What Is a Left-Handed Banjo?

A left-handed banjo is one that is designed to be played a musician who is left-handed. Because of the inherent difficulties of playing the banjo well, these acoustic stringed instruments frequently require customization for “lefties.” Left-handed versions of other stringed instruments, such as guitars, are also available. While some virtuoso musicians can play a traditional right-handed stringed instrument with their left hand, the majority of left-handed musicians prefer these specialty models.

The construction of a left-handed banjo differs from that of a traditional right-handed banjo. All of the controls for the banjo must be placed differently because the instrument will be held in the opposite direction. The placement of pegs and strings, as well as other design elements, has been reversed.

The intense speed that is often required for this instrument is one of the ways that left-handed banjo models help musicians who are left-handed. Fast picking, in which the musician creates a long, quick series of musical notes that tend to blend together, is a common feature of banjo performances. Many people who have only heard the banjo a few times will recognize the sound produced this style.

Left-handed musicians can use the left-handed banjo to play in the “claw-hammer” style or other unconventional picking patterns. When playing with a claw hammer, the musician holds the hand in a “claw” position and keeps the fingers stiff, relying more on the wrist to strike notes. In other challenging styles of play, many banjo players may use a series of small plastic “nails” to pick the banjo strings more precisely and create a different sound for this instrument. Without a left-handed banjo, this can be difficult for a left-handed player.

Left-handed banjos are available in a variety of styles. Some are bass banjos with a lower register, while others are tenor banjos with a higher register. Banjos are also available with various string counts. Some guitars have only four strings, while others have a fifth string that begins higher on the fretboard. Some banjos have six strings, allowing for even more sound to be produced at the same time.

Left-handed banjo buyers frequently look for the same characteristics as regular banjo buyers. One of these is the quality of the banjo’s materials. The banjo head should be made of a durable, well-installed material that allows sound to vibrate within the metal rounded head area. The stock should be made of high-quality wood, with metal pieces for frets, pegs, and other accessories. Banjos are complex instruments in general, and due to the high level of craftsmanship required to produce high-quality models, they can be quite costly.