Myths About Left Handed Guitars and Left Handed Guitarists

There are various very false “ideas” floating about in our society on the subject of learning to play guitar that have to do with being left or right handed. These ideas stem from

  1. ignorant right handed guitarists,
  2. lazy guitar teachers,
  3. sales staff at musical instrument shops who are on kickbacks from particular brands,
  4. bitter and twisted left-handed guitarists themselves who somehow feel “cursed.”

(However, 4 above only comes about because of too much of 1, 2 and 3.)

The unfortunate consequence of these false data is that they may influence parents and children in their choices of playing or learning guitar.

Let’s get one thing very straight. These common misconceptions I am about to present you herein ARE myths.

A myth ceases to be a myth once it has been revealed to be otherwise. It is dispelled easily by providing the Truth.

So, lefty guitarists and right handed guitarists can equally learn something here. You may be very surprised to know some new things here or have some misconceptions dispelled. I hope so! Here’s four of them:

MYTH ONE. “A guitar is like a piano. There is only one way to play it.”

This is one of the biggest, outmoded, ignorant, and totally incorrect statements there is on this subject. Yes, a piano is played one way. But even then, depending on whether you play Classical or modern piano, what you do with your right and left hands can be completely different. So in actual fact, a piano is not played one way either! And definitely no – a guitar is not played right handed as “the way to play guitar.”

In fact, guitar playing in Rock and Pop music is completely different from how a guitar was played before the 1950s. 100 years ago the dictionary definition of “guitar” was “a stringed musical instrument played by strumming.” That definition is obsolete today. In the 20th century guitar playing EVOLVED. Along came Andrés Segovia, Django Reinhardt, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Bryant, Jimmy Hendrix, Alvin Lee, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucía, Tony Iommi, Peter Green, Gary Moore, Angus Young, Robert Fripp, Lee Ritenour, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Andy Summers, George Benson, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Dimebag Darrell, Herman Li, Sam Totman, Tom Delonge, Muhammed Suicmez, Tosin Abasi, Fredrik Thordendal… and… and… and. This list goes on and on! These and thousands of others changed and continue to change how guitar is played.

Truth is, for Pop and Rock music it is better if a right handed person plays guitar left handed – with his/her dominant hand on the fret board. Take the reverse scenario: Some of the world’s very best guitarists are left-handers playing right handed guitar! Examples include Robert Fripp, Gary Moore, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Morse, Johnny Winter, and Herman Li. Why do you think they are all stand-out guitarists?

A guitar is NOT “like a piano” and thus must be played right handed only.

MYTH TWO. “It is harder to learn guitar left-handed in a world dominated by right-handed teachers and right handed instruction books.”

This is a doozer. In fact learning guitar left handed is EASIER from a right-handed teacher than a left-handed teacher because everything the teacher shows you is a MIRROR IMAGE of what you are doing and easier to follow! Right handed guitarists learning from a right handed teacher have to do a mental switcheroo to get what they are doing right! That is an extra step a left-handed learner does not have to take! And books? There are books for left-handed instruction. They exist and they are not hard to get. There aren’t as many but that is a good thing. Less possibilities of confusion. Right handed guitar instruction materials are so abundant that there is an OVERSATURATION of material which frankly makes anyone giddy when trying to make sense of it all.

MYTH THREE. “You can’t get many left-handed guitars.” Or “It’s hard to find a left handed guitar.”

This WAS true until recently. In 2006 an Australian company called Gaskell Guitars came to be. Gaskell Guitars makes left handed guitars and basses exclusively and is the only company in the world that does. A Gaskell guitar is the best left handed guitar in the world and will never lose value.

Gaskell has grown in the last few years to be the number one brand in the world for left handed guitars. Several major guitar brands have stopped making lefthanded guitars: Gibson, Paul Reed Smith, Rickenbacker. They stopped due to “lack of demand.” That is another myth.

MYTH FOUR. “There is not much demand for left handed guitars”

This is the biggest myth of the lot. This idea is definitely a commercially motivated right handed guitar manufacturer’s point of view. Although there are much less left handed guitarists in the world there are still many. Lefty guitarists do exist – and they are all over the world – young and old. This is a fact that right handed guitar companies will never be aware of because they operate on TURNOVER and their products are right handed guitars. So what do they know really?

If you are a left-handed guitarist reading this realize this: there are plenty of people like you in the world – PLENTY!

You do not need to feel bad about being a left handed guitarist.

Parents take note. When introducing guitar to your son or daughter let them pick it up and hold it the way they feel is comfortable for them. Do not change that because some lazy teacher or kick-back motivated shop salesman tries to tell you otherwise.

There is a lot of garbage still thrown around on this subject. Realize they are self-serving myths and don’t fall prey to that!

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