Since most drummers are right-handed, they frequently arrange their drum sets similarly. Most drummers have a small issue adjusting to the slight variations while switching between kits. For left-handed drummers, this is not necessarily the case, however!
A few lefties play the drums because roughly 10% of the population is left-handed. However, there may be more left-handed drummers than you realize. It is just that they do not all only use left-handed drum setups.
Unfortunately, left-handed drummers’ lives are a little more complicated. We will tell you all about the reasons why and what is good and bad about playing the drums with your left hand. We will also offer some guidance for drummers who play the left hand.
Differences Between Right and Left-Handed Drumming
The fact that the settings of the drum kits are mirror images of one another is the primary distinction between right- and left-handed drumming. This implies that the drum kit’s components are all switched around, as shown in the image above.
The snare drum is positioned on the right side rather than the left. The floor tom, ride cymbal, and hi-hat all fit within this category. The rack toms are also reversed in most left-handed drum sets.
Left-handed drummers typically use their left hand to lead patterns rather than their right. This is much simpler because the drum set is configured expressly for their dominant left hand. For instance, they will frequently begin rudiments with their left hand, unlike most drummers who begin with their right.
It is uncommon to witness a left-handed drummer playing on a mirrored kit because most drummers use right-hand configurations. However, to understand how convenient a mirrored configuration might be for a left-handed person put yourself in their position.
They do not have to buy any more tools. Both sorts of dominant hands can use most drums and drum accessories. However, if they perform on a mirrored configuration, a left-handed drummer might experience some difficulties with a double kick pedal.
They would have to ensure the pedal can be set up in reverse. Left-handed drummers need to be aware that some pedals cannot.
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Benefits of Left-Handed Drum Setups
The most significant advantage of using a left-handed drum setup is that anyone who exclusively utilizes their left hand will find it comfortable. For drummers with dominant left hands, having the hi-hat on the right side of the kit will make playing easier. This is because your dominant hand usually spends the most time on the hi-hat while drumming.
The kick pedal is comparable in this regard. Lefties typically have a dominant left foot as well; thus, when the bass drum is to their left, they can apply more force to their strokes.
However, this is not a set rule. Every drummer is different; some have a dominant left hand and right foot. That said, a left-handed individual will always find it simpler to play the drums from right to left, especially when first learning.
Downsides of Left-Handed Drum Setups
The main disadvantage of playing the drums with your left hand is that most drummers use right-handed setups. A left-handed drummer who used to play a mirrored configuration would always find it challenging to play on other drummers’ drum sets.
Imagine a drummer turning up to a jam session and interrupting the performance for five minutes to rearrange all the drums. Left-handed drummers frequently have this issue. The same thing occurs if a teacher has one drum set in the classroom.
Thus, playing the drums with your left hand is ideal while using your own drum set, but it can be challenging when using another person.
The majority of drum training materials teach as though the student is right-handed, which is another drawback. Lefties continuously have to reverse the sticking around before picking up play patterns.
This is a complex undertaking when they initially begin learning to play the drums, but they eventually become pretty adept at it.
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Is Playing Open-Handed a Better Alternative for Left-Handed Drummers?
People are frequently deterred from playing on left-handed drum setups by their disadvantages. Lefties frequently like open-handed drumming as another style of play. Instead of crossing his arms over one another to play the hi-hat and snare, a drummer opens his arms in this manner.
With open-handed drumming, the goal is to achieve the best of both worlds. Your left hand, which is your dominant hand, may lead on the hi-hat, and you will not have any trouble performing on other drummers’ right-handed setups.
One of the best things about open-handed drumming is the capacity to play a few rhythms that would be considerably more difficult to perform if your arms were crossed over each other. Since you will not need to try to get your snare drum arm underneath your hi-hat arm to play the toms, you can do so more quickly when playing in grooves.
The drawback of open-handed playing is that a lefty might not be using their dominant foot to play the bass drum.
Advice for Left-Handed Drummers
In life, many items are not made with left-handed individuals in mind. Lefties are pretty used to making the best possible adjustments to situations. However, if you are a left-handed drummer, you should not be discouraged from playing as you like.
You should stick to playing on a mirrored kit if that is how you feel most comfortable when playing the drums. You will perform at your best and feel most comfortable. Your playing will be better the more at ease you are at the drum kit. After determining which setup will make them feel the most comfortable, a drummer should select that configuration.
You must know that playing on someone else’s drum setup will always be difficult. You should learn to play right-handed or open-handed if you wish to jam on any setup freely.
If you are a left-handed beginner drummer, you should attempt playing a few authentic beats in each arrangement. You may discover that playing right-handed seems initially comparable to playing left-handed. Then, it would be pretty advantageous to continue your education with a right-handed configuration.
Everyone agrees that the most excellent option for lefties is open-handed drumming. Undoubtedly, more drummers use open-handed setups than left-handed ones. You can readily adapt to any drum arrangement if you play with both hands open. Additionally, you can perform some patterns that other drummers cannot.
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Popular Drummers Who Play Left-Handed
When a drummer has a different setup than you, it might be challenging to relate to them. When professional drummers play with a matching grip, beginning drummers frequently become a little perplexed. Consider how left-handed people must feel as they observe most drummers using right-handed sets.
Some skilled left-handed drummers have played in some of the largest venues in the world for years, as any lefty out there should be aware.
The most well-known of these is perhaps Phil Collins. Due to back problems, he does not play as frequently as he once did, although, throughout his time playing drums with Genesis, he always used a left-handed drum setup.
Ian Paice was a well-known drummer from that era who used a left-handed drum kit. He served as Deep Purple’s drummer.
Many left-handed drummers of today choose open-handed playing. Among the prominent individuals are Billy Cobham, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Simon Phillips. All of these drummers use right-handed setups, yet they all keep their hands free to use for left-handed leading.
Teaching Left-Handed Drummers
Left-handedness frequently causes problems for both drum instructors and students. If your classroom has one kit, you must rearrange it to accommodate your left-handed learner. Then, teaching becomes a bit more complicated since you have to approach patterns backward.
Making left-handed students play on a right-handed set is common among drum instructors. Even though it can sound a little unfair, most inexperienced drummers feel uncomfortable with the kit regardless of whether their hand is dominant. As a result, left-handed beginners usually adjust just as quickly as right-handed beginners.
You could instruct a kid to play open-handed if you notice that he is having trouble adjusting to a right-handed setup.
However, you should exercise caution and keep the student’s best interests in mind at all times when you are teaching.
Should you learn to play left-handed?
Playing a drum set with your left hand can feel more natural if you are left-handed.
One of the drawbacks is the difficulty of sharing a drum kit in jam sessions or on stage with other bands. As you view educational videos, you can also have problems locating an instructor or feeling lost.
Fortunately, since you are left-handed, no special drum kit is required. The same drum kit can be configured differently to accommodate a left- or right-handed musician. However, the kit will be facing the other direction (mirrored).
The single exception to this rule is a double pedal, which is a) not required to be used, b) only appropriate for intermediate drummers, and c) offers an easy workaround due to the market’s recent introduction of reversible double pedals.
Regarding learning, most instructional resources (such as drills and paradiddles) begin each exercise with both hands. This is so that drummers can become ambidextrous and achieve equal agility and proficiency in playing and leading with both hands.
Playing the drums with your left hand is acceptable if you can handle the repercussions. If you can switch to playing right-handed, this might be a better option in the long run.
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Being a left-handed drummer can occasionally feel like swimming against the current. However, in the big picture, you should be all right no matter what you decide.