Trying to find a left-handed Violin player is somewhat like searching for Goblins, Elves, or Fairies. It can be like looking for mythical beings that don’t exist. Left-handed players do exist, though; it’s just that there aren’t that many of them.
And those lefty players who do play have often taught themselves to play right-handed. It just might have been easier at the time. So lefties, this is for you. A Left-Handed Violinist? What You Need to Know.
Are There any Famous Left-handed Violin Players?
There are, but I’d like to introduce you to one that may surprise you. Charlie Chaplin. He played left-handed. In fact, when he was very young, that is what he wanted to be.
Heaven only knows how he acquired one, living in abject squalor in East London as he did, is beyond me. But there you are, play it he did. He composed many of the music scores for his films playing the Violin the “wrong way round.”
A Heavy Bias towards the Right-hander
It is there, and it exists and not only with the Violin. It is the same with the Cello, Viola, and Double bass. You see, there are problem instruments for left-handed players. In some cases, like with a guitar, a lefty can just turn it upside down. Jimi Hendrix, of course, is probably the most obvious example.
But Paul McCartney did the same thing playing guitar, occasionally using the right-handed instrument “upside-down.” And there have been others. With a guitar, you can do it. Just swap the strings over, make some minor adjustments, and use it left-handed. You can’t do that with a Violin. We will go into why later.
Let’s take a minute to look at the Violin…
It is traditionally played resting on the left shoulder, using the left hand for finger position, the right hand for bowing. Bowing is a vital action when playing the Violin. That is why the right-hander’s dominant arm, the right, is tasked with that role.
Non-Violinists might think that the fingering of the Violin is more important. It isn’t. The action of the bow will make you or break you. And for hundreds of years, Violins were, with a small number of exceptions, built for right-handers.
The Reason for Right-handed Prevalence
It may surprise you to know that it could have been just one of a number of some strange religious beliefs. From the Middle Ages, left-handed people were viewed as evil.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia…”
Even as late as the 17th-century, people thought the devil baptized people with his left hand. Witches were supposed to have greeted him with their left hand. In the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials being left-handed was used as evidence. So much for the enlightenment and the rise in education.
This may have resulted in left-handed instruments not being manufactured until much later when people had woken up.
In recent times…
Luthiers have started to manufacture left-handed instruments, and Violins were one of the first. Now lefties who want to learn don’t have to worry about playing right-handed. Or of being hanged as a witch. However, it does come with its challenges as an instrument.
What is a Left-Handed Violin?
Seems an obvious question, but it might not be so clear-cut. It is definitely not a right-handed violin turned up the other way with the strings back to front. We asked the question earlier why you can’t do that. This is because a Left-handed Violin is a “mirrored-image” of a right-handed instrument.
Left-handed Violinist? What you need to know…
Violins have a very specific construction pattern. There is what is known as a bass bar inside the body. This is a thin piece of wood that runs under the strings from the left-hand side of the bridge.
On a left-handed Violin, the position is different. It sits under the bridge’s right leg. The soundpost situated on the right moves to the left side. Additionally, reversing the strings means the peg holes need to be different as well.
Looks almost the same…
It is almost identical on the outside. But the internal changes and the differences to the neck make it a specific instrument for left-handed players. So, while it might look the same, there are differences in right-handed and left-handed violin construction. Therefore, you can’t just switch a right-handed Violin round.
Here are some current Violin options for left-handers. Both Acoustic and Electric versions.
- Cecilio CVN-320L Solidwood Ebony Fitted LEFT-HANDED Violin
- Cecilio L4/4CEVN-L1BL Left-Handed Solid Wood Blue Metallic Electric Violin
- Yamaha Left-handed Electric Violin
Need a Great Violin, Violin Accessories, or Violin Advice?
We can help you with all of that. Have a look at our handy guides on How to Replace Your Violin Strings, Tips For Tuning Your Violin, How to Rosin Your Bow, How to Find Your Ideal Electric Violin, and What Are Violins Made Of for more useful information.
Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Cremona Violins, the Best Violin Rosins, the Best Violin Bows, the Best Violin Strings, the Best Electric Violins, the Best Violin Cases, the Best Student Violins, and the Best Apps to Tune Your Violin that you can buy in 2023.
Left-Handed Violinist? What You Need to Know – Final Thoughts
If you are thinking of learning to play a left-handed violin, there are some positive and potentially negative points. Here are just a few things to consider:
- Do you want to play in an orchestra? A left-handed Violin player will need to be seated, so they do not interfere with right-handed players.
- If you are thinking of playing solo, then playing left-handed is something different. It could help you by being of “interest value.”
- Will the Violin teacher you approach be able to teach a left-handed student?
- When you decide to upgrade your instrument as you improve, it might be more difficult to sell a second-hand “leftie.”
But if you are set on learning the Violin as a Left-hander, there is certainly nothing there to prevent you. A great instrument for right-handed and left-handed players. And now available for both.
Until next time, let your music play.