Left Handed Guitar Tips

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If you or your kid want to learn to play guitar left-handed, but don't want to fork over a lot of money to buy a special left-handed guitar until you know if you are serious, here's a suggestion. You can modify a cheap, used right-handed guitar by doing three things: (1) buy an old guitar with a floating bridge (the part that holds the strings up off the top of the guitar); if the bridge is glued to the soundboard (as most are) this will not work! Take the strings off and reposition the bridge 180 degrees, so that the grooves for the fattest strings are at the top. (If the small bridge at the top of the fretboard is floating, invert this as well). (2) The holes in the pegs may or may not be a problem. If you cannot fit the fattest bass string through the appropriate peg hole, make the hole larger, using a round file or metal drill. (3) Before you made permanent modifications to some old guitar with a floating bridge that you've found at a yard sale or pawn shop, make sure it isn't valuable! (e.g. like an old Gibson).

"If you're a left-hander considering learning guitar, don't assume you have to play it left-handed. In guitar (and bass) playing, left-handers can have an advantage depending on their ambidexterity. While right-handers will complain of the problems of fingering with their left hand, left-handers can pick up chords and complex fingering rather easily because it involves their coordinated hand. It's rhythm and picking that present a problem. This is where the Neil Young method comes into play. Neil himself has a coordination problem in his right hand and he (probably unconsciously) compensates for it by using the side of his hand as both an anchor and a rhythm guide, covering both problems. This gives that rhythmic muffled (and sometimes artistically sloppy) sound that he's famous for whether it's on electric or acoustic. However, if your goal is to play scales and lots of fast arpeggiated solos ala Malmsteen, or Vai, you're better off learning on a left-handed guitar."
Shawn Anderson, USA

"I am a 39-year-old lefty. When I decided to learn to play the guitar, I decided to learn right-handed. This was an entirely practical decision because right-handed guitars are easier to find. Even though I've been playing right-handed for 23 years, it feels less natural that way."

"I am a guitar player, and play a right-handed guitar. This is the only right-handed activity I partake in. The rason I chose to play right-handed (yes, I chose, because my first guitar was a left-handed guitar) is becuase it only made sense to me that my strong hand should be the one on the fretboard.
       Although classical fingerpicking is extremely difficult this way, doing Malmsteen type speed-scales and arpeggios, is infinately easier when your strong hand is doing the harder job of fingering 101 notes in 30 seconds. The right hand then is just tremelo picking, which is equally easy for both hands.
       This is ironic considering that one of my earliest idols, Jimi Hendrix, was also a lefty. His left-handed quitar playing style is just one of those things I didn't want to mimic."
K. Johansson, Toronto, CANADA

"As a lefty guitarist, teacher and part time publisher I know how difficult it is for children to read right-handed chord and scale diagrams... Problem solved I have written and published LEFTY a guitar chord and scale book in standard musical notation, tablature and left-handed fret board diagrams. See:

"I am a lefty that plays right-handed guitar. I chose to play it the "right" way, because it would be much easier for the tutor to instruct me on the same guitar, and I would be morecompatible as far as gear is conserned with the rest of the world. Ever since I began playing guitar, I found it very strange that so many people placed such emphasis on the difficulty of playing vibrato. Indeed, some guitarists are best noted for their unimmittatable vibrato technique. To me different vibrato speed, range and ultimately feeling was far more easier to accomplish as soon as my ear was tuned. Taking into account the amphodexterity that I was indirectly forced to aquire, my right hand is far from handicapped. That said, I believe that lefties playing right-handed guitar have what it takes to be better all-round guitar players. And we all know they have paid their dues (laugh)!"

"I am a 39-year-old lefty. When I decided to learn to play the guitar, I decided to learn right-handed. This was an entirely practical decision because right-handed guitars are easier to find. Even though I've been playing right handed for 23 years, it feels less natural that way."

"I have been playing a right-handed guitar for 10 years. However, I chose to play it left-handed without restringing it (i.e., upside down). This requires that you learn the chord fingerings upside down and strum in the opposite direction. This may sound very weird but it works great and allows you to produce a rather distinctive sound (especially if you strum it normally!). Learning to play guitar this way was not as difficult as you might think; in fact, some chords that right-handers consider difficult (like B and F) become significantly easier. Learning to play this was will allow you to play right-handed guitars without modifying them while still using your dominant hand for strumming. I would highly recommend learning guitar this way if you want to learn on own without professional instruction, and don't mind having people pointing at you in the guitar shops or on stage. I also learned banjo, but that required a left-handed neck because one string has a peg half way down the neck."
Innes Muecke, CANADA


Cool. Sub-artic, even.
M.K. Holder
"I am 16 years old and have played the guitar for about three years. Due to the lack of left-handed guitars, and the price diffrence, I chose to play right-handed. It is much more difficult learning, but after a little while I became use to it."
CiD Smithe, USA

"I'm playing left-handed guitar for five years now, but when I have to choose again, I'm going to learn right-handed guitar. It's not the problem with my guitar. Okay, they are more expensive and harder to find, but when you know the adresses, you can find them. It's the problem with somebody else's guitar. Almost everyone is playing right-handed (why, for me it's more difficult) but when someone has taken his guitar with him/her at for example a campfire, I can't play. I always have to bring my own guitar, that's the reason for me to learn right-handed guitar (in near future)."

"As a left guitarist who plays right-handed, I found that I've been able to play much faster by finger picking than by using a pick. I use my thumb to alternate on the bass and your other three fingers for the melody, as well as memorized picking patterns which allows me ignore my right hand altogether."



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