I have been playing my classical guitar with my right hand since I was a little kid. In fact, I did not even know if there was a left-handed orientation towards things. Yes, my dominant hand is my right one, and therefore it was my easy for me to play the guitar with my right hand. But the fact is,
Even left handers can play the guitar with their right hand, and they should.
Although, for the people who have used their left hand to do stuff all their lives can find it a little challenging to do so, but I would strongly advise to learn the guitar with your right hand. And soon, you would find it natural to play with your right hand, and it would become normal for you.
Choosing the Guitar: Left or Right Handed – You Need to Train Both Hands
The guitar is an instrument that requires precision and dexterity.
The matter of fact is, you will need to train both of your hands in order to play the guitar correctly. If you play with both of your hands, then your hands will become familiar with the guitar. That makes the entire learning process easier and comfortable.
However, you have to learn in one direction. Most of the people simply learn the guitar one way – with their right hand or left. And once they have learnt in one way, they find it extremely difficult to play the guitar with their other hand. Which honestly, you should not be bothered about. You do not want to spend your time and energy to relearn everything from the basics for your other hand. That is just counterproductive. Therefore, it is extremely important for you to begin learning the guitar with your right hand.
If you had already learnt the guitar with your left or right hand, then it might be impossible for you to learn the guitar with your other hand. If not impossible, then at least it will take a lot of time and be a difficult process. Therefore, if you are thinking about learning from left first then right, then you might need to reconsider.
If you visit a guitar shop, and there are 50 guitars, then you will be lucky to find one or two guitars for left handed people. Almost all of them would be for right handed people. You get a bigger selection of guitars if your right hand is used as your strumming hand, and left hand for fretting – basically, playing the guitar with your right hand. See my article for guitars for left handed people. Or, check out this table summarizing my recommendations:
But I have Been Playing with My Left Hand for Years, Should I Learn to Play with My Right Now?
If you have been with right or left hand for years, then it would be difficult changing your hand. You would have to learn everything from the basics. And the stuff you know right now will not apply on your other hand. That would not only slow down the rate at which you learn the guitar, but it would also be very frustrating. And honestly, I do not want you to spend months again just to cover up your basics.
I have a guide on how to set a right-handed guitar for left handed person. You might want to read that article.
My Hand Hurts If I Play the Guitar with My Right or Left Hand – Is That Normal?
No, and you should immediately visit a doctor before you injure yourself.
If you are a left-handed person and tried to play with your right hand (or vice versa), and you felt pain in your hands or wrist while playing the guitar. Then you need to stop immediately. Bad wrist and hand positioning can cause serious damage to your body, which could be permanent as well.
Here is an article that deals with hands and wrists pain caused by playing the guitar. You should look at it if you experience pain while or after playing the guitar.
Can I Order a Custom Made Left Handed Guitar?
Yes, you can order a custom-made guitar for your hand preference, and there are quite a few companies that do this. However, this should not be your argument if you want to play the guitar for a long period of time.
As a guitarist, you would buy several guitars, and I mean several guitars. Play them or not – you would collect them like Pokemon Cards. And if you are unable to find a guitar that you can even play, then that can be quite frustrating.
Also, custom guitars are more expensive than the default guitars.
Reasons for Why You Should Be Playing the Guitar with Your Right Hand
There are many reasons for why you should begin learning the guitar with your right hand even as a left hander in the first place.
- More than 90% of the guitars are made for right handed people. Not only you would be troubled while finding a guitar for yourself, but you won’t be able to play the ones you like and see in a shop
- Teachers normally teach you to play the guitar with your right hand. Again, if you stick with playing with your left hand, then you might have trouble finding a teacher or proper tutorials.
- If you play the guitar with your right hand, then you will be able to pick up a guitar and play instantly no matter where and what guitar you are given. For example, if you go to your friend’s house or school, you can instantly pick up the guitar and play it.
Famous Left-Handed Guitarists Who Play Right-Handed
Here, I have complied a small list of prominent left-handed guitarists who play with their right hand. The sole purpose of this list is to motivate and tell you that it is possible for a left-handed person to play with their right hand . And be really good at it.
- Robert Fripp: At the age of 15 he developed his on technique to play the guitar with his right hand. He believed that we are given two hands, and therefore we should use both of them to play the guitar.
- Duane Allman: Marked himself in the pantheon as one of the all-time greats.
- Shawn Lee: Another guitar giant who was an extreme leftie but played with his right.
- Steve Morse: Another prominent guitarist who was capable of playing circles around many right-hand shredders.
- Gary Moore: A blue’s legend who was a leftie but played with his right hand.
Do left-handed guitarists view the same patterns as right-handed?
In general, yes.
The patterns for scales and chords are the same for left-handed guitarists as they are for right-handed guitarists. This is because they re-string the guitar so that the low-E string is on top and the high-E string is on the bottom, as it is for right-handed players.
What Really Matters
In the end, it all comes down to which hand is the most comfortable for you to play with. There is no point of playing the guitar with your right hand if it is going to hurt you, and cause injury.
Hobbies are meant to be fun, help you to relax – not to frustrate or injure you.
However, one thing I would say is that guitars for left orientated people are way less than guitar for right handed people. Therefore, it would become difficult for you to play someone else’s guitar, and they would have difficulty playing yours – as most of the people play with their right hand. If this is important for you, then you might want to consider learning with your right hand if you are leftie.