Knowing how to choose your first left handed ukulele can be quite a daunting task. But it needn’t be! I’ve put together this quick guide which explains the various different sizes of ukes available, and lists a few affordable choices for new players. You can be playing your new left handed ukulele tomorrow!
If ukulele is going to be your very first stringed instrument, and you’ve landed on this page wondering if you should be playing right or left handed ukulele – read this article first.
If at the end you still have questions, leave a comment at the bottom of the page!
Do I Need a Left Handed Ukulele?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to southpaw ukuleles:
1. Get a right handed uke and flip it over – but don’t restring!
The big advantage to this is that you will be able to play any uke, wherever you are. The downside is that you’ll need to learn the chords upside down. However, as there are fewer strings, this isn’t a hugely daunting task.
2. String a righty for left handed play, or just get a lefty.
Ukes are fairly simple instruments that are more often than not pretty much symmetrical in design. Check out the image below! Unlike on an acoustic guitar a ukulele saddle isn’t slanted, and the strings are all of a similar gauge. Perfect for flipping! The exceptions are models with a cutaway, or some fancier models which sometimes have bevels in the body for your forearm to sit on.
This means that unlike with a 6-string guitar, flipping a righty ukulele for left handed play generally will only involve reversing the strings. In some cases, if the strings aren’t sitting snuggly, you may need to also flip the nut. On most ukes, the nut is held in place by string tension, so you should be able to remove it and flip it over by simply loosening the strings.
The benefit here is that learning chords will be easier. Watching ukulele lesson videos is made simple by the fact that the instructor will mirror you on-screen. However, you won’t be able to walk into a store and test out other ukuleles without a quick restring.
Finding a left handed beginner ukulele is not an easy thing to do – talk about a niche within a niche within a niche! So for that reason, when starting out I always recommend grabbing a right handed model and restringing it. It’ll be perfect while you’re learning , and if you decide to upgrade later on that’s when you can order a bona fide lefty from a respected brand.
What Size of Ukulele Do I Need?
There are four main sizes to choose from. In order from smallest to largest you have:
Soprano > Concert > Tenor > Baritone
The Soprano is the smallest instrument at around 21 inches in total length. This is the size that most people will associate the ukulele with, as it makes that typical classic ukulele sound. Because of its smaller size, it is perfect for travelling with.
The Concert is a little bit bigger at 23 inches, which makes it a little less cramped than the Soprano above. It also produces that classic ukulele sound, but is a bit louder than the smaller Soprano.
Even bigger again is the Tenor at 26 inches. At this size, the Tenor begins to sound a little less Uke-like and a little deeper, like a classical guitar. It is generally favored by professional players.
Lastly, we have the Baritone at 30 inches. Its larger size and different tuning makes it sound closer to a classical guitar than a ukulele.
Best Beginner Left Handed Ukulele
As I’ve already mentioned above, when starting out it’s going to be a lot easier to restring a right handed ukulele upside down, rather than hunting to the ends of the Earth for a lefty. Save yourself a lot of hassle now, and you can upgrade to a bona fide lefty later on once you know exactly what style of uke you need.
When starting out with ukulele you are probably going to want to opt for one of the two smallest sizes – Soprano or Concert. I’ve listed a few great, affordable choices below which you can pick up today using the links supplied. Any of these instruments will make for a great introduction to ukulele.
Kala KA-15S – Most Popular Choice
The Kala KA-15S is the world’s best selling beginner ukulele, and is my top choice for those who don’t want to empty their wallets from the get go. Grab one of these affordable gems, spend 2 minutes restringing it for left handed play and you’ll have yourself one seriously fantastic little instrument. Job done!
The Soprano sized KA-15S is from Kala’s flagship collection and features a stunning satin mahogany body and neck, combined with a quality rosewood fingerboard. Other premium features include a GraphTech NuBone nut and quality Aquila Nylgut strings.
Different colors and wood combinations of the KA-15S are also available, so be sure to check the link above to see what is currently available.
The models below have dot inlays on both sides of the fingerboard to allow them to be played left, or right handed. A nice bonus here is that if you ever decide to upgrade, you can always donate these to friends or family – regardless of their dexterity. These are a great option for players on a tight budget who alsos love a bit of color!
If you’d like to purchase a separate tuner, I recommend the Snark SN-6X for Ukulele clip-on headstock tuner.
How To Tune Your Left Handed Ukulele
Standard tuning on a ukulele is G-C-E-A (from top to bottom). For extra clarity, check out the image below which shows tuning on a lefty uke.
Left Handed Ukulele Lessons
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the site, lefties generally have an easier time learning from right handed teachers. For this reason there is nothing stopping you from using one of the many free lessons on sites such as Youtube.
However, if you want to make sure you are starting off on the right path, there is a great book from Hal Leonard for beginner lefty players which you can check out here.
More Expensive Options
If you’re looking to spend a little more cash, here are a few brands which will happily supply a southpaw uke. Leave a comment below if I have missed anyone.
Hopefully if you’ve made it this far you’ve managed to find your perfect left handed ukulele. Good luck, and have fun!