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Learning to Play Banjo Left Handed

Learning to Play Banjo Left Handed

Being a lefty and wanting to learn to play banjo can present a few challenges. One is deciding whether to start off playing banjo left handed or right handed. I am asked that question fairly frequently from new students asking me for advice. What I would do if I was standing right there in front of them is hand them a banjo and see which way they go with it. I don't think this is a cerebral decision or even something that should be followed on the advice of others. The bottom line is it has to feel natural and comfortable. Often our quickest reactions or "gut" reactions are the most dependable and solid. That is why I would try to distract the student and hand it to them so I could see their "natural" reaction and which way they held it. We as creatures, normally only get in our own way, often second guessing what we already know in our hearts or our "guts". So my advice is try that test, or if you have already picked up a guitar once and it felt better held either on the right or the left, you likely already know the answer to that question.

Another question I am asked from new left handed banjo players is, “Do you have any left handed books available?” My take on that, and this is with a left-handed banjo players best interest at heart is, It is a good thing there is not! Let me explain why I feel that way. If a left-handed banjo student became dependent on left handed books and there were only 1 or 2 out there, it could severely limit their options in the learning process. My students have not seemed to have had any trouble quickly adapting to right handed books and videos. So I feel it is in the left handed banjo student's best interest to adapt to keep all the resources to learn banjo out there available to them. This is coming from a banjo teacher who has written and recorded a lot of books, DVDs and CDs and has learned to call my left hand, "the fretting hand" out of respect for the lefties of the world. For instance, here are some "fretting hand exercises" as opposed to "left hand exercises".

As far as I know, beginner level lefty banjo's were first made available at a lower cost by Gold Tone Banjos around 2001 which I think they deserve a lot of credit for. Still today almost every model, if not every model Goldtone makes is available in left handed. They will also quickly and without complaint make left handed 4-string or left handed 6 string banjos and will adapt any of their specialty instruments like banjo ukes and banjolas to left handed. Their owner is not left handed but he must know someone that is or had some experience that has given him reason to reach out to lefties.

This was even done without intervention from the Banjo Players Regulatory Commission. (kidding of course) there is no such commission. Thank goodness, they would take over the world and put levies on things like 6-string banjos, or playing something in a different way than Earl did.

That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes.
How many banjo players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only 1, but the other 5 would say, Earl didn’t do it like that!

Here are links to some great left-handed banjo options for beginners and more experienced players

Goldtone Beginner Left handed banjos It would be hard to find any Gold Tone Banjo model that is not available in left-handed. That is in contrast to practically no left-handed banjos available by other banjo companies without special order.

Savannah SB 100-L - The SB100-L Left handed beginner banjo is an affordable lefty banjo for beginners for the not so catered to lefty banjo players of the world. The price is the same as a right handed too!

Left-handed Deering Banjos can be ordered for any of their banjos models

Nechville left-handed banjos too

If you're interested in Deering banjos left-handed models give me a call, for Nechville banjos in left-handed too.
1-866-322-6567 email us

Posted by Ross Nickerson Home, Learning Banjo 0

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