec 4, 2022 - 1:58:45 PM

1240 posts since 1/26/2011

My son is left handed but plays guitar right handed. However, he started that way. I’m not sure if switching would be harder or easier.

Dec 4, 2022 - 2:11:07 PM



9 posts since 6/3/2018

I;m a senior in my retirement years and I did try to pllay a right handed version which I recently purchased for my grandkids and that was not succesful, maybe if the person was younger and just starting out he or she could adapt. Right now I'm looking for banjo picks for my grandkids as the only ones I can find are for adult sizes.

Dec 4, 2022 - 2:37:07 PM

3063 posts since 3/30/2008

I think it would take a long time, & a special concentration to switch complex dexterity from one set of hands to the other. (Just think how long it took to train the hands we already use on stringed instruments).

Edited by - tdennis on 12/04/2022 14:37:55

Dec 4, 2022 - 5:36:28 PM
likes this
Players Union Member

Carl Arcand


288 posts since 2/9/2011

I am left handed and I also have right handed banjos antique and new.
When I take a right handed banjo I play it left. I play with the fifth string post under the neck instead of on top. Itis in the way for going up the neck. Harder to play because the string are reversed but after a while figuring out where the notes are, I still can improvise and play my own tunes. For clawhammer it is quite different with the thumb sitting on the High D note instead of the G fifth string.
I am having more fun and agility playing that way than to try it totally right handed.

Dec 4, 2022 - 6:05:12 PM

66 posts since 10/23/2021

I don't really have any insight to offer other than being a left-handed player who chose a left-handed instrument. The one thing that made me pause was what would happen if I saw a beautiful banjo which was right-handed...

I don't regret learning to frail with my left-hand at all but, yeah, it's kind of annoying, especially as nice lefty banjos are so hard to find, especially in the used market.

Dec 4, 2022 - 6:30:50 PM
likes this

10283 posts since 8/28/2013

I thinki t's quite possible to change hands because I have done it. After breaking my right wrist which laid me up for nearly nine months, I was forced to earn to write left haded, and also learned to bowl and perform other activities.

My brother lost the use of his right hand due to a stroke at age 61, but still does graphic design, working a computer keyboard and mouse with only his left hand.

Sure, there's a lot of work involved, but it can be done if enough effort is put into it. The worst thing is to convince yourself it's impossible to learn something new.

Dec 4, 2022 - 6:32:06 PM

598 posts since 2/8/2003

I did the opposite. I am left handed and played right handed BG banjo and guitar for years, then due to an injury, switched to left handed banjo. I had some success, but gave it up and switched back to right handed Clawhammer. I can still pick up a left handed banjo and play it though, just very limited.

It is doable, but takes a lot of time and patience because though you know a lot, it’s literally backwards. I can remember trying to fret chords while I was in the middle of picking! ... with the same hand.

Edited by - JollyRogers on 12/04/2022 18:32:39

Dec 5, 2022 - 2:22:07 AM

Bill H


2060 posts since 11/7/2010

My son is left handed and plays guitar and banjo right handed, but he started playing as a teenager. As a carpenter, I struggled to teach myself to hammer a nail left handed because sometimes you need to. That was hard enough. I would imagine it would be like being a complete beginner and take a long time.

Dec 5, 2022 - 2:52:18 AM
Players Union Member



16351 posts since 8/30/2006

None of us know which sides of our brains is dominant, or how much we adapted when influenced by the environment.

I'm left-handed and play right because there was only one guitar in the group. We taught ourselves guitar, mandolin and banjo, we traded instruments on stage. Heck, don't everybody?

So the issue would be where to reorganize your music laboratory upstairs in the cranium.

Much later in my life, my Osteopathic doctor mocked me and made fun of me because I asked him if he knew anybody who had made themselves ambidextrous at age 72. No, he didn't have that much imagination.

I started making Bamboo HO race car shells with magnet mount.
There isn't much interest where I live, so I started running two cars at a time, one with my left hand and one with my right.
I run the rabbit with my right hand, and drive up behind him with my left hand.
Now when you drive up there and pass yourself, the brain has to switch which side is dominant.
I started out only being able to run about 4 laps that way.
Then gradually, I began to pass myself back and forth through different corners and I was able to run as many laps as needed.
Yes, the heart rate goes up and the iris changes size.
It's new territory. It took a while.

This helped me immensely in building banjos, but I didn't know that it would.
I make 1/64 models of cars you can't get in that scale.
This also helped me immensely in playing the banjos.

I like pinch chords using the first two fingers of both hands to play two strings and pluck two at the same time. That way I have a signal to both hands at the same time.

All of us who were into this new folk thing practiced picking patterns on our desks at school. I still do it on my steering wheel.

My point is , this is not easy, but your brain can do it.
I don't recall anyone switching back and forth at will.

The goodness of the music and what it does for us and others is what keeps us motivated whether to adapt to injury or just pure fun.

I lost the first joint of my left handed thumb. I thought I would never play again, but I do.
And ever since, I play, jam and build with a vengeance because of the short time we have left here.

Dec 5, 2022 - 5:05:38 AM

539 posts since 11/9/2021

My old guitar player played a right hand guitar lefty, playing all the chords backwards. Not well off, that's what he learned on. I let him use my Martin since is own 6 string was a piece of crap. I realized early on, he was gonna damage the top ( no pick guard), so I charged him 1/2 the price to replace the Martin.

THe results? a) he DID chew the hell out of the top, b) Certain rythmes were impossible for him and c) Gave other guitar players headaches if they tried to steal chords from him. Some chords were just downright painfull to look at.

Dec 5, 2022 - 5:27:09 AM

233 posts since 1/7/2019

I am currently contemplating going the other direction. I started right but I am left eye dominant. I shoot bows, guns, pool ect left handed and, whenever I play air guitar, I always do it left handed by default. I have often wondered if it has held back my progress. Sure, I can learn to play right handed but, it just feels more natural to me lefty. Unfortunately I currently have only right handed banjos so I keep pushing along righty, but I have always wondered "what if".


Dec 5, 2022 - 3:17:06 PM



264 posts since 6/29/2015

That’s pretty impressive Helix, racing against yourself controlling each car with a seperate hand.
I had a hour tonight on the right handed banjo and boy was it hard work. Just the basic bum titty strum feels so awkward never mind the fretting hand. Couldn’t even manage to play Jessie James at a snails pace!! But……. I was like that 15 years ago with my left handed banjo when I first started, it all felt so unnatural.

Problem is after an hour tonight struggling with the right handed banjo, I sure enjoyed 15 minutes with my old Lefty.

I’m right handed holding a golf club and cricket bat, and kick right footed but shoot left eye dominant, write left handed and bowl or throw a ball left handed.
Think answer is to put the lefty banjo in its case for a few months and concentrate on the new banjo. It’ll be worth it as the tone from this totally ebony banjo is amazing.

Thanks for all members insights and replies, gives me such encouragement that I’m not alone in my quest

Dec 9, 2022 - 10:29:12 AM

1332 posts since 8/7/2017

If you get too frustrated, how about asking a banjo luthier to make you a new left-handed neck? Or you could make your own simple neck, making it fretless, for instance. Or complex if you are a wood worker :-) Could be the majority of the good tone comes from the pot (I'm not a luthier, obviously). Congratulations on finding a banjo with a tone you love :-))

My fretless is a mountain banjo, simple-as-could-be neck, violin-style pegs,  nylon strings (LaBella #17). I  have a lot of fun with it. Took a while to learn how to adjust pegs (pull out to loosen, twist, push in....repeat as necessary).


Helix, great race cars. My brother and a friend and I raced HO slot cars in highschool, had a blast. We'd clean the motors with carbon tetrachloride for more thrust. I made it to 71 years old this year, carbontet is now known to be dangerous, ah well.

Edited by - BrooksMT on 12/09/2022 10:35:28

Dec 17, 2022 - 6:04:48 AM
Players Union Member



16351 posts since 8/30/2006

I use a Rosewood slotted and profiled fingerboard as my pattern. Just flip the pattern for a lefty. And a planetary 5tth tuner.  It's already noted that Changing an acoustic guitar to a lefty without changing the braces will pickle a good guitar and cause destruction.  I have friends who tried this once only!!  They had to buy the customer a new guitar.

Here's the problem: some people are right handed. But others are righty righties, lefty righties and righty lefties, then the lefties show up and that means yer talkin' to the top 15% right there. But the one true God in all her wisdom isn't just playing peek-a-boo with the Holy Spirit, (they ride busses and other chariot forms).  Some tasks are assigned because of the special nature of different types of people, not just a right-handed do gooder.  She might need a felon who understands the need. 

Look, I'm 78, way too young for this.  Nobody knows that HO has brakes built in, just add 1/32 controllers and you got brakes when you let go of the trigger some, it reverses the motor for less than a second at 300 scale mph, then I cut my own tires from latex tubing so I have suspension, real rubber is quieter and then SHAPE IS everything, I don't even show my own Helix team cars.  they're shy.
The new can motors are converting DC to AC. My old car bodies like the Green and yellow Lotus 49 fit perfectly with no mods.
I glue little brads in the bodies to fit in the magnet sockets. I lost the '57 Ferrari LM for six months after a launch.
I have 44' of two lane on a 4.5' by 5' table. I bought the greatest 5 amp power supply which eliminates the 10VDC jump to expert. I can let kids run all day while limiting the top speed so it's more fun. No shooting cars into the sheet rock (Hot Wheels), I'm secretly teaching ambidexterity in youths prior to allowing after school banjo. I use permission slips and a broom and dustpan first. 

I alternate large and small muscle groups in the shop which keeps me from getting bored with production.I go over and blow some laps,

I retired into banjo making, now my office has a bathroom, a kitchen and will now be offering video of Jack the dog (Capt. America) watching these little critters run around like mice, everytime the car goes by it's a new mouse.

Here's a picture of a Great White Egret showing how to fish left-claw(hammer). Same bird different venues.  We ride those concrete falls when dry weather is here.  We hadn't seen the New River falls run like that for a decade, neither had the Egret nor the Kingfisher who works with her.

Also a picture of My dog "Flatbar"  I adopted him or her, but I can't get to him her right now.  

Go play, try again.  Sleep on it, your muscle memory even measures the thickness of fingerpicks, quite a task I'd say.  Dream up 

Edited by - Helix on 12/17/2022 06:19:47

Dec 17, 2022 - 6:37:19 AM
Players Union Member



16351 posts since 8/30/2006

left-handed, playing right. A righty lefty? A lefty righty.


Dec 21, 2022 - 9:11:29 PM

Bart Veerman


5360 posts since 1/5/2005
Online Now

After one day, no doubt it'll feel impossible. Who knows if that perception & reality might change for you. One way or another, the weight of a solid ebony banjo will be significant but it will be amazing nevertheless... Good luck!!!!!!

The folks in the people factory have dealt us left-handers a weird world to live in but it really is awesome to read a left vs right thread for a change where left-handers are being taking serious instead of the usual discriminatory & dismissive comments about left-handers.

Dec 22, 2022 - 6:02:31 AM



409 posts since 3/9/2017

I have no experience of this, but as a left hander who plays righthanded, I do wonder if Carl Arcand has a good point that it may be easier to play your normal way but hold the banjo upside down - possibly less 'reprogramming' of the brain?

Dec 22, 2022 - 6:18:44 AM
likes this

59975 posts since 12/14/2005

Originally posted by Carl Arcand

I am left handed and I also have right handed banjos antique and new.
When I take a right handed banjo I play it left. I play with the fifth string post under the neck instead of on top. Itis in the way for going up the neck. Harder to play because the string are reversed but after a while figuring out where the notes are, I still can improvise and play my own tunes. For clawhammer it is quite different with the thumb sitting on the High D note instead of the G fifth string.
I am having more fun and agility playing that way than to try it totally right handed.

If one wishes to play a 5-string banjo "upside down", without the 5th peg getting in the way, one may move the peg down to near the tailpiece.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories