Can you name five famous left handed guitarists? I’ll bet you can – but I’ll wager bet that after five or so you would start to struggle! To help out, here’s a list of some of the best known left handed guitar players both past and present.
There are plenty of big names in this list that everyone should know, but I’ve also included a few newer, perhaps lesser known artists which you might also like to check out. Although we are the minority in the guitar world, we sure do have some highly influential players within our ranks!
Famous Left Handed Guitarists
If you don’t know who this guy is then you have seriously just failed at life. Never mind famous left handed guitarists, he is arguably the most celebrated and influential guitarist of all time! Jimi Hendrix‘s name amongst our ranks almost single handedly makes it cool to be a southpaw. Best known for wielding Fender Stratocasters.
Black Sabbath‘s Tony Iommi is widely regarded as being the pioneer of heavy metal and is undeniably one of the biggest names in rock guitar. Tony Iommi lost two of his fret-hand fingertips in a workplace accident but carried on playing left handed with prosthetic replacements! Best known for playing Gibson SGs.
Kurt Cobain founded Nirvana, the band that defined the grunge movement in the 90s. Nirvana became one of the biggest names in music and to date has sold over 75 million albums worldwide. Cobain was generally best known for playing Fender Mustangs and Jaguars. Fender has recently released signature Cobain Jaguars and Mustangs, all of which are available left handed.
Two words – ‘the Beatles‘. Enough said? As a member of the Beatles and also as a very successful solo artist, Paul McCartney has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. After his almost infinite contributions to the world of music he was awarded a Knighthood in 1997. Paul is probably most widely known for playing his Hofner 500/1 violin bass.
Elliot Easton is the lead guitarist in American rock band The Cars. Easton is probably best known for his Pelham Blue ‘Inspired By’ Gibson SG model, but he has also more recently introduced his signature Gibson Tikibird Firebird guitar. Aside from his signature Gibsons, he also owns one of the most impressive lefty guitar collections you are ever likely to see!
Zacky Vengeance is the rhythm guitarist in American heavy metal group Avenged Sevenfold, who to date have sold over 8 million records worldwide. Zacky is endorsed by Schecter and has had several signature models over the years, all of which have been available as a southpaw version.
One of many other famous left handed guitarists to be inducted to the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Albert King is one of the most influential names in Blues. King is mostly recognised for playing Gibson Flying V guitars. Interestingly, he used a minor tuning which was C# G# B E G# C# but he never used the sixth string on his guitars.
Eric Gales is an American blues-rock guitar player. Aside from releasing several of his own successful solo albums he is also a highly sought after session musician. He is a little different to most left handed guitar players in that he plays right handed guitars upside down, without reversing the strings!
After pioneering the style of music known as surf guitar Dick Dale was crowned the King of the genre. Dale worked closely with Fender’s amplifier division and helped to push the boundaries of amp design, resulting in the production of the world’s first ever 100 watt model. He has mostly been associated with playing Fender Stratocasters and has his own signature model.
Otis Rush is perhaps the most intense, soulful bluesmen of his era. Unlike most southpaw players Otis plays guitar with the string order reversed, i.e. he has the low E on the bottom. Probably best known for playing Gibson ES 335 guitars.
Tim Armstrong is most widely known as being the guitarist and vocalist for Rancid, one of the most successful punk bands of all time. Tim has his own signature Gretsch guitars as well as a signature Fender acoustic dubbed The Hellcat.
Mikey Demus is the guitar player in Welsh band Skindred, who are widely acknowledged as being one of the best live acts in the world. He owns one of the most impressive collections of lefty guitars that I’ve seen – check it out here.
Al Mckay is best known for being the guitarist in American funk band Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as for being a successful session musician in his own right. Al has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and has won five Grammy awards throughout his career.
Also known as ‘the Pig’ or #2, Paul Gray was the bass player for metal giants Slipknot. Paul was known for playing Ibanez guitars with whom he had several signature bass models. Unfortunately Paul sadly died of a drug overdose in 2010.
|Omar Rodriguez Lopez|
Omar Rodriguez Lopez is best known as being the guitar player in energetic American rock band the Mars Volta. Omar has his own short-scale Ibanez signature model which is available as standard in a left handed version!
Cesar Rosas is the guitarist and vocalist in multi Grammy award winning band Los Lobos, with whom he has been performing since 1973. He is an easily recognisable character due to his trademark black sunglasses and slicked-back black hair. Currently uses Alhambra guitars.
Cameron Liddell is the rhythm guitarist in English metalcore band Asking Alexandria. He is currently endorsed by Ibanez and has his own signature model, but unfortunately it is not presently available to lefty players – get it sorted Cameron!
Paulo is the lead guitarist in Spanish hard-rock band InMune, and the only person in this list that I know personally! He is currently endorsed by PRS Guitars and DV Mark Amps amongst others.
Way back in 1902, Orville only went and founded one of the biggest and most well-known guitar companies in the world. That’s right folks, Gibson Guitars was born of a left handed luthier!
Dishonorable Mentions – both Billy Ray Cyrus and Justin Bieber are lefty guitarists.
Obviously there are tons more guitarists that I haven’t mentioned – please leave a comment below mentioning your favorites!
Uncommon Sound by John Engel is the definitive guide to the famous left handed guitarists who have shaped the world of music. It is the ultimate coffee table book for southpaw players, and you can read my review here.
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