Wednesday, June 4, 2008

That Guitar Wasn't Made To Be Played Left Handed

No one has ever told me that. Most people think that it is amazing to see someone play a right handed guitar left handed upside down. Don't let the title of this article fool you. I wrote an earlier article about being left handed and having to use right handed products. I am not a left handed complainer because I have used these things all of my life and adapted accordingly. As a child, I didn't even know the difference so it is a moot point to complain and demand equal treatment.
When I was younger, I worked as a carpenters helper which meant toting wood and using a power saw. It was a right handed power saw of course. That was my first experience with using a dangerous power tool in an awkward manner. If I tried to cut a piece of wood with the power saw holding it in my right hand that would be fine, as far as safety goes. But my right arm and hand are not so coordinated so I end up cutting crooked lines. The saw is also quite heavy and hard to position correctly with my weaker arm. I switched hands and began sawing left handed which the carpenters didn't like, so fire me Mr. Carpenter. At least the wood is being cut straight now. That is a very dangerous way to hold a power saw and I was well aware of that. Almost all power saws have a safety button positioned on the left side of the trigger guard, so if you are holding the saw with your right hand all you have to do to engage the trigger is to mash the safety button with your right finger tips or thumb. No problem. When you hold the saw with your left hand, you have to either reach over and push the button with your right hand leaving no free hand to hold the piece of wood or do as I did and learn to position the palm of your left hand to the side of the trigger guard and mash the button with the palm of your hand. I got to be pretty good at this. Again, adapting to a right handed world. I didn't even mention the sliding saw blade guard that automatically retracts when you are sawing right handed, but a leftie has to "get it started" with their right hand while sawing with their left.
My point is this. As with the power saw, the right handed guitar wasn't made to be played by a left handed guitar player. Either by switching the strings around (which could damage the guitar) or flipping it over and playing it upside down. Just as I had learned to operate a right handed power saw I learned to play a right handed guitar left handed. So left handed people can learn to adapt in a right handed world.

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