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left or right handed?

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Active Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

My son has taken an interest in guitar playing and is left handed. I play a little for fun and was hoping to show him the basics,scales,simple progressions, and the obligatory simple but impressive riffs to keep him interested and let him impress his friends with.
I have two problems I don't know that I'm good enough to swap my thinking around to teach him if he plays lefty. And the choice of instruments within our price range is not great. Especially as he has a thing for wash burns and ibanez style guitars.
My personal choice has, after trying many, become a les Paul style for its warmth,clarity, and good sustain.
So do I just accept he's a lefty and buy a left handed guitar? Or accept he's a lefty and buy a double cutaway style and re-string it because we could get a better instrument cheaper.
Or being as he's never played except for messing around with mine would it be any more difficult for him to just learn right handed.which would mean I could help him out to start with. He's 13 and very bright. And unusually dedicated to his interests,at least while he still enjoys them!, which is why I'm in such a quandary.
Or failing that does anyone know of any manufacturers making decent budget left hand guitars? His musical tastes range from green day, old british punk, classic rock and metal, right up to modern heavy dance/rock like pendulum etc in case that helps with choices.
I am new here but would really appreciate any advice the community could offer.

Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5342

Well, he's 13 and just starting. He can wait to indulge his liking for Ibanez and Washburn; at this stage your shopping list comprises: anything inexpensive

Accept that he's left-handed and that none of the big names automatically make everything in their range in a left-handed version. There's no point forcing him to play right-handed and you have the great advantage of him being able to mirror exactly what you do.

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

There are three and a half strategies used by left handed guitarists:

1. Learn right handed. Since right handed instruments are easy to come by, you'll never have a gear problem. And in the long run, both hands need to be trained anyway... all symphony violinists play "right handed" (otherwise they'd run into each other with their bows), and other instruments like clarinet or piano come with the expectation that a musician will have to develop both hands.

2. Learn upside down on a right handed instrument. This can be tough, but it solves the gear problem. Albert King played that way, and I've seen Doyle Bramhall II do it too.

3. Get a left handed instrument. They're harder to come by, though, as all the major manufacturers no longer carry them as part of the stock line - they're special order now. A shop with 400 guitars on the walls MAY have one lefty.

3.5 Restring a right handed instrument. You'll need to replace the nut, and it's a good idea to swap the bridge as well, or you won't have the right intonation. Hendrix played this way (and without swapping the bridge!)

The majority - about 90% - of my left handed students have learned to play right handed. But I've learned there are varying degrees of left-handedness... years ago I had a student who couldn't process what I was doing in lessons. I finally tried putting him in front of a mirror so he could look at the mirror image of me, and that did the trick.

And if David weighs in on this thread, I'd listen to his advice - since he's a left-handed guitar teacher!

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL

Active Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

Thanks for the input everyone. I think the problem of equipment may have solved its self. A family friend has a Yamaha pacifica gathering dust and is prepared to let my boy have it for next to nothing. It's pretty much the instrument I was trying to talk him into. The question now is for him to play right or left.
I understand the comment about degrees of left handedness and I guess that will make the final decision on that.
I was never planning to buy him an ibanez or Washburn anyway. But he's the sort of kid that if that's what he wants he will find a way to make it happen. Working, saving his money, and telling everyone what he's trying to do and suggesting that birthdays and Xmas would be ideal times to make donations to this fund.
I agree with keeping it inexpensive in the beggining. But the only cheap leftys I could find new were by makes I'd never heard of.

Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 726

Great stuff, NoteBoat!

For the record, the guitarist for Air Supply also plays a RH guitar "Upside-down". To me, that takes a special skill. 8)

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 165

I'm a lefty, but I play right handed. When starting from absolute scratch, the movements are alien for both hands. Might was well learn on the equipment the way you will commonly find it.