15 Struggles Only Left-Handed Guitarists Understand

Left-handed guitarists of the world unite! When it comes to guitar setup and style, you’re kind of in your own world…

1. Some people try to change you…

…but you do your own, awesome, left-handed thing! There is a school of thought that lefties should conform to right-handed ways and learn to play a regular righty guitar. This works for some lefties, like Paul Simon and David Byrne. For other left-handed players, a right-handed guitar can be discouraging and difficult, and switching to a left-handed guitar unlocks their full potential. Choose the ax that suits you and plays to your strengths!

2. The perfect guitar is even harder to find when you’re left-handed.

That 64 Fender Stratocaster in classic white with single triple coil pickups and a whammy bar you’re lusting after is probably not in stock in a left-handed model at your local guitar shop. Since about only 10% of the population is left-handed, most shops don’t have lefty guitars in stock, and manufacturers often require a special order to make one. If you want to try out a guitar before you buy, you’ll probably only get to play it upside down.

3. Unless it’s this guitar:

Oh, you’re left-handed? Check out our black Stratocaster copy.

4. And forget about finding a vintage guitar in a left-handed model!

True lefty guitars are a fairly recent product. In the past, players had to either set up and restring right-handed guitars upside down or learn to play them upside down.

5. Left-handed guitars tend to be more expensive.

Money can’t buy you love, but you’ll need a good chunk of change to pick up a left-handed guitar. You’ll likely need to put in a special order or shop online to find the perfect left-handed ax.

6. You’ve learned all about doing your own guitar setup.

…Because at some point you’ve probably converted a right-handed guitar over to a lefty. Flip the nut, adjust the bridge, and if it’s electric, watch out for the hardware when you’re playing! The biggest bummer about reversing a guitar is that the pick guard now sits uselessly on top of your strings.

7. You always bring your own guitar.

The odds of being able to pick up a random guitar at a jam session or party are pretty slim. Although some left-handed people have mastered guitar fingering upside down to play right-handed guitars, it’s usually preferable to play your own guitar.

8. That awkward moment when you pick up a right-handed guitar…

Why are the strings on the wrong way? How do you hold this? What is this????

9. Playing with other guitarists is like looking in a mirror.

Once your brain is used to it, it’s pretty easy. However, many right-handed guitarists find it frustrating and confusing at first.

10. Speaking of being confused…

Most of the chord charts and guitar fingering instructions you’ll find in books and online are written for right-handed people. Check out LeftyFretz for interactive guitar chord charts and other info just for left-handed guitarists.

11. Dealing with this guy:

It seems like there’s always some joker who thinks it’s funny to point out that your guitar is upside down. The best way to handle him? Politely explain that you are left-handed, then start shredding on some amazing riffs before he can respond.

12. Hitting rightys with the neck of your guitar.

Just like at the dinner table, you need to be careful not to hit the right-handers around you. Here’s a helpful hint: always stand on stage right so the neck of your guitar points away from the rest of your band.

13. Dealing with the myth that learning guitar left-handed is harder.

It might be harder to find a guitar, or a left-handed guitar guide. But once you have the right materials, learning guitar is no more challenging for a lefty than it is for a righty.

14. Want to switch to another instrument?

Lots of guitarists like to pick up a bass guitar, ukulele, or other stringed instrument to play around with after mastering guitar. If you’re left-handed, get ready to go through all the same struggles again on a new instrument.

15. But it’s totally worth it because you have amazing lefty guitar heroes to look up to!

Like Kurt Cobain…

Sir Paul McCartney…

and Jimi Hendrix!

At the end of the day, having fun and enjoying your instrument is way more important than which hand you play it with. Keep on practicing and sharpening up your guitar technique. Don’t let righty get you down!

Lefties, how do you deal with guitar setup issues? Got a left-handed guitar struggle we missed? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


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15 replies
  1. GuitarSal
    GuitarSal says:

    I’ve been playing right handed guitar for 20 years now, but I’m left handed. I always played my air guitar left handed, naturally. And I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play a left handed guitar, if it is too late now, or if my technique would improve. Well now I am about to find out as I have just inherited a left-handed fender squire!

    • Douglas D Wood
      Douglas D Wood says:

      I know this is old thread, but how did you make out?
      Did it improve your strumming?
      Same boat, lefty playing RH for 20 years, but feel like I can’t progress with certain things, thinking of switching?

  2. Nate R
    Nate R says:

    I totally agree with most of these. However I DID find a vintage 65 Strat left handed. And it was a bit pricey. I will add that learning fr Nother guitar players is way easier because of the “mirror” effect at least in my opinion. I can’t speak about chord charts or anything like that, I know completely self taught and have been doing so for the past 35 years

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I’m strongly left handed. But that comes to an advantage to me, because chords are easier to play with my left hand. So I just simply play right handed. I just leave all of the strumming to my right hand. You’re just kind of making people think that leftys can ONLY play left handed, but that’s just simply not true. We can actually play both ways with not that many problems, and right instruction (either from an instructor or perhaps self-taught).

    • Tony I
      Tony I says:

      “You’re just kind of making people think that leftys can ONLY play left handed, but that’s just simply not true. We can actually play both ways with not that many problems, and right instruction.”

      Err..what? The author isn’t saying that. Did you read where he mentions that it’s not uncommon for leftys to learn to play right handed, such as yourself. It’s the first one on the list, which is ironic because you’re being one of those “convincing” guys he’s talking about.

  4. Hero Dylan
    Hero Dylan says:

    As a righty, I never knew the struggles of left handed players. Always had mad respect for them though. Hell, most of my heroes were left handed. Keep on rocking, guys! \,,/

  5. Sebastian
    Sebastian says:

    Really good post! I have no regrets of playing as a lefty, though im curioused about how well/different i would play if I’ve learned as a right handed.

    My doubt is, how do you (leftys) avoid moving accidentally the knobs? i use tape, but it’s not that cool cause when you want to do an adjustment, you cant.
    Sorry for mi english

  6. Jarami Cornelius
    Jarami Cornelius says:

    Ive been playing left handed for 30 plus years, and my only grudgeis about the guitar quality. For example you can buy a right handed Ibanez Jem loaded with all the best Ibanez has to offer. However, if you were to buy thesame guitar left handed, ir would be a scaled down version with cheaper electronics, and the bridge for sure. Im fighting that struggle now! The right hand Jem features an Ibanez Edge Pro tremolo with a push in arm. THE LEFT HANDED VERSION gives you a plain old ibanez double locking tremolo of substandard quality. And the pickups are brand name in the right hand, but standard quantums in the Left hand version. Where is it written in law that LH guitarists deserve SUBSTANDARD quality??????

    • Dennis Gagnon
      Dennis Gagnon says:

      If it is priced the same as a righty, should be same quality, Just ordered a lefty Taylor acoustic electric, 414CE-R. If it is substandard I’ll be shipping it back!

  7. Sally
    Sally says:

    My daughter is a left handed player. It’s next to impossible to find a short scale guitar that fits her and is a color she likes.

  8. Thomas A Petitt
    Thomas A Petitt says:

    I’m a left handed musician. I can’t find a decent back up acoustic guitar for cheap. Always horrible quality and double the price. The action is always way way high. I can only play using a capo. At least that brings the action down. I am poor. Every right handed guitar I come across is perfect. Action is wonderful. How hard can it be to make it perfect for the left handed models? I feel like I’m being discriminated because I’m a left. Where is the love? Plus it cost insane money to get a good left handed acoustic guitar. I know I can get a Jameson or some other crap brand but they never stay in tune and the sounds is off. It can’t be that hard to make a mirror image of something. It’s the same thing. Why 150 dollars more? I can’t even try it out before I buy it. Sucks all the way around. I can’t even find a hard case for my guitar. They don’t make them. ?????????? What? Spent almost 400 bucks for a left handed acoustic electric Ibanez and I can’t even buy a case to protect it. The action is super high. I love on a tight budget and can’t afford and don’t trust people touching my guitar as apparently most people only repair right handed models. I just want to play on stage at my church without looking out of place. I already feel like an outcast because I’m a lefty. It’s hopeless. This will probably fall on deaf ears as this isn’t my first rodeo and actions speak miles more than words can travel. Being a lefty sucks. But I won’t conform to the Catholic ways. No one is going to force me to switch to right handed. Even if it’s encrusted with diamonds and it’s my dream guitar. I’m a South paw. I will rage against that machine until my voice is gone. Ibanez at least tries. But all the other names out there don’t seem to care. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Lefty Friend
      Lefty Friend says:

      I feel your pain man. I just bought a Fender Redondo Lefty from Sweetwater $399 they literally just got them in this past Monday and I’ve been waiting on the release of this guitar for two months. I got it in yesterday and it’s amazing. You might want to check it out. Beautiful guitar and it comes with the strat headstock instead of the regular fender acoustic head.

  9. Josh
    Josh says:

    I’m a lefty had got a right handed guitar
    So got a different guitar I got a Stratocaster… should I move back to a right handed if it’s bard on me for a left handed guitar


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