Friday, January 11, 2008

Why Playing A Right Handed Guitar Left Handed Is More Comfortable

Why is playing a right handed guitar left handed more comfortable for me? As a left handed guitar player, I have been asked "Wouldn't it be more comfortable if you used your dominant hand to make chords and finger positions"? You would think so but that is not the case for me. I can't speak for other left handed people but I feel more natural using my dominant or left hand and arm to pick the strings because of coordination. I play a combination of "finger pick" and "flat pick" styles which requires more precision from my left hand than from my right hand. The main drawback is that I had to create my own style of finger picking because of the position of the strings. I happen to have more strength in my right arm and so it is perfect for me to make chords and fingerings with my right hand. I know that this is an odd way to play the guitar, It is the same as if a right handed person picked up a left handed guitar and played it backwards and upside down.
Getting back to comfort, the guitar must also feel right in your arms. That was a large factor in my decision to play left handed. If I hold a guitar in the right handed position it feels foreign and unnatural. This sensation can't help you in getting the "feel" of the instrument when first learning to play. I know that most left handed people who play right handed will tell you that they got over that feeling but I just didn't have the patience so I am now where I am at playing upside down. Remember that I am not the only person who is playing a right handed guitar left handed as there have been some very famous left handed guitar players who have, and are playing in this style but I'll discuss that in another article.
I recently read an article about playing the left handed guitar. The author said that when buying a guitar to forget about using a right handed guitar and trying to play it upside down because it is impossible to make certain chords. BULL! I have been playing this way for twenty nine years and I can make any chord that you throw at me. I e-mailed the web site that featured that article and challenged them to print my blog and so far I haven't heard from them. The worst thing that you can do is to tell a left handed person that they can't do something. If something isn't built for you because you're not average than make it work for you yourself. If some "expert" tells you that something is impossible then tell them to take a hike.
I hope anyone that is reading this who is left handed and is contemplating learning to play the guitar but doesn't know weather to buy a left handed guitar or do as I do and play a right handed guitar left handed takes this under advisement, if so please leave a comment or question and I will respond.

11 comments:

  1. I am left-handed and play guitar right handed. When I started playing at 15, I actually thought that I was playing left-handed because I was using my dominant hand to make chords. I think this helped me out considerably when starting out. I couldn't imagine playing guitar "left-handed."

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  2. Hi Lucas, Like I said, if your left handed and have no problem playing right handed go ahead and do it. It's just that in my case I find it easier to hold the pick with my left hand. Since I have better coordination in my left hand and arm, I can manipulate my fingers and wrist while all my right hand is doing is working the fingerboard. Thanks for the comment. Ben

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  3. Hey, I'm about to get a guitar and I've been contemplating whether I should get a righty or lefty, I'm a lefty, The guitar I want is a good deal-if I stick with righty but the lefty guitar cost way more, dude what should I do?

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  4. Hi. I just got a right handed guitar for my birthday and I have been trying to learn how to play it normally like a right handed person (even though I'm left handed). I dont have a problem using my left hand to make chords, but strumming and picking strings with my right hand is hard. I guess my question is, which hand does the most intricate stuff when playing guitar? Ultimately I would like to play bluegrassy/country type music.
    I also dont want to get a left handed guitar because I want to be able to pick up any normal guitar and play.
    Is it hard to learn tabs if you play upside down on a right handed guitar?
    Im conflicted about what to do. Any advice would be awesome.
    Thanks.

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  5. Hey Jessica, I learned how to play the guitar from picking rhythm to bluegrass songs. I am now a bluegrass flat picker. You CAN read Tab upside down. I have done it with several songs. It ain't hard to do.
    You sound like a smart person, I bet that you can do it. You don't need my advice, you want approval, well you got it babe, go ahead and play any way you want to.
    You're right, the left hand is the most intricate, if you want to finger pick later, and can't figure it out, let me know. I can teach you how but I charge money for it. Though cheap, I think my knoweldge is worth something. Ben

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  6. Thanks for replying so quick. I have another question. Did you have a hard time learning how to do the G chord? G is the only chord that sounds better when I do it like a right handed person.

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  7. G is one of the easist chords to make for me, but I'm finding that others are having a tough time with it. You may be muffleing the B string with your middle finger. Trim the nail of the middle finger on your right hand as close as possible. That may help. Try to make chords with the tips of your fingers. Sometimes we get lazy and use the sides and front of our fingers. It takes practice but you can do it. Just remember that you aren't working any harded than a right handed person would. They have trouble too. Either way, you have to stretch and contort your fingers to make some chords. Take my word for it, practice will solve the problem. Ben

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  8. Hi Ben, I am a left handed person and have just started learning the guitar about 3 weeks ago. I started out playing right handed but found that I can hold the chords better with my right hand and so now I'm trying the guitar as a left handed, but the strumming doesn't feel right with my left hand. I am trying this out for a few das to see if my left hand can develop a feel for strumming...sort of confused about the whole thing. Any suggestions? Thanks very much - Kaveri

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  9. Hi Kaveri, do you use a pick? Bare fingers? Thumb? everyone has a style that they use to strum or pick the strings. I would suggest holding a pick between your thumb and index finger.
    It's not only your left hand that has to develop, but also your wrist and arm. It's like a chain reaction or a machine, they all have to work together. Even your sitting position can affect your left hand coordination. Experiment with different sitting and arm positions but don't be rigid. Try to relax as you strum the guitar. You may drop the pick occasionally but that's normal. It takes practice but your arm will adapt. Ben

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  10. I am a right-handed person using a right-handed guitar, but playing it left-handed.

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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
bwillismusic@gmail.com