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Thread: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

  1. #1

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    Default Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    First post. Apologies if this in the wrong forum.

    Just started playing this year. Currently taking lessons. It's been rough.

    I'm a lefty. I play righty. My gut instinct is to play crossed or even open. I am left foot dominant but strangely feel more comfortable playing kick with my right foot. I can do basic stuff and keep time reasonably well.

    My issue is what feels like a complete inability to lead with my right hand. I can move left easily but the only thing over there is the hat. Having an uncoordinated right arm over most of the kit feels horrible and I'm intimidated. My instructor says to play how I feel most comfortable. The problem is I feel comfortable on both sides but for different reasons ( obviously playing on a left handed kit I have laterality ) I'm not sure how viable leading with the left is on a right handed kit either.

    Having said this Im tempted to stick to playing righty as I can play the hat fine, my instinct foot is on the kick, and my left hand is strong on the backbeat when playing crossed. That's at least a solid foundation.

    Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

    I'm also 36, so I'm not so sure how much my right arm can learn at least in terms of its ability to react instinctively.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I'm a lefty. Been playing righty since I started.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    If you've been playing for a while, I wouldn't suggest changing your set up. But since you started playing this year, I would play with your set up. Welcome to Drumchat!!
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  4. #4

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I would keep the lefty kit set up and lead with your left and maybe you don't need to "cross stick" on the hats, but play open when the opportunity arises. My feeling is the faster, stronger stick should be the lead for so many rhythmic reasons.
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  5. #5

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Since you're not 100% comfortable anyway, now is a good time to switch to something that makes sense. We got into this to have fun so why make it more complicated for yourself. I agree with your instructor. Play the way you feel most comfortable. Don't worry about the switch setting you back. I've switched many things in my life and we have an amazing ability to adapt. It's not as bad as you think.

    Good luck with your decision and welcome to DrumChat!
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    "I've switched many things in my life and we have an amazing ability to adapt. It's not as bad as you think."


    I've switched wives in my life. Had no ability to adapt, and it was worse than I thought.

    As for the drums. Play whatever is the most comfortable for you.

    I play righty because that's all I ever saw as a 10 year old kid and I just figured that was how they had to be set up.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Your left foot and hand dominant already, right? That means your left extremities are more coordinated than your right side limbs. I'd stay with a left hand set-up for 3 reasons. One is that's your dominant side from birth, so your going to be better coordinated from that side. Two, there aren't a lot of left handed drummers out there and you would be unique in that respect. Three, unless their left handed, you won't have any issues with people wanting to play your drums. But by the same token, if you have to one day play a house set, odds are it's a right hand set-up. So I say, set up lefty and learn to play open handed as well as cross sticking lefty. Your body will adapt over time. It's all muscle memory.
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  8. #8

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    try both and stick with what ever feels best, set your kit up how you like, check Abe Laborial Jr's recent setup, for me his Rack tom is in the wrong place but it works for him.

    cheers Mark
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  9. #9

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I'm a lefty and I play both directions. But I'm primarily a Right Handed setup drummer.

    But I do have a full lefty uncle and one of my kits setup left handed that I play.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Playing drums is all about coordination and limb independence. You have to learn it no matter if you are right or left handed. It takes a lot of practice in any case.

    I'd say play righty unless you really can't work that way.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Thanks for the responses. I'm going to stick with playing right handed. It will be a challenge. The only thing that feels comfortable playing left handed is the laterality / leading with my left. In the end if I can learn to lead with my right I'll be a better player for it.

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Firstly, don't think your age is important. I played as a teen, 13 year gap, took it back up at 32. The only thing is that now, I have less time than as a teen, but I practice more and I practice A LOT more intelligently. Maybe your time situation is the same.

    As has already been mentioned, you should play what is comfortable for you. Also, as has been mentioned, drums is about coordination. One thing you should make sure of is you work a lot on things that don't have a dominant hand (e.g. rudiments, stick control). It'll help you balance out some of your issues.
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  13. #13

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    If I were you, I would play right footed while open handed. Sounds like this is what fits you best from your description.

  14. #14

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I gotta be honest. I'm most comfortable playing crossed right handed. My only issue is if I go up to the first rack tom leading with my right and then cascade right to the next rack tom. It's like I can't even do it. If I cascade to the left leading with left even without practice I can do it instinctively.

    I may just play with one rack tom and have a floor tom on each side. It's confusing especially as a novice when you attempt to play a basic fill and realize that it's almost mandatory that you lead with you right and then further realizing that most of the music I listened to for the past 20+ years involves drum patterns that are right hand lead.

    I do feel comfortable playing open handed as well so I'll work on both. I was pretty bent out of shape about this " affliction " of almost being a natural right handed drummer save for the lead hand laterality issue but I've just decided that it may take a few years to develop.

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I'm in agreement with Wolvie56 on this one - if you left is your more developed side you should play lefty. Ignore the 'right hand lead patterns' as this is irrelevant if your kit is set up bassackwards in true lefty style - just read left as right and vice versa when reading through music sheets/rudiments/teaching programs and it will work just as well. Think of it as playing as a mirror image (that probably makes no sense whatsoever).

    As a lefty myself the only drawbacks are:-

    If you are playing anywhere with a shared or provided kit you will have to swap everything over to the opposite side.

    If you want to buy a double pedal there is little choice available - and you are unlikely to find one discounted.

    I believe if set up your kit for left handed play you will quickly adjust and it will feel more natural. Why make life more difficult for yourself?
    Last edited by crispycritters; 10-30-2014 at 10:50 PM. Reason: Wrong Name entered

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Hey, there's nothing wrong with having a tom off to the left of your hats. Several of us here on the forum do it:






    Here's a pic of Dodeska's drums:


  17. #17

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Awesome. Thanks for the picks. Yes I'm technically left foot dominant but prefer playing kick with the right foot. It's more coordinated for some reason. Playing kick left footed feels terrible.

    I've tried playing left handed for a month. The only aspect that felt better was the laterality.
    Having the hats to the right was awful. I also couldn't separate my left and right foot to do stuff independently, something I could do from the first day I sat down on a kit earlier this year.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Play right handed. It seems to be the way you are headed anyway.

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    1ercru, welcome! Another newbie here. It didn't even occur to me until I read your posts that I also seem to play left side dominant but with my right foot on the kick. I hit the hi-hats with my right hand and snare with my left hand - is this what is referred to in this thread as "crossed?" It just seems instinctive. It never even occurred to me to try it any other way.

  20. #20

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I'm a lefty as well. When I first started playing drums, 2 years ago, I initially tried setting the kit up right handed. It just didn't feel natural. Like you, my left hand wanted to lead on tom rolls. So I switched the kit around to lefty, and it felt much better. So I kept it lefty. Now, when I sit down behind a righty kit, my hands are ok, but my feet are all screwed up!

  21. #21

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Quote Originally Posted by BeatMonster View Post
    1ercru, welcome! Another newbie here. It didn't even occur to me until I read your posts that I also seem to play left side dominant but with my right foot on the kick. I hit the hi-hats with my right hand and snare with my left hand - is this what is referred to in this thread as "crossed?" It just seems instinctive. It never even occurred to me to try it any other way.
    Yes, that's crossed, although you could set your kit with the HH on the right side, floor tom on the left (and so on) play the HH with your left hand, bd left foot, snare right hand and that would also be "crossed"
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  22. #22

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I once read that Simon Phillips has mastered playing either right or left handed even though his kits are set up right handed.

    I know he rides a lot with his left and plays open handed on the hats. Seems like that would be the ultimate in flexibility.

    Learn both and you'll be ahead of many current drummers.
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  23. #23

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Ringo is a lefty who plays righty. He once said that the reason some of his fills sound different than you'd expect is that he has a strong tendency to lead with his left hand.
    Life's too short to play the same solo twice. Improvise!

  24. #24

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    I've heard that some left handed drummers play right hand lead (as mentioned above - Ringo). I wonder if this is because the older style drums had rail style tom mounts which could not be moved to the opposite side of the bass drum - effectively forcing them to play right handed?

    I've know some drummers are ambidextrous on drums - but this is only achieved with years of practice (but they still have their drums set up in the traditional right hand lead fashion). Has anyone ever heard of a right handed drummer playing with the kit set up lefty as it feels better for them? I wonder if some drum teachers just can't be bothered to rearrange their tuition kits and hope that any left handed students they have will adjust to the standard set up.

    I'm probably just a cynical, cranky old lefty - but has anyone ever tried to drive their car with their arms and legs crossed?

  25. #25

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    Default Re: Total Novie ( advice ) lefty playing righty

    Quote Originally Posted by crispycritters View Post
    I've heard that some left handed drummers play right hand lead (as mentioned above - Ringo). I wonder if this is because the older style drums had rail style tom mounts which could not be moved to the opposite side of the bass drum - effectively forcing them to play right handed?

    I've know some drummers are ambidextrous on drums - but this is only achieved with years of practice (but they still have their drums set up in the traditional right hand lead fashion). Has anyone ever heard of a right handed drummer playing with the kit set up lefty as it feels better for them? I wonder if some drum teachers just can't be bothered to rearrange their tuition kits and hope that any left handed students they have will adjust to the standard set up.
    That's probably why crispy, re the tom mounting system.

    I've seen some right handed drummers play 'open' with their right hand...I don't know, i mean I prefer the ride over the HH, not just because of sound but also comfort, so I kinda get it. However, I always got the feeling these drummers were doing it more for visual impact/showing off. If I were a teacher, I would just take down 1 high tom and quickly switch the set up, some teachers have students right after each other so it's not fair to the other students if 5min of the lesson is rearranging things. On an ekit, this would take even longer, so I wouldn't say it's just laziness.

    Anyway, its pretty good practice to play right as a lefty, and unless you're a freak like me and enjoy practicing rudiments and technique a lot, it's pretty easy to have quite a gap between weak and strong hands, being a lefty pushes you a bit to develop your weak hand more imo...
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