September 18, 2007

Guitars

A Reader wrote:


A few years ago, I decided to learn how to play guitar. I am a lefty. Luckily, I was able to find a guitar shop that special ordered me a left handed guitar. Being from the same home town as Jimi Hendrix, you'd think I would have had an easier time at it. I encountered a few sales clerks who told me I should just play right handed because its easier. Luckily, that is the only instance in which someone has tried to switch my handedness and I was required to defend my handedness. It would be an interesting experiment if a righty had to adapt to a left hand dominated world.

33 comments:

  1. I'm left-handed, too! However, there are a lot of things I do right-handed, and playing guitar is one of them. I wish I could advise you as to where you could find a left-handed guitar. But aside from asking Paul McCartney, I wouldn't know where to begin! If only I had his phone number...(I dial the phone right-handed)

    I like your blog! Keep up the good work...I'll keep reading.

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  2. I am left-handed, too. And when I wanted to learn how to play guitar a long time ago, I learned as a righty. (Actually, it began earlier than that, as I would air-guitar right-handed after seeing my favorite artists play that way. I did not understand the concept of playing the guitar left-handed, so I "learned" the motions from a righty's point of view.)

    Although I have always felt proud as a lefty, it was not difficult to play right-handed, because my left fingers are better at the detailed fingerings on the fretboard anyway.

    Besides, it's easier to interpret tablature, buy guitars, etc.

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  3. I know my brother is left-handed. He had the HARDEST time trying to learn how to play the guitar because he does everything with the right hand! I think in the end he learned to play left-handed, and then quit taking lessons!

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  4. I didn't have left-handed resources when I picked up the guitar, so I ended up learning right-handed. It makes picking impossible, but the control over the board I couldn't trade. And I can pick up any right-hand guitar and play naturally.

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  5. I find it extremely bothersome when someone tells me to learn to do something right handed. I couldn't if I tried. It's just too difficult. While I have learned to adapt, I have never done anything with my right hand.

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  6. My grandmother was left-handed. She taught me to do several things and despite being right-handed, my husband has caught me doing lots of things left-handed and I had never noticed it before! For example, I shoot guns and play pool like a lefty. Nothing wrong with being a lefty! Some of the most talented artists are lefties. Good luck with that guitar! Who knows, you may just be the next Hendrix!!!

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  7. I'm left handed, but always found it easier to play guitar right handed. I've played classical guitar for 7 years in the normal manner; I've tried it with the left (Jimi style) and it felt horrible. Strange, it's the only thing I do right handed.

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  8. I've spent time on multiple occasions trying to learn to write left handed. It is extremely difficult to make the transition from right hand writing. I suppose that us "righties" wouldn't fare too well in a left hand dominated society as your post suggests.

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  9. I am a left handed and play the guitar right handed , and have tried to play guitar left handed . and think that playing left handed is harder . and i think that what you are doing is great

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  10. I started out right handed but I broke my arm when I was 13 so i had to use the left a lot. I used my left more than my right and now I'm both left and right handed. But I can't seem to play guitar left handed. I don't know why. I have tried several times, but having store clerks tell a customer to change his / or her hand preferences is just bull.

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  11. I was "switched" to be right-handed which was the norm in my school in the mid 50's. I write with the right hand, but do most other things lefty, except the ones no one could teach me, like crocheting, and the almost necessities like using regular scissors.

    At camp, I was thrilled that the archery instructor was also a south paw and could teach me properly. I'm glad you've dodged a lot of that nonsense!

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  12. As most of the previous posters I am left-handed as well. As a kid, I used to play as well...right-handed. I haven't played for years now, but when I play air-guitar I do instinctivly play left-handed. Pretty weird if you come to think of it.

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  13. Hi!

    I'm a 15 year old Rock lead Guitarist -I'm left handed, but I play guitar the "right-handed way". Personally, I think it's worked to an advantage! I can pick up things really quickly [shredding, sweep-picking, finger-tapping, etc...].

    Here's a video of me playing guitar if you'd like to listen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKcG9u-khs0

    I'm quite a well known guitar player now on the internet [over 1 million combined video views]; yahoo video, youtube, google video, etc... :)

    Thankyou. Best of Luck with guitar!!!!!!

    www.myspace.com/jacquelinemannering

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  14. I'm a lefty too. I also play guitar and had to get it special ordered!

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  15. Many years ago, I was taught guitar by a right handed teacher, Sue Warner. She gave me options, which at 15, were not really options. I could reverse the strings (bad idea, as I would have to recut the nut and bridge, as well as reverse the bracing), finger it backwards (bad idea as my fingerings would be awkward), or just learn it right handed (bad idea, as I was left-handed). I was not able to mount a proper protest, and ended up learning right handed. It is easier for me to purchase a guitar, as left-handed models often need to be special ordered. but I do wish I had learned left-handed, with a true left handed guitar. I should be picking with my left hand and fretting with my right, not the other way around.

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  16. I am strongly left handed except that my right hand is a stronger piano hand (likely because it has been trained like with all other musicians to use our right hand for the melody, which is typically more defined and sometimes more intricate). Most day to day tasks that indicate handedness show that I am left handed. The only exceptions are batting at baseball (though I still throw left), and playing guitar.

    I feel the need to use my stronger/preferred hand for fretting rather than picking for some reason. So typically, I feel as if I choose a right handed guitar because I am left handed. I think my experience with the piano has also made my right hand strong enough to pick with confident control, when otherwise I may have felt a need to use a left handed guitar. That's my experience.

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  17. I try to use both my hands not equally but when I get tired or think about it. I have been told that it works your brain and keeps you on your feet to switch it up a little.

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  18. I'd be interested to try learning to play with my left hand, as i am right-handed. I'm always impressed with people who string a right-handed guitar upside-down to flip it over and play as a lefty.

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  19. My son is left handed and that is just ridiculous for someone to ask you to play right handed !

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  20. Hmmm... I'm lefty but I have been playing guitar right-handed since I
    started 3 years ago. I think I'll go to the shop tomorrow and see how
    a left-handed guitar feels.

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  21. That is weird that coming from same town as Mr. Hendrix that you had to try hard to get a left handed guitar but I guess this world might just not be ready for another left handed wonder.

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  22. My daughter is in the 8th grade and taking guitar classes. Last year she also took guitar class and unbeknown to my husband and me, because she is left handed, she flipped the guitar around and learned to play upside down. The teacher told her this was okay. The teacher she has this year says no, she has to learn to play right handed, upside down, or drop the class altogether. The school provides right handed guitars for right handed players (so as not to have the students bring their own guitars back and forth to school) but will not provide a guitar for left handed players. They will not even restring the guitar. We let her take guitar based on the school providing the guitars, and now because we cannot afford a guitar, the principal has told her she has to drop out. She is so heartbroken. The school board has told me that I need to force her to learn the right handed way. They also said that it's for the greater good. So being left handed is a bad thing?

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  23. It sounds to me as though your school board is just asking for a lawsuit.

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  24. I'm a lefty guitar player and proud of it. When I first tried to learn, I learned right-handed and couldn't get on. Six months ago I started again after thirty years and I've been amazed by my progress because I've not compromised. If you are left-handed, don't settle for right-handed playing.
    What also makes me mad is the fact that left handed guitars often cost more (despite production lines being easy to switch). In guitar mags a company often refuse to even bring out a left-handed model of a guitar. This companies should be named and shamed for this (would they be allowed to do this if their customers were a different sex, race, sexual orientation or religion.
    All you lefties who are playing right-handed you have done it for piece of mind, rather than sticking up for what you believe. If you are a lefty, accept no substitute.

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  25. I see that there are many left-handed guitar players or wanna-be guitar players out there, so I wanted to offer a good resource. Optek Music Systems makes a new kind of left-handed guitar called Fretlight, the world's first real computer-powered teaching guitar. It comes in an Acoustic Electric model. See http://www.fretlight.com/PRESS_RELEASES/OMS_Lefty_Release_FINAL.pdf for more info.

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  26. I have been playing guitar for 29 years. While I was learning to play I had to use my right handed brother's guitar and couldn't switch over the strings because the guitar didn't belong to me. I play a right handed guitar upside down and backwards. Have been playing that way ever since. Please check out my web site and hear samples of my music. Ben Willis benwillismusic.com

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  27. This is a bit of a combo breaker between all the lefties - I'm a rightie through and through, HOWEVER - I instinctively play air guitar left-handed and feel more comfortable with my stronger hand on the frets, eg. my right hand. Keeping in mind the availability, etc., can anyone provide suggestions as to which way I should learn? (My local music store switches for LH models for an extra $20.)

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  28. Being left-handed should be an advantage in handling the frets! That takes more dexterity anyway.

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  29. I'm a lefty and I play right. I thought briefly about which way I wanted to play, but figured it was easier for me to learn to play right-handed, since I would have better fret control that way. Also, I am able to convert directions pretty well when being taught right-handed.

    As for the guitar issue, it might be easier to pick a right-handed one and have it restrung. It might be possible to pick out one that doesn't have a pickguard already on it and have one put on from the left-handed perspective.

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  30. There is a guitarist by the name of Michael Angelo Batio who is Left handed, started playing (right handed) guitar at age 10. He is famous for his Double guitar that is shaped like a V that is both right and left handed. What I mean by that is that it is 2 guitars, joined at the center in a V shape. He plays lefty and righty, and then he plays both guitars at the same time (hammer-ons, pull-offs etc.) his website is http://www.angelo.com/ and if you search his name on youtube you can see many videos of him and videos of him playing his double.

    He even has a stage move called the "over-under" where he moves his fretboard hand (left hand) so fast you can hardly see it, it's crazy to do live. He says the reason he can do this is because he is left handed, so his arm is strong enough to do things like that. It's pretty impressive.

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  31. I play left handed and have a left handed guitar. At first I thought I should have got a right handed guitar and tried learning that way, but now I realize I like being unique and unconventional. This may sound stupid, but I plan to practice playing right handed as well if I get my hands on a righty, so I will be able to pick up any guitar and play (although I won't be able to play as well as with my left.) Anyway, if any left-handers read this, and people have been telling you to play right handed, yet you still feel natural with your left hand strumming, I say screw them; do whatever feels natural for you.

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  32. My mom learned to play the guitar the right-handed way, but she says that it's probably easier for a lefty, with all the complicated fingerings with the left hand.

    I'm in band, and I play trumpet(very much a right-handed instrument) and French Horn(a lefty's instrument). When I went to French Horn, I realized how much easier it was for me, because the fingerings are all done with the left hand. I can now switch back and forth with no problems.

    Hey Pat: I crochet some, and my mom found a book that had some of the begining stitch diagrams for right and left-handers. I also have lefty scissors, and used a left-handed bow when doing archery at camp, because they had lefty bows. If they didn't have a lefty bow, I'd probably turn a rigty bow upside-down. ;) In fencing club at school, they have left-handed foils, because the faculty member in charge is a lefty too.

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  33. I'm dominantly left handed. I've played guitar right handed since 67. I have great control on the fret board and happy with my right hand finger picking. But no matter what I have done to improve my strum has been useless. I started playing blues at a young age but tried my hand at some of the metal during the eighties. I don't have the coordination for the machine gun type strumming of that genre. I believe it's due to the dominant left handedness. Anyone that has overcome an issue such as mine i congraTulate. I strongly recommend if you're left handed, stay left, and vica versa.

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