First post...input on determining lefty or righty setup?

cajun voyage

Junior Member
Hi everyone,

I’m a 48 yr old drumming newbie and this is my first post. I have no formal music training of any kind and prior to four months ago I had never held a drum stick in my life.

It started with me picking up a used CB Education snare kit at a local pawn shop about four months ago for my 7 yr old son and the interest has grown pretty quickly for both of us. He now really enjoys his Saturday 30 minute drum lesson at a local music academy I signed him up for and I find myself sitting in the back of the room listening to the instructors every word also.

I’m in the middle of piecing together a simple, but decent quality acoustic kit and I just got an Alesis Command electronic kit that my son and I both practice on now.

Here’s my situation. I am what most people would call left-handed, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

I write left-handed, play tennis left-handed and punt/kick a football with my left foot. Also, holding a guitar left-handed seems natural, although I haven’t started getting into that instrument yet.

I bat right-handed, play golf right-handed and naturally tap to the beat of a song with my right foot.

As far as tapping or snapping to the beat of a song with my hands, well I seem to be able to use either hand equally well.

I’m very much a beginner so I am practicing very simple beats and fills like you would find on beginners Drumeo YouTube videos.

I started with my electronic kit setup for a righty and played cross-handed…right on hi-hat, left on snare, floor bass with right foot. This seemed to work fine until I accidentally crossed myself up and found my left hand on the hi-hat and right hand on the snare. I tried this for a few weeks and it seemed very comfortable to play also. After a little research online I learned what cross-handed and open-handed styles are and I seem to have the same ability either way…or so it seems right now. I think I’m playing such simple beats that it may not matter at my skill level, I dunno.

For the heck of it, I switched up my kit to a lefty configuration and I seem to play that on the same level as the righty kit playing cross or open handed. Floor bass with my left foot, hi-hat on the right either open or cross-handed…they all kind of feel natural and I can maintain a simple beat for as long as I want playing many different ways. I am now at the point where I’m starting to confuse the hell out of myself and I’m not sure what I should be doing.

To sum it up, are there any simple skill tests or drills for determining which hand/foot would be naturally dominate for the different responsibilities on a drum kit? At this point I’m not sure how I should be practicing and it’s a little frustrating.

Any input is appreciated…
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
the only test is for you to try both ways, since so many things you do are mixed, and see which one seems more comfortable, or you learn skills faster one way or the other. Obviously there is no wrong way. You can even set up righty and play a left handed ride and left hihat, called open. have fun.
 

newoldie

Silver Member
When I started taking lessons at a young age, my drum teacher suggested I play lefty set up since I was lefty and my left foot was naturally stronger.

I probably could have learned with the drumset either way. My right hi-hat foot is getting stronger all the time, I'm sure it would have sufficed to be the primary bass drum foot as well.
For the last couple of years I've been trying to play open handed, and also reverse the ride to my right hand stick/cymbal for "cross-training" in the sticking exercises to increase versatility. That's not easy, a challenge most of the time.

So, if you are comfortable, it might be easier to continue on with a righty drum setup. You can always switch back if it isn't but 2 advantages are:

1) Most drum setups are righty, whether in a store, or on backline gigs, jams, etc.- so playing righty is advantageous.
2) Most drumset instruction books and charts are written for righty.
Playing lefty requires switching the sticking around mentally or writing it that way, a bit of a nuisance!

So at least from my experience, learning righty would seem a more convenient, universal way to continue reading, learning and utilizing the drumset in many situations.
 
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GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Interesting you are probably left handed and convention was trying to force you to be right handed hence the mix. My best friend growing up was the same way shoot a shotgun and play golf right handed but wrote left hand and played soccer left footed. It's hand, foot, eyes and ears we find dominance and they can be mixed though generally one sided. If you reflexively stomped on something is it left or right foot? You have the same dexterity with kick and hi hats? You could create a chimera of part right part left and play open handed. LOL. Try it all and see what works as GruntersDad suggest.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
There are no rules.

Whatever works for you.

There are some drummers that play right and left depending on the song, or the part, or their mood.
 

KEEF

Senior Member
As others have stated, the ability to play on backline kits set up 'righty' may be of benefit and if you have a level of ambidextrivity (ambidextrousness??) anyway and no preconceived ideas then I would learn to play open handed (ie left hand lead) on a right handed set up.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I have a friend who is left handed and played a left-handed setup.

However, like everyone said backlines and most everything is setup right-handed, so it caused lots of issues for him at gigs and stuff. He eventually decided to re-teach himself to play right-footed and open handed.

I think it all depends on what your end goal is. If you want to play gigs eventually, it might be good (no matter how your hands go) to learn on a more standard drum setup. If all you want to do is play in your basement/garage, then it probably doesn't matter as much.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
There certainly are no rules.

The main reason to play righty is the shared kit situation.

It doesn't stop there, though.

You can play open handed, good idea to practice a bit anyway to even things out.

Depending on ambition many of us sort of play both. I've done enough independence and coordination work to where there certainly is a bit of diference in the conditioning of my left hand, but I can do righty, lefty open or crossed in both. It's a bit extreme though if that means developing abilities you don't want or need.

I'd probably focus on one thing first and concentrate on the musical side of things. With pad work you want to even things out.

There is a little devil in my ear, though, saying that if you work righty, with the natural ability you have as a lefty, push your right side to that level you have the opportunity to reach a unique level of balance.

It's all in what we get used to. I'm mainly a trad player, but having worked so much on my matched grip it too doesn't really matter. Slightly less conditioned and doesn't feel quite as much at home, but it's really not an issue going between the two.

So, I think it's really a bi more about ambitions, how much time you want to put in regularly and what type of music you want to play.

Since you're just starting out I certainly wouldn't advice doing stuff over the top that got you burned out and starting to lose the joy of playing music. We're all different, though.

What motivates us is different. What we enjoy about music is different.
 

cajun voyage

Junior Member
Thanks for the replies. I think I will move forward playing open handed on a right setup and see how that goes. Being able to walk up to another kit and just start playing would be nice. Growing up lefty wasn't much fun with everything being made for righties and I don't want to add my kit to the list of things I have to modify.
From what I've read, being able to play open-handed and possibly ambidextrous could be an advantage in the long run.



Thanks again.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
If I could start over, I’d definitely try to learn a more ambidextrous method. I suggest you consider setting up the kit in way that allows you to place the high-hat & ride on your left side, but the rest of the kit is “right handed”. This will allow you to play the hat & ride with your left hand, but fills & crashes are led by your right hand. A perk is that, once mastered, your arms rarely crossover each other while playing providing freer movement around the kit.

Lenny White is one of the first lefty drummers to arrange his kit in such a fashion:



Carter Beauford is another drummer who also did that (but with a much larger rig):



(geez that’s a huge image)
 

Durbs

Senior Member
Just to check - you don't mention if your son is a righty/lefty, but you're sharing the e-drums I assume?
If he's a righty, and you're ambidextrous, it would save you having to shift things when you're swapping over.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I am left-handed and right-footed, so I play open handed on a right-handed kit. The only differences are the ride is on the left, and the hats are low, and inch or so above the snare. Peace and goodwill.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
I agree that you have to experiment and see what feels right for you. One way will feel "natural" compared to the other. I'm right handed but play lefty since I'm very left footed, otherwise I'd play open handed. It is a pain to be a lefty at jams and shared kit events. I missed out on an audition once because the kit was triggered and mics were in place. The engineer said he couldn't (Actually wouldn't) unhook everything and re do it.
 

cajun voyage

Junior Member
Just to check - you don't mention if your son is a righty/lefty, but you're sharing the e-drums I assume?
If he's a righty, and you're ambidextrous, it would save you having to shift things when you're swapping over.

Well, since you brought that up...


Just to make things more interesting, my 7 yr old son seems to be in the same situation as me, just opposite. He writes and throws right-handed, but bats and and swings a golf club left-handed. He does kick with his right foot and seems to naturally follow a beat with his right foot too.


Funny thing happened tonight actually. We were practicing some very simple snare & bass beats and he started playing open handed on hi-hat by accident and then just kept going. I'm kind of hoping he sticks with open hand because it would make it easier for me to help him learn since that's the method I'm leaning towards right now.
 

cajun voyage

Junior Member
I am left-handed and right-footed, so I play open handed on a right-handed kit. The only differences are the ride is on the left, and the hats are low, and inch or so above the snare. Peace and goodwill.

This is exactly what I plan on doing moving forward. Thanks.
 

cajun voyage

Junior Member
Question about cymbal placement. I understand that the ride should be placed on the strong hand side of the kit and since I'm leaning towards playing open hand this would put the ride on the left side of the bass behind my snare somewhere. That's what many are suggesting and I understand why.


What about the placement of the crash? I'm a beginner and I'm learning that a common roll of the crash is the replace the hi-hat on the first beat of a new phrase (am I saying that correctly?). This is why it is placed close to the hi-hat I'm assuming.



So, should I leave the crash on the left side and place the ride near it and play both with my left hand?


Thanks.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Question about cymbal placement. I understand that the ride should be placed on the strong hand side of the kit and since I'm leaning towards playing open hand this would put the ride on the left side of the bass behind my snare somewhere. That's what many are suggesting and I understand why.


What about the placement of the crash? I'm a beginner and I'm learning that a common roll of the crash is the replace the hi-hat on the first beat of a new phrase (am I saying that correctly?). This is why it is placed close to the hi-hat I'm assuming.



So, should I leave the crash on the left side and place the ride near it and play both with my left hand?


Thanks.

If you've decided on playing purly open-handed that would be a way to start. You'll most likely want more cymbals over time, though. Another crash on the right is practical for the same reason as open-handed keeps your right hand free and several other reasons. For that same reason wouldn't be wrong to have your only crash on the right. There are no rules. I'd try both.


I understand you're just getting started, but I actually explain to even my youngest students that there are no rules. Set up and play any way that works, just understand the reality of playing in shared kit situations.

For me it's just fun and good exercise to play in any sort of way. I even do it out now as long as it doesn't hurt the music. It's a way of getting more out of gigs that are less demanding, but take most of your time. Not a new idea at all.
 
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