Left-Handed Guitar: Does it Make Any Difference?

Are you left-handed? If so, you may wonder if you need a left-handed guitar. Or would it be better to play a normal, right-handed guitar?

This is not even a question on most instruments. Pianists, violinists, clarinetists – they don’t ask the question. They just play the instrument that exists.

But we do have left-handed guitars. So should you play lefty or righty?

The CGS Official Take: Play a normal, right-handed guitar, even if you’re a southpaw.

The Guitar is Challenging for Everyone

It’s important to note that guitar is challenging for everyone. Even the most musically gifted people struggle with guitar. It’s not easy.

We need to coordinate both hands. And each hand uses completely different movements. We sit and hold a large, asymmetrical, cumbersome instrument.

So as a lefty, a left-handed guitar will not make the road much (if any) smoother. But there are some potential benefits to buying a left-handed classical guitar.

Pros of Learning Guitar Left-Handed

Each hand has its own unique challenges on the guitar. And most people find that one hand gives them more of a challenge.

Here are some benefits to playing lefty:

Your Dominant Hand Makes the Sound

The hand over the body of the guitar plucks the strings. This makes the sound.

So playing with your dominant hand plucking or strumming the strings could be a boon. At least initially.

Over time, both hands grow into their roles and become fully competent. But first starting out, a lefty may sound better. Or there may be better tone quality playing a left-handed guitar.

This may also mean that when a lefty performs, the nerves are less noticeable. Since the more innately competent hand is making the sound, a strong sound may still be possible. (This idea is questionable, and may or may not be true.)

It May Be More Comfortable (perhaps, for a while)

When we interlace our fingers, most people put their non-dominant thumb on top of the dominant. And when we do the opposite, it feels wrong.

Following this logic, we may have a predisposition to play guitar lefty or righty.

But with time and practice, this “natural feeling” changes. Whatever we do with consistent intention will become habitual.

Pros of Learning Guitar Right-Handed (if Left-Hand Dominant)

And there are also many benefits to playing a right-handed, normal guitar. This is regardless of which hand is dominant.

It’s Easier to Find a Guitar to Play

Left-handed guitars are available, but they are rare. This means that if you are ever somewhere without a guitar, you can’t play.

So if you play a normal guitar, guitars are always easily accessible. You’ll probably pay less, and you’ll have loads more options. Both used and new guitars abound.

Most Teaching Resources are Created for Righties

Any teaching resource available will be created for right-handed guitars. It’s not prejudice – it’s just the numbers. Only a tiny fraction of guitarists will opt for a left-handed instrument.

Information is everywhere. You’ll find myriad books, DVDs, courses, and online programs. And if you study with a private teacher, he or she will likely play right-handed.

So opting for lefty creates more work. For every resource, you’ll have to mentally translate it to your own perspective. This can slow down learning. It takes valuable mental bandwidth that could be used for learning.

Pick One and Go With It

Most experienced guitar teachers would suggest you play a normal, right-handed guitar. Even if you’re left-handed. It’s just easier and makes sense.  This is because of the reasons above.

But regardless of which you choose, make a choice and then get down to practice.

What matters more than the orientation of the guitar? What and how we play. The real benefit comes from deliberate practice. This is where the magic happens.

And if you’re serious about improving at guitar, The Woodshed® Classical Guitar Program may be the place for you.

Members skip headaches and heartaches of trial-and-error learning. They spend their guitar time well. They see the steady improvement that sets them up for the long term.

When you join, you’ll know exactly what and how to practice. You’ll enjoy your daily guitar like never before because you’ll be organized and on track. Click here to learn more and get started.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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