Left Handed Guitar & Right Handed Guitar

Left Handed Guitar & Right Handed Guitar

note: the guitar on the right is actually a left handed guitar neck on a right handed guitar restrung.

It has been said that everyone is born right handed yet only the greatest overcome it. I guess that’s true because some of the best guitar players such as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Paul McCartney played left-handed.

If you are left-handed, you are among approximately 7.5% of the civilized world’s population. Maybe you have been learning to do things the opposite or backwards from the way everyone else does them. There are many web sites and groups specifically for you, and some of them have stores of ‘left-handed’ merchandise to sell.

So, you’re a lefty and you want to learn to play guitar. Do you get a left handed guitar or do you learn right handed technique? Most lefties think they should learn lefty, play lefty and have a lefty guitar. And if anyone has suggested you learn and master the guitar right handed, you have probably thought of their advice as confusing without a logical explanation.

I have discussed this with some of the best guitar teachers and guitarists I know. The preponderance of evidence suggests that If your naturally stronger, dominant and more dexterous hand is your left hand, and the right handed manner of playing is with the left hand on the fingerboard, do you really want to put your clumsy right hand on the fingerboard and only pick with plectrum or fingers, with your very precise and agile left hand? Anyone analyzing this impartially, has to say no! The real question is why don’t righties play lefty?

My former guitar teacher said he only taught one left-handed student which he allowed to play lefty while they worked together, and he told me that was because he had been playing the guitar for several years and was unwilling to switch. In retrospect, my old teacher felt that he should have insisted hemake the change. From that point on it was his practice that the rest of his left-handed students, including ones who began with other instructors, have learned to play right handed, and played exceptionally well.

There is an adjustment that left handed people have to make. It is the mental adjustment from reversing everything you were shown how to do by a right handed guitarist. It’s much easier said than done, but it is worth the adjustment. You can master the change in about 2 weeks, if you apply yourself to playing right handed with discipline and not intermittently revert to the lefty technique.

Basically it is a matter of muscle memory, as I have trained myself to use a mouse left handed and write left handed. I have also used many tools as a left handed person would use them when I rebuilt transmissions (for 30 plus years). Why? For the versatility. I become very proficient at anything I put my mind to. My wife likes my versatility!

After making this argument, if one still insists on learning and playing lefty, please take note, you cannot just restring a right handed guitar and play it backwards! There are left handed guitars for a reason. That reason is that the construction of a guitar, whether acoustic or electric, is predicated on the degree of tension on each string, the layout of the tuners, the necessary height and possibly the angle of the bridge and/or bridge nut and more factors. The interior bracing of a right handed acoustic guitar may not support the tension if it is restrung left.

Understand that the difference in the pounds of tension on the two E strings of an acoustic guitar is astronomical. The bass E string is loose and thick. The high E string is thin and very tightly strung to get it to proper pitch. A well made guitar is braced to compensate for those differences.

Let me add here, that you absolutely can’t use string steel strings on a nylon string guitar, or, nylon strings on a steel string guitar. The former will damage the guitar, I have repaired some nylon string guitars which pulled the bridge up by using steel strings.

Anyone have a point of view on this? I look forward to your input and experiences with playing left handed as opposed to right handed. Enjoy. GuitarPlayersCenter.com

4 Responses to Learn and Master Guitar for Left Handed Guitar Players.

  1. Taylor Matanane

    When I came over to this post I can only see another half of it, is this my on-line browser or the internet website? Should I restart?

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