Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Left Handed Guitar Lessons

There are ads all over the Internet offering left handed guitar lessons. I have never checked them out personally because I am not a left handed guitar player per se, I am a right handed guitar player who happens to play left handed. I hope that isn't too confusing but if you read this blog on a regular basis then you know what I'm talking about.I took guitar lessons once. They didn't last very long. I was in my mid-twenties and was already playing on a regular basis and wanted to take advanced lessons to improve myself. I got this guy's name from the local music store and called him up. After asking him if he wouldn't mind teaching a left handed upside down guitar picker, he became excited about the challenge and agreed. The guy was really good and found it not so difficult to teach a leftie like myself.
To make a long story short, in the few lessons that I took I learned the basics of finger picking and began teaching myself from there. Like I said at the beginning, there are plenty of ads on the Internet for left handed guitar lessons, but it hasn't always been that way. I'm talking about straight up left handed guitar and not like the way that I play. It seems like most guitar teachers will not or cannot teach a leftie how to play. I was a guitar teacher at one time and taught guitar for right handed people with no problem whatsoever. Most of my students were children. Can a right handed person teach a left handed person how to eat with a fork? To tie their shoes? It is all relative. It boils down to the teacher being so used to the status quo that they are convinced that their way is the only way. The teacher is not the one paying for the lessons and you shouldn't conform to make his or her job easier. You wouldn't let a waiter tell you what you're going to eat. The bottom line is that if you think that you need to take lessons to play a left handed guitar or in an extreme case like mine, pay someone to teach you how to play a right handed guitar upside down then it may be an up hill battle to find a teacher who is willing to try. Never let them charge you more because you are left handed because I know for a fact that it is no more difficult to teach a left handed person than a right handed person.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chord Diagrams For The Left Handed Guitar Player Playing A Right Handed Guitar

In case you haven't noticed I put some left handed chord diagrams underneath the guitar chord pictures on the side bar. Keep in mind that these are only some of the basic chords if you are a beginning guitar player. They are guitar chords for left handed guitar players playing a right handed guitar and not your usual guitar chords for left handed players. They look like right handed chords because we are using a right handed guitar but the big difference is in which fingers I use to make these chords.
Remember also that this is the way that I make the chords so you can experiment with them to find a comfortable way to do it yourself , and if my method works for you then I'm that much more pleased. Notice that at the bottom of each chord it shows which finger I use for each fret with the thumb being the fifth finger.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Left Handed Upside Down Isn't Right For Some Lefties

In the past month or so. I've been doing searches of other left handed web sites to exchange links, get to know people and maybe find other articles and opinions about playing a right handed guitar left handed. I would eventually like to get perspectives of other musical instruments besides the guitar, but the guitar will remain the basis of this site.
When I tell other web site owners about the method that I use to play the guitar, most are enthusiastic and supportive about it but a few have been downright puritanical and almost outraged that I have the nerve to support and encourage playing a musical instrument in such an unorthodox manner. I usually get a line like, "although I admire how you personally beat the odds I cannot condone the encouragement of playing the guitar in such an orthodox manner when there are guitars made for the left handed musician". These are left handed musicians saying this.
I don't have a problem with this. It is only their opinion. Neither do I have a problem with a lefty choosing to play a left handed guitar. I played the violin right handed when I was a kid and still do. I do have a problem with fellow lefties who seem so supportive but refuse to acknowledge that there are other alternatives than simply buying a more expensive made for lefty instrument. Here's a scenario, you show up at a party where someone is playing the guitar (right handed of course) and they ask you to play a tune. You don't have your left handed guitar with you so the only guitar that you can use is the right handed guitar. Unless you restring it on the spot or play it upside down you can't play. I wouldn't have this problem because I can play it upside down.
I think that the few lefties who feel the way that I described are musical purists who can't fathom someone learning how to play an instrument that doesn't use a prescribed method of learning. In other words, no one has ever written a curriculum, music book, or instructional method for the way that I play. There are no acknowledged experts in this style. People have done some amazing out of the main stream things with instruments like the guy (his name slips my mind) who sets the guitar on his lap and plays it like a hammered dulcimer using his fingers as hammers. I saw a guy with one arm playing an electric guitar strumming the frets with his pinkie as he made chords with his other fingers. I wouldn't discourage someone with two arms from playing this way if they wanted. Most people learn how to play by some prescribed method because it has proven to work and that's good. Then again there are some of us who would prefer to do things our own way and we can also have successful results in the end. Just watch the videos of Albert King and "Libba" Cotton on my Notable People Who Play Right Handed Guitar Left Handed post and see.
Please post your comments and visit my web site at http://benwillismusic.com

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Left Handed Or Just Lazy?

Just thought that I would talk about an experience that I had last week as a left handed guitar player playing a right handed guitar and maybe some of you other lefties can identify with it. I'm not whining, I'm just curious. The whole point of this site is to adapt to a so-called handicap and not whine about it.
I recorded a new song that I had written two years ago and learned a valuable lesson from it. The first thing I did was to lay down the rhythm guitar, bass and drum tracks which I had very little problem doing. The problem came when I was ready to record the lead guitar part. This is an acoustic guitar lead by the way. I previously worked out the lead and thought that I wouldn't need much practice before recording. After about thirty takes I decided that I wasn't ready to record this lead. I kept rehearsing until the tips of my fingers were so sore that I couldn't firmly hold the chords which added another problem of excess string noise and muffling. I had to stop playing altogether for a couple of days while my fingers healed but eventually got the lead lick on "tape" to the point that it was acceptable.
After thinking about this I started wondering if the fact that I play a right handed guitar left handed and upside down contributed to the problem or if it was just poor planning. The song that I recorded is in the key of B minor. I had a capo on the second fret and played the lead out of an A minor position. Most of the lead part is played around the A minor and D minor chord positions, which for the way that I play would mean that heavy emphasis is put on the D, G, B and high E strings. That would mean that I will do most of the "picking" toward the top of the sound hole of the guitar instead of the bottom like a right handed player would do. With my picking hand in that position it would be very easy to accidentally muffle the strings with the palm or side of your hand. Couple that with sore fingers on my right hand and you have a recipe for disaster.
Like I said I eventually got it down after letting my fingers heal and re-practicing the lick until I was confident that it wouldn't take so much time to record. If anyone has had a similar problem please leave a comment. I'd like to hear about it.

I've been busy trying to find sponsors for this site so we can expand and offer services to the left handed musician. I will publish updates whenever possible. If you would like to contribute information or articles that would benefit the left handed musician of any instrument let me know.
How to play a right handed guitar left handed is still my top priority but I want to offer resources for other instruments too.

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