I've only just returned to the guitar after a ten year break.
I had been playing for about fifteen years, when I had a very serious accident on my left hand. (Cut all the fingers off in an industrial accident!)

I had some reimplanted, but only have limited movement, and virtually no ring finger.

So basically, I'm asking for help with any exercises, playing techniques, or any other information that people may have to help me play again.

My ring/third finger ends at the joint nearest the knuckle (not much use on the guitar).
My little finger is the most useful finger I have. It only lost the tip, but that has recovered just fine.
My first and second fingers are all there, but have quite limited mobility.
The joints near the knuckles can bend to about 60 degrees, and the end joint on the third finger is permanently bent about the same amount.
I also have lost a lot of sensation in my first and second fingers.

I can currently play bluesy solos ok, and am practising scales and modes every day (after tring to devise new fingerings), but almost all chords are out of the question.
Open A is easy, but it takes about ten seconds to get my fingers in the right position for an open E - and even then I still sometimes get buzzing!
I'm thinking of looking into how Django Reinhardt figured out how to play chords.

Sorry for the very long-winded post, but I'd be incredibly grateful for any help or ideas that anyone may have.

(At least now I have an excuse for not being able to play all the Vai and Satriani solos I used to attempt to play ;-)
That too bad man, im really sorry to hear that. I don't have any advice for you right now but im sure other people will in a second.

good luck
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Well i really dont have much to tell you... and i know you may hear this alot, and it may sound rather cliche, but i just wish you luck. and i think its awesome that you are trying to pick the guitar back up. good luck man!

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the guy above me has a point, left handed guitar, and teaching you all again should do the trick.

Anyways, your accident sucks man! I couldn't believe how bad i would be if would get my fingers cut :S Would be the worst torture to me

Cheers for you, that seems to be ok, and willing to take a guitar again
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buy a left handed guitar?

I would honestly consider this. If you're going to have to learn everything again you might as well do it lefty since you have all the fingers there.
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buy a left handed guitar?
I question whether his injuries would prevent him from being able to pick even, in which case a lefty guitar wouldn't help. I strongly encourage everyone starting to learn right-handed, but if picking isn't an issue, I rather like this idea.

I wish you all the best, Rick.
I suggest trying lower tunings to help with any type of tension/pressure issues, maybe high gauge strings to make the strings more loose. As for your finger with no tip, try like Tommy Iommi did using something to stick on your finger to have at least some kind of use of it.
I agree with the people above me; if you can hold a pick well in your left hand, try playing lefty. You're learning guitar all over again anyways, so maybe you won't have too much trouble learning this way.

I hope you get by this problem. Good luck
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Thanks for the posts so far.

I have considered 'going lefty', but it just didn't feel right?
I can already play basic pentatonic stuff just fine, but need to build up strength for bends.
The problem I have is that my brain already knows all the interval positions, scales, arpeggios, chords etc on a right handed guitar, so everything just seems backwards on a left hand.
I can't even do basic open chords left style either.

It's a definite dilemma.
Do I try to retrain my left hand to improve what it can do, or do I re-train my brain AND my right hand to start all over again.

Thanks again for all the help offered :-)

EDIT - I've fitted gauge 8 strings to help with the lack of strength, and am trying to set the action as low as possible.
Well, you can only go so far playing righty. You're already feeling the limitations of playing this way. If I were you, I would maybe get a teacher and learn to play the other way. It will be hard, and you will definitely struggle at first, but in the end you will play better.
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Man, sorry to hear about your accident. That would suck for anyone, but as a guitarist that hits especially close to home.

Tony Iommi used thimbles on his ring and middle fingers which were the ones that he lost part of in his accident. That and 0.08 strings, and using his pinky as much as possible.

I really like the idea of the left handed guitar. I totally hear where you are coming from with the amount of mental reprogramming this will take, but what I like about the idea is that after putting in all the hard work, you are virtually unlimited in how far you can go with your uninjured right hand, especially if you get really good at legato and limit the amount of picking you have to do.

Best of luck with this.
That's terrible, I can't even imagine what it must feel like.

I would say keep playing and doing what you are doing. Switching to lefty may discourage with the lack of progress. But, don't be afraid to try and see how it goes. Obviously don't over-practice.
Maybe take advantage of two handed techniques like tapping, if you're into that. There's many guitarists who practically specialize in that.

Good luck
Thanks again to all of you for your advice, and above all, your encouragement.

I think I'm going to stick with playing right-handed as it'll seem like I've lost years of mental work starting all over gain as a lefty.

I've been practising tapping too - mainly trying to get the A string part of Satch Boogie down.

I've also been thinking that trying to overcome my limitations might actually improve my musicality.
No more relying on chops and speed, but instead I'll have to be more careful about choosing the right, or more interesting notes in a given situation.

It may also make me a little more 'unique' as a player, having had to find my own sound.
Sure worked for Django ;-)

(I'm getting a MIDI pickup next year, to try to make things more interesting)
I think everyone pretty much nailed it; buy left handed. Sure you won't be able to fingerpick as well or do as much tapping but you'll probably figure out ways past that. ****ing props for even picking it up again though dude!
Blackburn? I was born in Salford. haha you didn't work at Crown Paint did you? :P

If you want to carry on right handed good for you, if you feel like you can still get up to a good level. You're pretty much an inspiration for people who can't be arsed practicing!
Quote by RmB303
It's a definite dilemma.
Do I try to retrain my left hand to improve what it can do, or do I re-train my brain AND my right hand to start all over again.

There are a few guitarists out there who are right /left handed, but play lefty/right. Eric Sardinas and Dave Kilminster come to mind. So it's definately possible to get reasonably proficient.

I understand it'll take a huge amount of will power, but taking it up lefty style is a very good suggestion imo.

All the best Rick.
Last edited by mdc at Oct 24, 2008,
Re-string your guitar so you can play it lefty. Try that for a few weeks and learn the basics. Smoke on the water, pentatonic scales, that sort of thing.

If you find it impossible just keep going as a righty.

sucks about the fingers dude.
Seriously, why not practice both? I do. The first time I tried to play left handed (2 months ago), I couldn't even hold the guitar properly...it felt very awkward.

I can now play most cowboy chords, and have been working on the pentatonic stuff. I get a little better everyday, and I don't spend more than 10 or 20 minutes a day practicing...lefty.

I am not re-stringing though. That makes it harder to mute the strings, but I'm figuring out ways to do that too.

Whatever you decide, I wish much luck! People can do amazing things...I have a friend who plays very well....without any fingers! <-----If your interested in hearing this guy play....leave me a msg.

Thats so unlucky, man, what happened?
I agree with the lefty surgestion.
If strengths a problem, you could also try scalloped frets...
Good luck.
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Anything is possible if you put your heart into it:

Django Reinhardt, lost the use of 3 of his left hand fingers. With painful rehabilitation and practice Django relearned his craft in a completely new way, even as his third and fourth fingers remained partially paralyzed. Hence, he played all of his guitar solos with only two fingers, and managed to use the two injured digits only for chord work.
Thanks a lot for all the encouragement and advice everyone.
Only just joined the forums, and I'm touched :-)

I guess the general consensus is to try going lefty, so I think I'll give it a shot - at least I'll be able to play chords then. It's also probably best trying now, rather than wasting time training my 'bad' hand.
It might also help me to actually learn the fret board better, rather than fall into the old 'box scale shapes' trap ;-)

I have a 1987 Fender Strat.
If I'm going to re-string it left-style, will I just need to remove the nut, and put it back in backwards?
Is this easy, and only requires a bit of glue?
The bridge should be fine after the intonation is sorted out shouldn't it?

Jimi Hendrix managed to play 'reasonably' well on a lefty rigged right hand Strat ;-)

As for me being an inspiration - don't be silly!
I'm just trying to get by with what fate has dealt me.
At least I have an ok job, a roof over my head, a lovely girlfriend, and food in the cupboards.
Most of the world has far less than that! Think of that the next time you want to whine about anything.
If you want to give right handed one more try and want to do chords, why not try an open tuning? You said you could do an A chord easily, so barre-ing doesn't seem like it would be much of a problem. Tune your guitar to Open G and see if you can get that to sound good. You just have to bar one finger over the whole fret for a major chord, and the more advanced chords you can figure out on the way.

But yeah, for standard tunings then lefty is the way to go. Wish you luck man.