MAB Interviews - Playing Both Right Handed And Left Handed

MAB is the only guitarist I’ve ever seen be able to play both right handed and left handed. There may be other guitarists who can do it, but none that I know of.

@Troy, did you ask Michael about this any of the times you met him? Maybe in a conversation that didn’t make it onto the actual interviews you did with him? Specifically, how long did it take him to learn to play left handed after he’d already learned to play right handed? Also, I’m wondering if maybe he’s ambidextrous and that’s what made it possible for him to do this, or if being ambidextrous isn’t a necessary part of it.

I tried picking with the left hand just out of curiosity and stopped after a minute or two because it felt so unbelievably awkward. It did make me start wondering how he was able to do it so well with either hand and especially at his level of playing.

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Don’t forget this guy.


Though I don’t know if he ever picks left handed. I’ve only seen him do legato that way.

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I don’t know if this helps but I restringed my acoustic that was sitting unused backwards around May/June and tried to learn righty (I’m lefty).

It does still feel awkward but after two weeks of practice every other day or so I could play open chords, with some transition delay. Arpeggieting the chords was full of errors as I didn’t have a good sense for where the picking arm was in relation to the strings. All I did at that point was chords and the 1 2 3 4 , 1 3 2 4 synchronization stuff. (It was interesting that although I play with a karate chop kind of grip lefty (fingers extended), it felt more natural to have all fingers contracted righty - I did not try to change it).

After that I played maybe once every two weeks or so. Now I can play barre chords too but not instantaneously. I will sometimes play over backing tracks but it’s pretty frustrating because I know what I want to do yet I can’t do it. I can’t do vibrato or anything yet so it sounds bad haha. In terms of fretboard visualization it wasn’t too bad to flip the map, except initially in cases of e.g. A minor pentatonic position 3 5, 3 5, 2 5, 2 5, 3 5, 3 5, ascending, I would get confused and do 3 6 instead of 2 5.

By the way regarding the strategy of going fast while accepting errors to get the motions right, and then going back to fix stuff doesn’t make sense while playing with two hands simultaneously so far, as I don’t have basic synchronization down. So perhaps practicing the picking hand by itself to start out with good habits might be the way to go, but I haven’t tried it, I just went for whatever felt ok slowly. It kind of seems like a double escape but we’ll see how it goes.

I got carried away here but I don’t think you have to be ambidextrous (I am not) to learn the other way - there might be a penalty in some mechanics because of interference but I think most things will progress faster because you know what to do and what to expect.

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I haven’t. But Mike doesn’t have the same technique with both hands. It looks like a one-way pickslanting elbow technique without the ability to do the complex string changes he does righty. I don’t think most of us would have much trouble learning to do that given enough time.

Not a knock on Mike. For all I know he does have better ambidextrous ability than most and just hasn’t worked on it. But his current technique is not evidence for that.

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In various interviews over the years, MAB has said that he’s left-handed, and that he thinks using his dominant hand on the fretboard helped his development.


Herman Li, Robert Fripp, Billy Corgan, Steve Morse, Duane Allman, Gary Moore, Shawn Lane, Kiko Loureiro, Mark Knopfler are/were lefties that play righty as well.

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Audrey Shida is a teenager from Japan that has become known for learning to play the guitar entirely with the ‘game’ Rocksmith. Apparently, she’s never had an actual guitar lesson.

She started off playing right-handed, but almost two years ago, she decided to challenge herself by learning to play left-handed. Though she is definitely more comfortable playing right-handed, her left-handed playing isn’t too shabby.

Through the Fire and Flames - Righty

Through the Fire and Flames - Lefty

Though not on the level of MAB, still quite impressive that she’s learned to play both ways, and at a fairly competent level.

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I’m not familiar with Rocksmith. Do you know what the purpose of the TV screen she’s looking at is?

It’s software that helps you learn to play guitar. You connect your guitar to your computer (or console) and it assesses whether you’ve played the correct notes or not. The computer screen is basically giving her their version of a moving tab.

It was mainly targeted at beginners, but many people use it as a way to learn songs. It’s not perfect, but it certainly has its uses.

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Wow, I’ve never heard of anything like that or even suspected that such a thing might exist! It makes me wonder just how far they can take that type of thing and what they’ll come up with next. Maybe a KISS game where along with the guitar playing part of the game the other part of the game will consist of your frontman telling your roadies which girls in the audience you want to receive backstage passes. The better you play the more groupies you acquire, heh heh. That’s one thing (maybe the only thing?) KISS hasn’t merchandised yet

I’m in favor of anything that might motivate and inspire the younger generation to learn to play guitar. In this era where we’re seeing such iconic companies as Gibson, Fender, and Marshall in financial peril, the industry needs all the help it can get.

Thanks for the videos and the info!

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