Top 9 Left Handed Guitarist Advantages

Neal June 18, 2010 102

Fact – left handed guitar players rock! Don’t believe me? Well here are 9 of the best reasons why we’ve got it made!

1. Keep Your Hands Off!

Consider this scenario.  You’re at band practice and your hyperactive drummer wants a shot of your brand-spanking-new guitar.  You agree and he proceeds to crank the amp to 11 and thrashes around the room like a demented, ecstasy fuelled hamster. In his over-excited state he manages to cream your headstock into the wall after carelessly becoming entangled in cables.  You exchange words and you leave the band with a broken axe and possibly a criminal record.

Now consider this scenario as a lefty. Once again, said drummer asks for a strum of your pride and joy.  “I do beg your pardon kind sir, but this instrument happens to be of the left handed persuasion, therefore rendering it useless to a right handed gentleman such as yourself”.  Potential disaster averted, band saved, jail-time avoided! Huzaaah!

Obviously that’s an extreme example, but being a lefty has certainly saved my less than respectful acquaintances from getting their dirty paws on my guitars over the years!

2. Perfect Band Symmetry

Let’s consider aesthetics for a second, as nothing is more pleasing to the eye than symmetry.  If your band is a standard vocals, drummer, bassist, guitarist setup and your guitarist/bassist is a left handed player, you have perfect stage symmetry. It just looks good!

Also ponder this.  Whilst on stage any interaction will look infinitely better between guitarists and bassists.  If two right handers decide to stand next to each other for an epic solo play-off they’re just playing on top of each other, generally in each other’s spaces.  With a right and left hander you can stand back-to-back out of each other’s way in full rock-god stance…awesome sauce!  Statistically speaking, a band with a left handed guitarist in it is 3% more likely to attract attention.

3. A Good Investment

If you are lucky enough to snag a rare guitar and manage to keep it in mint condition, its value is only going to increase over time.  The same could be said for a right-hander but when you consider how much rarer left handed guitars are you can actually view your guitar as a nice investment.  For example look at the price of a vintage southpaw Fender Strat versus an equivalent righty.  Even though both guitars cost roughly the same when they were made, the left handed guitar will command a much higher price now.   What is a hobby for you now could be a nice little retirement fund for you further down the line when your fingers are too arthritic to make sense of a fretboard any longer.

4. eBay Competition

If you opt to buy second-hand from an auction website such as eBay you are going to have far less competition when bidding.  In fact, chances are you may be the ONLY person bidding and that can result in an absolute steal of a deal.  A lot of the time a good left handed guitar can be had for significantly less than its righty equivalent.

5. Straightforward Tuition

Sitting opposite from your guitar tutor he/she will effectively ‘mirror’ you, making it very easy to copy what he/she is showing you.  Check out this article on Learning Guitar and the Mirror Effect.

Likewise if you are a lefty considering a career as a guitar teacher the same benefit is implied.

6. In Store Condition

Depending on whom you ask, roughly seven to ten percent of the world’s population is left handed. And who knows how many of those play guitar the same way.  Also consider that many lefties will source their guitars online knowing that their local stores will most likely stock only a small number of southpaw models.  This should mean that any guitar you do find in store should have had very minimal play (if any at all) and should be in mint or near mint condition.  Just go take a peep at the righties – I would bet that a significant number of those guitars had some decent fret-wear, grime on the fretboard, possibly a small ding or two etc..

7. Hey…You Play Guitar…Play Me Something…Naow!

I have been at several parties where the host has had a guitar sitting in the corner, and when they realise that I can play they get the entire party cheering me on to play something mind-blowing for them.  This is something I genuinely hate with a passion, it’s akin to strolling up to a comedian in the street and asking them to tell you a joke.  Fortunately the good old “oh I can’t, i’m left handed ” excuse saves my drunken ass from having to indulge their drunken asses.

8. Studies Show Left Handed Advantages!

If you visit a guitar forum and ask the community if you should play lefty, the general reply will be something along the lines of  “oh, just play right handed so that your dominant hand will be able to perform the complex fretting easier “. However, a recent study for 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.

9. Don’t Believe The Hype

Don’t let the righties and the conformists sway you from rocking down southpaw street – if playing lefty feels natural to you then dive in.  Do not fall for the horror stories and just enjoy learning this fantastic instrument.  There are PLENTY of excellent lefty guitars available and they are made easily available via the internet, usually for more or less the same price as their righty counterparts.  This is 2014 not 1980 and I gotta tell you, being a southpaw player is such a non-issue now. Don’t suppress your left handed roots guys ‘n gals!

Have anything to add?  Leave a comment below!

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102 Comments »

  1. Ronsrock August 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    I’m a lefty who uses a right handed guitar upside down…my thickest E string is on the bottom…my brother played guitar and I couldn’t change the string around, so I just learned how to play backwards….I started out play bass but eventually became a guitarist..i still believe that playing bass was easier for me this way, but playing some guitar leads are tougher because my highest E string is on the top which makes for some tough hammer-ons and pulloffs…but there is not much I can’t play ,even though I am upside down and backwards….

  2. antoine August 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    ”oh, play right handed so that your dominant hand will be able to perform the complex fretting easier “…. So the righties should play the lefty way ! But they don’t. Two possibilities : (1) Righties are stupid, (2) the argument “dominant hand for the difficult job” don’t make sens.
    correct answer: (2) (but sometimes i wonder..). The dominant hand is involved with the more automated tasks like the rythm, ( strumming, picking)and the other more with task you may think about: melody, chord change etc.
    when a child i pretended playing guitar with a tennis racquet and i did it lefthand…same for “air guitar”. My left hand play as i sing the riff.

    sorry for the bad english.

  3. rama September 25, 2013 at 2:48 am - Reply

    Lefty ruless!!! its the natural way people!! like snowboarding, tennis, etc.. i´m wondering if in 20 years there will be more lefty guitarist, we are more nowadays…

  4. RV September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Im a lefty and last night i was practicing my diminish arpeggio on the guitar and noticed that when you are playing piano your fret hand does the same at the keyboards. Notice that your picky play the higher notes just like in a guitar! So that’s the reason that playing piano feels natural for me and maybe to other lefties!

    • Don August 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Yes. Playing the piano is an advantage for many pianists. Here’s a great article about left-handed pianists: http://www.accessatlanta.com/news/entertainment/calendar/for-many-pianists-being-left-handed-is-just-right/nQyFT/

      • Don August 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply

        CORRECTION: Playing the piano is an advantage for many lefties.

  5. Madeleine October 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Hey, I’m a right handed who feel comfortable playing lefthanded. I changed my Quitar string around. i’m
    taking lessons. Im at my 11th lesson. I got a hollow body semi acoustic electric quitar exactly i won it. Know I dont know what to do. Must I learned to play right handed or keep up with Left handed.

  6. Johnny Guentner November 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I like one of your comments above ”oh, play right handed so that your dominant hand will be able to perform the complex fretting easier “ Well my response to those fine people is “Why don’t you play left handed then so you can use your dominant hand to perform the complex fretting easier” It always stumps them. I played righty for years and sucked really bad. Switched to lefty and have become almost good. I can’t imagine how good I would be if I played lefty since I was a kid.

  7. Steve November 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    I recently got a left handed telecaster after 20 years of playing right handed guitars flipped. Now I can play EITHER way. Not very well mind you, but I’ve always wanted to strum down instead of up.

  8. adam the cock December 1, 2013 at 11:53 am - Reply

    I think instead of saying “lefties” have better hand-eye coordination we should say “even righties benefit from playing left-handedly”, as I did. =)

  9. JBF March 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Bottom line, play whatever way “feels” right (perhaps proper would be a better word). For me, being a lefty has several downsides.

    1) I know alot of people with alot of fantastic guitars I can’t even be bothered to pick up because they’re right handed.

    2) If there’s a specific guitar you want that falls somewhere beyond the American Standard Strat or Tele, Gibson LP or SG; then you’re probably screwed. Currently, Gibson does not make a SINGLE left hand model in the ENTIRE ES line. Sigh…no ES-339 LH for me.

    3) Even IF your desires fall into a category where it’s actually available lefty, chances are, you won’t have the opportunity to play before you pay. What I wouldn’t give to walk into a guitar store, try out 3 or 4 similar guitars and see how they compared.

    Unfortunately, I tried playing righty when I first picked up a guitar, and it felt totally unnatural. For those of you that can adapt, my advice would be, play right. It blows walking into a guitar store (new or used) and looking at a wall of useless guitars to find the 3 lefties tucked in a corner, none of which really interest you.

  10. Charlesyniguez April 16, 2014 at 6:10 am - Reply

    its prity kool cuase with my left i get to shreddddd but its my brain holding me down just a slow learner

  11. John Lawton August 10, 2014 at 1:54 am - Reply

    I’ve tried, and failed, to learn to play bass guitar and guitar, right-handed, for over 40 years (since I was about 18). When I was 8, I got knocked over a table and broke my lower back. I also injured my upper back and neck in the accident. My right-handed hand-writing immediately got worse. It’s never really gotten much better. My left arm has atrophied (shrunk) to about 2/3 the size of my right-arm. I received a soprano ukulele (oo-kuh-lay-lee) for Christmas this past year and played with it a bit. Then–[a light bulb came on over my head]–I thought, “Why do I have to play right-handed, especially when it seems I’ll never be able to do so with any ability because I can’t fret with my weak left hand?” So, long story short, I changed the uke around and am now learning chords on it faster than I ever did before on either uke or guitar. I was so encouraged by my first 5 minutes playing uke left-handed that I bought a $300 left-handed acoustic-electric guitar (a large investment for me on a $720/mo. income. So . . . gotta go. I have sore finger-tips, on my RIGHT-HAND from PLAYING LEFT-HANDED even tho’ I’m a RIGHTY by nature. I gotta go make ‘em even more sore! :D

  12. Toby August 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I play lefty bass, but I can also play righty 6string guitars upside down, which really fascinates the guitars owners to see being done.

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