Should lefty play right handed or left?

My left handed 8 year old son is interested in playing guitar. (I recently posted asking for input on a 3/4 guitar.) I’ve seen several discussions of left handed players learning to play right handed with no problems. It seems that’s the way most people are taught regardless of their coordination. I’ve heard little from lefties playing left handed. Any lefties here playing left handed?

From the discussions with lefties playing righty, it’s not obvious if they had struggles right handed players didn’t. They do seem to find legato playing a bit easier. Everyone has their own things they struggle with, so it’s possible they didn’t identify their problems with being left handed, I suppose.

I remember my college guitar teacher telling me about a masters guitar student (lefty) who played right handed his whole life. After he graduated, he switched to playing left handed and within six months was as good left handed as he was after years playing right handed. He always wondered after that, how much better could he have been if he started playing lefty.

My son also plays violin right handed. So, he’ll have some experience fingering with his left hand. Just want to make his intro to guitar as easy and smooth as possible. Also, I don’t want to go through the hassle of restring his guitar.


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I am a lefty who learnt right handed and after about 2 years hit a wall concerning speed and dexterity in my picking hand. I carried on regardles as it seemed too awkward to change and thought that I’d break through a barrier and play like Mark Knopfler or Gary Moore ((who are both leftys playing right handed). Unfortunately the breakthrough never happened and I lost interest and started getting into Cubase to produce electronic music. Years later I got the yearning to play guitar again and decided to relearn left handed. It was a slow process (and very frustrating) but after 5 or 6 years i am much better than i ever was playing right handed. I think unless you are truly ambidextrous you will struggle to have the same speed and rhythm, especially at high speeds. I am happy I made the change, but cant help feeling regret at what I could have played like if I’d started left handed.
I hope this helps.


Thanks, I’m sold. He’s playing lefty.

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Not picking, neither fretting is natural for a human being. Picking and fretting both require accuracy and some amount of strength. Actually first couple of years of guitar playing left hand requirements are higher.
Resume: there’s no difference whether you choose lefthanded or righthanded guitar. It’s just a matter of preferences and your guitar shop assortment.

As for @DjangoUntrained I believe that he would achieve the same results without switching hands. Some people see breakthrough after ten years of playing only, and they don’t change hands. That’s just how it works.

The obvious disandvantage of lefthanded guitars is more limited amount of options on a market. Lefth.guitar lovers always whining about it though noone could explain why the hell they choosed lefthanded guitar in the first place.


The above comment is untrue and patronising. It’s not 'just ‘how it works’ and nobody is whining.

I’m a lefty who plays right handed. I think using my non-dominant hand for picking has hindered me a bit. I struggled with timing and trying to keep rhythm with my picking hand (which seems to come more naturally to my friends who were rightys playing right handed), I probably have an easier time with legato but I think timing/rhythm held me back from being a ‘decent’ guitar player.

If I was starting again I’d probably try playing left handed. Once I figured out I had a timing deficiency with my picking hand I put in a big effort to bring it up to scratch so I don’t think it’s an issue any longer but it took a long time to correct.

Sorry if I was rude. It’s just a very close topic for me because I’m kinda surrounded by lefthanded friends who tend to share their problems with me… even if I don’t want to listen -_-
I remember violin teacher in my musical school was talking with parents on a similar topic. She said “If someone thinks that left hand work less (when playing violin) then he knows nothing about violin”. I guess it’s applicable to a guitar as well. Moreover, first years of learning a guitar you struggle with left hand (fretting) mostly, not right one. So there’re no advantages in switching hands. You just make picking a bit easier/harder, while making fretting harder/easier at the beginning.


Ha, took what you said to my son and suggested he play lefty. He said he wants to play righty, feels more natural to him. Possibly, the violin playing helps. Thanks for all the feedback.

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Mark Knopfler, Duane Allman, Billy Corgan, Steve Morse, Kiko Loureiro all lefties that play righty. It’s all about consistency. It’s going to feel super awkward at first no matter righty or lefty.

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Actually, I’m starting to think about getting myself a lefthanded guitar. Since my left hand is damaged it holds my playing back drastically. So, may be soon I would join the “lefty club” and start complaining about limited guitars choice :slight_smile: (which is limited indeed :frowning:)

I can only speak from experience. Tried to learn right-handed and wasn’t making progress beyond a point.

Then I restrung the guitar left-handed and everything changed. Without much practice, I was already flying through things I had struggled with the other way.

So I’ve played left handed ever since.

Maybe, given time, I would have overcome those limitations. But I was practicing for hours every day and getting nowhere.

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I am a lefty who played as right handed for 15 years. As some hace mentioned, I hit a wall as well after 3 years. Then I pushed myself, took proper lessons and managed to play some Greg Howe, Satriani tunes which sounded Ok but demanded a lot of effort and I ended up almost injuring myself.

Later I stopped playing for a while and focused on developing my career until I decided to get back to music but this time with a lefty guitar. After just one year I can play lines that I could only dream about in past years. Also, I can play some funk guitar with no hassle because my strong hand is able to keep up with fast tempos while being relaxed.

Finally, I wouldn’t consider the fretting hand as a particular challenge (unless you’re deep into Van Halen or Allan Holdsworth). The fretting hand just responds and develops nicely regardless of the position. It seems like the fingers respond better than the wrist and elbows when it comes to comparing how both hands respond to the same movement.

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Steve506 - it was exactly the same for me. :+1:

My wanking hand is far faster than my other one.

I tried.

Wonder if women make good DJ’s

Gary Moore and Michael Angelo Batio are examples of fast left handed players that play right handed. Mark Knopfler is not a fast alternate picker.

The first technical hurdle would be to play one note with fast tremolo picking, if he can master that the rest can be developed and he will have a massive speed advantage with his left hand as a fretting hand.

Something to consider.

Joe Stump is Left handed. I asked him when I took private lessons from him why he chose to play righty and he said “when you’re a beginner you suck either way, so I figured might as well do it the way everyone else does.”

Kiko Louriero is left handed. So is Vinnie Moore. There is also no such thing as a left handed piano, or saxophone, or cello etc.

By this logic, natural right handed people should suck at legato. But to my knowledge, dudes like Allan Holdsworth, Tom Quayle, Michael romeo etc are/were right handed.

Maybe those of you that got better playing lefty just benefited from a fresh perspective after a long time off? Just curious. Btw I am also left handed and play righty. I did naturally gravitate towards a legato/tap style because it felt more natural, but I never thought I was unable to pick fast or anything like that.

Steve Morse is also left handed.

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There are several examples of lefty guitarists who can shred despite playing as right handed, however, I consider them exceptions. Particularly in the case of Steve Morse and MAB, Steve is apparently suffering pain in his right hand and MAB, well, he just has a very awkward technique. Their astronomical talent is obvious but their techniques look definitely forced to me. Not something to mimic IMHO). Similar to that I know people who can write impressive calligraphy with their weak hand but I wouldn’t advice anyone to make their kid learn to write that way, so to speak.

Also, the “tremolo picking test” suggested above seems to make a lot sense. You can let the picking to the hand that allows you to do it fast without forcing it. I you can choose, consider yourself blessed. :smile:

IDK man, I think we will have to agree to disagree. We are still looking at a comparatively small sample size of virtuoso guitarists to claim that lefties playing righty will never have as much right hand finesse, and those who do are somehow an exception. About Morse and Batio’s technique, there are a number of reasons Steve might have experienced pain, and MAB never looked awkward to me… a little unorthodox but his movements are smooth and fluid. On the contrary, Chris Broderick and John Petrucci have, IMO, very “forced” looking right hand techniques. On a personal level, I have a 12 year old student who is left handed that has one of the most natural forearm rotation based DWPS movements I’ve ever seen. I never even had to teach him the concept of economy picking, he did it naturally.

I think the classical world has a much better sample size and study size, and in this regard, I found this article:

Of particular note is this passage:

“The result? First, left- and right-handed pianists performed equally well on the test. Being left-handed seemed not to present any disadvantages. Second, whether the pianist identified as right- or left-handed, the performance of the right hand always displayed a higher degree of evenness between notes, and therefore a higher degree of motor control, than did the left hand. And the more practice time that a left-hander had accumulated, the better the performance of his or her right hand.”

Also, consider drummers do very similar rapid action arm and wrist movements to a guitarists right hand and they need to be equally adept on both sides of their bodies.

Honestly, I think the only reason we are having this discussion is because guitar is the only instrument someone thought to string upside down and call it lefty. If it was violin, cello, piano, etc we would say “this is how you play the instrument.” And just move on.