I’m left-handed. Should I play a right-handed guitar?

Maybe. If you already play a left-handed guitar and it’s working well for you, go for it. Some of the best players are left handed.

elizabeth cotten

Elizabeth Cotten played left-handed and upside down. She wrote the classic “Freight Train.”

If you’ve never played before, try both. You might be surprised. Playing a guitar (or any stringed instrument) requires the use of both hands. It’s not like eating or writing. And frankly, it’s your left hand doing the harder work, if you’re playing a right-handed guitar. I have, though, heard of a few left-handers who have more difficulty getting a steady rhythm and for them, a left-handed guitar is best.

left handed guitar

Here’s a couple of reasons to try a right-handed guitar, if you’re so inclined:

They’re easier to find

You can buy a left-handed instrument anywhere, but you’ll find a lot more right-handed instruments, whether you’re looking for a new or a used one. I just went to Musicians Friend and searched for left-handed acoustic guitars and found 16. They carry 265 right-handers.

pile of money

They’re sometimes cheaper

Left-handed guitars tend to stay on the shelf in brick and mortar stores for a longer time so some charge more for them. On-line stores are a different animal – the prices are often the same, probably because they can afford a larger inventory. I don’t know about you, but I like to play a guitar before I buy it so I’m more likely to shop at brick and mortar stores.

Do not restring a right-handed guitar! You can damage it because it’s not braced properly for the heavier strings on the other side. Also, the pick guard will be on the wrong side. Although, that didn’t deter Willie Nelson. Maybe he likes having a second (and ragged) sound hole. No, he’s not a left-handed player but this is what can happen if you don’t have a pick guard.

willie nelson guitar


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About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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3 Responses to I’m left-handed. Should I play a right-handed guitar?

  1. Like Elizabeth Cotten and – according to Wikipedia – Dick Dale, Bobby Womack, Albert King and others, I too play a right-handed guitar left-handed (so the bass strings are on the bottom, treble on the top). I learned this way coz all my friends had right-handed guitars, so I learned the chord shapes upside down. A lot of chords seem easier to play this way than the “correct” way, though doing clever finger-picking stuff is trickier.

    Another positive is that I don’t/can’t play the clichés that come with playing the “right” way round. Plus I have my own unique style, though whether it’s any good or not…

  2. jamiebobamie says:

    Yeah, I imagine you can come up with some cool chord voicings.

  3. Frank Quirindongo says:

    Well said Jamie! I like this one here concerning the left handed guitar. I just went to Guitar Center today in New York City on W.14th St. They are more than 200 right handed (Standard) guitars and only 7 left handed ones. But the one that caught my attention was the Martin 824L It cost almost $3,000.00. But it plays nice, the best I ever heard. The other brands in stock was the Taylor, Yamaha, and Fender. Cool!!

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