I just started learning the guitar a few weeks ago following Justin’s course. Love it so far. I am strongly left handed but I bought a right handed guitar. It’s completely new to me but surprisingly it doesn’t feel strange to me learning on a right hand guitar. If I would try and write with may right hand that really would feel very strange.
Anyway, I’m guessing there are lots of left handers playing a right handed guitar. So my question is what are left handers experiences with this? What do you think was more challenging to learn as a left hander using a right hand guitar?
In my very early experiences, the most difficult thing for me has been strumming to the rhythm and wondered whether that’s because it’s just difficult at first or because I’m strumming with my right hand?
As a right hander, I’ve always wondered why we learn to do the complicated stuff, i.e. fretting the notes, with our non-dominant hand? Surely it would make more sense to do that with the “smart” hand? Purely hypothetical question, mind, I’m not about to switch hands at this stage!
Some say the person who invented guitar was left-handed.
Some say that’s because left-hand gives the pitch, right hand gives the time, and time is more important.
Others say it does not matter, a choice had to be made so it was.
I guess we won’t know until we invent the time machine.
I am left-handed and commited to learning guitar right-handed because it just seemed like the better choice for me personally. I use a computer mouse with my right hand as that’s how I learned to use a computer (many) years ago, so I know I can get my right hand to do stuff that’s pretty alien and eventually it will be natural.
Guitar is difficult so I don’t think I would be further along in my journey had I started left-handed, maybe some advantage with rhythm but I still think learning right-handed was the right decision for me. It might have been easier to make chord shapes as I had slightly more control of the individual fingers in my dominant hand, but that’s all I can really think of.
There are advantages like you would expect, you have more guitars to choose from and most guitar stuff online expects you to have a right-handed instrument so it’s easier to follow as I believe the string order is flipped.
I am sure there are lots of lefties here though!
I am left handed and have chosen to play guitar right handed. I am sure there are other lefties who feel differently, but for me, it actually felt more natural to hold the guitar in a right handed way and I have not regretted my decision at all.
When learning guitar, you are inevitably teaching both hands to do things that they aren’t used to doing. I also started on another instrument (ukulele, also right handed) before moving to the guitar, so I already had some basic strumming mechanics ingrained in my right hand to a certain extent.
I like being able to have a lot of choices when I go to a guitar store. I am enjoying not being limited in my gear selection.
Are there lefties that would benefit from playing left handed from the beginning? I’m sure there are, but overall I am happy that I am learning righty.
I’m lefthanded too and tried to play righthanded in the beginning, but found out pretty soon that it would not work.
Switched to lefty guitars and never looked back. For me it’s so much more natural.
Definite very much lefty playing righty here.
Lots of reasons for me, explained in prior threads, so I won’t go through them all here.
I would not consider the fretting hand as doing the more complicated stuff. I think it has helped a little that my left hand started stronger, but it is also stiffer and less flexible due to nearly 6 decades of overuse.
My left hand does seem to take more naturally to rhythm than the right, so another challenge. But a very good exercise for my brain. There is no reason I can’t learn to do it, it just takes a little more effort in coordination (hello fingerpicking…) and is really beneficial for cognitive strength, one of my motivations for learning an instrument in the first place.
I was thinking about this yesterday after reading th opening post. Maybe the advantage of having the dominant hand as the strumming hand really is rhythm and timing. Honestly, you can get away with it better when butchering cords and fretted notes. But butcher the timing and rhythm? That really messes up the piece.
I am still happy learning righty. Yes, I have some remedial training in rhythm that never seems to end, but I am growing for it.
Seeing that the guitar was the last to be invented of a long line of stringed instruments, I’d say this is someone blowing smoke.
Most people find it easier to keep rhythm with their dominant hand, which is the hardest part of playing. The easiest way to see if right or left handed is which way do you naturally play air guutar?
When I started playing righty, my daughter and I would play a little game where she would randomly throw me an air guitar and we would see which way I would catch it.
It took about 1.5 years for me to catch it righty….yet I persisted!
Rick is dead right on this.
For me it also explains why right-handed people pluck the strings with their dominant hand.
The first stringed instruments were fixed length strings: Lyres, harps, zithers…
Of course everyone plucked the strings with their dominant hand, holding the instrument with their other one or later adding accompaniment.
Eventually, they noticed that by shortening the strings, pressing down with their ‘free’ hand they could vary the pitch. It was a natural progression. From the very beginning, tradition taught that you pluck with your dominant hand and fret with the ‘free’ hand.
Guitar playing, however, has two different complicated tasks for each hand. Whichever way you learn you’re going to struggle with an aspect that you would find easier with your dominant hand.
For me the hardest part of learning guitar was trying to get my left hand to accurately fret the chords. (Don’t get me started on the idea of speedy solo fretwork )
I don’t buy the idea that rhythm is better on one side. (Justin teaches we should keep the rhythm by tapping our left foot). Like everything else it’s all down to practice and personal preference.
I’ve never heard a piano player complain they can’t keep the rhythm with their left hand, (although I’m sure that problem exists). My son is a lefty and learned righty guitar without a second thought.
Choose whatever you fancy, for whatever reason.
On the other hand, My wife is left handed and can’t play right handed at all. Some lefties are Lefties through and through and some like some righties are ambidextrous or at least partially ambidextrous and do things with either hand.
One of my best friends is a lefty and learned the righty guitar because that’s all that was around.
We have this conversation in the Community about every 4 months
Here’s a summary:
- Your dominant hand is best capable of dictating rhythm.
- Rhythm is strumming
- Strumming hand determines “guitarhandeness”
- In most cases the dominant hand for rhythm for people is their regular dominant hand.
- You can train the other hand but it is experienced (by most people) as unnatural.
- There are people who have less or zero issues with these things but these are exceptions.
- It is never black or white, it’s always “somewhere on a spectrum”
I’m left hand dominant. I tried to learn right handed as a teenager 30 years ago and failed. I could never get on with rhythm.
I’ve recently started learning again but a left handed guitar and it feels so much more natural and rhythm feels great.
I think it’s wrong to say someone is left handed or right handed. I think we all favour one hand to a greater or lesser degree. I think if you favour your dominant hand to a lesser degree you could learn either way, in which case it would make more sense to learn right handed and have a greater choice in guitars. But if you are very left hand dominant it makes sense to use your left hand for rhythm.
“On the spectrum” is an apt phrase. As I lefty, first year, senior citizen (sounds odd to call myself that), I am somewhat rhythm-challenged on with my right hand, but getting progressively better with practice, including just strumming with the strings damped to Jason’s Spotify beginners list. I am also consciously doing some daily tasks right-handed (shaving, cooking, computer mouse, etc. I think I’m taking to fret work, even barre chords, reasonably well and can’t imagine doing that with my right club. Some time I want to visit a guitar shop and try a left-handed guitar just for kicks.
I am right handed but I play left handed, probably because I write with my left, these are the only 2 things I do with my left. I tried a right handed guitar, didn’t work for me at all.
I know this is an old post but wanted to comment. I am left hand dominant and do many things right-handed. my first guitar was right-handed but I soon learned it was not going to work when trying to get clean picks at speed.
the issue is that the strumming hand requires micromovements compared to the fret hand. picking is more complicated at a faster rate so the dominant hand excels that way.
I am now back to a left handed guitar and learning is easier for me. I didn’t want to spend time training myself one way when I was already challenged learning the guitar itself.
It can obviously be done but it will take extra time when you get faster for your nondominant hand to strum and pick.