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  • Left and Right Handed Instruments

    Howdy folks. I'm getting way ahead of myself here, but I have a seven month old daughter who is showing every sign of being left handed. Now, I wouldn't even care about this at all except for the fact that I'm a righty. I have no idea if she will ever be a musician, but I was hoping that if she did want to pick up guitar or bass, she could inherit my gear, a lot of which is pretty nice.

    So my question is, is there any compelling reason why a lefty can't just learn to play in the same position as a right hander? Drummers have to have four limb independence and piano players go at it with both hands. In a lot of ways, right handed guitar players are called to do their most dexterous activity - fretting - via their less capable hand.

    So is there any reason why she wouldn't just be able to take my gear someday and learn to play as a righty? Thanks for any thoughts on this.

  • #2
    So my question is, is there any compelling reason why a lefty can't just learn to play in the same position as a right hander?


    Well, your answer is pretty simple: when you have a particular dominance in dexterity, it's just easier to play that way (or throw that way, or write that way and so on). Anything can be trained, but your daughter would have a lot more work to do in learning the instrument while overcoming the natural inclination to use her dominant hand.

    Ask yourself how easy it would be to suddenly retrain yourself to flip your guitar or bass around, and then ask if you'd inflict that challenge on someone else.

    Finally, as a parent, I can tell you that you really don't know for sure at seven months if the kid is left or right handed. My son throws with his left, bats with his right, writes with his right, and shows ZERO desire to learn guitar so I have no idea how he'll play, if he ever does.
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    • #3
      I hear you. We're just leaning lefty because she really does lead with that hand pretty consistently. Of course, it could change...

      As for the "retrain" issue, yeah, it would be hard. But if that's how you learned in the first place, how would it be a problem? I go back to the drummer/piano player example, as those instruments require a lot out of every limb.

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      • #4
        IIRC Steve Morse and Rik Emmett are both left handed, but play guitar right handed. It's a matter of training really. The skills used in writing or throwing a ball or whatever are different from the finger skills of using an instrument. Has anyone ever seen a left-handed saxophone or a left-handed piano?
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        • #5
          I go back to the drummer/piano player example, as those instruments require a lot out of every limb.


          I understand completely. It is a slightly different paradigm, though, if you think about it. On both drums and piano, both hands are doing essentially the same things: plinking notes, hitting drums, yada yda.

          On guitar or bass, you have the antithesis of that in that one hand is strumming/plucking/slapping, while the other is presumably fretting. It's not a straightforward comparison, and requires a different type of coordination.
          Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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          • #6
            I am left-handed, but because there were no left-handed guitar lying around, simply learned right-handed. I never played left-handed, so didn't need to be "re-trained".

            I've talked to several guitarists who also are left-handed but play right-handed, and they said that in some respects, they feel that it's actually beneficial because of their left-handed dexterity.

            ~~~~

            Now that I've said all this, I should point out a couple of things:

            - Although I am left-handed, I do some things, such as eat and write right-handed. This is because my parents switched me when I was a little kid. Psychologists don't recommend this, and this could account for why I'm so bent today! I do, however, do a lot of other things left-handed, including kicking, throwing, sawing, hammering (although I can hammer with either hand), etc.

            - IIRC, no one is completely left-handed.
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            • #7
              IIRC, Lee Flier is also a lefty who plays guitar right-handed. And quite well at that.

              I wouldn't force it on anyone though. I'm slightly right-brain inclined, which no one except my grandmother really noticed... I probably should have been a lefty, and I do some things best left handed, or equally well with either hand, but they were still pushing for people to do things right-handed when I was a kid, so I write right-handed. When I got my first toy guitar, I wanted to hold it left-handed, but my parents flipped it over and said that right handed was the "right way to hold it" (not that they even played to know the difference ), and I still play right-handed.

              I don't really feel like I got ripped off or anything, and it is certainly easier to get righty guitars than lefty guitars, but as Ken said, I would recommend letting her do things in whatever way is most natural and comfortable to her if and when she shows an interest.
              **********

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              • #8
                I'm left-handed. Could never find a lefty drumset, so I learned to play righty.

                Seriously, I AM left-handed. And I find guitar in particular much more natural on a righty instrument. Most instruments demand dexterity on both hands anyway, so it really won't matter in the long run.
                ______________________________________________

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                • #9
                  IIRC, Lee Flier is also a lefty who plays guitar right-handed. And quite well at that.


                  [johnnycarsonvoice]I did not know that.[/johnnycarsonvoice]
                  Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                  • #10
                    It's really the left hand doing allof the intricate work, for a right handed guitar player.

                    The hardest part is finding learning material, 99.9% of all books, videos, and DVD are geared for righties.

                    Ever seen a left handed clasical guitar?

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                    • #11
                      IIRC Steve Morse and Rik Emmett are both left handed, but play guitar right handed. It's a matter of training really. The skills used in writing or throwing a ball or whatever are different from the finger skills of using an instrument. Has anyone ever seen a left-handed saxophone or a left-handed piano?



                      Billster - I agree completely - - the human organism is masterful at learning and adaptation.

                      This is why one person who studies martial arts can break bricks and concrete tiles barehanded, while another who studies stocks and finance can break working companies into useless parcels to sell of for immense profit... It's all a matter of conditioning, learning and adapting to what life presents.

                      Personally, I'm sort of cross-wired ambidextrous - - one day I accidentally grabbed a pen with my left hand and scribbled out a check. The cashier couldn't read it and handed it back - - I had written everything (in cursive) from right to left!! Go figure... It's just what seemed natural; I never really noticed it before, but that's what my left hand wants to do when writing.

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                      • #12
                        It's really the left hand doing allof the intricate work, for a right handed guitar player.


                        Aaaack! As a 31-year veteran of the guitar, I disagree. The rhythmic dexterity of my right hand for both fingerpicking and strumming is what's crucial to my playing style.
                        Music, thoughts, stuff, and... I guess that's all

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                        • #13
                          So my question is, is there any compelling reason why a lefty can't just learn to play in the same position as a right hander? Drummers have to have four limb independence and piano players go at it with both hands. In a lot of ways, right handed guitar players are called to do their most dexterous activity - fretting - via their less capable hand.


                          Yeah--I'm not a guitar player (though I am left-handed), but I never really understood that logic. It seems backwards to me. If you're left hand is doing most of the demanding work (fretting), why is that normally considered the "right-handed" way of playing guitar? You'd think left-handers would be the superior guitar players by playing this way.

                          If I do ever learn to play guitar, I think I'd rather learn the right handed way. That's how I play "air guitar" anyway, so it seems like it would be the most natural way for me.
                          ...

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                          • #14
                            Good players are dexterous on both hands (as you already know).

                            I can't cut with a righty scissors, but I can play a righty guitar....
                            Aaaack! As a 31-year veteran of the guitar, I disagree. The rhythmic dexterity of my right hand for both fingerpicking and strumming is what's crucial to my playing style.
                            ______________________________________________

                            "Your own limitations render you incapable of realizing that not everyone is as limited as yourself."

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                            • #15
                              I write with my left hand, but play guitar and throw a ball like a righty.
                              Elson TrinidadSinger, Songwriter, Keyboardist, BassistElson and the Soul BarkadaWeb: www.elsongs.comMySpace: www.myspace.com/elsongsFacebook: Facebook PageTwitter: twitter.com/elsongs

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