Being a left-handed player

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
dave brookes
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Being a left-handed player

Post by dave brookes » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:47 pm

I am and always have been a left-handed player of the classical guitar.

I think the incidence of left-handedness in terms of handwriting is about 5%. However, amongst classical guitarists, my impression is that the incidence of left handed players is much lower. Of all the classical guitarists I've seen or come into contact with - hundreds of players - I think there was only a handful that were left-handed. Is it that lefties steer clear of the classical guitar for some reason? Or maybe, despite being naturally left-handed, they are persuaded to play right-handed.

There is little advantage in being a lefty. You are restricted to your own LH-strung guitar. You can't try out someone else's. If you're proposing to buy a new instrument, you have to guess at what it might sound like when it's re-strung to suit you. Also, re-stringing may additionally require alterations to be made to the bridge saddle and nut. If you're proposing to by a specially-made LH guitar, your choice is likely to be limited and the costs greater. Annoyingly, some guitar rests won't fit a LH guitar as I found to my expense. If you're playing in an ensemble, you may be regarded as a menace with your contrarily protruding guitar neck. Also, the presence of one LH player in an otherwise RH ensemble looks untidy.

The one possible advantage to being a LH player is that, by your rarity, you are more likely to be noticed and remembered. But that, of course, is only desirable if your performance was praiseworthy. In my case, an unlikely scenario!

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:09 pm

All that is true, but part of the reason we don't notice many players are left handed, is that many who would described themselves as left handed actually play right-handed.

If you were commissioning a guitar from a maker I would be very surprised if they proposed charging you more. And would take my business elsewhere unless they can give a very good reason for it.
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Mickmac
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Mickmac » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:27 pm

I'm left-handed but play a standard "right-handed" guitar. Honestly, I never thought about if it would have been any easier to play a left-handed guitar. I can't imagine I'd play any better. My left hand is stronger than my right and that comes in handy with barres etc.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:29 pm

There are many examples of classical guitar players who are left handed but play the guitar right handedly - John Mills, for example.

Both hands have an important role to play, so it should not, or does not, matter.
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WilliamSchart
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by WilliamSchart » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:17 pm

I suspect that because LH guitars are not common, especially at the entry level, people interested in the guitar naturally get a righty. From my experience (and I'm a righty), when we first start to learn the guitar, we have two left hands (or perhaps right hands if you're a southpaw) and 10 thumbs, so it's not necessarily the fact that switching to a LH model would be immediately beneficial for a lefty. I do understand that there are different degrees of handedness and some left handed people struggle until they get LH model, while others seem to do fine playing RH.

BTW, while I am naturally right handed, I am left eyed, and had to teach myself to shoot LH since I cannot see well enough to aim with mt right eye. There was and is little difficulty, as far as my hands go, in handling either firearms or bows with either hand, just an issue of being able to aim.

simonm
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by simonm » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:28 pm

dave brookes wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:47 pm
I am and always have been a left-handed player of the classical guitar.

I think the incidence of left-handedness in terms of handwriting is about 5%.

….

Well, in fact, everyone plays the guitar left handed and right handed.

You need both. Saying a guitar player is left-handed is similar to saying that you drive a car right handed or left handed. The gear shift is in the middle so it depends on whether you are driving in the UK/Japan or Germany/France whether it is one the left or the right. Many other controls are also in the middle. Saying someone plays a guitar left/right handed is simply a short had for saying that you need more immediate satisfaction as a beginner from the fretting hand or the plucking hand. Both are in fact equally difficult so apart from our own presumptions about handedness there should be no difference.

I wonder which country you are from - 5% seems very low for left-handness in writing. It sounds like from a society where left-handedness is severely discourage and punished. My experience is that it is in the 25%-35% range and has increased over the last 3 or 4 decades. As a child many decades ago, I was the first generation where children were allowed to write with whichever hand they felt comfortable with. (assuming you got lucky with a teacher who was willing to allow this).

My own belief is that, if western religion had not frowned on left-handedness as being a sign of the devil (sinister) handiness would be approximately 50%-50%. If everyone around you is right handed then most people will be right handed. If everyone around you is left handed, then the majority will be left handed.

(The right brain - left brain stuff is silly left-over pseudo science on a par with measuring skulls or at least a chicken and egg type thing.)

For the record, I am "left-handed" for writing and using a table knife but seeing as there were only "right handed" guitars when I picked it up as a teeny, I play "right-handed".





{For what it is worth, there are loads of discussion here about right vs left handed. In the end the only issue is whether you can switch a guitar round for left handed playing. At a guess 95%+ (statistic I have just made up) of factory classical guitars can easily be switched round and a good number of luthier guitars too but not all. The bracing is irrelevant, the things that matter are whether the bridge and the fretboard are symmetrical or not. Some are, some are not.}

dory
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by dory » Sun Jul 30, 2017 10:29 pm

I want to stress that I am riggt handed and have always enjoyed the ways in which our society makes being right handed easier. However, I have always wondered why so many people talk about left handed guitars when they don't talk about right and keft handed with other instruments. Have you heard of a left handed piano? If the work of one hand or the other was easier on the guitar I would totally get it, but I have never perceived my right hand work to be harder than my left. If anything I feel that what I do with my left hand is harder.Again, take this as coming from a right handed person and I am sure there are ways in which we don't get it.
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Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:10 am

"My own belief is that, if western religion had not frowned on left-handedness as being a sign of the devil (sinister) handiness would be approximately 50%-50%"

So you're saying that ~45% of the population are devils pretending to be right handed? Seems low to me...***

In any case, my guess is that in pre-or non-Christian populations left handedness was (is) a much lower fraction compared to right handedness.

***this is meant as a joke
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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montana
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by montana » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:11 am

Never discouraged in an ensemble. Same price left or right. FiND a great luthier to build you a lefty. All your problems will be solved .

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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:49 pm

Several years ago the subject came up on another list. On person responded that he had a neighbor who was a brain surgeon. Before operating they do scans to figure out the way the person's brain is organized. He told the poster that right handed people are all wired similarly, but there is a lot of variation among left handers.

One way this manifests itself is that there are some lefties (I'm one) who can play the guitar right handed, and some who simply can't. It' a matter of some discussion whether playing left handed is in some way 'limiting' or not; you'd have a hard time convincing me that it is.

Surprisingly, there seem to be some right handed players who seem to regard playing lefty as a sort of moral failing: "You could do it, if you only tried hard enough". I don't think that's true. I know that the attempt to make me write right handed when I was in third grade only left me with worse penmanship with either hand. In spite of that, as a say, I had little trouble picking up the guitar right handed; my poor technique has a lot more to do with never having take lessons.

Rasputin
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Rasputin » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:12 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:10 am
"My own belief is that, if western religion had not frowned on left-handedness as being a sign of the devil (sinister) handiness would be approximately 50%-50%"

So you're saying that ~45% of the population are devils pretending to be right handed? Seems low to me...

In any case, my guess is that in pre-or non-Christian populations left handedness was (is) a much lower fraction compared to right handedness.
That's what I have read. Lowest in China, Korea and Japan... not the most obvious enclaves of western (or should that be middle-eastern?) religion.

The idea that lefties are shifty seems to be much older than christianity.

Pat Dodson
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Pat Dodson » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:00 pm

[quote="Alan Carruth" post_id=1215534 time=1501523397

.....Surprisingly, there seem to be some right handed players who seem to regard playing lefty as a sort of moral failing: "You could do it, if you only tried hard enough"....
[/quote]

Normally I find this whole topic rather amusing and like to poke fun at it but this is the only aspect that puzzles and saddens me.

Most things I prefer to do left handed. A few I learned to do right handed because of the tool (e.g. scissors or field hockey stick) or because I was taught that way (e.g cricket batting, though I bowl left handed and play all racquet sports left handed.)

When I picked up a guitar I wanted to do it left handed. Probably I could have learned it right handed but I was initially self taught and I did it left handed. I don't regret it though it has its very minor drawbacks. But they are drawbacks affecting me, not others. What harm does it do others?

Sure, you don't generally see left handed pianos. And I can't convert my piano by restringing it, altering the pedals and keyboard etc. So I play right handed. But restringing a guitar is quite simple and some makers and luthiers are kind enough or financially wise enough to produce left handed guitars. So, if I want to why on earth shouldn't I play left handed?

I coach trampolining and recently a young girl, aged 10 transferred to me from her previous coach. In twisting somersaults she likes to twist left but her previous coach, for reasons completely bewildering to me, required her to twist right. The result was confusion, imbalance, untidiness and, worst, accidents and huge upset to the point that she nearly quit. I let her twist left and she is progressing very nicely, competing successfully and enjoying the sport.

A very few seem to see people like this child and me as morally disreputable. Fair enough. I find that sad but at the same time I really enjoy winding them up! Shifty? You ain't seen nothing yet! :twisted:

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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:00 am

My mother is left handed; father, right. I do most things right handed, but a few left, often without even realizing it. For example I shoot pool lefty, but never noticed it until someone pointed it out.

It seems almost impossible that anyone could see left handedness as morally disreputable. Apparently, some do! In the case of the girl that you coached, I wonder if her previous instructor had a kind of highly regimented outlook--'this is the way everyone does it, and you will too!'--that goes beyond left/right handedness. My dad lives in a gated community with a golf course in Indio, Ca. Everyone dresses identically. When I visit, he insists that I wear the uniform too. "Everyone does it this way, and you will too!"

I wonder if trampoliners in Australia universally twist left?
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Laudiesdad69
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:27 am

When I was in elementary school, I held the pencil in my left hand. But, the teacher forced me to learn to write with my right hand. I got in trouble when I said I wanted to write with the left. Catholic school. You did it the Nun's way or you got paddled. My parents sent me to public school a couple of years later, and every teacher complained about my penmanship.
So I write right handed now. But by the time I turned 14, and got my first guitar, it just didn't occur to me to play left handed. I mean there were no left handed guitars at the music store when I got my first guitar, so by that time I had been doing many things right handed. I learned to play right handed.

However, I do most fine motor tasks with my left hand, like tying strings. My wife, on the other hand, tried to play right handed, but couldn't. No big deal...or so I thought. She is also very small and needed a 3/4 size guitar. Took me over a year to find a left handed one. It was converted from right to left by a luthier who made a new nut, and put on a reverse compensated bridge on it. When she is ready for a step up, we will have a luthier make a small, left handed one from scratch. If anybody knows of a maker who specializes in left-handed fractional guitars let me know. I haven't come across any maker yet that has one for sale.

montana
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Re: Being a left-handed player

Post by montana » Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:25 am

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:00 am
My mother is left handed; father, right. I do most things right handed, but a few left, often without even realizing it. For example I shoot pool lefty, but never noticed it until someone pointed it out.

It seems almost impossible that anyone could see left handedness as morally disreputable. Apparently, some do! In the case of the girl that you coached, I wonder if her previous instructor had a kind of highly regimented outlook--'this is the way everyone does it, and you will too!'--that goes beyond left/right handedness. My dad lives in a gated community with a golf course in Indio, Ca. Everyone dresses identically. When I visit, he insists that I wear the uniform too. "Everyone does it this way, and you will too!"

I wonder if trampoliners in Australia universally twist left?
No they don't Jeffery! They bounce off the bottom side...down under.

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