Left-Handed Mandolins: Sinister Statistics

Here's a strange piece of statistic – nearly a full 10 percent of the American population is left-handed, but only 1 percent of mandolins are. The left handed mandolin is not a very popular instrument. In this right-hand dominant world, it wasn't even considered a necessity until relatively a short time ago. Now, however, the concept is catching on, and more and more manufacturers are realizing that there is indeed a viable market for Southpaw instruments.

Left-Handedness: Normal Is What You Make Of It

Left-handedness is neither an affliction that needs to be cured, nor a defect that needs to be rectified. The days are long gone when children's left hands used to be tied behind their backs the moment they showed any signs of being left-handed. Gone too are the negative connotations of the 'sinister' side. The educated masses are now coming to terms with left-handedness or even ambidexterity as a normal variation in brain functionality. And that's a blessing for anyone who wants to learn to play the left-handed mandolin.

Left-Handed Mandolins: Left Versus Right

The lefty, or southpaw mandolin, as it is affectionately called, is essentially a mirror-image version of a regular right-handed instrument. However, there are some notable differences when buying an instrument, if not in the instrument design itself. For example, a lefty mandolin will normally be more expensive than a 'righty' one. This is because of economy of scale, which makes righty mandolins cheaper to produce. It may also be more difficult to find a good store that carries a decent range of left-handed mandolins.

Learning Tools For Left-Handed Mandolin Players

Books on left handed techniques are best written by lefty mandolin players. Obviously, they will be in the best position to comment on such techniques for the beginner and the exponent. If you're looking for something to go along with a new mandolin, you can consider the Left-hand Mandolin Starter Pack from Eaglemusicshop dot com. It's affordable at $109.99, and it comes with a left handed flat-back mandolin with a spruce top. The instrument is made in Romania, hand-crafted and finished in satin lacquer. It comes with spare strings and 2 plectrums, a gig bag, accessory pouch, double shoulder straps and a clip-on electronic tuner with metronome and tone generator. It also comes with other crucial essentials – Mel Bay's "First Lessons Mandolin Book" and CD.

Where To Buy A Basic Left-Handed Mandolin

Here are some great resources for buying a new left-handed mandolin. All mandolin makes now have a range of Southpaw mandolins at different price bands. Kentucky, Morgan Monroe, Rover, Johnson and Gold Tone are just some of the companies that carry great mandolins for the sinistral minstrel. The most basic types are the 8-string F-model or A-model mandolins. These are available for under $300 and will serve you well in your learning years. For example, there's a Kentucky KM – 150 that comes as part of a beginner's package for $289.95. You can later move on to professional models once you start playing gigs on a regular basis. Nearly all manufacturers have a basic model or two in the same price range; go with your gut and pick the one that suits you best. Make sure to try it out at a music store to check if it feels comfortable before you buy one online – a touch is worth a thousand pictures.

Where To Buy Professional Left-Handed Mandolins

For the more seasoned professional left-handed mandolin player, there are acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric mandolins in the 'over $1000' price band. These are often hand-crafted works of art and will be the perfect adornment on stage. They also come with hand-made straps that can be customized, as can the instruments themselves. A Kentucky KM -1000 lists at around $2000, but you can pick up a nearly-new one from folkmusician dot com for less than $1300 with free shipping. Another great mandolin is the Michael Kelly Legacy Dragonfly that lists at $1350 online.

No matter what brand of left-handed mandolin you finally go with, you can be sure that the choice of models will only increase when you're ready to make your next purchase. In fact, you're promoting the cause of Southpaws just by buying one.