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Left Handed Violins – Learn How to Play the Violin Left-handed



Left Handed Violins in Vancouver, BC | Gliga Violins Canada Offers left Handed Violins Made in Romania


left handed violins, violas, and cellos
A left handed violin sounds strange, but a left handed cello sounds even stranger. Is a “left handed violin” a real concept? Does a left-handed violin really exist? Also, why is it so hard to find a high quality left handed violin? Well, let’s see. Let’s analyze the concept of supply & demand from business economics.

Most products appear as the result of high market demand; in our case, the right-handed violins, which are simply called “violins” – being understood that the violin will be played with the right hand- have been created for centuries because people wanted to play the violin. I am not talking about the times when the violin was first invented. I am talking here about present times, when all of us try to pursue a passion or practice a hobby. If nobody wanted to play the violin anymore, all violin manufacturers would probably start using their wood for making furniture instead.


Going back to our supply & demand analysis, and continuing our logic, we can see that for some products there is no apparent demand, but the products still appear on the market, as an innovation, and then they create the demand for it. So, for the right handed violin, the demand creates an opportunity for the supply, while for the left-handed violins, the supply creates the demand. A left-handed violin is an example of a product that at first was rejected by most violin players, then slowly became more accepted, and in the end people started to tolerate the idea that the violin can be very well played with the left hand. The left handed violins did not appear that quickly on the market and are not very easily available even today. This happens because of the reduced demand, which does not stimulate mass production. Also, the costs attached with manufacturing a left-handed violin are higher, because the left handed violins do not enjoy the benefits from economies of scale. What does that mean? It means that making a left handed violin is like taking a special order where there is no production flow in place, where the molds need to be redesigned and adjusted to meet the new requirements. The costs attached to modifying the production line does not spread among thousands of instruments, but among a few pieces. This means that all those costs need to be absorbed by the few pieces produced, which means a higher production cost per piece, and a higher selling price to the consumer.

In modern times, where almost every wish can come true, especially where there is economic power backing up this behavior, some products are not necessarily needed, but they are rather “wanted.” People are ready to pay a little bit more, to have a certain feature added to their new toy, just to provide them with more confort, or to satisfy a personal desire. Come on, do we really need a picture viewer on our new GPS? No, but when we hear that the new version that just came out has the ability to show pictures, we immediately think of finding ways to get rid of the old one and replace it with the new model. 🙂 But let’s go back to our left-handed violins. They appeared on the market to serve the left handed musicians, who might have thought that if they write better with their left hand, they might very well play better if they held the bow in their left hand. Also, the left-handed people who play the violin fantastically right-handed, might have thought: “if I play this well while holding the bow in my right hand, which is usually not my best friend, imagine what I could do if my left hand was in charge with this responsibility.”

At first, a left handed violin was just a fantasy, a creation of those who felt that the world will never adapt to their needs, and they are the ones who have to always have to close their eyes here and there in order to go ahead. But again, we live in an era where marketers read people’s minds and try to stay ahead of everyone by putting up on the market something that would surprise and please people. A left handed violin is a great gift for a musician who has played the violin right-handed all his/her life, dreaming of how nice life would be is a left-handed violin was created. Or maybe the left-handed musician has never thought of having a left handed violin; maybe he/she has never thought that this is a real concept. So, no wonder that people were against the idea of having a left handed violin when they first heard of its availability on the market. As the story goes with any other product, when these violins appeared on the market as a novelty, apparently useless, they were rejected and severely criticized, only for being loved soon after, when things settled down in peoples’ minds and they decided to give a try to this “newcomer”. Today, left handed violins enjoy warm acceptance among all kinds of musicians, of all ages and all skill levels. Professional left-handed people, with years of experience and who have been playing a right handed violin for their entire career, decide to switch to a left-handed violin. Parents whose children are left-handed decide to equip the young aspiring musician with the right battle tools, which include a left handed violin, a case for a left-handed violin, and a left handed chin rest.

Because we started this discussion with analyzing the supply & demand concept, there we are again, in front of other two products that appeared as a result of the market demand: the left handed chin rests and the cases that hold the left-handed violins. These two accessories would have no use whatsoever if the left handed violins disappeared. One of the most famous makers of left handed violins, violas, and cellos is the Romanian luthier, Gliga. Violinslover.com has an entire section dedicated to Gliga’s left handed instruments, and we invite you to visit it at http://www.violinslover.com/lefthanded.php.

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9 Responses to “Left Handed Violins – Learn How to Play the Violin Left-handed”

  1. Lucy Li Says:

    I’ve done a lot of research online for a left handed violin, and in the end I ordered one from Gliga. They did not have one available in 1/2 size, but they custom built one for me and shipped it over from Romania. The case it came in is for a normal violin though. I have never even considered that the left handed case should be the way you described it. Even if I never thought of it this way before, I totally agree with you. I am wondering if there is anyone out there who makes cases for lefties . Do you know anyone?

  2. Jeffrey Butler Says:

    i bought a “righty” switched the strings, bridge and chinrest with very little effort. No special skill or tools involved. The grooves in the nut were so small so as to not require any consideration. After 30 years of lefty guitar i was not about to go righty.

  3. Pat Stewart Says:

    To jeffrey,

    You make it sound so easy. I understand switching the strings and the bridge, but how could you do that to the chinrest? My chinrest is carved to fit my left side of the chin. There is no way I can switch it to the right side. Do you have a flat chinrest? Do you have a picture of your new “lefty”?

    Thanks,
    Pat

  4. Gerald Brewer, Sr. Says:

    What did you do about the bass bar inside being under the smaller strings????????

  5. Gerald Brewer, Sr. Says:

    P.S. also the sound post position???

  6. George W Says:

    switching strings, bridge, chinrest and pegs is not enough to make a right handed violin a left handed.. still there is a bass bar and a sound post inside that need to be reversed.

    I have a true left handed violin I made and sounds great. It is for sale, if anyone is interested.

  7. camelia13 Says:

    test

  8. Tom Duncan Says:

    I am a lefty, and I have played guitar lefty for 45 years. When I decided to learn the violin, there was not a doubt in my mind that it would be a lefty, but, as you say, it was pretty hard to find one. I bought the first one I could find on e-bay and I’ve been at it for about 2 years now, enjoying myself immensely! It was a very inexpensive student model from China, but it was set up well and plays nicely.

    One thing you said struck me as odd, though. There is nothing different about the shape of a lefty violin that would require a special case. This chin rest is mounted on the other side and shaped for the right side of the jaw, but I’ve not seen a case that would require a modification to accommodate that. I have a custom made lefty Gibson SG solid body guitar that does not require a special case either. Most solid body guitars come in cases that are rectangular shaped; so as to fit either handed guitars. The cases for f-style mandolins are another matter.

    One note about shoulder rests: the ones shaped for the left shoulder just don’t cut it. It needs to be symmetrically shaped so that it can rest comfortably on either shoulder. I have a Wolf super flexible that works very well on the right shoulder.

    I have been looking longingly at the Gliga violins and may eventually get one.

  9. camelia13 Says:

    Hello Tom, and thank you for writing on our blog.

    Indeed, the shape of a left handed violin case is not different from the shape of a right handed violin case. What differs is the way you open it. As a right handed person, when you open the violin case, you expect that the violin is positioned with the neck on your left hand side, so you can easily take it out of the case with your left hand, which is the hand you hold the violin with while playing. Also, you expect to have the frog of the bow by your right side, and pick it up from the case with your right hand, because that’s the hand you handle the bow with (see the left picture below). Well, a left handed case should accommodate a left handed violin player, who holds the violin in his/her right hand, and handles the bow with his/her left hand. So, when you open a left handed violin case, the neck of the violin should be by your right side, and the frog of the bow should be by your left hand side (see the right picture below).

    Right Handed Violin Case Left Handed Violin Case
    Right Handed Violin Case Left Handed Violin Case

    This is the picture of a right handed violin, and I just flipped it horizontally in Photoshop, to illustrate my idea and support my point. I will try to find a picture of a real left handed violin case with a real left handed violin in it though.

    But this is the logical argumentation of a right handed person. How do you feel things should be, from a left handed person’s prospective? Does it make sense to you what I wrote?

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