Dominant hand vs. Guitar orientation

I’m left handed and play guitar right handed. I’ve always felt my fretting hand (dominant in my case) was able to do just about anything rather quickly (i.e. early on in my learning). My picking hand however couldn’t get quarter notes at 90bpm to groove (lol). I’m not sure if the whole dominant hand vs. guitar orientation thing plays a role. Currently I’m quite pleased with the progress my picking hand has made thanks to CtC laying out the mechanics. I rarely feel rusty (at least to a significant degree) now. I’m wondering if anyone has any personal insights or thoughts on hand dominance and ease of related techniques (i.e. developing legato vs picking)?

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I’ve always wondered why “righty” guitar means “fret lefty, pick righty”. It could just as easily be the reverse. For example, on piano the right hand often does the more compicated fine motor finger stuff, especially in pop music. So why wouldn’t this also be the case on guitar? I don’t know.

However I will say that Michael Angelo Batio and Steve Morse are both “lefties” and they’re both picking technique pioneers. So I don’t know how relevant the distinction really is. I would like to think I could get all my picking technique with my left hand eventually if I were forced to do so. And it also wouldn’t surprise me if it turned I was better at certain things that way, if only thanks to starting out with a blank slate. Who knows.


There was a long thread recently about lefties playing right handed (which I was one for 15 years, but changed over after a 10 year break). I think the conclusion was that it depends on the individual. Some seem to be ambidextrous and play as well picking with their non dominant hand. I for one hit a wall and struggled with speed, Steve Morse, Michel Angelo Batio and Gary Moore clearly didnt.


As a lefty myself, I believe it’s possible to train your hands either way. I know the opinions in the previous thread on this and I still disagree with the idea that the dominant hand is somehow more suited to certain movements than others and that is why it’s the picking hand (especially considering that the finger dexterity needed for finger style guitar is much more similar to the left hand on the fretboard, and the guitar was designed to be played finger style).

I will say as a personal anecdote that right hand mechanics never came natural to me,
And it wasn’t until CtC that I was able to really develop it well.


This could be for a number of reasons unrelated to being lefty. For one, I grew up with the whole Rock Discipline approach and never “started with Speed” with the right hand. However, I did start with speed with my left hand and was able to develop really good legato ability. I wonder sometimes if I were to go back in time and start with speed with my right hand if I would have had the same hurdles.

Edit: I also never used to work on lines by “chunking” the way I do now. And that has also been a huge boost.

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I think it’s personal for everybody- in the sense that whatever science says it’s true (and it probably is), it won’t make an iota of difference to a guy who just vehemently thinks not.

I was born lefty (as in writing and using scissors) but play righty. Same with sports. I only delegate very few things to my left hand so I am officially righty now but I am quite in command over the left side of my body regarding some basic athletic movements, compared to the right even.

For the type of picking I do (predominantly downwards slant economy), I find that above a certain point, the left hand becomes the bottleneck- which is a welcome limitation since I was born lefty and it gives me some comfort of mind.

The other thing is, starting out and receiving lessons…I think it’s just much easier to mimic and be in tune with a teacher who has the same hand orientation.

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I saw a video from Kiko Loureiro (spelled correctly?) where he mentioned that he is happy to play “righty” although being a natural lefty due to being able to just pick up any guitar anywhere. If he was able to achieve that level of technical abilities playing “in reverse” I second Troys opinion that it does not really make a difference, except for maybe the first weeks/months where either hand might be stronger/weaker.
If I see newbies holding a pick for the first time with their right/dominant hand it pretty much looks like I do when holding it with my left hand.

I also wonder if relearning the other way round is faster than initially starting, because you already have a lot of knowledge in your head (scales, chords,…) and also know the pitfalls and the feel of “correct” motions.


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