Myth Busted! Learning Left Handed Guitar Is Harder?

Is it harder to learn guitar left handed? Well, no… There seems to be a lot of false information floating around the internet in regards to learning to play left handed guitar.  This article will hopefully serve to clear up some of these misconceptions which unfortunately seem to be fairly widespread.

Is Left Handed Guitar More Difficult

One situation I find absolutely pathetic is when potential left-handed guitar players give up on learning guitar BEFORE THEY EVEN START!  It’s an issue which crops up all too often around the net on Twitter, Forums, Facebook etc.  It goes something along the lines of…

“I really want to learn to play guitar but I can’t because i’m a lefty :'( ”
“I really want to learn to play guitar but it would be too hard to find a left handed guitar teacher ”
“I really want to learn to play guitar but I can’t because insert_crap_excuse “

Then you get the left handed players who have already started but just seem to be making things incredibly hard on themselves. Last night I stumbled across a new player who was asking for left handed guitar tabs for Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’.  /facepalm.  To make matters worse one of the answers he got was to print out the tab and HOLD IT UP TO A MIRROR.  The internet is apparently just chock full of idiots.

Every day on Twitter I see several users tweeting about how hard they are finding it to play guitar and the only excuse they have is “because I’m a lefty”.  Listen up halfwits – the only reason you are finding guitar hard is because at the beginning, GUITAR IS HARD. Apparently these people expect that they should be mastering sweep picking monster licks after a week.  Learning guitar is not the same as learning to ride a bicycle, it takes time and dedication to become proficient at.

So let’s clear this up. What are the REAL differences when learning guitar as a southpaw player?

Chord Diagrams for Left Handed Guitar Players

Most chord diagrams you find will be arranged for right handed players, which means that to play them on your left handed guitar you must mirror what you see.  This generally requires a tiny portion of intelligence in order to flip the diagrams in your head.  This is the smallest of inconveniences as let’s face it, chord diagrams are something you might use early on in your playing career and then probably never bother with again.  As an alternative you can learn the chord shapes through tab, the only difference being that tabs won’t tell you which fingers to place where.  But this isn’t exactly rocket science either is it?

If you ARE having a little trouble getting started with chord diagrams try out our free left handed chord diagrams to get you started.  There is also plenty of software/apps which will provide a southpaw mode for chord diagrams. It’s not something to lose sleep over however.

Tabs Are the Same for Lefty Guitarists

Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along.  Even though apparently thousands of geniuses on the net think otherwise, there are no differences at question.

Guitar Teachers Are the Same for Left Handed Guitar Players

Again, no differences here.  In fact it should be easier to learn from a right handed teacher as if they sit opposite you it will be really straightforward to copy what they do as they will mirror you.  Any tutor with a modicum of intelligence will be able to teach you – if anyone turns you away then be glad that you’ve dodged a bullet! Personally I have limited experience with guitar tutors, but both of the two I have used in my younger years laughed at me when I asked them if it was a problem. See our article on The Mirror Effect and Learning Guitar Left Handed.

Left Hand is Right Hand

Another tiny difference is that in instructional material where the writer/speaker refers to his right hand, this will actually be the left hand for us lefties.  Most of the time hands will be simply referred to as ‘picking hand’ and ‘fretting hand’ so this shouldn’t be a problem.  But on the occasions that they are referred to as right and left, you’ll just need to remember to think the opposite.

Lefties Have The Upper Hand

If you have read our post on the Top 9 Left Handed Guitarist Advantages you will have noticed that us lefties actually have a natural advantage over right handed players.  A recent study at the National Institute of Sports and Physical Education in Paris found that left handed people have faster eye-hand coordination with their right hand than even right-handers do.  So quit your whining!

And that is it guys.  The only significant difference is chord diagrams, and to be honest if you can’t figure those out maybe you should go back to Guitar Hero. This ridiculous myth only exists due to misguided assumptions made by naive newbies and right handed ‘experts’.

Myth Busted

TLDR: Guitar is easy to pick up but tricky to master. Please do not dump your frustrations on the fact that you are a southpaw.  Man-up and get the job done…lefty style.

Newbie Guide

If you have stumbled across this page because you’re thinking of taking up guitar, you have to check out our recently updated Newbie Guide. This 8-part series will explain everything you need to know to get started with guitar or bass, including gear recommendations!

47 replies
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  1. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I have a so who began guitar this year in school in beginning guitar. He decided to use his dad’s nice guitar that he bought and never used. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that since he was lefty I should have the strings changed but I didn’t even think of it until he mentioned a month ago that we could have that done and he’s having a hard tim. He has learned righty now since August, but he said he struggles and feels like he is the worst. Should I have the strings changed now?? Would it be hard for him to learn things lefty one that he has bee learning righty?? I don’t know anything about guitar so I do twang to further confuse him.

    Thanks for any help!


    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Hi Michelle. 3-4 months is such a small amount of time when it comes to guitar. If he feels that it would be more comfortable to play left handed, then that is the way he should play. It’ll take no time at all to get back to the level he has achieved over the last few months.

      If possible – I would recommend exchanging the guitar for a proper left handed option.

  2. Abraham "lefty" Lincoln
    Abraham "lefty" Lincoln says:

    I’m so glad I found this website. I am a 42 year old male – a life long music fan – and have finally decided to buy my first guitar. As I am left handed, and a proud one at that – friends have asked me why I simply just don’t buy a right handed guitar and learn the “proper” way. I started off by saying, ” well I’m left handed and i’d like to learn as a lefty”, but soon after, discovered your article about the “air guitar” test. My hunch was vindicated! I conveyed this juicy nugget of wisdom to my friends – and both had little to say afterwards. Lol. Anyways, I have happily went ahead and ordered my first guitar: a left handed Squier by Fender Affinity Stratocaster. A beautiful guitar and great value too. I can’t wait to pick it up from the guitar store. Thanks again for your passion and hey…stay left. 🙂

  3. Kaje
    Kaje says:

    Hi mate! Wonderful article you have here. I am a lefty but I learned to play the guitar as a righty. Been playing for over 10 years now. I am okay at acoustic and recently bought a electric guitar, Epiphone Les Paul. However, an accident disabled my left pinky. I can’t play the guitar the way I used to. I can only play power chords when I play Metallica, Hatebreed, Dissection, and other metal songs. I’m thinking of shifting to left handed playing for me to use my pinky on my right hand. But I tried it and it doesn’t feel right. Any advice?

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