Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How To Play A Right Handed Guitar Left Handed - About The Author

Being a left handed guitar player I have accepted the fact that musical instruments especially the guitar are designed for the right handed player. Everyday tools and conveniences are designed and built with no regard to lefty's such as power saws, water fountains pay phones and even firearms. The list goes on.
When I was around the age of twelve my parents bought me a cheap guitar for Christmas which of course was a right handed guitar. Not wanting to learn to play right handed, I changed the strings around as most left handers do. To no avail I found it hard to make certain chords and thus hindered my learning. I soon gave up the idea and the guitar went into the closet. Years later at around age twenty one I started fooling around with my brothers guitar. Since it didn't belong to me I couldn't change the strings so I started learning to make chords backwards and playing left handed. After I had learned to make a few basic chords and strum them clearly I was determined to go all the way regardless of my so called handicap. I bought my own right handed guitar and was soon learning to play the guitar left handed upside down. I was soon playing my favorite songs. In the early days though I only strummed chords but that was enough to get by. By the time I could play all of the major, minor, sharps and seventh chords I was ready to learn to play some lead. A friend told me that a good place to learn guitar was at a bluegrass festival. I started attending festivals and learning the old songs. I first learned the song "Wild Wood Flower" by the Carter Family. It was a simple three chord song and not too difficult to play the lead melody. Soon after that came old standards like "Home Sweet Home" and "Cripple Creek" also three chord songs and easy to learn a lead melody. I became sort of an oddity as I played around the at festivals and always heard comments like, "Did you know that you're playing that guitar upside down?" Well Duh! It was funny to see people tilt their heads like a puzzled dog as I played. Other musicians would not look at me while they were playing because I would throw them off. They couldn't tell what I was doing. I got a kick out of that. I eventually taught myself to play "Flat pick" and "Finger Pick" style guitar. I also play acoustic slide guitar. In the past few years I began learning how to write songs and started writing my own music. I recorded a CD titled "The Lighter Side Of Poverty". I wrote all of the songs, provide the vocals and play all of the right handed instruments on the CD. This is an on going blog to provide beginning and intermediate leftys and techniques to make your learning experience a little easier in a right handed world. Please email me with questions or comments about playing a right handed guitar left handed at:


  1. Hey i'm left handed too and play a right handed guitar upside down, simply because firstly right handed guitars are cheaper and secondly because i found it easier than learning to play right handed or switching the strings around. I get a lot of comments from people who don't understand how i can be playing it upside down. I'm attending my first bluegrass festival this summer so i hope to be able to learn some new songs and pick up some tips, anyway i love your blog!
    Matt, 14

  2. Nice Blog!
    How do you find time to create such an informative blog. It's really nice to went through your blog.

  3. I'm like you. I too get a kick out of it. My producer is constantly badgering me to learn it the right way or the left way and not inbetween like we do. I'd love to be able to prove that its fine doing it the way i do but i can't. Do you know of any other links to do with this or to teach me more in the way that we play or to show that it can be done? Stupid thing is my producers left handed but plays right handed. You'd think i'd have more support.

  4. Some left handed sites mention it but don't go into much detail. This is the only one. Ben

  5. Well then I'll be checking in here from time to time then. Thanks Ben. I found a wikipedia page about Albert King (1 of the 3 kings of blues guiter) He also flipped a right handed.

  6. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  7. Thanks Guitarfest, please link to me from your site.

  8. Thank you so much for your blog, now I can learn guitar the "right" way. That is, the way that comes naturally for me. Since I was a kid, when my parents bought me a "guitar" (actually a ukelele)I've always hold it in a left-handed way (Pic: Until now, whenever I get a hold of guitar, I feel more comfortable holding it that way. No one has the patience to teach me, though.. coz they said it wasn't the proper way of holding it. I thought I was weird that time, now I'm glad to know I'm not the only one, lol ;D Now I can show them that people who holds guitar upside down can play as good as the ones who hold it the "usual" way! :D


Ben Willis demonstrating the "left handed upside down guitar method".

A chord

B Chord

C Chord

D Chord

E Chord

F Chord

G Chord

B Barre Chord

D Barre Chord

Contact Info

E-mail Ben Willis at