I'm right-handed but have had severe mobility issues with my left hand. I desperately want to learn the guitar. Should I buy a left-handed guitar? And if so, what should I start out with?

i have had problems weakness in my left arm since I was a child.I cannot move my fingers independently as you would normally I'm speaking specifically my left-hand thumb and fingers. I can make a fist sure no problem but intricate movement one by one each finger no. That's why felt using my right hand to hold down and change cords while strumming or picking with my left would be an appropriate choice.I apologize if i am not explaining this in a more eloquent way wish I could show you guys with a short video to explain. My left hand often was limp and lame as a kid looks fine but muscularly much weaker and not as defined as my right hand.for example something something as touching my thumb to my finger tips with my left hand when i try all fingers move not just the one im trying to touch. its a very frustrating experience but i want to overcome somehow and i though with the love of music and always wanting to play guitar i should make eforts

  • If you want to play just like someone with normal left-hand mobility, you'll get problems. But if you are willing to adapt your playing to what you can do with your left hand, you might even develop your own style and sound, and you'll sound uniquely like yourself and nobody else. For some funk-soul-pop rhythm comping, even a couple of strings and frets can be made to sound awesome. But if you want to sound just like everyone else and if the joy of playing comes from performing exact note sequences like on records ... not going to happen. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 8:09
  • Some specifics of the hand problem will make tailoring answers easier.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 12:08
  • After your recent edit, it sounds to me like trying to learn to play left handed might be a good choice; you might find thumb picks useful instead of regular picks. In any case, the best thing to do would be to find a decent teacher and talk with them about it. They should be able to help you chart a course, and even if you only took lessons for a few months, that would be time and money well-spent.
    – user39614
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 17:45
  • I sincerely appreciate all of you taking your time and being so considerate and answering my questions It helps me a lot Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 16:03

4 Answers 4


Since you have no guitar experience it may not matter. You have not provided enough data on your mobility issue to really make a determination. For a guitarist both arms need to be mobile to some degree, especially for certain techniques. I suspect you might think that the picking arm does not need to move as much as the fretting arm but that isn't necessarily the case. For example, if you start doing finger tapping techniques you could be moving the picking hand more than the fretting hand.

You could help us by offering a little more data. Is the mobility in the rotator cuff? The wrist and fingers? Or the elbow. Les Paul (the inventor of the modern electric guitar), for example, shattered his right arm elbow in an accident. Doctors were considering putting in a straight metal rod which would have destroyed his musical career. They opted for fusing his arm at an angle. Tony Iommi lost two fingers on his fretting hand and managed to adjust with home made prosthetics. Django Reinhardt damaged his fretting hand in an accident and could only really use 2 fingers reliably but remained one of the greatest gypsy jazz guitarists in history even with the handicap.

My point with the above antecdotes is that even people who play guitar find ways to adjust when they lose mobility. Since you have no frame of reference it may really not matter if you play right or left handed guitar. You will hit blocks and you will work through them. It feels uncomfortable to play guitar for almost all beginners in my experience so the lack of mobility might not be that big of an issue in comparison (again, just speculating since I don't know the exact nature of your issue).

  • there are even players with no arms who play with both feet
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 19:59
  • True, but I don't think the OP needs to use feet. I would still like to know more about the severe mobility issue.
    – user50691
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 21:05

Several thoughts. It primarily depends on what mobility restrictions your left hand has. If it's grip, then it doesn't have to be a problem - you don't need to throttle the neck in order to play notes or chords!

If it's finger mobility, then you're better off using the right hand to finger notes and chords. If it's wrist/elbow mobility, then start with a standard guitar, as a lefty will need that mobility in order to strum chrds - something a guitar is made for.

What we often say is find a teacher. A good one will have some experience, possibly, to guide you, having been presented with your problems face to face. He will explain better than we can here, and give you far better guidance.

  • If it is grip, OP may want to set up the guitar in a special way (lighter strings, etc.)
    – user45266
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 19:20

For a guitar, both hands play an important role. The primary hand (normally right except for left-handers) plucks the strings while the other hand grips the chords in case of accompaniment.

In my opinion, if you just want to learn to pluck some chords for nice evenings at a campfire, you could really try your luck with a left-hand guitar. Notice that the strings will be inverted in contrast to normal right-hand guitars so you cannot just switch hands (unless you switch all strings).

In case you would like to learn how to play melodies and more complex stuff like rhythm patterns and pluck technique, you should consider to start with a right-hand guitar. Maybe your left hand is just untrained and gets used to the frets after some time. Actually it doesn't matter whether your untrained left hand would have to learn rhythmic pluck patterns or grips because both will be complex. - If after some weeks you should encounter big problems and not making progress, you could still switch to a left-hand guitar (or switch your strings at first).

Hope that helps you to find a decision.


Start with the chromatic scale. Depending on how severe your mobility issue is, keep in mind that you can play with a guitar pic.

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