Top 9 Left Handed Guitarist Advantages

Neal June 18, 2010 103

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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103 Comments »

  1. Rey September 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    I know all the above too well. I have ironically always valued the benefits of 1, 2 and 7 on your list. Classic to read it from another lefty player.

    • LeftyFretz September 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Rey. I definitely think all of the ideas above can be turned on their head to become disadvantages, but you've got to look on the bright side right? ;) I personally love being a left handed player, it just makes everything much more interesting. Saves on G.A.S too…

      I checked out your MySpace, great stuff!

      • Rey June 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm - Reply

        Took a good while for me to get at ya, but thanks very much for the compliment on the tunes!! Means a lot.

  2. Alan McKenna November 12, 2010 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Great post, I almost all of those things have happened to me!

    • Neal November 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Alan, glad you stopped by :)

  3. Louielouie December 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Nice post! I have been playing lefty all my life and I have experienced ALL of those scenarios! However I have one more to add. I play lefty with the strings UPSIDE DOWN so NO MIRROR IMAGE for me LOL!! But I have learned to automatically transpond chord charts and righties. Been doing that now for 38 years!!

    • Neal December 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Funnily enough I met a guy last week who played a left handed guitar upside down right handed – the complete opposite to you. I can understand why you play the way you do, but it must have been a bizarre set of circumstances that caused him to play like that! o.0

  4. Ben December 4, 2010 at 11:53 am - Reply

    Another fine article, Neal. I like all of your points, but number 8 hits home for me. I recently posted some comments on your other article about deciding whether to play lefty or righty, and I'm starting to lean towards lefty. Judging by my guitar store trip, my left hand feels slightly better strumming, and I think my right hand would be fine up on the frets. Point number 8 of this article agrees with my thoughts. :)

    • Neal December 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Let us know what you decide on Ben. I think in your case it's really just deciding if you want the slightly more comfortable route or the route with more choice, it's a tough call ;)

  5. Ger December 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Point 7, absolutely one of THE most annoying things that can happen at parties. Experienced it many times and… i am a lefty. Yes! Saved by being "handicaped".

    • Neal December 13, 2010 at 11:47 am - Reply

      As long as they don't force you into playing it upside down for shits 'n giggles ;)

  6. Bino January 9, 2011 at 11:47 am - Reply

    You’re right about 7) but you could turn that the other way: you see a cool guitar you wanna try, but you can’t. You’re on holiday, without your own guitar, and you would like to jam With someone with that guitar “in a corner”, but you can’t.

    • Neal January 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      Yup, it's too bad you can't temporarily restring a guitar left handed isnt it? Oh wait…. o.0

      Like I said above, any of these points can be turned on their heads, but then again, that's true of almost any point in any circumstance ;)

  7. Adam January 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I take lessons with a righty player and the mirror is absolutely true! It doesnt make reading tabs easier though…

    • Neal January 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Well tabs are the same if you're lefty or righty so yeah, shouldn't make it any easier or harder :p

      It's good that you found a teacher who was willing to teach a lefty, I keep reading about people who were turned away by prospective teachers for wanting to play left handed – bizarre o.0 But then again, if they don't have the IQ to figure out that it's easier to teach you, then they probably don't have the IQ to effectively teach you.

  8. Jason Strickler February 4, 2011 at 3:25 am - Reply

    "Hey" Does'nt reading music go from Left to right. I found that a left-handed guitar chord poster helps. Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. LCJ February 16, 2011 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I was told many moons ago (when a teenager) by a music teacher that I couldn't be taught guitar left handed…well 23 years later I have bought myself a leftie and been playing for 5 months now and loving it, and not only can i play left handed but i have discovered that I can easily translate my playing into my right hand so many left and right fingers up to the music teacher of ye olden days! :-)

    • Neal February 16, 2011 at 11:45 am - Reply

      Excellent! I think being left handed provides a great way of finding the best guitar tutors. An intelligent, open-minded tutor will take you on regardless of dexterity whereas a simple minded teacher will refuse you based on blind assumptions. Best of luck, sounds like you're having a blast :)

  10. Greg March 1, 2011 at 1:30 am - Reply

    Another lefty here…well for all my life. I've been trying to get a luthier to make me a lefty version of an LTD AX series. Damn that copyright infringement…..I currently have an Ibanez RG470 that's served me well for 10 years. I'm thinkin of caving in to buy the righty AX-360 and converting it. Oh well….and # 7. I've actually learned to play righty guitars upside down (basic chords) to amuse people at parties. Keep up the good fight!! -Greg from LOCKED www.lockednj.com

    • Neal March 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Greg, I don't know if this would interest you but Gaskell made a similar guitar called the Equalizer. It was discontinued last year but is still available through the custom shop – expensive but obviously you'd get a high quality instrument for your money. http://www.gaskellguitars.com/models/75.html There's also the ESP custom shop.

      Or perhaps on a budget you could get a lefty AX-50 and pimp it out.

      Plenty of other extreme guitar designs out there though :)

  11. Raymond diaz March 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Batio is left handed!

  12. Rattinox May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am - Reply

    I'm a Martian-what psycho-phsyiologists (ha!) call Mixed Dominance- not just left-handed, and not truly ambidextrous. Left brain hemisphere is connected much more with the right brain hemisphere than Normals. Equally mathematical and artistic. Look it up. Funky shit, Mon.

    For us, Lefty guitar is the only way to go!!

    "Left-hand guitar- the Thinking Man's Instrument"

    • Neal May 26, 2011 at 11:19 am - Reply

      Interesting, thanks for the comment :)

  13. MissBurgess June 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I have been lucky enough to have been given a left handed guitar after struggling with right handed ones since I was sixteen – I couldn't strum properly and hit a brick wall. My Dad said change to left handed otherwise 'it will break your heart!!' I thought I was too old to change, but no! I am learning the way I play air guitar and it feels oh so natural…Liberation!

    • Neal June 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      That's great! Best of luck :)

  14. Wondering June 19, 2011 at 5:04 am - Reply

    I write with my right hand (and nobody forced me to write that way) but whenever I pick any other skills up I do it with my left. My friend was teaching me some basic stuff on her guitar and it felt so much better when I flipped it over and tried left, I picked things up way quicker. (and I play guitar hero lefty I know it's nothing like real guitar but I figured I'd just say anyway). Is this really weird? Should I try and learn guitar lefty?

    • Neal June 20, 2011 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Hey Wondering. Take a read through this article, and check out the comments too – should hopefully help out. http://leftyfretz.com/should-i-learn-guitar-right… I'm an advocate of playing whichever way feels more comfortable – why make things harder on yourself? For a little extra choice in guitars? Please…. o.0

      • Wondering June 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm - Reply

        Thanks!

  15. mcarp555 August 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I think another point that’s not made is that being left-handed, you will have many more chances to pick up and strum a “backwards” guitar than right-handed players. Eventually you should be able to play a few simple chords or runs holding a RH guitar upside-down. Because RH players rarely need or have the chance to similarly play a LH guitar, they will always look at you with awestruck amazement, esp. if they then pick up *your* guitar and try the same thing.

    I remember being at a jam party once, and picking up a buddy’s RH bass, and playing it. When he walked in the room and saw what I was doing, his jaw hit the floor!

    • Neal August 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. I spent many a drunken evening trying to figure stuff out on my flatmate’s yamaha. Unfortunately I was drunk, so it didn’t really stick… :D

  16. mcarp555 August 20, 2011 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Neal, I notice a lot of your posts involve stories of alcohol abuse. I know you’re Scottish and all, but is this a thinly veiled cry for help? ;D

    • Neal August 20, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Well according to one of the facts in this article (http://leftyfretz.com/25-facts-about-left-handed-people/) we are “Three times more likely to become alcoholics – the right side of the brain has a lower tolerance to alcohol” ;) My drunken stories all come from my university years, I don’t really drink at all anymore.

  17. ryalto October 9, 2011 at 1:40 am - Reply

    Hi there fellow lefties,i think it’s pretty obvious too that L/H players can play a R/H guit. upside down better, than a R/hander can play a L/H guitar upside down, (the other way round).
    Nothing to do with ‘more opportunity’ just simply a lefty can see in reverse effortlessy, whilst the
    ‘righty’ is confused at being confounded by a reverse image. lol.
    Interesting to note too . . . (re: hendrix at top of artice), i’ve hardly ever. . . ever . . . seen a ‘devoted-hendrix-R/H copier’ actually buy a L/H guitar and use it reversed, what R/handed devotion, wow!. Yes, i’m well aware that hendrix strung his guitar left-handed, but my point is that a strat upside-down is about as comfortable as a barbed-wire jacket. i’m sure many of us lefties have had a go on ‘the dire-strat’ (R/H strat). Funny too that ‘righties’ always miss the point that hendrix had a left-handed mind, thats why many R/H’s are still in awe of him, even though i can’t play in that style myself,(i have my own styles), i always thought it was perfectly obvious what hendrix was doing, that being he played his ‘other’ guitar-layered solo parts effortlessly at random, while holding the basic guitar part,(the right-handed bit),silently in his head as he did so.Thereby remaining elusive to the R/Hendrix copiers . . . as all left-hand players are of course ! Hendrix was highly advanced in ‘descant-soloing’ and’counterpoint’,which the latter particularly, comes naturally to an inspired musical lefty.
    to mention also . . .
    Refering to ‘item 4′ above, regarding ‘ebay competition’ on left-hand guitar auctions, dunno about other people, (leftiz that iz), but in my experience, there always seems to be hearty stampede of lefty bidders ‘charging towards the water-hole’, (left-hand oasis you could say),or specifically, MORE intense determined bidding from a smaller number of desperate lefties who realise that L/H guitars do not come up as frequently as those irritating R/H guitars.
    So therefore rather than an easy stroll to a bargain, it’s more like morning rush-hour on the LondonTube. All-in-all i find it is just another effect/problem of far too few L/H guits. being produced over the last 6 decades.Does anyone else agree or is it just me ?

  18. Grant November 16, 2011 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Theres also the fact that left handed people are usually more creative. Due to the fact that they use the right side of thier brain more through they’re left hand. For example, Jimmi hendrix and Kurt Cobain where both left handed. And they both had a unique influence and creative style to theyre music. Sadly thats not all they had in common

  19. Ger November 19, 2011 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    About in store condition… I just had the oportunity to play a gold top 60’s special gibson les paul. I was the first one to play it… damn, what a treat!

    • Neal November 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Great looking guitars! People were very excited about those when Gibson announced them :)

  20. Joanie December 7, 2011 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Love this post!!! It is so true. I love that people can’t play on my guitar and that they can’t ask me to play at parties!!! It is also true that it is really easier to take lessons with a guitar teacher that is right-handed. My teacher is a righter and I learn song so much faster. It’s easier to mimic what he is doing. It’s weird though because there are no lefties in my family and I am right handed but play lefty. It just made more sense to me to play the notes with my right hand because it’s stronger. I also tried before learning guitar to play Guitar Hero and I couldn’t play any notes when I tried right-handed loll. That’s when I learned I was a lefty loll. Cool website :D

    • Neal December 8, 2011 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Good stuff, thanks Joanie :)

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