Thursday, March 19, 2009

Being Left Handed

Remember pay phones? There are still a few around. Have you ever used a pay phone left handed? If you have then you know about the cord of the phone brushing against your face as you hold the receiver against your left ear. That's just one example of how everyday products are made for a right handed world.

I'm getting away from the guitar in this post to talk about this subject that I have brushed upon (no pun intended) in previous posts. left handed people using right handed products. We use right handed products every day so why not the right handed guitar?

I like to fire shot guns. I don't own a shot gun but if I did I would have to buy a left handed model. The reason is that when the shell discharges, it comes out of the right side of the rifle whizzing past my face. It could cause injury to the face and eye. I have done it before and was lucky that I wasn't hurt. That's how I found out about it. If you hold the rifle right handed, there is plenty of room for the discharging shell to clear your head.

Composition books are my biggest problem with the springlike binder on the left of the page. As you begin to write, your left hand sits on top of the spring interfering with your penmanship. I have to turn the page and write on the back side where the holes are on the right, or just start writing from the last page and turning the pages backwards. If the reader doesn't like it, too bad, I'm just adapting to a right handed world.

My favorite is power tools. I use them a lot and they are all built for right handed users. The safety triggers use a button usually situated on the side of the grip to the left of the trigger. A right handed person simply mashes the button with their thumb to engage the trigger. I either reach over and push the button with my right hand or shift the palm of my left hand to cover and push the button. I'm not complaining. I've done it so many times that I'm good at it. Chain saws can be dangerous because the bar and chain are situated for a right handed user. A left handed user can get excess debris on their body and face. I always wear goggles.

Older water fountains were made with the button on the left. That's no problem unless you are carrying books in your left hand, then you have to either switch the books to your right hand or cross you hand over to get a drink. The newer ones have the button on both sides. That's some progress.

I haven't even begun to list things that are not made for the left handed person. Scissors, can openers, hand tools, watches etc. Sure you can buy left handed versions of most things these days but why should you have to? Why should I have to buy a left handed guitar? We have been in a right handed mindset throughout history. Being left handed was not acceptable in the past for religious and cultural reasons. In ancient Egypt, artwork was found in tombs that showed their enemies as left handed. In religious art, Jesus and God are almost always drawn giving blessings with their right hand, and the Devil is portrayed doing evil with his left hand. In many traditional Muslim cultures, it is impolite to touch food with the left hand.

So naturally being left handed has been seen as an oddity throughout history and has been ignored by manufacturers of products to the point that it's too late to retool and make things ambidexrous. Why should they since we buy them anyway?

No, I don't need a left handed guitar. I'll play my right handed guitar backwards just like I write backwards on the composition book. I can even play vintage guitars with no problem. More about the guitar in my next post.

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