Birds of a feather

As in the case of most other minority groups, lefties in general – and lefty musicians among them – have their own online places where they can choose to hang together to talk about all things lefty: discussion forums.

In my experience – admittedly limited to English-speaking forums – we have the option to join a dedicated lefty musicians forum or post in a section or a subforum dedicated to lefties within a more generic music forum. Of course, we can also do both at the same time, and righties who are interested in the topic can obviously join in.

While dedicated lefty forums can feel cosy, comfortable and protective, the number of their members tends to be far smaller than any equivalent non-handed forum, resulting in limited activity, which may at times allow things to go a bit stale.

Being part of a niche group of musicians in the context of a less specialised musicians forum sometimes works out better, as it allows us to visit our corner while still belonging in the bigger picture and taking part in any other discussion without leaving the website. On the other hand, ‘our corner’ may become a bit cliquey and isolated.

The largest bass forum in the English-speaking world, Talkbass, doesn’t seem to have any section or subforum dedicated to left-handed players. I have only been able to find a number of individual threads created by lefties within regular subforums, for instance the following:
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/left-handed-bass-guitars-1035389/ under Bass Guitars, and
http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f1/left-handed-upright-bass-1026165/ under Double Bass.

Talkbass’s counterpart in Europe, Basschat, has recently created a special subsection for all thing lefty as part of its Bass Guitars forum: http://basschat.co.uk/forum/103-lefties/
Basschat’s Marketplace also has a special Lefty For Sale section: http://basschat.co.uk/forum/86-left-handed-basses-for-sale/

There is, of course, also an online forum dedicated completely to lefty bassists. It has a rather (to me at least) disconcerting home page photo of a lefty bass strung righty…! But otherwise it really feels like home. I am a member, but I wish I had lots of extra time to spend there…
http://www.leftybassist.com/ has a Marketplace as well as many sections purely dedicated to discussion of all things lefty.

Another specialised lefty forum is Leftyfrets.net, which has a section for electric instruments other than guitars: http://www.leftyfrets.net/forumdisplay.php?s=04903a64bb93745248f57ba34d9c3fb6&f=3

I have also found several Facebook groups dedicated to left-handed musicians, but only one of my English-language finds is exclusively for bassists: http://www.facebook.com/groups/128368870695910/. I have joined it and keep an eye on new posts while I’m doing work on FB.
There is also an Italian equivalent, which is more buy-and-sell oriented than the UK group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/160977303964852/

I am following several left-handed-related accounts on Twitter, but I haven’t been able to find one specifically for lefty bassists or even simply lefty musicians. Perhaps I should start one…

To end this section, I think I really need to mention two German sites – also available in English – dedicated to all things lefty basses.
http://www.leftybass.com/e_start.htm and http://www.die-linke-bass-saite.de/english/
Although neither appears to be very lively, I would join the communities if there were – erm – at least 48 hours in the day. Heh. 🙂

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Pride or Self-Pity?

So you are left-handed, you want to learn a stringed instrument, and have ascertained through trial and error that you simply don’t get along with righty models. You therefore embark on The Great Lefty Adventure.

Are you proud, defiant, and ready to defend your right to buy guitars that are “the wrong way round” (ha, ha, bloody ha), or are you resigned to being the odd one out through an accident of genetics and no fault of your own, only thankful that you haven’t picked up a non-reversible instrument?

Nowadays we lefties may not – in the main – be thought of as Satan’s spawn any more, and we may manage to reproduce and pass on our lefty genes unchallenged, but we still hit the brick wall of discrimination at every step, usually in the name of Market Forces as opposed to that of God.

While there is unfortunately no shortage of idiots, among teachers and mentors, who will find any excuse to discourage you from learning the instrument the correct way round for you, and ultimately make you a mediocre musician (because you’re using the wrong tools of the trade), there are luckily also many enlightened voices we can listen to.

As a general commercial and resource website for lefty stringed instruments and their owners, leftyfretz.com is hard to beat. It also has a small forum section, but what is most relevant in this instance is their only-half-jokey list of the advantages of being a left-handed (bass) guitarist:
http://leftyfretz.com/top-reasons-to-play-guitar-left-handed/

Lefty Guitar Pie Chart, leftyftetz.com

Leftyfretz.com sums it up nicely… Been there soo many times!

More encouragement towards choosing what feels natural to us appears on another music gear reseller site, left-handed-guitars-and-basses.com:
http://www.left-handed-guitars-and-basses.com/2010/11/5-benefits-of-being-a-left-handed-guitar-player/

Making Music Magazine also mentions the lefty musician’s struggle and sees things improve with the help of the internet:
http://makingmusicmag.com/how-left-handed-musicians-survive-a-right-handed-music-world/

Guitarnoise.com comes to our rescue too – and all that’s written for guitar on there also applies to bass, of course:
http://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/lefties-anonymous/ and
http://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/left-handed-guitar/

bellandcomusic.com goes even further by offering an entire section on left-handed chords for guitar (no bass, unfortunately). For once we don’t need to mentally reverse the diagrams while studying the fingering!
http://www.bellandcomusic.com/left-handed-guitarist.html

This lefty bass player offers us a sadly familiar tale – but do check out the comments added at the bottom and perhaps add yours to the list.
http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-Left-Handed/1968763

Meanwhile, this young, left-handed doctor named Shan offers us some insights into the brain of the left-handed musician:
http://encephalotomy.com/2012/08/if-you-like-music-raise-your-left-hand/

Despite all the additional obstacles a left-handed musician, especially a beginner, will encounter, we should never accept to be bullied into learning to play on unsuitable instruments just because The Market makes it far easier to find right-handed models (and corresponding gigbags and cases, but more of that another time). The more of us refuse to accept such feeble reasoning, the more likely it will be for The Market to take notice and, given some time, meet our demand.

TO BE CONTINUED…