Are you looking to learn the guitar but don’t know where to start as a left-handed player? Look no further. Before I became a guitar teacher in 2014, I’d never given much thought to how to play the guitar left-handed. All the guitar players I knew were right-handed.
However, it’s important to note there is no one solution that fits all. I currently have three left-handed players and each of them approaches their playing differently.
1. Play Right-handed
Max writes left-handed and he learnt to play a right-handed ukulele. He was 5 when he first learnt to play so he didn’t know any different. When you play the guitar you need one hand to have the dexterity to change chords and move your fingers quickly and accurately. You need the other to keep rhythm with strumming the strings. Some left-handed players say that playing a right-handed guitar gives them an edge because their dominant hand has the dexterity.
2. Rotate the guitar/ukulele
A right-handed guitar position means the long neck of the guitar is in the left hand and the body is to the right. Rotating the guitar so the neck is in the right hand is a left-handed position. By swapping sides, the strings will be back to front or some like to think up-side-down.
One of my student Bobby didn’t have access to a ukulele, so he borrowed a right-handed uke. He tried position 1 as above but he found strumming difficult to control so he rotated the uke. The ukulele has four strings and a small neck so playing this up-side-down wasn’t too much of a stretch for his fingers. However, when you are strumming to a song, you often require a strong downbeat on the first beat of the bar. Where the uke was upside down, his upstroke produced the usual sound of the chord. It might take some getting used to but it is possible.
However, rotating a guitar comes with other issues as the chords often require you to stretch your hand across 6 strings. If it is an electric guitar, the controls will be at the top of the guitar which will make strumming difficult.
3. Re-string the guitar
My student Ryan wrote left-handed, he ate his dinner left-handed which was why he was sure he was a left-handed guitar player. He had an entry-level guitar re-strung at a local music shop. His parents were convinced that he should attempt number 1 and just learn right-handed but despite his young age, he was very sure he was a lefty! And some of the most famous guitar players in the world play left-handed so who were we to deny him what he believed to be right. However, we did find that mirroring the chord charts really helped him relate to where he was putting his fingers to play the chords. Message me for left-handed guitar chords.
If a left-handed player wants to keep the rich bass tones of the chord when they strum a downbeat, then they can re-string the guitar. That means change the positions of the strings so it is a mirror image of a right-handed guitar with the thickest/lowest string on the left. This will work for less expensive guitars because they tend to have a flat bridge, however, more expensive guitars have a graduating bridge which would then be up-side-down. However, if you have a pickguard to protect your guitar from plectrum damage, it will now be up-side-down offering no protection what-so-ever!
4. Buy a left-handed guitar
You can buy actual left-handed guitars because high-end guitars need all the parts manufactured to the correct specification.
So there you have it – so many options to accommodate a left-handed guitar or ukulele player. Consider from the points made above which is the most suitable solution for you.