The Mirror Effect and Learning Guitar Left Handed

Due to the mirror effect, left handed guitar players will generally find it much easier learning from a right handed teacher.  I’ve often wondered if the opposite is true in that right handed players would find it easier learning from a lefty teacher? I see no reason why not…

As a left handed player I have always found it incredibly easy learning from other players whether it be in real-life or on the screen.  I learned to play guitar using the DVD course from MetalMethod and never thought twice about the difference it made being left handed and using these lessons – I just got on with it.  Years later I realised that the reason I found guitar so simple to learn from other players was because I was playing left handed and for the most part, they were playing right handed.  The instructor would appear on screen perfectly mirroring my position and therefore making it exceptionally effortless to duplicate what they were playing.

Now flip this idea on its head – I find learning from another left handed player more difficult.  And not even slightly more difficult, it’s blatantly much harder (for me personally).  Without the mirror effect I am looking to the right on screen to be seeing what I should be playing on the left on my own guitar and vice versa.  Even if the player was sitting next to me I would still be giving myself a sore neck constantly turning to the side.

This is why I find it so perplexing why all instructional guitar DVDs don’t have their video image flipped so that the teacher appears left handed on screen.  As a lefty, if I find it so much easier learning from a right handed teacher then doesn’t it make sense that right handed players would experience the same effect learning from a lefty tutor?  Seeing as right handed players are probably 95% of the market doesn’t it make sense to cater to them?

To illustrate my point here is a screen grab from one of Justin Sandercoe’s YouTube lessons.  In the first image he is right handed, and in the second he is left handed – which one would you find easier to follow?  Maybe it’s just me, but the mirror effect wins every time – as a lefty, image one is my choice.

Learning Guitar is easy left handed due to the mirror effect Left Handed Players learn easier with a right handed tutor

Theodore Tziras is a monster player who is left handed, but when he makes a video lesson for his YouTube channel he always flips the image so that he appears right handed.  He says he does this so as not to confuse people but I honestly think if he left the video untouched it would be so much easier to follow for right handed players.  Perhaps right handed players are just so used to 95% of videos being by right handed players that they’ve never experienced how easy it would be to follow an opposite handed player.

Unless i’m just a very peculiar individual who perceives things completely differently to everyone else, I think this concept is just a massive advantage to left handed players.  Not only can we learn from other people much more easily, we can also teach other people much more easily (as long as you sit opposite your student ;)).  Great news for all of you budding left handed guitar teachers out there!

Let me know what you think in the comments section below – do you agree or disagree with what I’ve said.  Ask your right handed friends to consider this idea and see what they think as well.

40 replies
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  1. Rik
    Rik says:

    I’m right handed, but injured my middle, ring and pinky fingers on my left hand, years ago. Desite the injury, I’m still a pretty fast touch-typist, but the thought of fretting with my pranged left hand seemed like I’d be fighting an uphill battle. So, I decided to give a lefty guitar a try. Oh, I should mention, I’d taken lessons as a youngster, but wasn’t putting enough effort into it, so I eventually quit.

    I recently came across a really excellent deal on a mint-condition used lefty gathering dust in a guitar shop. It looks like it’s never been played, or even touched. I bought it, with the promise to myself that I must put some real effort into finding a good instructor, practicing hard, not wasting money, etc (i.e., what you tell yourself when you have no business buying something).

    It seems like my right hand should have an easier time doing fretting, but it’s not – feels like it’s waiting for some additional brain/memory muscle work and coordination to kick in; just an initial observation. Any other Rightys out there have stories of overcoming “normalcy” (for whatever reason)? I mean “normalcy” in a humorous way, of course. I’m proud of being a Lefty-convert wannabe.

    • Chad
      Chad says:

      I think your absolutely right about flipping the video for Right handed players. Because I have played left handed guitar all my life and know no other way I’ve always found it so much easier to learn from someone that’s right handed and the people that I’ve taught to play keep coming back to me just because I’m left handed and they all tell me they pick up things faster because of that fact as one of my younger players told me “I don’t have to think about as much”

  2. Toni
    Toni says:

    Makes perfect sense to me.. I’m a righthand guitar player who is teaching a lefty..and taught a couple of lefties. And that is my exact comment I said to my new lefty. The advantage of the mirror image. As a matter of fact i was thinking the same thing flipping artwork for my lefty student.
    You have the right idea.

  3. Bob M.
    Bob M. says:

    Right on. So true. I’ve been saying this since I first picked up a (lefty) guitar in 1964. Now if we lefties could just find more “mirror image” instruction diagrams, etc. so I don’t have to turn everything upside down.

  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    I’d be curious to hear from any righty’s (though probably unlikely to on a lefty guitar website) who’ve learnt from right-handers all their life and then come across a lefty. Because while it makes a lot of sense, and I agree, I wonder how much familiarity plays a part, if learning from the mirror image is so much easier that it overcomes the abnormal feel of normally learning the other way around.

    I’ve got a 2 year old who I’m sure to try teaching guitar to at some point. He’s definitely right-handed, and so if I do most of his teaching he’ll certainly be learning this way.

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