So, you’re a southpaw and you want to play the ukulele.
Great news, left-handed ukuleles are definitely a thing – and as the ukulele gets more popular and more lefties find themselves in the market for a uke to call their own, manufacturers are offering more ukuleles for left-handed players.
It’s true that you can often have a right-handed ukulele strung for a left-handed player, but there are a couple of reasons why this might not be the best choice.
First, a ukulele’s nut is designed to support each string and if you look at a ukulele, you’ll notice that strings come in different sizes so simply swapping might not be the best option.
- Best Left-Handed Ukulele Overall: Oscar Schmidt OU7T
- Best Left-Handed Concert Ukulele: Luna Acoustic Electric Concert Tattoo Lefty
- Best Left Handed Soprano Ukulele: Mahalo MK1PLTBK
- Best Left Handed Baritone Ukulele: Caramel CB500L
Second, it can be a little pricey to have a luthier re-string your ukulele for left-handed use. If you’ve got an expensive ukulele or a custom instrument, this option is probably going to make you happy even though you’ll have to make a small investment (and support your local music shop!).
At the same time, if you’re starting from scratch, you’re probably better off looking into left-handed ukes.
How We Choose the Best Left-Handed Ukuleles
There are a few important things to look for in a left-handed instrument.
First, we want to make sure that it’s actually designed for a lefty to play.
The good news is that if you’re shopping at a local guitar shop, you’re probably in great shape.
You can always have someone there show you the difference between a right-handed ukulele and a left-handed one if you’re not sure.
Next, we get into some other things that will make a huge difference when it comes to your playing enjoyment.
This is the most important feature to consider since loving the sound of your instrument means being inspired to pick it up and play as often as you can.
Many manufacturers offer clips of their instruments being played so you can hear the sound online before committing, and many reviews feature videos, too. If you search YouTube, you can usually find some good sound bytes, too!
Great news: Most left-handed ukuleles are of good if not great quality.
Mass producers who focus only on using the cheapest materials and the cheapest labor to make inexpensive ukuleles that are just “OK” aren’t motivated to spend the time and money it takes to produce left-handed instruments.
In our reviews, we get into things like materials, strings, frets, and tuners, plus we talk about cosmetic details that help make instruments more appealing.
Now is a good time to debunk the myth that only solid wood ukuleles are “good.” Laminates have gotten to the point where some sound absolutely wonderful, and in terms of durability and the ability to stand up to the elements, a laminate ukulele is going to serve you very well.
By all means, go invest in a solid Hawaiian koa wood ukulele if you can – nothing is finer than that. But for everyday bumming around, fun playing by yourself and with friends, and even playing gigs, there are quite a few laminate ukes that perform admirably.
Don’t get too hung up on strings. If a ukulele is great in every other respect and you prefer a different string brand, go for it!
Ukulele strings are generally pretty cheap, and swapping from bad strings to good ones is a great way to get the very best sound possible from your instrument.
Action is an indicator of the amount of effort required to press the strings and form chords. Too high, and you’re expending a lot of energy.
Too low, and you’re probably going to hear some annoying fret buzz.
The good news is that most manufacturers aim for the middle ground – and action is something that can be adjusted if you’re not happy with it right out of the box. It does matter, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.
Can you really afford to be picky, when you’re looking for a left-handed uke in a sea of instruments made with right-handed players in mind?
Kind of. We made an effort to find left-handed ukuleles in every size available. In case you’re brand new to the concept, here’s a quick rundown:
Soprano ukuleles are the smallest, highest pitched ukes out there, with the exception of pocket ukuleles.
These give you the classic island sound associated with Hawaiian music, and they’re normally cheapest.
- Total length: 21 inches
- Scale length: 13-14 inches
Concert is the next size up.
A concert ukulele sounds a touch deeper than a soprano, and it’s just a little bit bigger.
- Total length: 23 inches
- Scale length: 15-16 inches
Tenor ukuleles are next.
Just like Soprano and Concert ukuleles, they offer GCEA tuning, but their frets tend to be wider, and the fretboard is the roomiest of the three sizes.
The sound is rich and complex, and that’s one more reason why tenor ukes are gaining popularity.
- Total length: 26 inches
- Scale length: 17-18 inches
Baritone ukuleles or “Baris” are biggest.
They’re a whole different animal, partly because they’re tuned DGBE like the first four strings on a guitar.
The sound is amazing, and if you’re already into guitar, then it’s an easy swap over to the baritone uke.
Now, it’s possible to string and tune a baritone ukulele like any other size, but it’s outside the norm, at least for now.
- Total length: 30 inches
- Scale length: 19-20 inches
When it comes to the cost of left-handed vs. right-handed ukuleles, there are definite similarities.
You can find cheap ones under $50, moderately priced ones under $200, and a few professional ones at far higher prices.
We recommend choosing something that works for your budget and makes you happy in other ways, too.
Now that you know more about what to look for in a left-handed ukulele, here are the best options we could find on the market right now.
Keep in mind, we’re leaving out obvious superstars that cost hundreds!
This review was built with newer players in mind, and we want to make sure that our choices are pretty realistic for just about everyone.
Best Left-Handed Ukulele Overall: Oscar Schmidt OU7T
The Oscar Schmidt OU7T left-handed tenor ukulele delivers in terms of sound, appearance, and quality.
Gorgeous from every angle, it features spalted manto construction with a beautiful gloss finish, plus deluxe Grover tuning machines with ebony buttons.
The nut and saddle are made with synthetic bone, and the binding and rosette are of iridescent abalone. Aquila strings are included.
In terms of sound, this uke delivers everything we’ve come to expect from Oscar Schmidt: It’s clear and resonant, and there’s plenty of Island-inspired sweetness that makes you want to keep on playing.
While this instrument is priced higher than most entry-level options, it is designed to stand the test of time. With proper care, it’s likely to deliver a lifetime of enjoyment.
- Great tuners, stays in tune very well once the strings have settled in
- Beautiful appearance, great materials
- Sounds amazing
- Excellent quality for the price, built to last
- Glossy finish tends to pick up fingerprints
Best Left-Handed Concert Ukulele: Luna Acoustic Electric Concert Tattoo Lefty
If you prefer the sound and size of a concert ukulele, you’re probably going to love this one.
The Luna left hand acoustic electric ukulele features a mahogany top, back, and sides, and it’s finished in a natural satin that shows off the wood’s grain beautifully, along with a cool island-inspired tattoo design that lends a unique appearance.
It arrives pre-strung with Aquila strings and comes with a spare set of Aquila strings as well as a clip on tuner, a protective gig bag with a handy front pocket, and a polishing cloth.
This ukulele features a cutaway body, so you have easier access to the entire fretboard. A pickup and an onboard preamp are part of the package. It sounds as pretty as it looks, and it’s surprisingly affordable.
- Attractive, unique appearance
- Sounds amazing
- Comes with nice extras
- Electronics aren’t the best quality
Best Left Handed Soprano Ukulele: Mahalo MK1PLTBK
Simple, inexpensive, and basic! The Mahalo MK1PLTBK Kahiko Plus Series left handed soprano ukulele comes in transparent black or transparent purple. It features Aquila strings, a Graph Tech Nubone saddle and nut, and a handy carrying bag.
We were shocked to see that this fun little uke only got 3 stars on Amazon. When we dug a little deeper, we found out that most people were subtracting points because the strings go out of tune as they’re settling in. This is completely normal!
It would be nice if this instrument had fret position markers but other than that, it’s a decent choice. It’s our top pick for the best left handed ukulele for kids, as well as the cheapest left handed ukulele.
- Cheap, great for beginners
- Comes with some extras including a carry bag and nice Aquila strings
- Fun to play, no worries about ruining an expensive uke while camping, at the beach, etc.
- No fret position markers
- Frets might need to be filed, some reports of sharp edges
Best Left Handed Baritone Ukulele: Caramel CB500L
The left-handed Caramel acoustic/electric baritone is made with rosewood, which offers a dark, appealing color.
With a unique series of sound holes located on the upper edge of the top plus a pretty Hawaii-inspired botanical design, this beautiful ukulele has onboard electronics including a 3-band EQ and built-in tuner so you can play plugged in or acoustically.
An adjustable truss rod provides added support to the neck and comes with a wrench for adjustments if needed.
The fretboard and bridge are made with solid walnut, and the nut and saddle are of authentic buffalo bone. Unique body binding and nice fret position markers are part of the package.
Soundwise, this uke is amazing unplugged and plugged in, with plenty of richness and gorgeous sustain. It’s an amazing buy and with some TLC, it’s likely to provide you with years of playing enjoyment.
- Beautiful appearance, beautiful sound
- Affordable price
- Truss rod is a nice extra, particularly at this price range
- A little unusual for those who prefer a more traditional look (note, caramel makes a similar left-handed baritone ukulele with zebrawood and another one with acacia wood.)
- Electronics are OK, but not the very best
It can be tough to find a great left-handed ukulele! Remember, if you don’t find one that you like, you can always choose a standard ukulele and take it in to a guitar shop for left-handed setup.
Note that this won’t work with cutaway body styles since the cutaway needs to be positioned at the bottom of the instrument and reversing it won’t be helpful. Of course, you also have the option of learning to play like a right-handed person.
This is challenging, but it’s possible! We wish you the best of luck on your ukulele journey.