With less than 10% of the world’s population being left-handed, you might have a few questions as a left-handed guitarist. Here are a few hints and tips if you are considering learning to play guitar and your dominant hand is left.
Your Dominant Hand
First of all, let us have a look a different handedness and what it's all about. Handedness relates to which hand is most dominant.
This is easy enough... left- or right-handed, but many people also have cross-dominance, or may be ambidextrous.
Cross-dominance is also called mixed-handedness. This is when you can do different tasks with different hands. So your dominant hand might be left, but you might be able and even more comfortable playing guitar with your right hand.
The left-handed population is small, but even smaller is the part of the population that is ambidextrous. If you happen to be ambidextrous you should be able to teach yourself to do things with both hands.
So for those who are ambidextrous or cross-dominant, learning to play with either hand should not be a problem. The first step would be to find out what your dominant hand is, while also figuring out, in case you haven't already, whether you may be cross-dominant or even ambidextrous.
Go with your gut here and stick to what feels more natural.
Restringing Your Right-Handed Guitar
It's often difficult to find a left-handed guitar and they are usually more expensive, so one of the most common questions asked by left-handed players is whether or not they should restring a right-handed guitar
The major con with restringing a right-handed guitar, however, is that it will need more attention. It will have to be tuned regularly. Also, be sure to check the bridge and the nuts regularly as they will be affected.
The good thing about buying something that made for less than 10% of the population is that there might not be a lot of buyers. So have a look at online sites selling second-hand products. You might find a bargain just because there are fewer sellers.
You should, however, be careful when buying a left-handed guitar as they might not be as well made as other guitars, so keep in mind that you should still do your research. Second-hand does not have to be second-rate, so rather hold out a little longer and buy a name you trust.
Ultimately you should make your decision and stick with it. If you don’t you may have to learn everything from scratch.
Famous Left Handed-Guitarists
We always look to those who came before to see what the pioneers in our field did. This is also the case when looking at people who had the same dominant hand as you.
Luckily, being left-handed is not frowned on anymore. So the choice is up to you and there's no need to conform to using only your right hand.
Jimi Hendrix, on the other hand, was not as lucky when he was learning to play guitar. His father forced him to play guitar with his right hand.
When his father was not looking he would switch things up. He did not have a left-handed guitar and eventually restrung his right-handed guitar to have the treble E on top.
Other left-handed guitarists that played with a right-handed guitar include Paul Simon and Billy Corgan.
Luke Morley also suggested that left-handed guitarists stand stage right. The neck of your guitar will point to the wings and thus, you would be more comfortable.
Join The Chat
There are many sites where left-handed guitarists chat and share their personal experiences. Get involved to find out how others deal with similar stumbling blocks as you may have encountered.
There might be someone that went through exactly the same things you are going through and they might have some insight. Who knows, you might also be able to help someone....
It might be difficult to find a left-handed guitar, but try to go to the biggest store selling instruments you can to try out different guitars. And remember, there's nothing wrong with being a lefty, so don't be intimidated by anyone for any reason. You might be the next Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix or Paul McCartney!
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.