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Switching to left handed guitar.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #1
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Switching to left handed guitar.

I am a reasonably competent guitar player when I practice, but I never got really technically proficient. It finally dawned on me after many years in a moment of clarity, I should be playing left handed. I write right handed, but that was forced on me, and would be ridiculous to change, especially when I write so little.

Have any of you switched to left handed guitar after years of playing normally? If so, was it successful?
Old 23rd September 2017
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
doughnuts's Avatar
 

Hi Harry, yes, a lefty here who played right handed for 7 years then i made the switch. Benefits, alternate picking is easier as the dominant hand is now picking not fretting.
I tend to find i'm not as heavy handed with the fretting hand as well. I'm glad i made the switch all those years ago as i was limited as to what speed i could hit with alternate picking when i played right handed.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #3
Lives for gear
I'm a lefty who happily plays right handed. Always have. Just for fun I just tried to play left handed and found it next to impossible. When I tried to pick with my left hand my fingers didn't even face the strings in the same manner.

Give it a go but don't automatically think that it will be the answer to all your problems.
Old 15th October 2017
  #4
Gear Head
Don't do it. The main reason is that whenever you're with other players, or in a music store, everything is right handed. You can't just pick up guitars that are all around you and play them, and when you go into a store, there will be a several hundred right handed guitars, and half a dozen poorly set up cheesy left handed guitars. Guitar makers seem to abandon quality control when they make left handed models. I've ordered left handed guitars after trying out right handed models, and always been disappointed, and sent them back. When you do find good left handed guitars, they'll cost more. And some guitars you might want will simply be unavailable.

I'm very left handed, so left handed I was used as the end point on a handedness test. I stupidly switched the strings on my first guitar because I had read that Paul McCartney did it. But I've watched other left and right handed kids start one way and switch to the other, and while it might make a small short term difference, I seriously doubt it makes any real long term difference to how well you master the instrument, compared to simply practising a lot.
Old 15th October 2017
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry_seldon View Post

It finally dawned on me after many years in a moment of clarity, I should be playing left handed. I write right handed, but that was forced on me, and would be ridiculous to change, especially when I write so little.

Have any of you switched to left handed guitar after years of playing normally? If so, was it successful?

Let's say 99% of the planet is right-handed for everything. The second any of these people pick up a regular guitar and start playing, what is the first thing NO ONE REALLY THINKS ABOUT?

It's the LEFT hand that will be doing all the work. Every right-handed person world is under this disability when picking up guitar. But we learn to deal with hit.

So....if you are left-handed by nature, and pick up a guitar and are not very good at it.... don't blame it on your hand..... you're ALREADY using your left hand for all the work. You should be way ahead of the game compared to the rest of us.

If you buy a left-handed guitar, guess what? Now you've got to make your RIGHT hand do all the work!

This is why I've always called general bs on the left-handed guitar concept.

Having said all that, there are SOME guys who will state that the strumming/picking hand is the one doing all the work in guitar playing.

To that, I roll my eyes and exit the conversation.
Old 15th October 2017
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry_seldon View Post
I am a reasonably competent guitar player when I practice, but I never got really technically proficient. It finally dawned on me after many years in a moment of clarity, I should be playing left handed. I write right handed, but that was forced on me, and would be ridiculous to change, especially when I write so little.

Have any of you switched to left handed guitar after years of playing normally? If so, was it successful?
Only focus on what feels natural.

I am left handed - very left handed.

Yet I play guitar right handed - it feels completely and utterly alien to me to hold a guitar left handed.

I play drums and bass right handed. Piano too but with piano you have no choice!

I know a right handed person who plays guitar left handed.

Forget which handed you are - and simply go with your instincts - these things are very complex and nothing is predictable.

I play tennis/Squash left handed yet cricket and golf right handed.

Natural feel and instinct rule in these matters.

As far as mastering an instrument goes, eventually both hands needs to be equally great so really it only matters what feels natural!
Old 17th October 2017
  #7
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

I don't think it matters one whit. When you start, NEITHER hand knows what to do. So I'm not a big believer in lefty guitars (and I'm a lefty). Or, for that matter, lefty pianos, trumpets, clarinets, french horns, etc.
Old 21st October 2017
  #8
Deleted 86c3d96 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
I don't think it matters one whit. When you start, NEITHER hand knows what to do. So wMPC not a big believer in lefty guitars (and I'm a lefty). Or, for that matter, lefty pianos, trumpets, clarinets, french horns, etc.
It's not my hands, it's my brain. I am convinced. I am going to buy a left handed guitar tomorrow. I do that cross my hands on the piano all the time because it feels backwards. I turned my v-drums around, and put my highhat on the right side.

I really thank all for the input. I'm not nuts, but I might be stupid.
Old 24th October 2017
  #9
You'll be starting at zero. It's a waste of all the muscle memory you've developed, assuming you have any worth keeping.

That being said, placebo can be a powerful drug. Maybe you'll be more motivated this way.

I would suggest going the Eric Gales route - now that's worth trying!
Old 24th October 2017
  #10
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
you could start by playing bass this way .. a little easier than Chord playing .. i have tried it but i am fully right handed !!!
Old 3rd November 2017
  #11
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I am very left-handed and play bass and guitar lefty. If you started a certain way, it seems odd to switch in mid course especially that finding lefty instruments is frustrating but hey, if it works better for you welcome to the club!
Very few advantages besides
- Nobody will ever ask to try or borrow your guitar (it only happened to me 2 or 3 times in the past 30yrs)
- You can sing with a righty player and use only one microphone a la Beatles without crossing necks. And it looks cool.
- uhhhh that's all
Old 17th June 2019
  #12
Here for the gear
 

When we call someone “left-handed” we usually refer to the hand they write with. There are vastly different degrees of either left handedness or right handedness in people. Some do everything on just one side, others are left handed for some things and right handed for others. The majority of people will feel playing a guitar right handed is natural, including some who write with their left hand. However there are a minority of people who will only reach their full potential as a guitar player by playing left handed. I can play both right handed and left handed guitar, but I am better playing left handed (both picking/strumming and fretting are more natural for me playing left handed). The fact that there are no left handed pianos or saxophones is not relevant as the guitar is a different instrument. When you play “Air guitar” you unconsciously choose which hand strums and which hand frets depending on your natural left or right handedness for guitar playing. Now try playing “Air guitar” on your non-natural side and it will seem more awkward for most people. I recommend that if a person feels more natural playing left-handed guitar then that is the way they should learn, so as to be the best they can be at the instrument.
Old 17th June 2019
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by cbt1956 View Post
When we call someone “left-handed” we usually refer to the hand they write with. There are vastly different degrees of either left handedness or right handedness in people. Some do everything on just one side, others are left handed for some things and right handed for others. The majority of people will feel playing a guitar right handed is natural, including some who write with their left hand. However there are a minority of people who will only reach their full potential as a guitar player by playing left handed. I can play both right handed and left handed guitar, but I am better playing left handed (both picking/strumming and fretting are more natural for me playing left handed). The fact that there are no left handed pianos or saxophones is not relevant as the guitar is a different instrument. When you play “Air guitar” you unconsciously choose which hand strums and which hand frets depending on your natural left or right handedness for guitar playing. Now try playing “Air guitar” on your non-natural side and it will seem more awkward for most people. I recommend that if a person feels more natural playing left-handed guitar then that is the way they should learn, so as to be the best they can be at the instrument.
Great post!

Welcome to the Forum!
Old 18th June 2019
  #14
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Let's say 99% of the planet is right-handed for everything. The second any of these people pick up a regular guitar and start playing, what is the first thing NO ONE REALLY THINKS ABOUT?

It's the LEFT hand that will be doing all the work. Every right-handed person world is under this disability when picking up guitar. But we learn to deal with hit.

So....if you are left-handed by nature, and pick up a guitar and are not very good at it.... don't blame it on your hand..... you're ALREADY using your left hand for all the work. You should be way ahead of the game compared to the rest of us.

If you buy a left-handed guitar, guess what? Now you've got to make your RIGHT hand do all the work!

This is why I've always called general bs on the left-handed guitar concept.

Having said all that, there are SOME guys who will state that the strumming/picking hand is the one doing all the work in guitar playing.

To that, I roll my eyes and exit the conversation.
Then why isn't the guitar designed the other way around?
Old 18th June 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillyoung View Post
Then why isn't the guitar designed the other way around?

Great question. I share thenoodle's sentiments on this matter by the way and I've just been having this same discussion on another forum.

I think its just a quirk of history that guitars are the orientation that they are. As far as i'm concerned the fretting hand is the LEADING hand so as a Lefty I'm perfectly happy with a RIGHT handed instrument.

As an absolute newbie/learner when your just holding one chord and trying to strum/pick evenly then it does feel more capable to have your strongest hand trying to strum/pick evenly yet the moment you develop beyond just strumming a chord then left or right doesn't matter.

Its an ambidextrous instrument.
Old 18th June 2019
  #16
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
Great question. I share thenoodle's sentiments on this matter by the way and I've just been having this same discussion on another forum.

I think its just a quirk of history that guitars are the orientation that they are. As far as i'm concerned the fretting hand is the LEADING hand so as a Lefty I'm perfectly happy with a RIGHT handed instrument.

As an absolute newbie/learner when your just holding one chord and trying to strum/pick evenly then it does feel more capable to have your strongest hand trying to strum/pick evenly yet the moment you develop beyond just strumming a chord then left or right doesn't matter.

Its an ambidextrous instrument.
Where as I as a lefty did not get on with a right handed instrument but when I switched to a left handed guitar I found it a lot more comfortable.
Old 18th June 2019
  #17
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Mikhael's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stillyoung View Post
Then why isn't the guitar designed the other way around?
I think it has to do with the history of the instrument. Playing acoustically, the rhythm in most cases might have been more important than the single-note style popular in soloing today. After all, you couldn't really HEAR the single notes played against other instruments; it's quieter than strumming chords. Thus the dominant hand was important for rhythmic work, while the left hand would remain dormant on a chord.

It wasn't really until the electric guitar was developed that soloing on the instrument became popular; now you could actually HEAR the solo. Plus, on other stringed instruments, bowing the strings was important, unlike the guitar.

Well, that's the best I could come up with, anyway. I'm a lefty who plays righty, and I feel like that was a distinct advantage for me. Chord and scale shapes weren't difficult to execute.

And why is the fact that there aren't any lefty pianos or saxophones (and others) irrelevant? They take two hands, just like guitar. BUT amplification didn't change the way they were played, unlike guitar.
Old 18th June 2019
  #18
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audioforce's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
I think it has to do with the history of the instrument. Playing acoustically, the rhythm in most cases might have been more important than the single-note style popular in soloing today. After all, you couldn't really HEAR the single notes played against other instruments; it's quieter than strumming chords. Thus the dominant hand was important for rhythmic work, while the left hand would remain dormant on a chord.

It wasn't really until the electric guitar was developed that soloing on the instrument became popular; now you could actually HEAR the solo. Plus, on other stringed instruments, bowing the strings was important, unlike the guitar.

Well, that's the best I could come up with, anyway. I'm a lefty who plays righty, and I feel like that was a distinct advantage for me. Chord and scale shapes weren't difficult to execute.

And why is the fact that there aren't any lefty pianos or saxophones (and others) irrelevant? They take two hands, just like guitar. BUT amplification didn't change the way they were played, unlike guitar.
classical guitar? Lots of left-hand stuff going on there, on a right-hand instrument.


Best always,

audioforce
Old 18th June 2019
  #19
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Speaking as a VERY left handed person playing right handed guitar for over 50 years, there are a number of things you need to consider. What kind of music do you play or want to play? That will help you make the decision of which way to play the guitar. If you want to pick fast and be more like a Vai or Satriani, then you definitely consider going with a left-handed guitar. If you don't need the speed but want to play more complex chords, excel at hammer-ons and pull-offs, then you might want to stick with playing right-handed guitar. I am able to play C, D, and G open chords over a barre without any problem. You won't find a right-hander who is adept at that. I have done tests and I can double pick faster with my left hand, without any practice.
If you play classical guitar, there are similar considerations. Being left-handed, I have problems building up speed with arpeggios and tremolos and also don't have the fine control that a right-handed person does with their picking hand. BUT, I was able to easily navigate Bach guitar pieces which are considered very high level because of how they are so left hand intensive. So even in that arena there are decisions to be made.
So what kind of guitar do you want to excel at? It's up to you.
Old 24th April 2020
  #20
Here for the gear
 

I’m thinking of switching to left after 40 years righ due to a severe nerve injury to my left I can hold a pick firmly in my left but no string work anymore. I’m not even certain I can do it but I miss playing so very much. Any thoughts on how to switch?
Old 24th April 2020
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Ranger View Post
I’m thinking of switching to left after 40 years righ due to a severe nerve injury to my left I can hold a pick firmly in my left but no string work anymore. I’m not even certain I can do it but I miss playing so very much. Any thoughts on how to switch?
My two bobs worth is that its time to learn to fingerpick.
This will be WAY easier to do than to try and switch hands after 40 years of playing.

EDIT: Sorry, I read that back to front. Ignore that suggestion.
Here's another one. How about learning to play slide guitar.

Last edited by AnthonyG; 24th April 2020 at 03:25 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Ranger View Post
I’m thinking of switching to left after 40 years righ due to a severe nerve injury to my left I can hold a pick firmly in my left but no string work anymore. I’m not even certain I can do it but I miss playing so very much. Any thoughts on how to switch?
I am lefty but honestly switching now would be hard.

As it was suggested already, switching to lap steel, dobro, pedal steel is a great idea. Your left hand will only need to hold the bar and slide. If you can hold a pick you can probably do that

In addition, pedal steel players are a rare commodity and in very high demand. (not only in the US)

I would have gotten a pedal steel a long time ago had I not been lefty myself (it is near impossible to find a lefty one) however I play a lot of lap steel and dobro and I love it.
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