A vacuum cleaner from Oreck can be used with both hands just as easily, but that is not always the case with instruments. Guitars are made for right-handed people, so in this article, we will give some advice to those lefties that struggle to learn how to play the guitar.
If you’re a lefty you might actually be lucky
Fortunately, the guitar is a flexible instrument – it allows you to play it in many different ways. You will need both hands to play the guitar, and each of your hands will play its part in the whole ensemble. Your right hand is used to create the rhythm, the picking, while the left hand is used to make the chords, the tonality.
As any right-handed player could tell you, the left hand requires a lot more dexterity and effort. You need lots of hours of practice to be able to pull off complex chords, or difficult techniques with your left hand. Fortunately for a lefty, you already have a lot of practice with your left hand from your day-to-day activities, and you have the dexterity needed to use it effectively.
You might think that it’s not fair to live in a world where guitars are designed for right-handed people, but there are some designs for lefties too. Unfortunately, the prices for a guitar made for left-handed people is often more expensive than the regular one, for no apparent reason. But don’t worry, as some of the most popular guitarists of all time used such guitars. Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain are just some examples.
It is possible that the fact that they were forced to play in an unconventional manner resulted in them having more success due to their unique style. Hendrix was known for his potential to always improvise and come up with new things, and maybe the fact that he was a lefty had something to do with it.
Guitars for left-handed people
When you first want to take up playing the guitar you might be tempted to look for a left-handed guitar right away. It is a natural instinct, but a guitar like this has its disadvantages. The first of these is the fact that such a guitar is a lot more difficult to find, and when you do find a good one, it will be more expensive than a regular model.
The second thing you need to remember when you want to buy a left-handed guitar is that you will still be learning how to play it using methods designed to teach right-handed players. You will have to get used to reading pieces of music and tabs created for regular guitar players, but you will have to switch them around to suit your guitar’s design.
This will take time to learn, and you will need to adapt in order to get to the point where it all comes automatically and you don’t have to think about each note. A teacher will be able to help you, especially if he or she has experience with left-handed players.
However, you will still have the same problem that every time you hear a new song and you want to learn it, you will have to switch things around. A good thing, however, is the fact that when watching videos you can simply mirror what you’re seeing on the screen, and that makes things a lot easier for some people.
But one of the biggest disadvantages, if you learn to play the left-handed guitar only, is the fact that you won’t be able to borrow one of your friends’ guitar. So if you’re on a trip, around a campfire, and the only guitar getting passed from hands to hands there is a regular right-handed one, you will struggle to play it.
Playing a regular guitar
You can rarely find a guitar player that doesn’t like attention, but on the off-chance that you are one of those players and you want to look like a regular player, just strumming his or her guitar, you can always play a normal right-handed model.
Because most guitars are designed for right-handed people, lefties choose to learn how to play on those guitars because that’s what they can get their hands on the easiest. Furthermore, when playing the guitar like this, the chords are easier to understand when read, so that makes this choice a popular one.
Of course, as a lefty, you won’t have any issues with your left hand in this situation, but you might need to practice a lot more strumming and picking with the right hand, as you don’t have the dexterity needed. The right hand is mostly used for keeping the rhythm, so if you’re a person that has a good musical ear, you should find it a bit easier to keep the tempo, even though you are using the right hand for it.
Artists like Albert King or Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits chose to play the right-handed guitar although they are left-handed, and their careers haven’t suffered as a result. One thing that you can understand from this is that no matter the path you choose, the important thing is to stay focused and work as much as you can to always improve.
There are other solutions too
The reversed guitar can be an idea for some left-handed people that want to get more flashy. What this implies is that you take a normal guitar and you switch the strings around. So instead of having the bass E as the top-most string, you have it as the lowest string, and the same goes for all the other strings, that switch places.
This will allow you to transform a guitar that should be played on the right side to one played on the left side with minimum effort. It works best with acoustic guitars that have a symmetric body. Some guitarists like to transform their instruments like this because this allows them to play how they want on an instrument that they can find anywhere.
It is a great solution, but it comes with its downsides. You will still have to invest some money into this, as you would probably need to change the bridge so that it accommodates the strings getting switched around.
Another thing that will be annoying is the fact that most guitars don’t have a cut-out body shape on the top part, so that means when you switch them around, there will be many frets that you can’t reach because the body of the guitar isn’t created to let you reach the chords from that particular direction.
Furthermore, if you use an electric guitar and reverse it, you will find your arm constantly hitting the knobs that are supposed to sit below the strings, but now sit above it. As a true maestro of improvisation, Jimi Hendrix also used a reversed Stratocaster at some point.
What if you just flip the guitar?
There is one more way to play the guitar as a left-handed, and that involves simply picking up a normal guitar and just flip it from the right to the left. This will mean that everything will be reversed, and the bass strings will sit on the bottom part of the guitar rather than the top. It will, of course, give a bizarre chord positioning, and you might find it difficult to learn how to play the guitar like this.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve. Artists like Bob Geldof or Dick Dale confirm that you can make a career out of this. And you will surely impress everyone with your skill of playing everything in an oddly reversed way. Again, the important thing is that you have the musical ear needed to do it all, and the work ethic to constantly practice.
Maybe it’s easier to play with the strings in an odd order, but nobody knows because there is no player that learned how to play the guitar in different ways. So you will just have to find the way that works best for you.
We would, however, recommend that you play a regular guitar if possible, and that is just because reading the music for it will be much easier for you. Furthermore, you will have the dexterity needed in the left hand, and that is something that right-handed people will envy you for.