10 Famous Left-Handed Guitarists Who Play Right-Handed

Some genuine legends we have here.

Ultimate Guitar
10 Famous Left-Handed Guitarists Who Play Right-Handed

Being a leftie is not an easy thing to do, especially when you're learning how to play the guitar. It's either you buy a left-handed guitar that costs more or you have to restring a right-handed one like Jimi Hendrix did. But he was not the only one who did that, many famous guitarists were also lefties, but didn't have left-handed guitars.

Some of them rocked out like the right-handed folks, having to learn to use the instrument in a far complicated way. We'll honor them with a brief Top 10 list, here goes!

Robert Fripp

King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp is a unique artist in every possible way, so it's not surprising whatsoever that apart from coming up with his own guitar tuning among other things, Bob took a different approach in learning the guitar.

He said: "I work on the assumption that you have two hands, so why not use each of them. I think the plectrum hand is more important than the left. I'm left-handed, incidentally, playing the guitar right-handed. It seemed to me that most people learned to play the instrument this way, so I learned to play it that way.

"I put the guitar on many years ago the other way just to try and find out how a beginner felt. When I was 15 I started developing this technique with the plectrum whereby the ball of the thumb was pivoted on the bridge so that one picked across the strings with the ball of the thumb as a pivot. But since my Fender doesn't really have a bridge, that makes it very difficult.

"So in 1971, I started a different approach to the right hand where I lifted the hand off the bridge and just operated in a kind of free suspension where the hand hovers above the strings which makes cross-picking a lot easier. However, it made my playing very difficult, and still does because it takes three years to adopt and fully integrate a change into your playing. In five years' time it'll be a far more fluid style of playing, since I'm more interested in a technique which has a solid base for expanding.

"At the same time, although I realized I played with my thumb behind the neck of the guitar, it wasn't as far behind as would enable me to create a far more solid base for playing. So my left hand is very similar, if you like, to a classical guitar position, and my right hand is operating in free suspension which demands a great deal of control."

YouTube preview picture

Duane Allman

Along with his brother Gregg, late great Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band was left handed. Nevertheless, he tackled the six-string the "standard" way and secured his spot in the pantheon as one of the all-time greats.

YouTube preview picture

Gary Moore

Another late blues rock legend, Gary Moore was a leftie who played right-handed. Perhaps that was one of the key ingredients in delivering all those soulful licks and solos, we'll probably never know.

YouTube preview picture

Shawn Lane

Yet another late giant, Shawn Lane went against the grain and became a true guitar virtuoso despite the swerve leftie approach and severe health issues.

YouTube preview picture

Mark Knopfler

Left-handed Dire Straits frontman reportedly opted to play the guitar in right-handed position because it gives him a possibility to play stronger vibratos.

YouTube preview picture

Kiko Loureiro

New Megadeth guitarist Kiko Loureiro has a neat story behind his right-handed playing. It all started when he was 11 years old.

He said: "I was sharing the [guitar] class with my sister for a while and we only had one acoustic guitar. I am left handed and our guitar was for right-handed people so I had to learn guitar right-handed. I couldn't change the strings to play left handed because we had to share the guitar."

YouTube preview picture

Steve Morse

Another prominent finger-flasher, Steve Morse is also capable of playing circles around many right-handed shredders.

YouTube preview picture

Johnny Winter

Another late blues titan on the list, give it up for the one and only Johnny Winter!

YouTube preview picture

Herman Li

Representing the power metal realm, DragonForce guitar shredder Herman Li is also a leftie doing the rightie.

YouTube preview picture

Billy Corgan

And now the grand finale. Guitar shredding and hair are the last thing you'd associate with Smashing Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan these days, but this video does just that.

YouTube preview picture

Got more to share? Do it in the comments!

59 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I don't get why being left handed would be a disadvantage when playing right-handed guitar. You're most functional hand does all the finger movements while your not-so-good hand just holds a pick. I'm left-handed to playing right-handed
    It's all to do with dominance. The picking hand does more than you would think as a hand, the left hand is more finger movements. The picking hand deals with grip strength, rhythm and typically most people look at their fret board and not their picking hand. Lefty/Righty here so I was lucky to have pseudo-ambidextrousness (aka cross-dominant). Learning right or left when you are naturally the opposite can lead to a few health effects regarding posture and tension, as well as slower progress coordination wise.
    In my opinion it doesn't matter if you're left or right handed, but if you learned to play right or left handed. When you know nothing about guitar you're pretty much uncomfortable with it no matter how you hold it.
    The reality is that it's different for different people. Some people can adapt to playing right handed easily, some people have extremely difficult time trying to use their non-dominant hand for any form of picking, and their dominant hand can be very challenging to use for fretting. It's different for different people, which is why a lot of lefties decided one way or the other. It seems like everyone has an opinion on this topic, but it's easier to say "just use your dominant hand for fretting, it's better that way" when it's not the case for everyone. Beginner or not, most people find one way more natural than the other, and for a lot of people switching makes learning substantially more difficult.
    I'm the same! It does make fingerpicking a bit of a pain in the arse to learn but it's great for the fretting hand!
    I think it's less of it being a disadvantage and more of how it feels. I'm also left handed, but I play right handed because it looked like it would be more comfortable to me.
    People tend to highly underestimate what is required for good picking, especially in certain styles of playing such as metal rhythm guitar, bluegrass guitar, country lead, anything with heavy fingerpicking, etc where the right hand is doing much more work and requires greater precision. Unless you are playing something that is like 95% fast legato scales, it's really more to your advantage to have your dominant hand doing the picking. That being said, it really doesn't matter since any advantage either way is fairly negligible and I'm not really sure why anyone even really cares about whether guitar players are right or left handed.
    you wouldn't buy a left-handed piano...
    Maybe because the role of each hands on a piano is identical? You might have a little bit more difficulty interchanging fretting/picking hands. Even then, certain chords on a piano are harder to do lefty.
    Love a good Knopfler solo, especially live when he extends them. And hell, Corgan might be a nuisance nowadays but he can play a huge sounding solo too. Rhinoceros might be my favorite solo of his.
    And how many left handed violinists play right handed? I would guess pretty much all of them. I have never seen a left handed violin. To play the guitar you need two hands. It's not really any different from violin. Same with piano - you need both of your hands to play it. I think you could reverse the keyboard, but who really does that? Guitar and drums are some of the few instruments that have both left and right handed versions (and drums don't really even have left and right handed versions - how you place your drums is about your preferences). If handedness doesn't really matter in any other instrument (so much that they would need left handed versions), why is guitar like this? Also, people that say left handed guitarists would have an advantage because their dominant hand would be the fretting hand... Well, that's not true. Your picking hand does a lot of things too. If there was an advantage of having your dominant hand as your fretting hand, the guitar would originally have been reversed. Also, the thing is, your hands need to work together. You are as good as your weaker hand is. If your fretting hand is awesome but your picking hand sucks, your playing is going to sound pretty sloppy. Also, I guess most guitarists struggle more with their picking hand technique than their fretting hand technique.
    I have nothing to add except I own a left handed violin.
    OK, and I think a right handed one would be easy to convert to a left handed one (I mean, you would just string it the other way around). But you rarely see them being used. And I'm sure many violinists are left handed. I'm sure there are reverse pianos too. But I doubt there's a huge advantage of that, so there's really no need for one. Also, it would make stuff a lot more complicated.
    The issue with left handed violin is that in an orchestra setting, everyone is already butting shoulders, if you have a lefty next to a righty, you have no room. This is of course fine for anyone playing violin in a home setting or for other contemporary music. That's simply the reason why there's few lefty violinists, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.
    Exactly. I couldn't tell you how many times people say "your dominant hand would be better anyways" and while this is true for some people, it's extremely unnatural for a lot of others. If it was so true, then righties switching lefty would be much much more common. Even just flipping over their righty guitar and playing it lefty would still be extremely unnatural for a large amount of righties, regardless of guitar experience.
    left handed guitars are expensive and rare. So no, it's not much much more common. That said I know a guy who did so.
    "If there was an advantage of having your dominant hand as your fretting hand, the guitar would originally have been reversed." But what if the guitar was invented by a lefty? Anyways... I think we all assume that the guitar came to existence the way it is today, with six strings, but I'm sure the guitar evolved from a percussive instrument and had only one string. That would explain why the guitar is played the way it is played today because everyone plays rhythm patters with the dominant hand. Lets assume you dont know what a guitar is. How would you play this instrument?
    BTW I'm a righty who plays lefty guitars.
    But the thing is, picking hand does complex stuff. It controls the rhythm. It controls the dynamics. It needs to be accurate. So I don't even think your fretting hand needs to do more work than your picking hand. When I started playing the guitar, playing right handed felt a lot more natural to me. Of course I sucked both ways, but playing right handed still felt a lot more natural for me, and I'm right handed. But yeah, it may not have anything to do with your handedness. It may be a similar thing as which way you hold the hockey stick or baseball bat. I have both of them on the left side of me. That just feels most natural to me. But that has nothing to do with handedness. Also, many times people hold the hockey stick on the left side and the baseball bat on the right side. I think it's just random. "What if the guitar was invented by a lefty?" Well, I don't know. But some time ago left handed guitars didn't exist. What lefties did was flip the right handed guitar. That's what Jimi Hendrix did (though I think back then there were also left handed models available). So why did lefties come up with that? If what you said was true, then why didn't righties try that first? I'm not sure when the first left handed guitar was made, but if there was an advantage for right handed people, people would already have figured it out. Lefties started using left handed guitars and that's why they are called left handed guitars, not just "reverse guitars".
    None of you have any idea whatsoever as to what you are talking about. When it cuts to guitar playing (not any other instrument), you want to hold your pick with the same hand you hold your d!ck. Think about it, the tremelo picking speed is already there.
    Interesting. I'm lefty, but play right. Because the first guitar I picked up was my dad's and it was right handed, who is also a lefty who plays right. I think it's mostly to do with the fact that for *most* people, the first guitar you pick up is right handed. That's the way 'everyone' plays it, it just felt correct to me. I also play drums "right handed", I think for the same reason. That said, I read a book on handedness many years ago that (tried) to explain how handedness works and how your hands work together, regardless of which side is dominant. Essentially, dominant hand for power, other hand for control. He argued that a lot of dual handed activities in their "right handed" alignment are actually left handed using the above criteria. Basically, right handed guitars are actually left handed. Though I don't think this really applies to instruments because of the high level of dexterity required from both hands. But interesting nonetheless. Handedness is a weird, yo.
    my band has two lefties who play righty, me and my bassist. Unfortunately my arms are becoming crippled from "carpal tunnel" (cubital tunnel but who even knows what that is besides people who have it?) so I can't really continue to play guitar and I'm just gonna have to do vocal duties. But when I do pick up a guitar it's always righty. I was poor, I couldn't afford lefty instruments and my parents bought a guitar for the whole family, not just for me. So I used the family guitar which was righty, and I'm the only lefty in the family. I have to do lots of shit righty because of life favoring righties. Like keyboards? Keyboard and mouse has right and left options but left is more difficult and it's not how I learned to use it so I'm righty on keyboard, I'm righty on guitar, I'm righty when I play video games and all that shit. I think lefties are better off playing righty because of how expensive lefty guitars are, how hard it is to find lefty guitar teachers, how the world around you already naturally favors the right hand, etc etc etc.
    I learned my first few tunes on right handed, but I had massive issues with pain and tension, but I thought that was normal. When I first played a LH it was just so much easier. On a side note, Yanik from Maiden is also a leftie/righty.
    Ritchie Valens was a lefty guitarist who played right handed guitars. I don't know why he wasn't listed in famous lefties who played right handed guitars because he's in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame! He's responsible for influencing Carlos Santana, Robert Quine, Chan Romero, Los Lobos, and even .....Jimi Hendrix!!!!!
    i'm in the awkward position of being right handed and feeling natural with right handed guitars while playing them "lefty". It seems to make more sense, to me atleast, to use my dominant stronger arm for more complex tasks, fretting. I also like that the strings are the "other way" when playing like that. It's easier to apply strenght for the heavier strings. i mean the more closer/curled your fingers are the easier it is to apply strength. I can pick with my weaker arm all day long makes no difference, it's basically the same movement, the easier task that i really think should be left for the weaker hand. It makes sense even from a scientific point of view, left hand, controlled by the creative part of the brain, picking away a rythm and the right hand controlled by the calculating part of the brain does the fretting. meh Ive been a PC gamer for a good part of my life also so coordiantion comes very naturally.
    Also a lefty (very dominant left handed) who plays right because of hand me downs have often tried to switch strings around but don't have patience to retrain my brain I will say though when I do attempt to play left handed my picking is much faster and precise. Its just trying to trick my brain to reverse the fretting. Honestly think if I took the time my playing would omprove over playing right handed. But after all these years right handed just feels normal. Ironically air guitar is left handed. Us lefties often have to adopt to a right handed world.
    I am a lefty too. I played 2-3 years righthanded guitars than I switched too left and learned a second time the guitar . now I play better on left. But can still play on righthanded guitars.I play my Bassguitar still righthanded (my main Instrument). But want to change it also :. ...much work to do
    I'm a lefty but play right for two reasons: (1) I started playing on friends' instruments, and (2) you can't find lefty models of most guitars. Never once considered playing lefty.
    I'm a leftie and I've never even tried or considered using a leftie guitar. Rightie felt natural right off the bat.
    I thought this list was created just to honor Michael Angelo Batio and possibly mention that Jimmi used to play right handed when his parents were around. I was wrong, there are more than I thought.(I knew about five of them.)
    I'm left-handed and play left-handed. Meh. I can play basic stuff right-handed but can't be arsed to learn it properly.
    I write left and play guitar with my right hand. This has never felt wrong to me, in fact playing lefthanded feels wrong (has felt wrong from the beginning). Nature or nurture? We'll never know without creepy '30s-style experiments so yeah. I'm not so sure this is a great feat to achieve.