If the student is left handed should they flip their guitar over?
Not a common question, as only 8.3% of the population is left handed, but not an unheard of question. If you have already been playing the guitar left handed for a number of years this article is NOT for you. If you are left handed but are thinking about learning to play the guitar (or electric bass) then this is something your should read.
The guitar (and a few other instruments) is an instrument that can be held left or right but should it?
Simply put, whether someone is left or right hand dominant, all guitar students should learn to play the guitar the same way. It is possible to see examples of lefties playing a flipped guitar (Jimi Hendrix being the most notable) but in general most are examples of informal learning. One of our most basic precepts in music pedagogy is that those things we do on our own to make it easier at the beginning are the same things that are going to make it harder later.
The teaching material is designed for right handed playing and buying left handed models in this day and age is almost impossible. Lefties can never jam on someone else's guitar, play pass the guitar at a campfire or sit in with a band. If we are studying any other instrument we don't change it to suit left handedness. They don’t make left handed pianos, saxophones, trumpets, etc. All this may seem anti left handedness but the real (and best) reason is that playing the guitar the right way AND being left handed is a major advantage!
All this even before we consider left or right eye dominance!
All musical instruments are essentially ambidextrous in nature but the guitar is really more of a left handed instrument.
With the right hand and a pick we have very a limited set of things to accomplish. Play the right string for single notes or strum the right strings for chords. (Basically, 6 places to be). In finger style it is a little more complex but still simpler than the job of the left hand
With the left hand we have 4 fingers x 6 strings x 12 to 22 frets = 288 to 528 places to be for the left hand.
The math doesn’t lie! With all that area to cover, the left hand of the guitar player has way more work to do.
Next time you see a guitar player of any type you might notice that if they look at the guitar they only look at their left hand.