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How To Play Guitar Left-Handed?

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

mela music school
mela music school

So, you are left-handed and want to learn to play guitar and have some concerns about how this will impact your guitar playing skills? Look no further, this article will hopefully alleviate some of the concerns you may have about how to learn to play guitar the left-handed way!

When you begin to learn to play guitar, remember that consistent practice and dedication to your guitar lessons are a must if you want to advance in learning to play this very versatile instrument. The fact that you want to learn to play guitar left-handed or right-handed is not a factor that will stop you from honing your guitar playing skills. You can learn to play guitar chords cleanly and quickly no matter what your dominant hand is.

It is true that 90% of guitarists learn to play guitar with their right hand. There are only a few guitarists who learn to play guitar with their left hand, but this never stopped the legendary left-hand guitarists like Jimi Hendrix or Paul McCartney from honing their guitar playing skills. So, there is no reason why you cannot learn to play guitar with your left hand if you so choose to do so.

Truth be told, the main difficulty for you will be in finding guitar teachers who are proficient at teaching you how to learn to play guitar with your left hand. It will also be rare for you to find guitar lessons online which teach you to learn to play guitar with your left hand. Hence, when you learn to play guitar with your left hand there may be some unique concerns left-handed guitarists face when learning to play guitar.

When we do a simple online search, we find that almost half the left-handed guitarists learn to play the guitar with their right hand. This is practical because you can play with anybody’s guitar and can borrow your friend’s guitar when to mood to play the guitar strikes you. Most guitar teachers will tell you that when you learn to play guitar with your right hand, it gives you a distinct advantage as your dominant hand will be on the more complicated fretboard giving you a natural advantage.

Learn to play the Guitar Left-Handed

If it makes sense for you to play the guitar left-handed, remember that most of the dexterity and finger nimbleness in guitar playing happens on the fret board. So, it is your naturally dominant hand the left hand which is going to be doing the heavy lifting here. The right-handed players actually use their nondominant hand on the fretboard to make the chords.

But there is a possibility that finds it natural to use your right hand to play the fretboard when you pick up the guitar. In such a case, you might run into some teething problems as you learn to play guitar the left-handed way.

Often, you will see that most guitars are strung and tuned for right-handed guitar players. You will see that the Low E string is faced closest to you which is more suitable for right-handed guitar players. Also, most of the guitar tablature will be oriented toward the traditional right-handed guitar format.

But do not worry, there are many great guitar players who were left-handed. Each of these great guitarists was innovative in overcoming this and had a unique approach to their guitar playing skills.

So, for all the left-handed guitarists looking to learn to play guitar, look to such guitarists as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, blues legend Albert King, and The Beatles’ Paul McCartney for inspiration.

Does a Left-Handed Person Need a Left-Handed Guitar?

Left-handed guitars are made keeping in mind the unique concerns of a left-handed guitar player. On a left-handed guitar, the Low E string is the one furthest to the right. On a right-handed guitar, that Low E will be the very first string on the left and not to the right. A left-handed guitar is constructed so that a left-handed guitarist can hold their guitar neck with their right hand and use their left hand to strum the songs they are learning to play.

A left-handed guitar also reverses the placement of features such as volume and tone controls, switches, and tremolo bars for ease of access to left-handed guitar players.

Is it necessary to buy a left-handed guitar?

Necessity is the mother of invention. Some great guitarists -- such as Jimi Hendrix and Albert King -- just restrung a right-handed guitar to invert the strings or played a right-handed guitar upside down.

Can you restring a guitar to be left-handed or simply play a right-handed guitar upside down? Of course, you can!

While this technique worked for these musical legends, choosing a left-handed guitar might make learning to play guitar a lot easier for you are just starting to learn to play guitar.

Holding a Left-Handed Guitar

When you first start learning to play guitar left-handed, using a left-handed guitar can help you more easily learn chords and build up speed and dexterity with your fretboard technique as you progress through your guitar classes.

Right-handed players use their left hand to finger notes on the fretboard. It logically makes sense that left-handed guitar students would excel at this, just by learning to play the guitar that is meant for right-handed guitar players and using their dominant hand on the fretboard.

However, as your guitar lessons progress and you play more advanced songs, it is your picking hand that becomes more important in your guitar playing style.

Holding a left-handed guitar is no different from holding a right-handed guitar. The only change that will happen is that you will hold the neck of your guitar in your right hand and you will use the left-hand fingers to strum.

Learn To Play Guitar Left-Handed

Part of learning to play guitar is learning chord charts and tablature.

These are universal tools which give those who are learning to play guitar a kind of a diagram as to about your finger placement on the fretboard while playing a melody.

This is the biggest advantage to playing a left-hand guitar, because all the chords and tabs that you find online will be correct for you. You Will not need to mentally invert chord charts and tabs to place them on the correct fret which you would need to do, if you restrung a right-handed guitar for your left-handed needs.

In short, a left-handed guitar helps you to level the playing field and make your musical journey a lot easier, giving you access to the material as your right-handed guitar players.


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