Is There An Ambidextrous Guitar Player Out There?

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Danny's Favs

When I wrote Tuesday’s article (7/8/8) it seemed like a pretty straight up topic and strategy to learn and play some Jimi Hendrix chords. A lot of comments came in, but one of them really cracked me up. It also is the foundation of this article. Pzychotropic, who is one of my loyal readers and a really good guitar player commented:

I hope I don’t have to become left-handed to learn these chords ;-)
Tho’ that my be the kind of challenge to rekindle the learning fire! – Any ambidextrus guitarists out there? :)”
By the way check out Pzychotropic at You Tube. It’s worth it. A little Voodo vibe.

I find that to be a legit question that deserves a legit answer. Several discoveries were made when I bought a teaching DVD from Andy Aledort, guitar player and teacher extraordinaire.  He has a band, is one of the associate editors of Guitar World magazine and puts together a SRV tribute concert with Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon as well as a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert, that kicks ass every year.

Most of the best Hendrix and SRV transcriptions are prepared by Andy. Andy is considered one of the foremost authorities on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar techniques in the world. He is a master of music theory and playing styles and his transcription’s of Hendrix, in particular are the most accurate anywhere. Take my word for it, breaking down Hendrix and his quirky ways of using scales and chords it is a pretty heady subject. That is why Hendrix will always be the greatest.

That being said, my first instructional DVD from Andy was for Albert King. Albert KingYou may not be aware of this, but Albert King was a major influence for Stevie Ray, Jimi Hendrix and a slew of other players, including myself. Listen to Albert King and then listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan. You need new ears if you can’t hear the Albert King two(2) note bends in SRV’s style.

Most people don’t know that Albert King played a right handed guitar in the left handed position, much like Jimi Hendrix. One major difference was, where Jimi restrung the guitar so his high E was on the bottom and the low E was on the top, Albert simply played the guitar backwards, Albert did not reverse his strings.

So, here is the mind-blower, Andy always starts out his lesson with some background and theory describing the music itself and playing style of the artist on the DVD. As usual he went through his detailed, but understandable, (to more advanced players), way of describing the aforementioned background & details.  I have had the privilege of seeing Andy Aledort & The Groove Kings play, and Andy is a right handed Stratocaster player. So after he describes his take on the method of how Albert King played a guitar, he whips out a guitar that looks like the one Albert played.  He turns the guitar to the left handed position, remember, not only is it backwards now, but  the strings are upside down.  Andy proceeds to play the guitar Albert King style, left handed and backwards strung like he was born to play like that.

It is unbelievable to see this. He does however switch back to a correctly strung right handed guitar for the tutorial. Albert King has a cool vibe, no doubt. And, Albert’s style is an essential ingredient that most electric blues players use. I recommend this DVD just to see Andy play a backwards un-resrtrung guitar only, but it is a great tutorial with more than enough information to keep you busy for a while.

Ambidextrous, I don’t know, amazing yes. Thanks for your comments, you made it easy for Guitar Players Center to choose a topic today. By the way, Guitar World has some terrific lessons every month from many artists, and the magazine comes with a free DVD that has the lessons on it. If not every month, than every other month, you will find a lesson by Andy Aledort. Don’t cheat yourself, check them out at Andy’s site or any good music store. Enjoy.

9 Responses to Is There An Ambidextrous Guitar Player Out There?

  1. Whoa. Too cool…Aren’t there some lefty guitar players out there…Paul McCartney (he’s no Jimi, but)?

  2. Nice article Dude, I have seen that teaching DVD where Andy Aledort turns a guitar upside down and plays it backwards..I understand that Albert King’s unusual sound was due to his upside down bending style. He was pulling strings down instead of pushing them up to bend..

  3. Adina, you are correct about pulling strings down.

  4. Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing all the cool knowledge.

  5. hey im just starting learning, but its equally easy for me to play left or right, and im pretty sure i can play backwards, but i dont know for sure :P

  6. Great article. I can play guitar both left and right handed and can also play both ways in reverse (upside down strings). I always thought it was a common thing as I find it pretty easy to do, I mean without effort (to turn the chords, scales, strings around and upside down). Anyway, now I’m realising that it’s not as common as I first thought! Strumming makes for interesting sound effects with upside down strings.

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  8. I don’t know about the ambidextrous-ness, but I am left handed and I can play right handed guitars as well as restrung left handed guitars.

    It is not even a mirror view, it is more like looking at the guitar from beneath, and it’s not that hard at all, but people might be pretty amazed,

    of course you cannot play all the chord positions as normally, have to be creative about your positions, but upside-down playing made me write some unorthodox and interesting stuff you can use in your regular playing mode.

  9. Michael Angelo Batio is pretty much completely ambidex. His videos show him playing both left and right hand guitars normaly and upsidedown, fret hand over the top and bottom, and hands crossed. Again in both left and right hand play styles. Pick up speed kills 1 or 2 or speed lives if you want to see. He’s nutz. I’m sure someone has answered this before but if anyone else stumbles across this, I didn’t see it posted for them.

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