June 26, 2010

Left Handed Guitar

Louise_M wrote:

I am currently researching lefty guitars as I want to learn and came across this on teaching yourself guitar:

If you are left handed then you need to think particularly carefully when choosing a guitar. A lefty guitar will probably feel more natural to you - and could be the right choice. However if you can bring yourself to learn on a right handed instrument you will have a much greater range to choose from, will be able to share guitars with other players and won't have to mentally flip over the chord positions you see or read to match your fretboard. Both hands need to be doing quite precise work after all. You want to avoid choosing one type and then regretting your choice.


  1. So I'm a lefty and I play guitar righty. I started playing lefty but realized that the hardest part of learning was not the strumming hand, but the fretting hand. Putting my fingers into the chord shapes was hard to do with the right hand.
    Switching it around made it easier to learn and back when I was learning (in the 70's), there were no lefty guitars.

  2. I've been teaching guitar lessons for 34 years full time, and happened to be left handed myself.

    I've wrote this on my website and I'm including part of it here.

    Another major problem for choosing the correct guitar for the student is when the student is left handed. I have yet to have spoken to a
    salesperson that has ever given me the correct, and precise answer to the question,

    "If I'm left handed does it make a difference which way I hold it?"

    The obvious answer is Y E S !

    But this is a loaded question, and perhaps a bit tricky for the "all knowing" salesmen.

    Below are the issues, observations, to this commonly brushed aside dilemma.
    First off some lefties are ambidextrous,
    and can use their right hand for a lot of activities.
    For this type of lefty they can play a right handed guitar if it feels normal.
    For the left handed person who does everything with their
    left hand it is imperative that they play lefty.

    Read more at my link.


  3. I am a right-handed guitarist and ukulele player, and just addressed a similar question related to playing UKULELE left-handed on my blog site.

    My new program (True Joy Acoustics) is admittedly right-hand oriented, but I recently learned how strongly the left-handed community feels about living in a market dominated with right-hand products! In baseball, it's highly prized to be lefty or ambidextrous, but for everyday citizens, there are many compromises that left-handers face ... even scissors and can-openers can pose extra hazard. Right-handers such as me are oblivious to much of this ... until motivated to learn more and start offering broader, more inclusive market solutions!

    Fortunately, the ukulele brands I feature are versatile in this regard, and with a bit of research, I came across two very helpful resources to learn/play ukulele left-handed (vs. just tell everyone "it's better to learn right").

    So, I invite readers of this post as well as the web host to visit my blog and let me know what you think!



  4. im a left handed and proud of it. I use my left hand to write, playing guitar and use knife but i prefer using right hand too doing something like bowling,badminton,tennis and even eat with my right hand. So, am i considered as a left handed just because simply i write with left hand..or am i Ambidexterity?

  5. I'm in a similar situation with Zatie. But instead i forced myself to play guitar on the right. Stupid young me didn't know lefty guitars exist then. So i too write with my left, but i do many other things with my right hand like Zatie, such as eating and racquet sports.. so i'm curious to know if i'm even considered a lefty :S

  6. I too have played guitar as a "righty" for many years, although I'm a lefty. Luckily my guitar teacher wouldn't let me play as a left! She said it would just cause problems, and I'm glad she did. Having to interpret each chord or riff from a lefty's perspective would be too much work, it's easier in my opinion to get used to the feel of playing as a righty.

    Hope that helps someone decide!

  7. I'm a lefty but have been playing guitar right-handed for 20 years. There were certain obstacles and rhythms that I just couldn't execute.
    I won several accolades & sessioned on several musician's albums but I got to the point where I just couldn't progress any further.

    Someone once told me that you should always use your strongest hand for the rhythm, I finally plucked up the courage and made the switch this year.

    Within a few months of playing left-handed, I have come so far and for the first time in 20 years, playing guitar now seems natural.
    I always envied people who said it should feel like an extension of one's arms, but I can honestly see what they mean now.

    By the end of this year, I will probably overtake my right-handed playing.

    This 'error' occurred because my first guitar teacher was amazed at my natural abilities and told me that I was doing so well playing right handed so I may aswell just stick to it.
    He was wrong.

    Play rhythm with your STRONG hand.

  8. Hey Jim, I read your comment, I'm a professional musician, I started right handed because I didn't know there was an alternative.
    I've been playing right handed for 16 years but I'm at the point I can't progress any more too,I developed a legato way to avoid fast picking, which creates too much tension on my right arm. I'm thinking if I should try to shift to the left hand, but I'm scared by the idea of repeating again all those years of hard work. How the shift happened in your case? Are you keeping trained also your right hand playing or did you choose to change radically?

  9. I play left handed but I'm not left handed neither right handed.I'm mixed handed( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-handed )!My brother is mixed handed too,my dad was left handed,my mum is right handed and I have a cousin,who's left-handed and I have a cousin who's mixed handed like me and my brother!

  10. I'm a left-handed but I can use much of the tools of right-handed the right way. I play guitar in the conventional way I had no problem learning it.

  11. I do everything left handed, and I started out playing the guitar left handed when I was 14. About a year later, I decided I wanted to learn to play right handed, because it was hard to find left handed guitars, and because I wanted to be able to play a wide variety of guitars. After several months of practice, however, I switched back to lefty. I just never felt comfortable playing right handed. I couldn't develop the coordination in my right hand to pick quickly and accurately. Your dominant hand HAS to be the one holding the pick. If you've ever seen video of Stevie Ray Vaughn, and seen what he was able to do with his pick hand, you'll understand what I mean. The same is true for playing finger-style. But for people that are ambidextrous, playing right handed is probably the way to go. It's very difficult to find good left handed guitars. Even the biggest guitar stores have very limited selections, and most of them are cheaply built. Most of my guitars have been custom ordered, and I paid through the nose to get them.

  12. I'm very left handed. I started playing piano when I was 6, and I always wanted to play my mom's guitar. She tried to teach me, but both she and the guitar were right handed, and I always got frustrated.

    I tried several times in childhood and as an adult to play right handed, but I could never get the strum down. It felt awkward and unnatural, and I could never maintain a rhythm.

    Many right-handed (and some left-handed) musicians still tell me to learn with my right but, I just can't do it. And I'd rather play left-handed than none at all.

    I agree that buying left-handed is an expensive pain, and no, you can't play other people's guitars, but you never have to lend yours out :) And learning to play is not any more difficult. You don't really have to "flip chords around" to play them. Just do a mirror image. This works really well if someone is showing you a chord.

  13. Cindy ... since you have developed skills on multiple instruments, have you considered ukulele (either playing it lefty or right-handed)? It's more versatile than its reputation for simple strumming ... and I believe the four strings and easier chording on the neck make learning a stringed instrument all the more easier than figuring it out on guitar.

  14. There's no reason to avoid trying it both ways and then sticking with the way that winds up feeling more natural.

    Though I must say I personally agree with previous comments that said your stronger hand should play the rhythm.

  15. I am a lefty who bought 'righty' a guitar and had it turned into lefty by a local guitar builder. The cost was minimal and I now have a beautiful guitar that sounds great.

    I was also told to learn to play right handed, I asked each person who suggested this to turn their guitars over and play left handed. They couldn't do it, saying it was unnatural. There you go !!! Why should I do what you cannot?

    I found some great 'Play Guitar Lefty" books, chord charts and some left-handed instruction on YouTube.
    Keep strumming, with your STRONG hand !!!!

  16. i am a lefty and i just started playing the guitar about a month ago and i play the guitar using my right hand. the previous posts say that you should strum with your strong but i am confused. I write with my left hand but play badmiton, play basketball, and cut things with my right hand. I do just about everything besides writing with my right hand. So should i play guitar with my right hand or left?
    I'm just a beginner by the way.

  17. Hi, I also Played a left handed Guitar, I was kind of luck because My Brother In-Law own a music store and I was able to get a left handed guitar I believe it was a Ibanez Gibson
    les Paul Copy which I got on my 14th birthday,
    which on this board a lot of people saying it was hard to learn from a book,which I used a Mel Bay cord book for some reason I looked at the book like a mirrer and did the cords C,A,G ect, then about at 19 I traded my guitar in for a fender strat, I wish I would of never did that, Because I was used to the pick guard
    on the les paul, The strat was nice but didn't have the same sound, But I Continued playing in a band till I was in my late 20s and things were changing in the music business so had to go to school for a carrer, Sorry I'm not trying to brag, But what I'm saying If you like playing Left handed play that way, you don't need some right person saying thats not right or your doing it wrong, keep your chin up and play left.
    I had a music teacher in school that wouldn't teach me eather because I was a lefty, and ask me to name him 4 or 5 Famous left handed guitar players, Jimmy Hendrix,Paul McCartney, Tony Iommi,and a guy from the Cars, Boy he was so made, he through me out of the class, It was funny, what a jerk
    so I had to learn myself and was fine

  18. I am a right hander who plays a left handed guitar. Why did I do this? Simply because I hit a wall in terms of ideas playing the right handed guitar and the picking is too easy and I cant fluctuate the amount of force as needed for the subtlty needed by the picking hand. Its extremely frustrasting always getting the timing wrong, so I decided to start doing everything left handed. At work I write left handed, use the mouse with the left hand on the computer, eat left handed. I work in a hospital, so if there is an emergency, I write right handed, as needed. I suspect I shouldve been left handed(dad and sis are) and my mother basically wanted me to be right handed, so I was persuaded by her when she would put objects for me to get on the right side of my body, so I stopped reaching with my left hand.

    As a guitarist, I had hurt my right thumb in karate ten years ago during sparring, so sometimes I feel the thumb a bit after playing left handed, but I feel its worth it, because whenever Im playing left handed I just feel so much more creative and not limited.

    I disagree strongly with those that say you should strum with your strong hand. You are so totally wrong. Being forced to slow down and concentrate on your strumming/picking hand teaches you subtlty like nothing else, and from this your accuracy increases greatly.

    If you dont believe me, if you are truly left handed, try playing a right handed guitar for a while. You may find that the wrong feeling you get is inspirational in teaching you new ideas. I certainly get this whenever I pick up my left handed strat.

    The other argument I have about this picking dilemma is that if a piano is right handed, why is the right hand doing the melody work, similar to playing a left handed guitar? With the argument of the strumming hand determining the guitar "handedness" then a right handed piano should have the player doing the melody with the left hand.

    If you are going to play the guitar, try to play both ways, see in which way you progress faster, then go that way. I have a right and left strat but I play the left handed one more.

    Also, in terms of perception of time, time passes by much much quicker when playing the right handed one. I find this to be extremely annoying, but when I play the left handed guitar, time slows down and I have more time to think, so much more rewarding.

    Bottom line is that if your dominant hand is too strong(such as mine) this can make it very very difficult and frustrating to synchronize the picking with the fretting. So in my case this idiot argument about strumming picking with the right hand I threw out the window and instead pick with the weaker hand. This could also just be related to my perception, in that if I take a brand new electric and fret with the left hand, by the end of the week there will be divots in the frets where the strings cross the frets. Perhaps, I am too frustrated by playing the right handed guitar?

    you can listen to samples of my playing right handed guitar: www.myspace.com/calgary_rip_off

    I also have a track of my left handed playing. Compare for yourself. I am good playing right handed, but I dont like it. I would rather suffer(?) and play picking with the non dominant hand such as Eric Clapton and Steve Morse, among others, Herman Li, have done.


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