15 May 2011

Which left handed way to play


So you are left handed and decided to play the guitar. There's a whole shop overwhelmed by right handed guitars, they got nearly a thousand. And over there in the corner, a single left handed guitar. Which one to pick?
Which.. one.. to.. pick..?


Well you could just pick that one guitar, there's not a great range of choice in left handed guitars. That's why left handed guitarist started looking for other ways to play.

Right handed upside down
If you do want to make a choice in the same offer of guitars, you can buy a regular guitar and just turn it upside down. The strings are now flipped. The highest becomes the lowest and visa versa. I call this the stubborn way. Has it been done? Few tried.. among them Bobby Womack.
I thought someone else to be part of this group, Jimmy Hendrix. But in fact he restrung his guitar playing it just like a regular one. To get this done takes a lot of customization which I'll be talking about another time.

While playing the right handed instrument upside down may work for rock guitar, you'll be limited in playing chords. And I love playing chords. What kept me from learning this style? You'll have to play upstrokes instead of downstrokes, or else, to me, it won't sound right.

Regular Right Handed
I came to ask myself, why is it we strum with our strong hand? I think the roots are found in classical guitar music, where the finger picking style is very important. I guess that fingerpicking would be very hard if to do with your weak hand. And if you are wondering: this is the kind of guitar style I'm talking about. Youtube vid showing Tommy Emmanuel playing classical gas. But than, that will take a lot of practice no matter how you play it.

With focus on the guitar chords and solos it seems to me that you'll have an advantage playing this with your strong hand. That does make it sound right for a left handed player to just pick up a right handed guitar, right? While I was learning guitar the first time, I've often wondered why it wasn't my strong hand grabbing all those difficult chords.

It is one of my favorite guitarist
(or is it thé favorite) who plays the guitar in this way. Mark Knopfler, mainly known for his lead guitar and vocals in Dire Straits, while being left handed, plays the instrument like a right handed guitarist. And he is a great fingerpicker! So, can it be done? Sure enough!

And this is the style I'm actually practicing right now. Just doing it the other way around, being right handed, playing the instrument left handed. And as of now, I still haven't run into any problems. Progress goes a lot faster than when I once started to play the guitar. And this is what I would recommend to all lefty's starting to play the guitar. Just buy a right handed and start to learn. It's something new, so at first you will feel uncomfortable, no matter what. Just keep it up.


Summary

Left handed guitar
Pros: You'll have your strong hand at it, the way it was intended.
Cons: Limited offer in guitars, having to mirror most guitar methods.

Right handed upside down
Pros: large amount of guitars to choose from, still using your strong hand 'the right way'.
Cons: probably hard to find a teacher willing to teach in this style. Some chord voicings might be quite difficult to grab. Upstrokes become downstrokes.

Regular right handed guitar
Pros: large amount of guitars to choose from. Using your strong hand for chords and solos. Able to use guitar methods without having to mirror the content. Having Mark Knopfler as your example.
Cons: fingpicking has to be done with your weaker hand.

Be on the lookout for my next post, scheduled 'coming Tuesday' in which I'm viewing some great left handed guitar players.

24 comments:

  1. seriously.. it must be very difficult. I could barely play the guitar with some nice songs using my right hand.. how much more the left. well Im not ambidextrous so yeah,, it takes skills man!

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  2. Never really thought about that. Probably because I don't play a guitar myself haha.

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  3. Right handed myself. Never really thought of it as an issue, but now I see that you are out there! Whatever you may choose, I'm sure that picking one and sticking to it will give the best results anyway :)

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  4. Great article! Keep playing, you can do it :)

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  5. I thought Hendrix flipped the strings too, didn't he? He just used a right handed guitar, still played like it was left-handed

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  6. I lucked out in the guitar sense, as I was born right handed. I can't imagine it's easy picking with your non-dominant hand, but I will point out that Michael Angelo Batio is naturally left handed yet picks with his right hand when using a single guitar (as opposed to his signature double guitars). For anyone not familiar with him, he's considered one of the fastest, if not THE fastest flatpicker in the world.

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  7. Very informative. Nice post.

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  8. Thanks for the info. I don't know much about playing guitar.

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  9. @Ketomaster
    You are absolutely right. Thx for pointing that out. I kinda liked that Hendrix picture on the page, must have fooled me.. (I fixed it)

    @SynthRockEngine
    Thats some great, interesting info! I'm gonna look him up.

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  10. Too bad this isn't applicable to other stringed instruments. All the lefties in my orchestra all had to play the same way... but since all the fingerwork was done with the left hand I think it turned out to be an advantage

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  11. being a drummer and all, i don't have this problem, i can just move things around like its nothing! :)

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  12. I've always learnt regular, once I got used to using my left hand for chords it became natural.

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  13. I've been playing guitar for about ten years now. Luckily, I'm right handed.

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  14. I've recently bought myself a guitar. Didn't know there was actually so much technique behind such a simple looking instrument.

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  15. I am deffenetly on the lookout for the next one mate :]keep us informed

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  16. I like your videos and this was very informative.

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  17. On my class, the teacher insist that left handed guitars are unnecessary.

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  18. I'm a left handed guitarist, been playing for around 3 years now.

    I personally use a right handed guitar in the regular fashion. It's not that difficult to finger-pick with practice, and gives a huge advantage with fretwork, although it can make picking occasionally a tiny bit sloppy.

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  19. i rock it! :D

    8 years playing. And finally i can say i rock :D

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  20. im a right handed guitarist..funny that my bro is left handed but he still plays the guitar right handed style :/..it's easier he says, although not many agrees

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  21. I'm typically right-handed but for some reason I play guitar left-handed.

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  22. I write with my left hand although when I used to play the guitar years and years ago I used to play regular right hand with ease must just be one of those things I guess haha.

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  23. ^ I'm just the opposite lol. I write with my right hand but I play with my right hand.

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