Left Handed players

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Tadw16
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Left Handed players

Postby Tadw16 » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:48 pm

I am a lefty and would be interested in hearing from other left handed players about what guitars you play, right handed to left handed conversion and other related topics concerning left handed playing issues.
Tad Williams

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Yisrael van Handel » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:43 pm

Tadw16 wrote:I am a lefty and would be interested in hearing from other left handed players about what guitars you play, right handed to left handed conversion and other related topics concerning left handed playing issues.

To my surprise, Hubert Käppel (one of the gurus of guitar technique) states (in A detailed compendium of fundamentals and playing technique of 21st century classical guitar.) that left-handed players should play right-handed guitars. "…as the requirements for both hands are of equal dimensions, there are no disadvantages for left-handed players if the choose to play…" {right-handed]. He goes on to say that being left-handed may even be an advantage, because the demands of left-hand fingering may be even greater than the demands on right-hand fingering.
Anushka Shenkar is a world-class left-handed sitar player (Indian etiquette requires the sitar to be plucked with the right hand). I have heard her say that she has frequent tendonitis because of plucking with her (weaker) right hand. It also seems to me that the plucking hand requires more physical strength than the fingering hand. However, restringing a right-handed guitar does not make it a left-handed guitar, because the string channels in the nut need to be shaped for the thickness of the string. If this is not accurate, it will affect the intonation of the guitar. The only way to get a left-handed guitar is to have a luthier build one. This is impractical for beginning guitar students.
The OP requested to hear from left-handed players, and I am right-handed, so I will stop here.
Yisrael van Handel
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tormodg
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby tormodg » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:33 pm

I am left handed and have played right-handed guitars since the beginning. It has never been a problem. While in college I did experiment briefly with a lefty guitar but it never felt natural in any way. If anything I think playing a normal guitar can be a bonus for us lefties since we may have different dexterity and strength than righties, so we may play and sound slightly different. Which is cool.
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robert e
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby robert e » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:08 pm

I'm not a lefty, but most lefty people I know play guitar right handed and they have no issues.

On the other hand, as I'm sure you're aware, playing lefty guitars is a disadvantage when it comes to buying, selling or trading instruments, or simply being able to use someone else's guitar temporarily. Even for a custom build, trying out a luthier's existing instruments can be difficult. There's more to the difference than just nut and saddle, which are relatively easy to customize and replace. Classical guitars can have handedness built-in in things like the angle of the saddle slot in the bridge, or a subtle angle or twist built into the fingerboard. These things are difficult and expensive to change.

Edit: I disagree with the idea that the plucking hand needs more strength.

A friend's violin teacher explained that the non-dominant hand gets the more difficult job because it's more of a blank slate, thus more teachable. Not sure I believe it, but who knows? It would apply less to lefties, though, as they kind of have to be ambidextrous anyway so have less imbalance.

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guitarrista
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby guitarrista » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:21 pm

I am also a lefty who learned to play right-handed. This was awkward only in the first couple of weeks, however; never had problems since.
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Laudiesdad69
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Laudiesdad69 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:04 am

I started in school writing left handed, but the teacher made me do it right handed. By the time I got my first guitar, I had already been doing weighting right handed and his a right handed guitar worked fine for me. If you are looking for left handed factory guitars, try Adirondack music's website. I found my wife her first classical guitar, a 3/4 size, lefty conversion , lefty nut and bridge that was a right handed converted to left, solid top, lam back and sides for less than two hundred bucks. It was actually quite decent. If she ever gets a bigger guitar, will get her their left-handed Córdoba C-10. I don't think she will ever get a luthier instrument, but I probably won't be able to afford one for myself. She also has a left handed, 30 inch P- bass and lefty Gibson Les Paul

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lagartija
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby lagartija » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:28 am

I'm a lefty and I play right handed. Since I have lived in a right handed world, I'm pretty ambidextrous. For the most part, my right hand is my strength hand and my left hand is the fine motor skills hand. So I had to develop the agility of my right and strengthen my left. It did not take long..like learning any new activity it takes a bit of time. I don't think it would have been any faster if I had attempted it left handed.
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Cipher
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Cipher » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:36 am

Has anybody ever seen a left handed violinist, violist or any other string player performing in a major professional orchestra?
How about a left handed flutist? Or a left handed virtuoso concert pianist playing a concerto with a major orchestra? I haven't at all, so I'm wondering why pop/electric guitarists and bass players who do play left handed (Paul McCartney for example) seem to have had an influence on classical guitarists who should know better and play with right hand plucking strings and left hand fretting notes. That's just the correct way to play period. If one starts to play early enough then being right handed or left handed means nothing with regards to playing the instrument effectively - each hand has equally tremendous skills to perfect and master in order to play at the highest technical & artistic level.

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guitarrista
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby guitarrista » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:01 am

Cipher wrote:That's just the correct way to play period.


But that does not really mean much since it is deemed "correct" only because it is the preferred way for 90% of the population (and consequently 99%+ of instrument availability). There is no additional insight in it being established as the correct way to play. Aanyway...
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Steve Ganz
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Steve Ganz » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:41 am

How do you play Tadw?
The usual guitar or the mirror image?
If you copy this image
Image
which eye do you wink with naturally? It may depend upon which eye you know how to wink, or the visual feedback, or how you imagine the winker's perspective. Or lots of other possibilities. Do you open your mouth too?

BTW, there are guitarists who play a mirror image guitar. I can think of a few. Over the years, I have had several commissions for left handed instruments. Some players just visualize playing as a mirror image of what they see . I don't argue. Playing an instrument is complex neurological/physical stuff. A few years ago, Strad magazine had a cover article about a left handed violinist. There are many left handed guitar players. Some hide it, others play the mirror image. I can think of a few professional guitarists who play the mirror image...

Also, BTW, later this month I'm going to a concert where there are two players who play my instruments. They are both lefty's... one plays a normal guitar and the other plays the mirror image. Your question just made me realize that! Thanks.
Steve

Pat Dodson
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Pat Dodson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:12 pm

I am left-handed and I play left-handed. Isn't that awful?! :D

Actually I am fine with left-handers playing right handed and I recognise it has some advantages. But playing left-handed, whether "upside-down" or "mirrored" works just fine too.

I think left-handers vary considerably in their experiences with what felt natural and how they were taught. For example my parents taught me to use a knife and fork right handed because the complex act of holding and cutting needed teaching and they both did it that way. But I learned to use a spoon left-handed because early on I grabbed one with my left hand and was away.

Cricket right handed- dad taught me. Hockey right handed (that's how hockey sticks are.) But all racquet sports left-handed. Scissors right-handed (left-handed versions were rare as hen's teeth then.) Drawing and writing left-handed (pencils don't mind and thankfully neither did my primary school teachers nor my left-handed mother.)

When it came to guitar I picked up a teenage friend's electric "upside down" and he didn't say "that's wrong" but rather "Oh like Hendrix. You can restring them. And actually you can get left-handed guitars; not easily but you can." So, with no one arguing and just my patient friend informally teaching, I bought a left-handed bass.

Our brains are very plastic; I have no doubt I could have learned right-handed. But I don't regret learning left-handed. (I wonder if Professor Delcamp regrets playing left-handed.) It has probably saved me bankruptcy buying many very attractive guitars. However I do have 9, including 4 classicals so it's not been too much of a problem! The search is irritating at times but doubly rewarding.

Two right-handed tutors took a left hander in their strides. Hopefully the rest of us can too.
Last edited by Pat Dodson on Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Pat Dodson
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Pat Dodson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:59 pm

Tadw16 wrote:I am a lefty and would be interested in hearing from other left handed players about what guitars you play, right handed to left handed conversion and other related topics concerning left handed playing issues.


Hi @Tadw16

I have a 74 Fender FC30 which a technician converted; a left-handed crossover Hudson Classical and 3 luthier built classicals. One, the Isidro Silva (Koa and Cocobolo) is simply reversed strings but I'm shortly having a luthier convert the nut and saddle properly. The second, Cedar and Indian Rosewood was built left-handed by Rohan Lowe. The third which I commissioned is a Spruce and Maple built by James Lister.

You can buy new left-handed classical guitars at most price points from $150 to $10k+ but the choice is limited though most large manufacturers make them. Second-hand left-handed guitars are rare (and luthier built still rarer) but do appear; you just have to look very hard.

If we really want to play left-handed (and I do) then we just have to smile at the nay-sayers and get down to it. A good teacher will take us on and mirroring their hands is actually easier. Left-handed chord books exist. Reading is not a problem nor is tab. Chord pictures are a pain but you learn to invert them.

I see you have been playing a long time at a good level. What has been your experience of left-handedness?

Welcome to Delcamp Forum!

Pat
Last edited by Pat Dodson on Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Alan Carruth
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Alan Carruth » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:00 pm

Several years ago there was a thread about this on another list. Some folks went so far as to say that it's impossible to play left handed and be musical(the left-brain/right-brain thing), and there were other similarly stupid things posted. The best post was from a player whose next door neighbor was a brain surgeon.

Before going in, brain surgeons do what they can to map out the functional areas of the brain. These can vary somewhat from one person to another, and you don't want to cut the wrong thing. The interesting thing he said was that right handed people are all wired pretty similarly, while left handed people are not only different from right handed ones, but also differ a fair amount from other left handed people.

Anybody like myself who is left handed knows that there is a fair amount of variation in the degree of left-handedness from one person to another. I play the guitar right handed, but never could learn to write or eat with my right hand. My wife, who is also left handed, eats with her right hand but writes lefty. And so it goes.

The upshot is that there are left handed people who can play right handed, and other who simply can't. Some right handed players treat it as a lifestyle choice, with playing left handed being almost seen as a moral failure. If only they'd tried harder... That's not it at all. The left and right hands may face similar levels of difficulty, but what they do is not the same. Would any right handed player out there see switching hands as something trivial?

Fortunately for us, many Classical guitars are braced symmetrically, and have a saddle that goes straight across. It's relatively easy to switch them to left handed playing; you don't need to order a custom instrument.

Pat Dodson
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby Pat Dodson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:31 pm

Alan; :merci:

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lagartija
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Re: Left Handed players

Postby lagartija » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:48 pm

Pat Dodson wrote:Alan; :merci:

What Pat said. :okok:
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!


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