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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Can a right-handed (normal) fiddle be played on the opposite shoulder?

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54093

pwkad - Posted - 09/28/2020:  07:53:44

I just got my first fiddle yesterday and have been just doing some basic start messing around with first fiddle tutorials. While I was playing I tried bowing with both my left and right hand and it came pretty naturally to hold the instrument on the wrong shoulder.

I play an electric bass guitar left handed and my fretting is pretty decent. Because of this, with my right hand I can basically do 5 notes pretty quickly on the first three strings without even practicing it. When I switch to fingering with my left hand I don't have any muscle memory yet so I cannot.

Also the strings are identical in orientation to my bass guitar (EADG) just different string sizes of course.

I'm sure a million people have asked about playing a left handed instrument but what about just playing a normal instrument on the opposite shoulder? Other than the chin guard being in the wrong spot is there any negatives?

Swing - Posted - 09/28/2020:  08:11:26

The answer is yes! There are a few champion fiddlers that play that way... also the late and famous Joe Holly played it leftest handed but with a right hand instrument.... the fiddle doesn't care which way and if you are more comfortable then all you have to do is learn tunes..

Play Happy


ChickenMan - Posted - 09/28/2020:  09:36:27

Cyril Stinnett did it too. Some old timers call it "playing over the bass" because the high strings are on 'top.'

TuneWeaver - Posted - 09/28/2020:  11:18:30

youtube.com/watch?v=4zlL4tx_g-M   This is Dave Langdon from Michigan.. Regular fiddle played on the right shoulder.. His e string is on the top, g on the bottom.. Regular fiddle..  

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/28/2020 11:24:33

captainhook - Posted - 09/28/2020:  14:09:00

That's how I've done it for over 33 years (varying opinions on how well). I can play with either stringing but see no advantage to backward setup. If I played in high positions, maybe, but I don't.

pwkad - Posted - 09/28/2020:  14:30:08

Thanks everyone that is really good to hear!

I think with other instruments when I've asked similar questions the answer is always "no learn right handed" or something so it's nice that the fiddling community is not so rigid.

The only problem is the chin guard is not in an ideal location - I need to research how difficult it is to move the chinguard. I looked and saw some metal under where it clamps on so I assume it is not like a shoulder rest that can be moved so easily...

farmerjones - Posted - 09/28/2020:  15:44:08

Patrick, being fresh to the bass myself, the fattest string on a fiddle is the G. Where as the fattest on a bass is the E. But you prolly figured that out by now, lefty or righty, notwithstanding..

NFN, ima lefty playing righty, but my buddy Dwight "Red" Lamb, plays a righty fiddle, lefty. It's all good!

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/28/2020:  15:58:19

Chin rest can be removed via the clamp that is holding it on. There are holes in the tube running to to bottom. Use a heavy paperclip end to turn the tubes sort of like you'd use a wrench, turn pull it out and there will be another hole, it will open or tighten depending on the direction of turn. It also might be stuck a little to the top if it is old.

Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/28/2020 16:14:20

soppinthegravy - Posted - 09/28/2020:  23:58:04

Charlie Acuff and Bill Birchfield both played left-handed on right-handed fiddles with the strings in the standard order, so they were playing "over bass".

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 09/29/2020:  05:17:23

I have seen it done. So yeah..... it may or may not add a level of difficulty. But I certainly would not and will never know. Play daily , tune her when you pick her up ... she is a jealous mistress.

captainhook - Posted - 09/29/2020:  14:29:03


Originally posted by soppinthegravy

Charlie Acuff and Bill Birchfield both played left-handed on right-handed fiddles with the strings in the standard order, so they were playing "over bass".

In later years Bill played a fiddle I made along with one he made. I once heard him tell somebody, who was playing the normal way, that they were doing it the hard way. I can do it both ways (lefty only because I lack a left hand) but find over the bass to be a little easier. But the argument will never be settled.

pwkad - Posted - 09/30/2020:  08:22:27

Thank you everyone for your personal responses - I really appreciate the information. Everyone here seems very welcoming so I hope (for mine, my family, and everyone heres sake) to continue on learning the art of the fiddle.

Maybe once I can stop making a noise like a screaming cat thrown at a chalkboard, I'll try to post a video or something for progress.

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