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When I was a kid and took a guitar for the first time my first instinct was to hold it in a left handed manner. I still feel, that it's my natural way to play.

But today I watched the video "How to choose an Acoustic Guitar" where mr. Gary Wineroth - an experienced player says:

"The guitar was invented by a left handed person, so your dexterity was upon your left hand upon the fingerboard. I am a left handed person but I play with my left hand upon a fingerboard which is considered a right handed position.

Regardless whether you are left handed if you haven't started playing we always recommend that you play it in a normal right handed position."

So if I haven't played yet and want to learn, should I go against my instinct and buy a right handed guitar? Plus they are cheaper and there is a bigger variety of such guitars in the shops.

  • 3
    I would go to a store with both and play around with each kind and pick the one most comfortable to you. You may spend a huge amount of time and money on playing guitar, so it makes more sense if you are enjoying yourself. Choose the kind of guitar that is most fun and interesting and comfortable for you. Pretty much any guitar can be strung left-handed if the nut is changed out. – Todd Wilcox Sep 3 '15 at 20:44
  • There are several questions and answers on this subject already on this site. Just about every aspect of this has been covered. – Tim Sep 4 '15 at 7:12
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    I would like the citation for "The guitar was invented by a left handed person." Although Gary is an experienced player.. – Jay Skyler Sep 24 '15 at 9:52
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Whether you learn to play a "right handed" guitar or a "left handed" guitar, you will still need to develop skill and dexterity in both hands. If you play around with both lefty and righty guitars and feel more comfortable with one or the other, then you can certainly learn to play either one.

Either way, it will take a tremendous amount of practice and repetition and dedication and commitment to learn to contort your fretting hand fingers into very strange and unnatural configurations and to learn to accurately play individual strings or maintain various strumming patterns with your strumming hand.

Once you learn one way - if you are like most folks, you will not be able to play the other way and will not want to re-invest the time and energy to re-learn from scratch. In other words, if you learn to play on the more common "right handed" guitar and then later decide to switch to a left handed guitar, it will be like starting all over again from scratch - so you won't want to do that (it's like going backwards in your development).

So once you get to a certain point with either righty or lefty guitar, you will pass a point of no return (for all intents and purposes). It is absolutely true that you will find a much wider selection of guitars to choose from if you learn to play with your left hand as the fretting hand and your right hand as your strumming/picking hand. It's not uncommon to go into a music store and find over 100 "right handed" guitars and perhaps only one or two "left handed" guitars.

You can order a guitar to be built either as a left handed or right handed, and you can flip the nut and saddle and pickguard and convert some right handed guitars (if there is no cutaway). But either of those options translates into more money on each guitar (custom ordered are usually more expensive than in-store inventory). Eventually you may want several guitars and the scarcity and expense of finding "left handed" guitars could ultimately contribute to some frustration.

If you are at ground zero in your journey towards becoming a guitar player and equally inept at the present time with either a left or right handed guitar, and you don't have a strong sense that it will be easier for you to learn to fret with one hand versus the other - then you might want to learn to play the more readily available, less expensive, "right handed" guitar.

However, if you find it much easier to make progress learning to fret with your right hand and strum and pick with your left hand, and don't mind the limited selection and higher prices associated with being a "left handed guitar player", then you could certainly learn to play "left handed".

Good luck with your journey whichever direction you choose to point your guitar!

  • I am right handed and play a standard right handed strat. I have tried playing a left-handed guitar and to my surprise found that the chord fingers (my right hand) knew what to do quite quickly. The strumming with left hand was more difficult, but then thats was a part I struggled with when learning so makes sense. Thus i'm not sure it's necessarily true that once you've committed one way or the other, that's it. I thinkit would be possible to change. – user2808054 Sep 25 '15 at 10:05
  • @user2808054 Certainly possible. I agree. But most folks don't adapt as readily and easily as you seem to be able to do. I find it virtually impossible to play left handed - both strumming and forming chords. – Rockin Cowboy Sep 26 '15 at 19:03
  • there's me judging everyone by my own standards. fair point Mr. RC – user2808054 Sep 28 '15 at 13:19
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I would advise NOT making the mistake I did 45yrs ago and allow yourself to be talked into learning right-handed (usually by a "righty"). Down the track it will be your greatest regret and it will also be impossible to change (I've tried many times over the years).

Play some "air guitar" and ask yourself what "feels" right (?)

Naturally, you will feel more comfortable playing left-handed for sure, so I'd go with it if I was you. Just listen to what your body is telling you feels comfortable.

Here are the main reasons: Good rhythm, picking, runs (especially with a plectrum) will develop to a high level much quicker with your left hand than with your right.

Fretboard fingering is just muscle memory. Either hand can learn that well. What you do with your other hand on the strings is more than just "muscle memory". It is the hand that of produces the sound from the guitar and that is were the music comes from!

Music is about rhythm, expression, delicacy when required and all sorts of string-hand dexterity and none of those things are "muscle memory".

Which hand do you think those most important qualities I mentioned are going to come from the best, giving each hand the same amount of practice time?

7

I'm a lefty and I play lefty; no regrets. Many righties here will give you advice about how you have an advantage if you play right-handed because your left hand is so well trained. The question I have for them is then why don't they play left-handed? It's the same theory.

Playing guitar is like using scissors. Either you can do it right-handed or not. The only advantage of playing right-handed that I've found is that there are more right-handed guitars available then left-handed guitars. You're more likely to find a cool right-handed guitar at the guitar store than the lefty version -- if there even is a lefty version (note, used lefties are cheaper than their right-handed counterparts unless you're talking Rickenbackers and such).

Martin makes left-handed models without charging you extra. Gibson charges like $50. Left-handed Strats and Teles abound. Access to left-handed guitars isn't hard. The problem is that you may have to commit and buy a lefty guitar before you can try it because if it's new, it's probably being special ordered just for you.

I literally couldn't play right-handed and probably would have quit had I not tried left-handed. Do what come natural.

2

My advice to you would be to play right handed guitars if at all possible. I know for some lefties it just simply becomes impossible but if you can in any way manage play the conventional way round.

There is real benefits for actual left handed players in doing this as your smart hand becomes the picking hand which requires a fair amount more dexterity than the one holding the strings down.

It will aid you in doing this but if you really struggle in passing the brain hemispheres then a left hand guitar may be OK.

  • Not sure at all about the 'smart hand' needing more dexterity. In fact, maybe the same, but probably more guitarists don't fingerpick than do. – Tim Sep 4 '15 at 17:44
  • Ironic - since the word dexterous has its roots in 'right-handed'! – Tim Sep 4 '15 at 17:50
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I know a leftie who plays right-handed guitars in left-handed position -- so the bass string is nearest the floor. It suited him because he can pay "conventional" guitars using the hand that feel natural to him.

I don't really recommend that, but the moral is that you should play the way that feels natural to you.

Another illustrative anecdote: I took violin lessons as a child. My parents noticed that outside "duty" practice, I would play tunes by holding the violin like a guitar or ukulele. So they bought me a uke.

If you have an instinct for holding a certain type of instrument a certain way, then go with it.

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