Author Topic: LeftyLoosy  (Read 1757 times)

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Offline LeftyLoosy

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LeftyLoosy
« on: February 10, 2018, 06:25:49 pm »
I used to play guitar right-handed, until I severed the ulnar nerve in my left arm. My left hand being left poorly innervated, with very little sensation in my pinky and ring finger, I could not continue playing guitar in any reasonable capacity. Now, over seven years after the accident, I have decided that I'm going to learn to play guitar left-handed. My right arm is perfectly healthy, and my left arm should still be good enough for strumming and finger-picking. Not being able to pick with the pinky is a tiny handicap, compared to being unable to fret any chords that require more than two fully functional fingers.

I intend to use this road case as a public diary of sorts. I will post periodic updates, reflections, as well as goals I want to achieve and challenges I'm facing. If anything, this will selfishly serve me as a place where I can deal with my own frustrations. If I am successful, and manage to become a decent player once again, then those seven years of guitar abstinence since my accident amount to a gigantic missed opportunity. I hope that others who may now or in the future find themselves in my situation will be encouraged to not let those years go by, and to get started sooner rather than later. So let's get going!

Offline LeftyLoosy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2018, 06:56:58 pm »
Equipment

I purchased the Ibanez V50NLJP-NT Jam Pack for 119€. I'm really impressed with the quality you can get for that kind of money. All frets on all strings play clear notes without ringing, the frets are flush with the edges of the fretboard (no sharp edges to snag on), the action is reasonably low, it has remained in tune since I first tuned it and it doesn't sound half bad. Of course, the left-handed version comes at a 20€ premium compared to the right-handed version and I couldn't get it with the sunburst paint job they offer for righties, but that seems to be par for the course for left-handed guitars.

Observations from my first week

When I first sat down to play, the first thing I noticed is that the guitar simply won't sit right on the leg. When I hold it righthanded, it just slides into a comfortable position by itself. Not so the other way around. I'm still trying to figure out how to just sit, how to hold my torso, where to place my strumming arm to hold the guitar firmly but comfortably, etc. It is very distracting.

Within seconds of fingering the first chords, my fretting fingers started hurting, as expected. My fingertips still feel tender now, but I'm already able to go through a full 15-minute practice session without any actual discomfort. Very light callouses have started forming, which definitely help, but more than that, my "feel" for putting the right amount of pressure on the strings and my dexterity in placing them close to the frets has improved a lot. Still, I'm surprised by how quickly this went from being a problem into being a slight nuisance.

I'm up to 1-minute chord changes between A, D and E at 26 or more changes per minute, and at this rate, I expect to be able to move on to section 2 of the beginner's course next week. What's becoming more concerning to me is my left hand. I can tell that my dexterity is awful, and my arm actually tires out noticably during a practice session. I've started using my left hand for a lot of everyday tasks, like brushing my teeth, stirring the pot when cooking, turning keys, etc., in an effort to increase dexterity, endurance, power, and so on. In the long run, I expect to have vastly more issues with my strumming and picking technique than with my fretting, so I'll do what I can to make these issues go away asap.

That's pretty much it for now. Next time, I may include video of me playing or practising. Until then, here's the only surviving video of me playing when I was a right-handed player.


Until next time, bye!

Offline DavidP

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2018, 07:36:41 pm »
Here's wishing you every success. With patience and perseverance great things are possible.

Offline LeftyLoosy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2018, 08:28:58 pm »
I'm a month into learning to play again, so I think a short update is in order.

I'm starting to get the hang of holding my guitar. I was having a lot of trouble with my left arm pushing the neck forward and ended up sort of holding it in place with my right hand, but that's starting to go away and I'm able to play with a more relaxed grip on the neck. I didn't use to think of holding the guitar as a skill, but there you go.

My strumming hand isn't doing great. It's becoming abundantly clear why people really should strum with their dominant hand. I'm working on my dexterity at the start of every practice session by going through the chords one by one and trying to pick the individual notes, but I can only hit the string I want less than half of the time. I've been playing around with some simple eighth note strumming patterns while holding a single chord, and it's extremely challenging to hit the strings only on the strokes that I want to play, let alone control the softness of my strokes. I can't even achieve a good strumming flow when playing an air guitar, it's all very stiff and arrhythmic. My left hand still gets sore and tires out quickly, so these problems get worse over the course of a session.

I got started on to stage 2 this week, and I can tell it's going to take far less time for me to complete this one, because my right hand can already do changes between the new chords much faster than I could between A, D and E at the start of stage 1. I think I can expect to have all basic open chords down within another two or three months, and then I'll have many months of working on my left hand to look forward to.

Every now and then, I really want to smash the guitar, and at other times I'll get a flicker of a groove going for just a bar or two, which is fun. I'm looking forward to experiencing the latter more often than the former, but for the time being it's the other way around by a lot. If you feel more comfortable left-handed, then buy a left-handed guitar, because this sucks. I'm seeing progress, and I know that's what counts above all else, but having this little control over my body is frustrating me to no end. At least I'm starting to get pretty good at brushing my teeth left handed, which used to be a real threat to my dental hygiene, and I see no reason why the same shouldn't eventually happen with my left-handed strumming, but I just hate it at the moment.

Offline LeftyLoosy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 04:39:02 pm »
After that bit of whinging yesterday, it feels pretty good to post this. It just clicked this afternoon and I felt relatively comfortable doing down/up strokes.




Offline Matek

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2018, 11:57:57 pm »
Looks like you're making progress Lefty. Well done.

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Offline batwoman

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2018, 12:55:35 am »
LeftyLoosy

This is such an inspiring thing you're doing and I know without a doubt you'll regain and reclaim the use of your left hand if you persevere.

The human body and in particular, the nervous sytem has a remarkable ability to heal. It's called neural plasticity. Nerves can regrow, new nerve pathways can develop, this includes the brain. So what I'm saying is that the nerve pathways and the parts of your brain that deal with motor skills, both fine and gross relating to your left hand, can be better than they ever were. I found a few science based articles on this but they are a bit heavy going without a medical dictionary beside you  :(

One suggestion I'd make is that you check that your diet and nutrition are good, so that your body has the building blocks to make and repair what is needed.

Looking forward to your next update  :)


Offline embishop

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2018, 06:02:45 pm »
Hi Lefty, and good on you for following your passion for music regardless of injury. I watched you playing For My Father, and see that you had some pretty great guitar playing skill. I bet it's tough to start as a beginner again and relearn the technique, but you can see some progress already. And you still have the knowledge and the theory, so you're walking a bit of a different learning path than most beginners. When you read posts from beginners one of the main things I hear is that finding the rhythm for the strumming is the hardest thing. But since perseverance pays off - otherwise none of us would ever get to to be comfortable strumming! - I think that should mean for you that you will find your left-handed strumming groove with practice. You can hear some of that ease in the second video you posted.

I'm sure you've googled all the left handed people that play guitar right handed, often I think out of convenience since most guitars are right handed, so it is doable. You've got some talent and skill, and I'm glad to see you've found your way back to music.

Keep playing,

Mari (Mary)
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Offline LeftyLoosy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2018, 03:33:16 pm »
Thanks for the encouragement guys, I appreciate it.   :-*

Offline LeftyLoosy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2018, 01:59:32 pm »
Today was a good day! I'm running up to 50 days since I started, and I think I've got the standard open chords down pretty well. No whinging today, I'm just feeling good about myself.




Offline DarrellW

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2018, 02:57:31 pm »
That’s really great, it sounds like your brain is beginning to catch on to what you want your hands to, keep going, you’re making amazing progress!
My singing sucks so I’m learning Guitar and Ukulele, it’s fun 🌟

Offline DavidP

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2018, 03:03:57 pm »
Oh yeah, sounding really good now.

Good vibes to you

Offline embishop

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2018, 05:47:23 pm »
Sounding and looking really smooth, Lefty. You've got some very nice strumming patterns going on there. I second the good vibes to you.
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Offline LievenDV

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2018, 11:46:47 pm »
wow great progress. what a story. respect!!
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Offline troy

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Re: LeftyLoosy
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2018, 01:19:50 pm »
That's terrific, the progress is remarkable !

The brain is a wonderful thing at adapting and re-learning and I reckon you'll find this a lot easier than YOU think it's going to be.

I've always thought it slightly odd how we play guitars anyway. Instinctively you would think, for a regular right hander, that you would do the more complicated fingerboard stuff with your right hand and strumming with the left but we don't.

There's an interesting exchange of ideas here with a few good posters being lefty but playing rightys

https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/6270/why-does-conventional-playing-style-give-the-string-manipulation-to-the-left-han
"Oh no, it's not a Hofner, it's a Hobner" . WHAATTT !!!

 

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