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
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. HalfBlindLefty
    HalfBlindLefty says:

    The italics part at the start of this article reminded me of the text I have on my soundclick page :
    At the age of ~12 me and my parents were told in a local music store that since I’m left handed, I couldn’t play the guitar (Yes they believed it). The result was I didn’t get a guitar. In stead I got an accordion. I actually had lessons for2 or 3 years.
    Afterwards I sold the accordion and bought me a right handed guitar. At first I tried to play right handed but that didn’t work for me. I changed the string order to lefty and there it started.

    When I was in my 30’s I finally bought me my first real left handed guitar, A used ‘ 83 Tokai goldstar Strat. That was the time I started making real progression.

    I still have and love the Tokai Goldstar.

    The guitarshop story was waaay back close to 1970

    Just saying, don’t let anyone out you down, don’t give up and learn to play 🙂

  2. Charles
    Charles says:

    I’ll never understand when right handed players honestly ask “why don’t you just play righty? Isn’t it easier to fret with your dominate hand?”

    If they would just step back and think about that in regards to themselves the answer is quite obvious.

    They are righty and they fret with their “weaker” hand…so why don’t they play lefty?

    There is a reason why lefties immediately pick up the guitar lefty…it’s the same exact reason why righties immediately pick up the guitar righty. It is physically and mentally natural.

  3. matthew
    matthew says:

    I’ma right hander naturally with everything. And I’m just now wanting to pick up a guitar and start learning to play for myself. Even with air guitar, the natural gestures for me have always just felt right picking with my left and fretting with my right I’ve felt that I have way better coordination in my right hand to make the chord fatties and it feels more natural to pick with my left. I was the same when shooting rifles, I shot lefty. I’ll admit that I’m alittle deterred by the things I’ve heard about chords being right handed and diagrams, as well as reading guitar music, but holding the guitar as a eighty just don’t feel right. I felt that fretting with your dominant hand would be more natural. I’m still stuck at the point in which I actually purchase my first guitar because of this fact and I really don’t know what to do. I just know that I want to begin playing and practicing but I don’t want to make it more difficult and since its an investment in so many ways other than just financial, I really want to get it right..

  4. Vidhu Parmar
    Vidhu Parmar says:


    My name is vidhi. i am a lefty ur article was very helpful,as i am a beginner even i have heard people saying that left handed people will face problem learning guitar,bt after reading ur article it has boost-up my confidence and i will not give up,Will give my 100%. Thank you so much for this article. 🙂

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *