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.

18 replies
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  1. mike
    mike says:

    If you don’t mind, I will share MY experiences with you…

    I have played guitar for 30 years as a right hander, but never understood why I progressed so slowly with my fretting (left) hand. Certain finger combinations I could never do (even at 10BPM!) despite practicing five-six hours a day… for instance I could never play a major scale with a 124,134 fingering combination on the A and D string. Frustrating to say the least when my students could do it after half an hour! Also, I felt compelled to play ‘thumb behind the neck’ rather than ‘thumb over the neck’ (which came naturally to me). Unfortunately, rather than doing the sane thing and using a different combination of fingers/ hand position, I slogged and slogged away, convinced it would come eventually!

    I got pretty good by just using patterns I could do, but (being a child of the ‘technical obsessed 80’s’) I was never happy… in fact it made my life darn miserable.

    …Up until about ten years ago, where my fretting (left) hand lost all ability (to the point where I could not even begin to play the things I used to be able to… at one point I could not even play chords, nor even type on a keyboard using my left hand….!)
    This was probably down to the tension that crept into my hand, or maybe just the result of many thousands of hours doing the same fruitless exercise?

    So, instead of giving up, a couple of years ago I had the bright (or stupid?) idea to try playing left handed, i.e. my RIGHT hand on the fretboard. (I should probably say that the style of music I love is very much dependent on the fretting hand (think Joe Satriani legato style)).

    Despite it sounding terrible due to not having the control over muting etc, I realised within a few days my fretting hand was so far in advance of what it was previously, that I should have done this from the start…

    Now, two years on I am still playing as a leftie, and wish I had done it thirty years ago! I have a long way to go to get my all round playing back to the level it was (but then, I only play a few hours a week these days…) but I am confident that if I want to, I can… which is a feeling I never had when I was playing the other way, which never felt right.

    So, my advice would be this:
    a) If after a couple of years of banging your head against a wall (sometimes in my case literally!) and not prgressing, borrow a guitar strung the other way around and spend a week with it… it might just ‘click’ for you!
    b) Whichever way around you play, ignore anyone who tells you its wrong to have ‘bad’ technique. Play the way it is natural to you… In fact, look at Andy James, who rarely uses his little finger in combination with his third finger…. anyone care to correct HIM? lol!

    I thought I was right-handed (it turns out (I in my forties now) that in my childhood I used both hands to draw etc, but was ‘encouraged’ by my school to be right-handed…. anyway…

    • Andie Broadhurst
      Andie Broadhurst says:

      Thank you for this report, Mike. Our son (7), who has been professionally diagnosed as left-handed, has somehow got the idea that being left-handed makes him a “second-class citizen”. Your comments will help to convince him which one his “master hand” is and which his “helping hand” (we tend to refer to them this way to prevent any form of conflict for other children who may be around and may get the wrong idea about left or right handedness).

  2. Linda
    Linda says:

    Great info! I’m LH newbie with a borrowed RH Strat. Just doesn’t feel right and I naturally air guitar LH. So I’m on the hunt for a LH guitar before I have to be totally retrained, which at a ripe old age of 58 will be a challenge. Thanks for the great support. Rock on!

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