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We live in a world mainly of right-handers and most of the musicians are, too.
If you are right handed, here is a very strange question you will never ask yourself in your life!
On the other hand, if you are left-handed, the answer to this question is crucial.
You have to begin your learning of the guitar by a cornelian choice, which will be determining for all the continuation of your course.
4 Solutions for Left-handed Guitarists
A guitar is not a hammer, there is more than one way to use it. However, to play the guitar, we do not use a single hand but both and each of them has a different role: one will create chords or notes at the neck while the other will use a pick or fingers to make the strings ring.
To play the guitar, you must have a hand that is strong and clever to press on the appropriate strings and the other hand must be flexible to scratch the strings with accuracy. Being left-handed is not a handicap to learn the guitar, it is on the contrary a chance to play differently.
It will never stop you from progressing: everything is a matter of motivation and choice. Left-handedness cannot prevent you from playing guitar and taking guitar lessons.
Now, here are some solutions that you may need:
#1: Using a Right-handed Guitar and Play as a Right-Hander
Is it possible for a left handed to learn guitar right handed?
Going beyond your left-handed nature seems to be the simplest solution. This is all the more achievable if you are an ambidexter rather than a pure southpaw. But the concern with this method is that your right hand (the “weak” hand) will have to play the rhythm, but this hand is much less flexible and coordinated than your strong hand and it may handicap you a little. Nevertheless, many left-handed guitarists have chosen this compromise. You might be wondering, who are they?
To your surprise, they are Mark Knopfler, Joe Perry, Billy Corgan, Michael Bloomfield or Noel Gallagher.
Most often, they are musicians who have been encouraged to play this way from the beginning of their learning.
#2: Using a Left-Handed Guitar
If you are more comfortable with your left hand than with your right hand, it is better to opt for a left-handed guitar. Compared to a traditional instrument, it is a totally inverted version. It’s a bit like watching a guitar in a mirror!
As a result, it becomes possible to play a rhythm and notes with the left hand. But there is a thing: these specially designed guitars will not put you fully on par with right-handed. Indeed, we must know that they are quite rare, which is explained by the fact there are quite few demands.
In a music store, expect to find about 3 or 4 left-handed guitars for 100 right-handed guitars! Most of the time, these guitars have less color of choice , and will also be on average more expensive than their right-handed equivalent . Sometimes you have to wait several weeks for the shop to order the guitar of your dreams .
Another disadvantage of playing on a left-handed guitar is that you will never be able to borrow a friend’s guitar to make an “ox”. It can be very frustrating to find yourself stuck when your friend Manu’s guitar goes from hand to hand around a campfire!
Here are some great guitarists who have made the choice to play on a left-handed guitar: Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Paul McCartney (Beatles), Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath), etc.
#3: Using an “Inverted” Right-Handed Guitar
It’s a bit left-handed guitar “poor”! The idea is to use a standard guitar (so you have the knob turned to the right), to remove all the strings, then to reassemble them so as to place the lowest string at the top (towards your head) and the more acute down (towards your feet).
You can then play the guitar as a southpaw by playing the rhythm with the left hand. The advantage of this method is that it solves the problem of availability of left-handed instruments: you just have to buy any guitar that you like, then the recorder!
This method would be miraculous if it did not come with some serious disadvantages. It is not always easy to change the order of the strings. Some guitars are equipped with a nut head with notches adapted to the width of each string. If it is the case of your guitar, you have to change all the saddle . For that, it is better to go to see a competent luthier.
The other problem is that you will find yourself faced with a problem of ergonomics: a guitar is not intended to be held upside down, so you risk being spawned by the buttons of the guitar and the vibrato bar . It gets worse as on some models, it will be more difficult to reach the last boxes of the handle, or to play while sitting.
These problems are especially true for electric guitars, much less for classical guitars that are naturally more symmetrical. Despite these disadvantages, this is how Jimi Hendrix chose to play, and to my knowledge no one has ever complained!
Want to know the best part? Kurt Cobain also played an inverted folk guitar at his legendary “Unplugged in New York” concert.
#4: Using a Right-Handed Guitar “Non-Inverted” and Play as a Left-Handed
Just say it right away, this is the most radical solution, reserved only for “risks-all”: simply return a right-handed guitar and play it as it is! That is with the lowest string at the bottom (towards your feet) and the highest string at the top (towards your head).
This solution has an a priori disadvantage: the same problems of ergonomics as for a guitar “inverted”, the difficulty or impossibility of achieving certain requirements, the obligation to fully adapt your learning of the guitar..
The only advantage that comes to my mind is that you can finally enjoy yourself on the guitar of this damn Manu around the campfire! This is crazy that the extreme side of this method has not discouraged some guitarists, such as Albert King, Dick Dale or Elizabeth Cotten.
It even helped them develop an incredibly unique and personal game! So if you feel the soul of an adventurer, this method is not so bad.
Learn to Play the Guitar for Lefties: Left handed Guitar Lessons
Practically all the existing methods are designed for right-handers. So you will often have to adapt.
For reading tabs and chord grids, you will systematically invert all diagrams. It’s pretty daunting at first, but rest assured, with a little practice it should quickly become your second nature!
You will see, once the logic of the tablature readings and these assimilated chord schemas sink in, you can transcribe what you see for right-handed guitarist to your left-handed guitarist with no problems at all.
Tablature is the same for electric guitar and acoustic guitar. It consists of six lines which represent the strings of the guitar. The bottom line represents the thickest string and the top line represents the finished string. The fretting positions are represented by numbers.
For example, a two on the second line from the bottom would be the second fret of the a string, or a three on the second line from the top would be the third thread of the B string, a zero on the top line would be an open top E string.
Tablature should be read from left to right in the same way as you read conventional music. All the lines of text in a book strummed chords can be illustrated in tab by several numbers at one time in a column.
Normally the name of the chord is also displayed above it.
Playing Guitar Chords
The E minor 7th chord
The first attempt is the E minor 7th chord. This is probably the easiest chord you can get. To play E minor 7th, you simply place the first finger on the second thickest string in the second fret, then strum all the strings of your guitar. You might want to try this slowly so you can hear each individual note ring out.
If you have any muted tones you need to find out why. If it’s the thin good string then you need to press harder. If the strings which aren’t ringing out haven’t got fingers on then it’s because your finger isn’t up writing off on the strings.
You might need to move the thumb around the back of the guitar to bring the finger on to its tip. This prevents the finger from overlapping onto all the strings and the chord should sound clean. Attempt this a few times until you can get the chord clean then take the finger off and put it back and try again. Half of the battle is getting the chord in the first place, so it’s a good idea to practice removing the chord and reapplying it.
The E minor chord
Once you’re happy with your E minor 7th chord we can move on to a slightly harder chord the E minor chord. This chord needs two fingers. The first finger goes in the same place as it does with E minor 7th – on the second fret of the second thickest string. The second finger goes next to it on the second fret of the third the key string.
You can now strum the chord in the same way you did with E minor 7th trying to hear you gin or string ringing out and in the same way as you DO with E minor 7th.
Adjust the fingers until the cord is clean then remove the cord completely and reapply it. Check if it’s clean several times until you feel you can get the cord quite quickly without dead strings.
The C minor chord
Once you can play these two cords clearly, you can move on to the first full cord exercise which has the C minor and the G seventh. At this stage when you get a new cord it’s a good idea to work through your fingers numerically. The first string is the finished string and the sixth string is the thickest string.
To play C , you put the first finger in the first fret of the second string, put the second finger in the second fret of the fourth string, and put the third finger in the third fret of the fifth string. When strumming the C chord, you don’t play all the strings. We miss the thickest string and play the top five strings.
If you’re happy with your C chord, we can move on to a C minor. The difference is that one finger. So the first and second finger can remain in place, we simply remove the third finger from the third fret of the fifth string. And move it across to the second fret of the third string. This process can then be reversed and we can go between the C minor and the C until you feel comfortable with the two chords.
The G 7th chord
The final chord is G 7th. Unfortunately for G 7 you have to remove all the fingers and reapply them. However you can see a similarity between the G 7th shape and the C shape.
To play G 7th , you put the first finger in the first fret of the first string, the second finger in the second fret of the fifth string, and the third finger in the 3rd fret of the 6th string. And then, you strum all the strings. Finally you can put together the whole chord.
On The Whole
You’ll understand, being a left-handed guitarist is not a blessing, but it’s not a curse either! It is actually far from the medieval era when being left-handed was considered a plague.
Being left-handed is not a handicap, it’s just a peculiarity (like being red, tall, small, transparent). Nothing will stop you from progressing if you are really motivated!
What’s the bottom line?
Do not be ashamed to play right-handed, you have as much potential as they. Some scientific studies even say that left-handers would have a greater creativity.