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Help a confused lefty!

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(@reed87)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Hey there everyone, my name is Reed. For years I've been wanting to learn how to play, I just got my own place back at college and I'm looking to buy a guitar. Theres only one problem; I don't know if I should pick up playing on a right or left handed guitar, I'm basically starting from scratch.

Although I am left handed, I do many things right handed like batting in baseball, using scissors, a mouse, etc. Oddly enough, anything I throw comes from my left hand and I write left handed. Holding a guitar either way feels perfectly natural, I can strum with either hand although I feel much more accurate strumming with my left hand and very inaccurate on the neck with my right hand. Is this something that my right hand will get stronger and adapt to? Or should I just bite the bullet and learn on a right handed guitar?

Help me start rockin :twisted: thanks everyone.


   
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 Mike
(@mike)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2892
 

Either way you decide just remember, you can always find a right handed guitar.

Starting from scratch is a good thing. You'll need to independently train each side anyway.

Welcome to guitarnoise!


   
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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 827
 

It's a personal choice. If you go lefty then you are going to have more trouble finding guitars and you'll have to invert chord charts and such to follow them. If you go righty then you are going to have strong / weak hands working the opposite ends as most guitar players. This will cause your progress to move at different rates than righty players. You may find that your fretting skills come easier but that strumming and picking will be harder and take longer to develop. You'll need to understand that and work harder on the right hand rhythm skills.

Try clapping out a rhythm with your left hand against your thigh and do the same thing with your right. Which was easier? I'm a lefty who has been playing righty for couple of years now (I started out playing righty) and I've had to work harder on my strumming than righties. At this point, for me, the clapping of rhythms with my right hand is almost as good as with my left but it has taken time.

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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 Nuno
(@nuno)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3995
 

Welcome Reed.

Just a couple of remarks. Mark Knopfler is lefty. I have a friend who is also lefty and play right handed guitars (left hand for neck, rigth hand for strumming). He says it is better because in this way he has more accurate on the fretboard for soloing.

Hope it helps.


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

I'm a righty playing righty guitars, and I still don't have picking rhythm! The usual argument is that you'll have picking/strumming rhythm problems if you don't use your dominant hand for that. It's interesting to note that they don't make reversed keyboards for lefties, and righty piano players use their left hand to keep the basic rhythm going and improvise over it with the right, for the most part. With both hands having to learn unfamiliar skills anyway, it's never made sense to me why a guitar needs to be made for players of one handedness over the other. Ever see a left handed trumpet, clarinet or flute?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@rmorash)
Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 108
 

As a southpaw who plays left, I would suggest going rightie *if* you can strum reasonably comfortably. I tried and couldn't make the switch which is why I settled for a left handed guitar; even holding the guitar righthanded was awkward which you say isn't a problem.The learning curve may be longer but, once again, if you're reasonably comfortable with a right handed guitar then practice will eventually take care of the strumming. Others have mentioned availability and that's no small consideration. If you're at a party and people are playing guitar, unless you have brought a guitar then you're just going to be a spectator. Also last year when I went to buy a new guitar, a store had a particular brand on sale for $1000.00 but no lefties; for another $300.00 I could have gotten one but I would have had to put down a deposit of $250.00 which I would have lost if I didn't like it. I never noticed or thought of the chord charts being a problem until I saw a book on leftie chords and they made so much more sense - thirty five years too late I guess.

Whatever decision *you* make, have fun and congratulations in joining an immensely satisfying pasttime!!


   
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(@rahul)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

Most of the people know about me here that I am a born lefty.

I have gone through the struggle of deciding to play righty and tried it MANY times. Even now I sometimes try, but unfortunately fail.

So I will suggest that you should play left handed only, if that is the most natural way you can play.

Most of the stores (atleast in USA) do carry one or more popular models of a lefty guitar. Eg. you will be able to find a Fender Standard Lefty or Epiphone LP Lefty in most of the stores.

The whole dominant hand theory appears to me one big laugh. I punch harder from my right hand. I bat right handed. So that will mean that my right hand has more strength and that means I have to play righty ? Wrong.

Try this little activity. Hold a righty guitar the right way. Are you able to find a feel in your hands while you strum and move your hand on the fretboard ? Do you feel any resistance or tension in the arm ? If yes, you do need to play lefty only. Now you hold the guitar the 'natural' way i.e. the left handed way. I am sure you will find the feel much better. Remember, here I am talking about the 'feel' - the muscle ease. Don't compare it with inability to hold chords properly etc and hence conclude being inaccurate (we all are when we start).

Learning struggle (like chord changes, sore fingertips etc) will be found in either way you play. However, if your basic feeling or instinct to play isn't right, it won't take you far. You will be busy in making yourself believe that you will be learning righty and finally you may even give up playing.

Take the best decision according to you.

Good Luck.


   
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(@twistedlefty)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

Lefty here,been playing righty since the earth was green.

1. You don't notice the difference between hand coordination at all after a very short time.
2. Stick to it as a righty and you'll be sooooo happy you did when you start digging into more advanced chord/scale/songbooks.
3. Virtually every guitar store in the world caters to you now.

remember that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, so that means only left handed people are in their "right mind". 8)

btw, Welcome to GN Reed!

#4491....


   
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(@dylanbarrett)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 628
 

Hey Reed,

Be confused no longer - go right-handed - fret with your left and strum with your right - in a couple of weeks you'll wonder what all the fuss was about....

I've been playing for about eight weeks and had the same gnawing thoughts - left or right. Spoke to a mate of mine who teaches guitar (unfortunately he's in France and I'm not :cry: ). He said I would find it easier to go right-handed, especially for reading tabs and things like that because they're normally posted right-handed.

My mate reminded me of when we were both apprentices and had to take part in an aptitude test before they gave us a job. One of the tests was to pick up some little pieces of wire - kinda like blunt needles - and put them into holes in a board - guess what... yep, more accurate and quicker with the right hand than the left - something to do with how the brain works, so he said fingerpicking with the right hand would be ok...

Also, if you buy a right-handed instrument, then you'll have to change the strings around...and if you've read anything about stringing on these forums...you'll lay down and avoid that one until you break a string and have to change it :shock:

Good luck - don't forget to post some vids of your progress on hear here...

D 8)

I'm nowhere near Chicago. I've got six string, 8 fingers, two thumbs, it's dark 'cos I'm wearing sunglasses - Hit it!


   
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(@guitarhack)
Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 196
 

Reed, I can relate to your problem. Though I write with my right hand, I do everything else with my left. I play guitar left-handed and regret not starting out playing with my right. Had I known when I started playing the difficulty I would later have finding lefty guitars (and some makers, including Gibson, even charge a premium for southpaws) I would have chosen to play right-handed. The important thing is to play the guitar. But if you think you can comfortably play righty, then do yourself a favor and go that route. If not, be prepared for a lifetime of a smaller selection of guitars, rearranging chord and fretboard diagrams in your head, and not having the convenience of just going to friends or bandmates houses and picking up whichever guitar they've got lying around.
Either way you choose, good luck!

Dan


   
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(@twistedlefty)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

just a side note, if you are a Gibson fan. there was a thread on here a while back that was about Gibson discontinuing the left handed models altogether.
edit----- found it.
https://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=33379

#4491....


   
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(@laoch)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 143
 

Reed

Another ambidextrous lefty here - write lefty, throw righty, etc. I had the same dilemma as you but finally decided to learn to play lefty. Playing lefty (ie. strumming with the left hand) felt the most natural to me - it was how I play air guitar! I'm sure I could have learned righty as most lefties are typically ambidextrous to various degrees; but who knows if the additional awkwardness would have caused me to quit.
Ultimately it's up to you what is most comfortable.
There are less lefty guitars than righty guitars but lefty guitars are way more plentiful than in the past - especially via the internet (if necessary). My interest is more in playing than in having a certain guitar - I have found decent deals on lefty electrics and acoustics. The only drawbak to learning lefty, in my opinion, is that I must rely on my own lefty guitars to play - not my friends' or my teachers', etc.
This topic has been discussed here many times; do a search for additional opinions & thoughts. There are a fair number of lefties on these forums including David Hodge who writes many of the Guitar Noise song lessons and other articles.
My opinion is to play the way you feel most comfortable and not worry about potential drawbacks. Playing lefty (if that's what you decide) isn't much of a hindrance at all, IMHO.
I disagree with the piano analogy - I have played piano a bit and neither hand had more difficulty than the other as they are making the same motions. I try righty guitars on occasion (hey, that's what's usually available!) and it feels tremendously more awkward from what I remember of starting out lefty (anecdotal evidence, I know).
Having some ambidexterity already, you can probably learn either way without too much difficulty. If lefty is more comfortable, you have to decide if the drawbacks are acceptable. I found the drawbacks to playing lefty to be minor in comparison to the joy of playing the way that feels most natural to me.
Okay, enough rambling here. I'm a bit biased toward playing lefty but I can't decide what's right for another lefty (or righty :wink: ). My only concern would be for those who choose to play with their opposite hand but give up because it feels too difficult. Either way you choose, if you stick with it you will learn to play and you will become a guitar player! :D
Best of luck whichever way you decide.
Cheers,

L

"The details of my life are quite inconsequential." - Dr. Evil


   
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(@dubyatf)
Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 64
 

Hey there everyone, my name is Reed. For years I've been wanting to learn how to play, I just got my own place back at college and I'm looking to buy a guitar. Theres only one problem; I don't know if I should pick up playing on a right or left handed guitar, I'm basically starting from scratch.

Although I am left handed, I do many things right handed like batting in baseball, using scissors, a mouse, etc. Oddly enough, anything I throw comes from my left hand and I write left handed. Holding a guitar either way feels perfectly natural, I can strum with either hand although I feel much more accurate strumming with my left hand and very inaccurate on the neck with my right hand. Is this something that my right hand will get stronger and adapt to? Or should I just bite the bullet and learn on a right handed guitar?

Help me start rockin :twisted: thanks everyone.

Wow! This is the thread I've been waiting for - and so far it looks like some excellent responses - I'll keep reading. I do most of what you mentioned right-handed (bat, scissors, mouse) but I write with my left hand and do other fine motor skill things as a lefty. I throw right and kick right however. I'm "either way" in tennis (though I'm fostering my left hand along at the moment). I play hockey with right-handed sticks but that doesn't really count as back in the day most real lefties used righty sticks. None of this probably seems worth mentioning to someone who is a true lefty or righty but many of us leftys have suffered in silence for too long. :D

So anyway..... I play right handed guitars and the big thing I have issues with is finger picking (very rough) and strumming (to a lesser extent). Typically, my left hand is usually waiting for my right hand to catch up on scales or riffs. I've been forcing myself to double-pick scales and I think it's slowly paying off (I think) LOL!

Anyhow, I believe there's some number (3 of us?) of lefty players who've adapted themselves to right-handed guitars fairly well. Danny Gatton comes to mind. :shock:


   
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(@reed87)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Thanks a lot for the help guys, I'm going to try both until I finally decide which side to go with. I restrung a right handed acoustic guitar and I'm practicing left handed for now, progress is slow and my fingers are hurtin but I'm loving it!


   
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(@diatonick)
Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 17
 

I suggest you to go for the option which you are absolutely comfortable with. And then respect your own decision. Good Luck.

-diatonick
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Hey there everyone, my name is Reed. For years I've been wanting to learn how to play, I just got my own place back at college and I'm looking to buy a guitar. Theres only one problem; I don't know if I should pick up playing on a right or left handed guitar, I'm basically starting from scratch.

Although I am left handed, I do many things right handed like batting in baseball, using scissors, a mouse, etc. Oddly enough, anything I throw comes from my left hand and I write left handed. Holding a guitar either way feels perfectly natural, I can strum with either hand although I feel much more accurate strumming with my left hand and very inaccurate on the neck with my right hand. Is this something that my right hand will get stronger and adapt to? Or should I just bite the bullet and learn on a right handed guitar?

Help me start rockin :twisted: thanks everyone.

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