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Are we playing wrong-sided guitars?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Tele-friend, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. tattypicker

    tattypicker Tele-Meister

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    Count me in the camp that thinks conventional is best, on the basis that the picking hand has a harder job than the fretting hand.

    One drill that I was taught was to play RH (I'm a conventional righty) in isolation, no left hand fretting at all. I have done this with a pick, and finger style, and in both cases I find that the LH quite naturally co-ordinates with the RH, once the RH patterns are learnt.
     
  2. GBfun

    GBfun TDPRI Member

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    I resisted playing guitar lead most of my life(singer/strummer)...until the last 7 years after I lost my high voice due to vocal damage and age. And what lead I did play before embarking on my guitar lead adventure...was using the right hand on a piano. Clearly, my left hand was nowhere near a strong and competent as my right, and on the piano, it was mainly used on autopilot bass chords. Having played many sports right handed, I am STRONGLY right handed. So why the heck do I apply my WEAKEST hand to the most, I think, DEMANDING task on a guitar ?

    I also, in my youth, chose to play table tennis LEFT handed just because, well, I broke my hand in an ill-advised pickup football game ! And at the time, my rating right handed was about a 1400, and I was entered a college tournament. At that moment, I was only 800 left handed. I had a couple of weeks before my first match so I simply reversed my footing and probably my vision, and applied everything I did Right handed to my Left handed style. And somehow won the tournament. I then continued to win another college intramural tournament Left handed and then a intra-company tournament as well.

    So, could we all SWITCH hands to play guitar fairly quickly ? Perhaps in 6 months to a year ?

    Fast forward about 20 years and I started playing table tennis in a tough crowd. I got back ok Left handed, but I was losing to EVERYONE. So I switched back to my Right hand.

    It took me 5 YEARS, but I finally could beat them all....Right handed.

    And the bottom line is : 1) I AM strongly Right handed. 2) I got to a rating of 1300 playing Left handed, and 1550 playing Right handed.

    And today, playing guitar, I have my 1300 hand attempting to play challenging hammer ons, pull offs, finger stretches and string skipping...and progress is rather difficult and slow. (part of this is due to aging of course !)

    But you guys do raise an interesting question ! Wouldn't I go farther, faster if I fretted Right handed with my Right hand already "brain wired" from playing piano ?

    I don't have a left handed guitar to test this of course, and it would truly horrifying to have my guitar menagerie turn completely obsolete overnight ! And I have limited time and energy left.

    But for you younger studs, maybe you SHOULD give a Left handed guitar a try for lead !

    Other than that, I conclude this fabulous prose with the following two observations...which could be true or false.

    First, I found that my playing technique and STYLE did NOT translate EXACTLY between hands. Not necessarily better or worse, just...different. And it's possible one might PLAY music a bit differently LEFT and RIGHT when riffing/creating just because of the unique attributes that supposedly exist in one's clearly left/right divided brain ! (maybe one Hand would be more mechanical, the other emotional ?)

    Second, playing with the upside down string pattern has GOT to have it's own advantages for musical uniqueness because the access to the strings is easier at the bottom of the fretboard. In the normal pattern, high notes are more available, and upside down, the lower notes are more available.

    And since the object of the game is to play "freely" on guitar, I suspect a very different selection of notes and musical ideas will occur depending on how easy and accessible the tones are on the guitar neck due to the arrangement of the strings.

    Also, if one has too much joint wear and tear(or damage) on the Left hand, why not use a "fresher" right hand ?

    Or not. Your mileage may vary !

    I have to say, after this thread, I'm starting to look at my hackable guitars with an evil smile...
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
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  3. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I play the side that has Strings on it.
     
  4. gregulator450

    gregulator450 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I write and shoot left-handed but throw a ball right-handed. Both drums and guitar felt natural playing right-handed; I held guitar-shaped objects right-handed before I knew how to play, and I didn't know a drum set could be set up lefty when I started drumming. Having partial dominance in both hands hasn't yielded any noticeable advantage that I can see, but it's starting to help with open-handed drumming (now that I am trying to incorporate left hand dominance into my drums).
     
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  5. Lefty Addams

    Lefty Addams Tele-Afflicted

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    No.
     
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  6. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good point!! Mark Knopfler is a lefty- so too many others ( See Google's list).
    Maybe we should really be using our dominant hand as it could work better for many of us.
    More guitars for lefties PEASE- I have a son who i critically ill ATM and want him to play.
     
  7. Lucius Paisley

    Lucius Paisley Tele-Afflicted

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    There's always some idiot who says "I learnt to play right handed... it was hard at first".

    IT'S ALWAYS HARD AT FIRST.
     
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  8. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I’ve never understood that either. I’ve been told Joe Perry has a stronger attack because he’s a lefty that plays right. Of course this was from a Perry fanboy so who knows.
     
  9. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    We've had handedness orientation discussions on TDPRI before, and I've participated in those discussions, saying a lot of the same things I'm about to say again. (That's not a complaint about the subject of this thread. It's more of an apology in advance for me being a broken record. :oops:)

    I, too, am a southpaw that plays righty. In my case, I learned that way because of my right-handed father who played guitar. I cannot remember a time in my father's household without a guitar, so my earliest recollections include guitars being played right handed. I "plunked around" on a parlor of his when I was 10 or 11, but didn't get serious about learning to play until I was 14.

    And I was playing Dad's archtop in right-handed orientation. To that point in my life, I had never seen a guitarist play a right-handed guitar lefty. It didn't even occur to me to flip it over, much less restring it. And of course, this was more than half a century ago, so guitars built with a left-handed orientation were as rare as moon rocks on earth. I just figured that it's a right-handed world, and if I wanted to play guitar, doing so right handed was the price of admission into that world.

    At that time, Dad traveled a lot, so I had been playing one of his guitars for a couple of months before he realized it. The first thing he thought of was me being left-handed. He restrung the guitar for me, but I found I couldn't play it that way. I don't know if it was because I'd already been playing righty for months or just because I somehow instinctively knew that my dominant hand would serve me better on the fretboard, but it just felt more natural to play righty.

    So, I too am one of those that thinks it's an advantage to have the dominant hand on the fretboard. And I'm also not at a disadvantage when it comes to buying guitars or playing other people's guitars. I don't teach guitar, but if I had a left-handed student, I would say,

    "If you can do it, learn to play right-handed. You need both hands working in coordinated effort anyway, and besides, you will always be at a disadvantage if you choose to play lefty. The number of guitars on the market built for left-handed orientation are, and always will be, more scarce. It's not a conspiracy thing; it's just basic economics. The overwhelming majority of the world's population is right-handed, so it's simply a matter of the law of supply and demand. If your brain somehow can't process playing righty, then fine. But just make an informed decision about this. Weigh out the pros and cons, and if you choose to play lefty, then live with the consequences of that decision."
     
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  10. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    I know Steve Morse claims certain movements are different because of being a lefty. Moving at the elbow instead of the wrist , IIRCR.
    People should do what they want , none of my kids are left handed. If they were , I would have encouraged them to play in the normal position , because of all the usual problems.
     
  11. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    There's a video around, of Joe Walsh, discussing technique. He insisted that the picking hand is where everything happens. He said, to learn from watching someone play, always watch the right hand (for a righty); not what most people do, which is to watch the fretting hand. His advice stuck with me, although I usually find myself watching the fretting hand.
     
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  12. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    This is a broken record we play over and over and a dead horse we never stop beating on.

    Guitar takes two hands. You start with a handicap on one or the other and an advantage on one or the other, either picking or fretting. You have to climb out of a hole to learn either way.

    I'm LH and play right handed. Maybe my fretting came easier, but my picking has been a battle for sure.

    Realistically if you want to copy someone by watching them you're going to need to watch more than once and spend time focusing on both hands.
     
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  13. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My brother in law is left-handed and plays guitar right handed. That impresses me, because I don't think I could switch in the opposite direction. His playing a guitar right-handed does not impress me nearly as much as the fact that he learned to rope right-handed in order to be a header in calf roping events rather than being a healer. He not only switched from being left-handed in roping to being a right-handed roper, he enjoyed quite a lot of success winning many local events over several years of competitive roping.
     
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  14. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I saw a speech given by Robert Godin who owns the Godin guitars brands. Robert mentioned that he was left handed and played right handed, but finger picking and strumming with his right hand was a detriment to his playing.
     
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  15. Rufus

    Rufus Tele-Afflicted

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    There is a reason that you naturally play air guitar with a particular hand...which ever hand that is, that's how you should learn to play a real guitar. You have answered your own question without even realizing it.

    Hendrix wrote with his right hand because he was forced to, in the schools in the 1950's. (Back then, it was NOT uncommon to "discourage" children from doing things with the left hand. One of the definitions of "Sinister" is "lefthanded", and was associated with the devil)
    According to his brother Leon, young Jimi played guitar lefthanded when his father wasn't home and would flip it upside down and play righty when his father came home, as Al Hendrix shared the same views on lefthandedness and the devil as many others did.

    Obviously, there was a reason Hendrix continued to play lefty as an adult, and stopped playing righty...

    the bottom line is...do what is best for YOU...who gives a damn what other famous artists have done? You are not THEY. (...or is it THEM?)
     
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  16. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    The only weird thing I might argue is that overall Left Handed people might have it slightly easier than righties no matter which direction we choose to play.

    Only because the world is designed to be right handed.. if you're left handed you're forced to use your right hand more than you want to. As a result I think people who are left handed have more dexterity with their right hand than righties do with their left.

    Stuff being designed for righties is so pervasive you probably can't even see it if you're right handed.

    I'm young enough to have not been discouraged from writing with my left hand but I remember there was still some weirdness in school. One of the biggest ones was getting handed right handed scissors as a kid which were pretty hard to use with your left hand and then having the teacher give me a hard time and then mark me down for fine motor skills issues and such.

    And if you played sports it was easy to end up playing a lot of them right handed. I bat righty, play golf righty, was right foot dominant in soccer, play hockey righty, etc..

    Maybe that made it more easy for me to decide to play guitar with a right handed guitar.
     
  17. Fret Fretterson

    Fret Fretterson TDPRI Member

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    Clearly both ways can be learned. The human body is amazingly adaptable.

    I’m a righty and can type very quickly with no noticeable performance difference between L and R. Typing requires a lot of coordination but little strength. This was learned through repetition. This is my personal example of getting both hands to do something equally challenging.

    I remember learning guitar, the left hand had to go through more of a strength learning curve than my right. I was able to strum and pick on time from day one, but forming chord shapes and later hammer ons, flick offs and bends all took more time, but this seemed to follow a natural progression as my knowledge of the fretboard was also increasing.
     
  18. Tele-friend

    Tele-friend Tele-Meister

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    So it appears that Jimi Hendrix was left handed afterall and was forced to write with right hand.

     
  19. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

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    This has crossed my mind once or twice.
     
  20. MrCoolGuy

    MrCoolGuy Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    My thoughts are that fingering chords and all that is easier than picking properly and stumming with rhythm.
    I had this same thought when I first started playing guitar... now I'm glad I learned the "correct"way.
     
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