Can A Left Handed Person Play A Right Handed Guitar?

Most guitars are created with right-handed people in mind, which makes it harder for left-handed people to find a suitable instrument for themselves. However, the good news is that you do not need a left-handed guitar as you can play a right-handed guitar even if you are left-handed.

Most guitarists use their right hand for picking the strings while the left hand is responsible for the fretting to play notes and chords. But, the dominant hand does not have to decide the fate of how you play guitar. 

You can play a right-handed guitar even if you are left-handed. You can restring the guitar to have a left-handed string order, or you can just learn to play with the standard string order from scratch. Hand orientation is not as important as when you start and stick to your decision; you get used to it with time.

Should a Left-Handed Person Play a Right-Handed Guitar?

There are some reasons for using a right-handed guitar, even if you are left-handed. The most important one is that left-hand guitars are rare, and not every model comes with a left-handed version. As you use both hands when playing guitar, it is only down to practice to get used to the layout.

In the beginning, it does not matter whether the guitar is left- or right-handed. After you practice and get familiar with the instrument, you will see that you get used to the orientation pretty easily. The issue is just sticking to a decision and not changing it halfway, as it will confuse you a lot, and all the muscle memory you built will be lost.

If you are a left-handed person who is going to play a right-hand-oriented guitar, you can change the strings in a reversed way so that the high E string is on the bottom. This way, it will be easier to read tabs and make the guitar similar to right-hand-oriented guitars, so you do not get confused when you watch a video or a lesson.

Should you switch to Right-Handed if you already play Left-handed?

The most important thing when learning to play an instrument is muscle memory built with hours of practice. If you switch to a right-handed guitar from a left-handed one or vice versa, all the muscle memory will be lost, and you will have to learn everything from scratch. So, always stick to what you already know.

Starting and staying with the same-hand-oriented guitars will make your learning process much easier and faster compared to changing the orientation on the way. 

What is the difference between a right-handed and a left-handed guitar?

Left-handed guitars are created so that the right hand is responsible for fretting and the left hand for picking the strings. This means that left-handed guitars mirror right-handed guitars exactly. The string layout, the pickguard, and hardware location are reversed in these guitars. Check out Guitar Part Names for more information.

Let’s say there is a left-handed and a right-handed guitar standing in front of you. The first thing you will notice is that the guitars are like mirror reflections. The specs are the same, but the layout is reversed. The thickest strings are located on the reversed ends of the guitars. 

If the guitars are vertical, the thickest string is on the right side on the left-handed version, while it is on the left side on the right-handed version.

The pickguards are typically located under the strings on the guitar’s body. So, the pickguard and the knob-switch locations are exactly reversed in the right-handed and left-handed guitars.

What are some tips for Left-Handed Players?

Left-handed players mostly prefer to restring the guitar to have the high E string on the bottom, but there are exceptions. Some left-handed guitarists like Glen Burtnik (Styx), Buddy Miles, and Albert King play a right-handed guitar with a standard string order as they learned to play that way, and they built their techniques accordingly.

The only important tip for left-handed players is to try different methods and practice to find the best way for themselves.

If you leave the string in the standard order, you will have the string thinnest on the highest part and the thickest on the lowest part, which is the exact opposite of a traditional guitar setup. The techniques such as bends will be done by pulling the string downwards. Typically, right-handed players pull the strings upwards to play bends.

Restringing your guitar might be a good idea if you want to have the traditional right-handed string setup. This way, you will have the same instrument as most guitar players in the world. This will make things a bit easier as you can watch videos of guitarists or teachers replicating the techniques just as you see them.

Many left-handed guitarists prefer to restring their guitars to have an orientation similar to right-handed guitars. The most famous example is the guitar god Jimi Hendrix without a doubt, along with Kurt Cobain, Tony Iommi, and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Why should Left-Handed People learn to play a Right-Handed Guitar?

There are many reasons for a left-handed player to learn to play a right-handed guitar, with the most important reasons being availability and cost. Also, tutors mostly teach right-handed guitars, and most performance and lesson videos you will watch feature right-handed guitars.

As most guitars are right-hand oriented and most models do not feature a left-handed version, you will have to order a custom left-hand guitar or content yourself with a model you do not fully like. So, having a right-handed model and using that guitar would be much more convenient than searching and finding a proper left-handed guitar.

Additionally, left-handed models generally cost more than right-handed models, just because they are rare.

Another important reason is that most tutors teach right-handed guitars. Plus, the video lessons on the internet or performance videos that you want to learn by replicating will be mostly made with right-handed guitars. So having the same layout will be easier and less confusing for you to learn.

Conclusion

Learning to play a right-handed guitar is very convenient for a left-handed person. Just restringing the guitar in a reversed way will get you close enough to a left-handed guitar without having to search and purchase a proper left-handed model.

This way, you can save time, energy, and money by learning to play with a right-handed guitar as most lessons, videos, and teachers use a right-handed guitar, and they are cheaper and easier to find. So, you can enjoy your instrument without confusion.

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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