I'm left handed. Do I need a left handed violin/viola/cello?


This is a hot button topic if you hop on any internet forum. The short answer is generally "no". If you have a physical impairment that limits either hand or arm, we could look into a left hand specific instrument.

I get this question a lot from guitarists who have played left handed. I understand there might be years of muscle memory built up for guitar, but frankly, bowed stringed instruments are different than guitar. There is a different approach to the fingerboard than the fretboard, different hand shapes and different muscles needed for pressing the string without frets.  Playing guitar only helps in that you have callouses and understand music.

Violin, viola or cello are different instruments than guitars, treat them as such. We don’t have left handed pianos, trombones, flutes. They are just themselves developed over hundreds of years to be played in a particular fashion. Just like the violin (or viola or cello).

Why I don't recommend left handed instruments if you are fully capable of using both hands are for these reasons:

You will not be taken seriously by other musicians who trained the “right” way. You might think you have a tough skin and can take defending your choice every time you talk to another musician, but give it years of defending what is seen as the wrong way, it’s bound to build up some resentment and tension towards the community.

If you want to play in a traditional orchestra or chamber group, you will be backwards from everybody else. From an audience perspective you will visually stick out, and orchestras are about group cohesion, not sticking out. That's a big reason they usually have a uniform dress code. 

Even if you don’t picture yourself playing in an orchestra in 5 years time, what about 10, 20, 30 years down the road? My high school violin teacher was teaching and playing up until her death at the age of 100. 

If you want a left handed instrument, it has to be build specifically from the start with the internal workings reversed from a standard instrument. For this reason, they are harder to come by, and more importantly, harder to sell when you do want upgrade because very few people play left handed violin, viola, or cello. 

For these reasons, playing left handed is more difficult and limiting than just learning to play with the instrument in the left hand and bow in the right.