Guitar Woes

If you looked at one of my goals at 43 Things, I have been trying to learn to play the guitar again after so many years. I have been weighing some issues that I have been having. I normally label myself as “left-handed”, but people may consider me somewhat ambidextrous. I write, eat and play billiards left-handed, but I throw a ball, bat, golf, and use scissors right-handed. So, when I decided to start playing again, I was not sure whether to buy a left-handed or a right-handed guitar. I was constantly told to use a right-handed guitar because they are common. But when I wrestled the question myself, I went with my instincts. When some tells me to pretend to play, I am always stroking left-handed. So, I bought a left-handed Greg Bennett acoustic.

However, when after practicing for a year or so, I still have problems. I really did not think about it at the time, but my right hand was damaged ten years or so ago. Two of my fingers skimmed into a deli slicer and chunks of my muscle and skin were surgically grafted back on. My fingers are functional and it is noticeably scarred, but I know I can’t do certain things anymore.  I have difficulty forming chords and my fretting seems to be flawed.  It could be a strength or flexibility issue related to injury, but I am not sure what I can do about it.

I am considering switching to a right-handed guitar, but I am afraid to change.  The people at the local Guitar Center suggested that I reverse the strings and play upside-down, but I do not want to damage the guitar by doing it.  So, I want to make sure that this is what I want to do before make such a drastic commitment.

4 Responses to “Guitar Woes”

  1. 1 eric January 16, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Left handers have always had other options for playing…here are a few

    Learn to play Right Handed: Some believe that the left hand has the more tedious job of chording, fretting and moving up and down the neck. It makes sense to play guitar where the left hand is doing so.

    Flip a right handed guitar over: Leave it strung right hand as to maintain the integrity of the top, and learn to chord upside down. I know 3 people that play this way. In your case, flip your lefty guitar over and give that a try.

    My advice…Continue to play left handed. Work…work hard. You will face the same issue switching over to the other side. Besides, you already have the guitar.

  2. 2 ecmuller January 19, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I have a lefty friend that has strung several right handed guitars backwards. If you get it done professionally there’s no damage to the guitar, you just need to change the nut and possibly the bridge. It’s far easier to change the bridge on an electric, but getting it professionally done by a reputable luthier should make that a non-issue.

  3. 3 itsjustaphase February 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I totally agree with eric here… it’s best to just perservere at playing left handed. It takes a while but one day it will just ‘click’ i promise. There’s no magic solution, just practice. And working hard.
    Then one day you wake up and it’s really easy all of a sudden, seriously, it’s strange but true.

    Keep going brother x

  4. 4 Ralph February 5, 2008 at 5:09 pm


    I did decide to continue to play left handed. I tried using a right handed guitar and even tried to play “Guitar Hero III” right handed. Although I played great, it was just not natural to me after some practice. So, it basically reaffirmed what I should have know from the beginning: I play left-handed.

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