Playing a musical instrument is something most people want to do. Guitar is one of the most popular instruments to learn because it’s relatively cheap and quick to pick up. But what happens if you are presented with the challenge of playing your guitar and being left handed.
Being a lefty comes with a lot of benefits. There are special scissors, potato peelers, and, of course, a left handed guitar. The problem with learning guitar on the left hand is that there isn’t that much information available on how to do it properly.
The last thing you want to do is just to start playing guitar left-handed, finding it ridiculously difficult, and giving up altogether. With that in mind, we’re here with a guide on everything you need to know to start playing with your dominant hand – in this case, your left!
Why Should I Learn to Play Left-Handed Guitar?
There’s been a lot of talk amongst the left handed guitarist community on the benefits of being a lefty in this industry. Huge rockstars like Jimi Hendrix learned to play the guitar with their left hand because of the fact that the left side of the brain is regarded as the more creative side.
Whether the brain being more creative on the left is yet to be proven, but for some people, not having to play a right-handed guitar will be a huge advantage. Now, learning to play the guitar with your left can be challenging, and it might be difficult to find a lefty guitar as well.
If any of your friends or family play guitar, then they may even ask why not just learn to play with your right hand? However, you can quickly clap back at them that some of the greatest guitarists ever such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Paul McCartney all played with their left.
Getting the Right Start
Whenever you start learning a new instrument, you have to begin in the right way and learn good habits from the offset. Getting the basics right can be hard for any beginner, but playing with your left is even more difficult.
The reason why getting the basics right with your left is so hard is because the resources aren’t as readily available to you. Left-handed guitar playing is a very niche market, so finding things like guitar tabs and even the instrument itself for your dominant hand is hard.
Over 90% of people who pick up an instrument quit playing it within the first year. So make sure you are getting the right advice and coaching on playing the left-handed guitar, so you feel encouraged to carry on playing.
Left Handed Guitars
There are a few options for left handed guitarists to find the instrument they need. The first is to buy a left handed guitar. Another option is to get a right-handed guitar and restring it to be played with your left. Here are some of the options you have:
- Restring a right-handed guitar so you can play using your left and the strings will be the right way up to still make sense to you. However, you have to keep in mind that the input socket, switches, and scratch guards will all be in the wrong place, so that’s something you’ll need to get used to (see how much does it cost to restring guitar).
- Buy a dedicated left-hand guitar that has been made specifically for those who aren’t right handed.
Finger Placement on Left-Handed Guitar
Because you’re playing in a different way with your left hand, there are a few things you should be aware of.
- Any tension or stress in your fingers or arms should signal you to stop playing. Tension can be dangerous for your health and will slow down your progress when learning the guitar.
- The proper finger placement for left-handed playing is right behind the fret.
- If your finger slips towards the middle or back of the fret, move it back up until its close again. This helps you to play cleaner and clearer notes.
- Listening to the notes as you play will tell you if you have the right finger placement. Buzzing is a big sign that your fingers are in the correct position.
- Keep your left thumb in the middle of the back of the neck of your guitar when you play.
Here’s a great exercise you can use to keep good finger placement when learning the left-handed guitar. When you form a chord, place each of your fingers individually on each of the strings one at a time. Taking this practice slowly helps you perfect the placement of each finger. Your muscle memory will also develop in this way, making chord patterns a lot easier to play in the future.
Basic Guitar Chords
If you have chosen to purchase a left-handed guitar, then all of the tabs and chords you can find online and in music books will be exactly the same as if you had a right-handed guitar. The first thing any guitar player should learn is the eight basic guitar chords. These will set you up for success as a left hand guitarist.
- C Major – Helps you to open up the first string properly by curling your first finger under.
- A Major – A trickier chord for beginners using three fingers at a time.
- E Major – Curl your first finger under so the second string doesn’t ring out.
- D Major – Try not to muffle the first string by curling your third finger on the second.
- G Major – Switching to C Major can be made easier if you use your third finger to play the sixth string.
- A Minor – An easy one that is just one string over from an E Major.
- E Minor – Two fingers and widely considered the easiest chord to play on the guitar.
- D Minor – Be careful not to put your third finger on the second string. It will stop the first string from ringing out.
Playing Left Handed FAQs
Should I learn to play guitar left handed?
This is a relatively easy guitar question to answer. It completely depends on what you want to do. Don’t let anyone try to talk you out of the way you want to play. Every person is unique and will have their own guitar style. So if you don’t want to play with your right hand, you don’t have to. Choose the one that is the easiest and most efficient for you.
Can you play a right handed guitar left handed?
Yes, you can play any right handed guitar with your other hand. However, you do need to swap the strings over in order to do it. You will also have to keep in mind things like the plug will change position. If you choose not to restring the guitar as a lefty, you will need to remember the strings are upside down.
Is it hard to learn to play guitar left handed?
This is an absolute myth that crops up all the time for southpaw players. The idea that being able to play guitar left-handed is difficult has probably come from those who are right handed. If you buy a guitar made to be played with the left, then it is in no way harder than learning to play with your right. The only difference is that chords are mirrored in a different way, so you’re essentially playing everything backward.
Now you’ve got all the right knowledge to play the guitar as a southpaw, you’ll be well on your way to jamming like the greats in no time. Good luck and happy guitaring!