Andy James Talks About Left Handed Guitar

Andy James, shredmeister extraordinaire and well respected tutor recently took part in a webcast where he answered questions from many of his fans.  One question posed to him was from a lefty who had chosen to persue the right handed guitar path…

I’m a lefty playing a right handed guitar – been playing 6 years – practice about 6 hours a day – i still can only play Slayer at half speed – should I switch over to a lefty guitar?

Andy: I think if you are left handed, you should play a lefty guitar. Your left hand will control your picking and general timing and would be more natural for you to use the hand that you would use for anything else. Playing with the right hand might be weird at first but you will probably find that your technique will improve playing the right way.

As you know i’m completely fed up of right handed players giving poor guidance to lefties so it’s refreshing to see someone finally give some solid advice regarding playing left handed guitar.  The question posed here just really goes to show that some lefties just have to play left handed guitar, no questions asked.  It’s not even as if this guy is a casual player, six hours of practice a day is a lot, even for many professional players!

The rest of the webcast is an interesting read, I’d recommend taking a look…
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Check out Andy in action in his band Sacred Mother Tongue below or take a look through some of his many lessons and DVDs over at

Do you agree with Andy’s opinion? Leave your comments.

14 replies
  1. Chrysophylax
    Chrysophylax says:

    I talked to Paul Masvidal of Cynic, he is a lefty turned righ after 6 monthhe started playing: at the time (mid'80 i think) it was too hard to find good and affordable left handed guitars.
    Now he doesn't regret his choise, and has become one of the most respected guitar player in the metal universe.

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      I think this is the opinion that most older players will convey to you, back then the world was much bigger and the internet hadn't taken off. In 2010 there's such a massive choice for left handed players that I doubt anyone would still think the same… I've never heard of Paul Masvidal but I reckon if he'd started playing 20 years later he'd still be rocking out lefty style. It's just not an issue anymore.

      It's something I notice around the internet a lot. Every time someone suggests to a new lefty player to learn right handed they are a veteran player (with outdated views). Modern lefty players know how to use the internet to their advantage and don't whine about petty things like lack of choice. I don't know about you but I cannot think of another instrument where there is as much range of choice as with guitar. Righties are spoiled beyond belief, but lefty's are still spoiled for choice… ;)

  2. yhuji
    yhuji says:

    i am a lefty and i do play right handed guitar s but technically this was my own decision, I have been playing for 3 years now i have overcome my dreamed picking speed now but for me as a starter before i mostly focused my daily routine to my picking which i really think that is my disadvantage than my fretting hand from harsh practice 3 hours a day after days of days of practice i have overcome my dream, all i can say is just if you want to strive to a thing that you want to learn you can really learn it humans have no limit, there are many lefties who are really fast at the guitar for example micheal angelo batio, herman li and mark knoplfer but really it just depends on a person on whatever is decision is, now i can play master of puppets normally than before and i ca also play cannon rock, glasgow kiss, i'm alright, through the flames and fire always with me and always with you.

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Lefty guitarist and proud :) :D
    I can’t believe left handed players go thru the pain on learning to play with their non natural hand because there are more guitars, and about having difficulties learning to play with tabs and videos because they are mostly based for right handers, never understood that, i never had problems with learning. I waited for my lefty guitar for like 3 months but is worth it, have no regrets. :))

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      My first good quality electric (when I could afford to graduate from my cheapy Samick Strat) I ended up getting custom made because I had trouble finding the right sort of thing in left-handed. That was late-90s. The quality of the lower range guitars, the choice and variety out there these days is just massive as you’ve pointed out.

  4. Alton
    Alton says:

    I’m a lefty and had three right handed guitars: a Takemine, yamaha,Ibanez.I had them for eight years and wasn’t interested in them much. I traded all for a left handed Strat. I am very happy with the trade.I just started taking lessons,and every thing feels so natural now.By the way, a right handed person influenced me to play right handed and it didn’t work.

  5. Ant Lefty
    Ant Lefty says:

    I am 32, and been playing guitar since I was 12. I walked into a Mom and Pops guitar store in my town and picked up a righty guitar but held it lefty. the shop owner told me this was wrong and no one plays left handed guitar and you can’t purchase them in the area. This was 1992 and there was no internet. I have been playing right handed guitar for 20 years now and I have noticed over the years my chops are just not as perfect as everyone elses and at times my right hand just doesn’t communicate sometimes. It really makes me wonder if I was supposed to play left handed my whole life. Don’t even know if I can start the transition now at my age.

    I have noticed this condition as been getting worse and my hand is getting slower as i get older. becoming very frustrating

    Ant Lefty

    Ripface Invasion

  6. John Guentner
    John Guentner says:

    I have been trying to play right handed for years, due to an inept music store guy. I came across this site a little over a month ago and went out and bought a cheap lefty acoustic. In that short time I have learns every song that I ever tried to play rt handed, all my chords and can finally finger pick. I am amazed how easy it has been to switch. Now all I need is a little more strength and coordination in my rt hand and I will have surpassed the skills I had prior to switching. This was all in less than two months. Every now and then my brain does a flip when I’m playing but I’m sure that will pass. My picking hand has amazed me. I can now do complex strum patterns without having to think as hard. I believe that is the key to all this, rhythm! The next righty that gives me that BS about it not mattering, I’m just going to hand them a pen and say “could you right that down for me?” No wait, you need to use your left hand!

  7. Grasshopper
    Grasshopper says:

    Hello everyone, I am now 48, and have been playing the piano for about 40 years :-), just bought my guitar and want to learn that. Refreshing reading about the views on using left guitars! I also got advices about just going ahead and learning as a righty as “we have been teaching for 40 years and all lefties learned a lot faster on a right handed guitar”. So I have tried it right handed and could probably learn it, but when I air play or just take the guitar and put it on my lap – I put it on the left way. I go many things with my right hand though, throw and catch balls, eat, open up a jar etc. I write with my left (but can write with my right too, not as fast though), I paint with my left but also use my right hand; sometimes it feels that my right hand is more flexible… so it is not that cut and dry. Strumming was easy with my right, but also my fretting hand was better when I used my right… so there…

  8. yano
    yano says:

    i played right handed for years. Technically I played well. After switching to my natural, left handed.(strumming with left hand). I enjoy my playing…i can feel the rithm and every not i pick. The more I use my left handed for picking/strumming..the more my ears and my mind open.. the dominant hand can open/strengtent brain…


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