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July 04, 2006


andrew duffin


That's a new one.

I always call myself a Southpaw.

But perhaps that means something rude where you come from.




I always thought southpaw applied only to boxing. But then, the way I play guitar, anyone would guess that I was wearing boxing gloves.


Well then, try the tenor banjo.


Chris, Chris - You're such a clever chap but here you are so deeply and sincerely wrong it hurts.

"Evidence? Many good guitarists - such as Paul Simon and Mark Knopfler - are left-handed."

Are you deliberately trying to undermine your own argument here?

"Better evidence? Jimi Hendrix, who played guitar the wrong way round, was apparently right-handed."

Jimi (pbuh) was a one-off - if you're looking for a general pattern surely you'd have to factor in Paul McCartney?

"For sure, I'm rubbish at strumming with any timing, but this is because I've got no sense of rhythm, rather than because the guitar is the wrong way round."

A secret of guitar-playing: the strumming or picking hand is at least as important than the one you fret the notes with. You find it 'natural' to fret the notes with your left hand simply because it is easier. But look at the imbalance - what's the point in fretting notes properly if you can't keep time? For most people rhythm is more naturally kept with the stronger hand. People - including most guitar-players themselves - don't realise that the strumming/picking element requires more strength and dexterity than fretting the notes. So if you like, all other things being equal, left-handed people should play with left-handed guitars. The chances are you can't keep rhythm because, for you, you're playing the guitar the wrong way around. Unless of course you're Jimi Hendrix. Blessed be His name.


With the tenor banjo, practice is everything - the picking is more of a challenge than the fretting.

I reckon that (fretting) hand strength is vital to good rhythm playing - a lack of confidence around the fretboard causes hesitation and has a surprisingly large impact on your overall playing.

The solution? Whether you like the tune or not, Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' is simple rhythmically and with it's relentless use of barre chords will strengthen your wrist like (almost) no other activity. Learn it on an electric and then move up to an acoustic. That, and any Steve Cropper peice will cure your ... er... rhythm blues.

The Moai

Couldn't agree more. I've taught a lot of people guitar, and I always advised left-hookers to learn to play right-handed guitars as a) they're far easier to get hold of and b) their innate fretting dexterity is far superior to right hookers, like me. That said, I think their initial advantage soon levels out with proficiency - the lefty advantage only really holds out early on.

Conor Griffin

People mistakenly believe "handedness" is a binary sum: you are either left or righthanded. In fact, some people are extremely left/right handed or only mildly left/right handed. Those near the middle can do things like play golf and guitar either way and can (and probably should) play right handed as it is so much easier in terms of equipment availability and cost.

As a guitarist, I am firmly on the side of the argument that Shuggy makes above. Of course its easier to use your "stronger" hand to make chord shapes on day 1. However, as The Moai says, this soon evens out once someone practices fretting over months. However, the "strong" hand is also the more coordinated hand and although strumming is something that can be practiced to an extent, rhythm is innate. In summary, if you are very left handed, please don't start playing a right handed guitar. It will mess you up in the long run!


You're lucky to have ten fingers.


Wikipedia gives a long list of lefties who play guitar right-handed:
They include Noel Gallagher, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Robert Fripp and Hank Williams.
If it's good enough for Hank it's good enough for me.


That's an impressive list of non-guitarists. What's the Lord Jimi Hendrix doing on it? Have you ever seen Noel Gallagher's strumming technique? I'm astonished he doesn't break guitars/injure himself more frequently than he does. You're reallly basing an argument on a list that has Kelly Osbourne filed under "Musicians and composers"?

"The solution? Whether you like the tune or not, Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' is simple rhythmically and with it's relentless use of barre chords will strengthen your wrist like (almost) no other activity. Learn it on an electric and then move up to an acoustic. That, and any Steve Cropper piece will cure your ... er... rhythm blues."

I'm concerned wedding preparations are inducing some temporary damn mind loss here, Paulie. The solution to a lack of rhythm is to learn songs by song-writers because they use a lot of barre chords? And you need two guitars to do this?

They use a lot of barre chords because while they are good song-writers, they can't play the guitar properly. You can play 'Knock on Wood' with at least half the number of barre chords Cropper uses *and* it sounds better that way.

But I'll say this for him - no-one could accuse him of putting his strings on the wrong way around. This is because his mother used to say to him, "Don't even think about coming into this house with your goddam guitar-strings on the wrong way around, young feller-me-lad". Mrs Cropper was very particular about that sort of thing.


My dog has fleas.


How does it smell?



The reasoning here is simple;

1. You can concentrate on strumming properly is chording is effortless
2. Barre chord practice makes chording easier - approaching 'effortless'
3. DDIO uses a simple alternate strumming that can be made to sound good - even in clumsy hands
4. ...which breeds self confidence, self esteem and progress. And having something like this to play to passers by means that you want to play it more.

Bet you didn't know that Brian May started off practicing Crowded House tunes?

Think on't Shuggy.

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