Author Topic: Southpaw  (Read 2379 times)

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Offline brianlarsen

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Southpaw
« on: February 14, 2020, 04:34:01 pm »
Left, right, left, right…
Have we been marching the wrong way all along?

I'm sure this must be well-trodden ground, but a recent post on left-handed guitars spurs me to share an odd thought I had when I first started learning nearly two years ago.
In my limited experience, the single most difficult aspect for beginners is trying to press the correct strings with the correct fingers to play their first chords. Right-handed people practise and practise something that feels completely unnatural long enough to get used to it. Even experienced players struggle to improve their finger work on the fret: touch, speed, accuracy, vibrato, bends and dare I say ‘dexterity’ (pun intended)
To make things interesting- let’s do this with our non-dominant hand  ::)

How did this come about?

Think about where the guitar came from.
Its earliest form would have been a piece of string (animal gut, plant material…) that made a ‘twang’ when plucked.
Cool  8)
Then someone notices that different length ‘strings’ produce different notes-
Hey presto! The harp, lyre, whatever you want to call them is invented.
Of course, everyone holds the instrument with their non-dominant hand and does the complicated stuff (plucking and strumming) with their dominant one.
So far so good, until-
Some other bright spark notices that if you can shorten the string by pressing it down on a piece of wood (or neck) allowing a lot more notes to be produced  :)
Naturally, everyone was used to plucking with the dominant hand, so the other was used to manipulate the length of string. It just would have been nonsensical and weird to switch and do it the other way around.
Instruments and the playing techniques have become more complicated, but we continue playing and teaching the same way ever since and it would feel completely unnatural for anyone who had learnt something one way to find it easier doing it the opposite way around. The 'reasoning' for keeping the status quo being: imagine trying to do something difficult (accuracy, rhythm, speed) with your BAD hand!  :'(

My son is left-handed and, like many left-handed people, he is more comfortable using his non-dominant hand than the rest of us, primarily because we live in a world that is designed for right-handed people.
He has chosen to play right-hand guitar and base.

I envy him.

Before, everybody piles in and explains how important the right hand is for speed, accuracy and touch/feel, especially later on when you have mastered the basics, I am aware of this and agree- But as Justin always points out, do it slowly and correctly first, then things speed up naturally with practise. Think of all those unfortunates who have given up in the early stages, just because it is so unnatural/difficult to get your fingers to be able to play a couple of chords and enjoy making music in the first place.

Ave Caesar, morituri te salutamus

Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 04:38:27 pm »
As a righty I can pick/strum better with my right hand than my left.

Why the hell would I want to make playing guitar harder than it is?
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Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 05:00:39 pm »
My basic point is: learning to play guitar is a complex activity requiring both hands.
For almost all beginners the fretting work is main source of difficulty.

It is reasonable to suggest the dominant hand would be better suited to the task (and yes, the strumming/picking would of course feel less comfortable at the same time)

I am simply suggesting that historical reasons have determined why we learn the way we do rather than rational ones.

You've already paid your dues (and reaped the rewards :) )
It would be pointless for anyone to go back and 'relearn', unless you're a crackpot like Justin  ;)

Offline GregB

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2020, 06:04:53 pm »
Well I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree and say I believe for the vast majority of people there’s naturally more rhythm in your dominant hand, I accept there will be exceptions of course.

Ignoring the guitar for a moment if I dare say such a thing try just tapping your hand on a table or your chest and see which hand feels better or can mix it up better. I don’t believe it’s a historical thing at all just using the tools your given to the best of their ability.
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Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 06:11:45 pm »

I am simply suggesting that historical reasons have determined why we learn the way we do rather than rational ones.



Most stringed instruments are 'fretted' with the left hand. If it were easier to fret with the right hand, generations of violinists/cellists/double bassists/mandolin players would have done so.
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Online stitch101

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 07:04:32 pm »
The Lyre goes back at least to 2000 bc some claim 3000.
The guitar goes back to around the 1500s that gave humans 3500 years
to figure it out.

He's a trick to use to figure out if a kid should play right or left handed.
With out telling them start to play air guitar and watch which way they naturally
play air guitar.
Works with snow boarding as well. Run and slide on some ice. Which foot do you
automatically put out front? 

Offline skinnyT

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 07:47:40 pm »
I am left handed and play left handed. I have tried right handed and it feels totally alien. I have to disagree that fretting is the most difficult thing. For me I have struggled much more with strumming.

People should play the way that feels correct for them and stop listening to people that tell them otherwise.

Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 08:28:20 pm »
@Greg
Of course your rhythm is better in your dominant hand. But you'll be in trouble if you don't learn it in your left hand too.

@Joueur
I have no doubt that it would be easier to fret any stringed instrument with your dominant hand.
The question is whether that advantage is outweighed by the greater difficulty in strumming/picking.

@Stitch
I can think of a number of things we humans have been doing for thousands of years, which neither make sense, nor are good for us.
All your example will show is if the kid is right or left-handed. It's natural to think that 'playing the guitar' is done with the right hand. That's what makes the noise. Any right-handed person will try to make the noise with their right hand.

I'm just doing the thought experiment here.
Reason tells me that difficult tasks are more easily with your dominant hand.
In the beginning for me, the most difficult task was the fretwork- probably still is.
You guys are way beyond that stage now, so it probably just sounds ridiculous.
I'm just curious when (and why) the 'difficulty' levels even out and go the opposite way.

I think I read somewhere that Mark Knopfler (a lefty) chose to play right-handed guitar to get better vibrato? 

I better go practise though, rather than [ mod note - swear word deleted] try to reset the guitar world  ;D




« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 09:57:42 pm by close2u »

Offline Drubbing

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2020, 12:44:25 am »
My basic point is: learning to play guitar is a complex activity requiring both hands.
For almost all beginners the fretting work is main source of difficulty.

I am simply suggesting that historical reasons have determined why we learn the way we do rather than rational ones.

You've already paid your dues (and reaped the rewards :) )
It would be pointless for anyone to go back and 'relearn', unless you're a crackpot like Justin  ;)

I had no idea of the guitars history when I picked up a guitar. I knew that guitars were right handed, but that instantly felt wrong to me, and so I played it left handed. Just like I air guitar - which is THE best test.

Everyone is different. Left handers tend to be more ambidextrous than most, that's why some can play RH, but it depends how their handedness works. Like your Knofler example.

For me, my left had natural rhythm and my right didn't have any alien feeling forming chords, so I had a head start on many beginners.

When I flip a guitar, as Justin did for his left lessons, I get how it must feel for many beginners, But you have to allow for handedness being a factor in how 'bad' it feels. Not every beginner finds everything awkward.

This is the key point so many who hand out the 'learn RH' advice, fail to register. These are probably people who struggled to learn, and assume that's every beginners expereince, and lefts should just 'work harder' like they had to.

My son has been learning at school and has had no difficulty fretting strings. Chords are difficult, but that's because of his soft fingers, intermittent practice and poor technique - he can form the shapes without frustration. It's not always about L or R hand, but how natural motor skills are.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 11:06:40 am by Drubbing »

Offline GregB

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 10:00:53 am »
@Greg
Of course your rhythm is better in your dominant hand. But you'll be in trouble if you don't learn it in your left hand too.

So you admit I’m right then try to argue the opposite. I didn’t hear anyone including me say most had no rhythm in their less dominant hand just less than the dominant. So your saying I’m in trouble if I don’t make the less dominant hand as good as the dominant.

I think your right, stop talking [mod edit - obscenity removed ... please tone down the comments thank you] and crack on with the practice, perhaps you should try left handed  ;D
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 03:39:10 pm by close2u »
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Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2020, 11:20:19 am »
@Drubbing
Always interesting to get other folks personal experiences and views-
Thanks

@GregB

Hi Greg
I started this thread in the Just Chatting section rather than muddy the original post asking for left-handed advice, as I knew it was contrary to perceived wisdom. There's nothing wrong with questioning long-held traditions and views. It can be a good learning exercise.

The tone of your comment suggests my questions or responses have irritated you somewhat.
I am sorry for any offence caused.
Cheers
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 01:30:28 pm by close2u »

Offline GregB

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2020, 02:05:48 pm »
@Drubbing
Always interesting to get other folks personal experiences and views-
Thanks

@GregB

Hi Greg
I started this thread in the Just Chatting section rather than muddy the original post asking for left-handed advice, as I knew it was contrary to perceived wisdom. There's nothing wrong with questioning long-held traditions and views. It can be a good learning exercise.

The tone of your comment suggests my questions or responses have irritated you somewhat.
I am sorry for any offence caused.
Cheers

No no offence caused at all, it’s all good. I just disagree but didn’t intend to cause any discomfort.

And to the mods my apologies, I assumed incorrectly there would be an auto hashtag filter on such words as I’d seen it in this thread but perhaps that’s a manual entry, anyway it won’t happen again  :)
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Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2020, 08:13:02 pm »
Bit hard on you Greg- being pulled up for repeating my poor choice of language  ;)
All good.
Have a productive guitar weekend  :)

Offline CT

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2020, 08:32:57 pm »
This is one of those scorched earth type of discussions. I come down on the side of a standard guitar being strummed with the right hand and fretted with the left. It is neither a left or right handed instrument, it is a two-handed instrument. How many left-handed pianos are there?  I can't speak to the need for non-standard guitars, pianos or other instruments.

Offline close2u

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2020, 09:58:36 pm »
Bit hard on you Greg- being pulled up for repeating my poor choice of language  ;)
All good.
Have a productive guitar weekend  :)

That one passed my by somehow - thanks for pointing it out Brian - it is now duly erased ... you naught, naught boy. Soap & water!  ;)

Offline sdd56

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2020, 11:37:17 pm »
I don't really have an opinion on this, but I'm looking forward to the first video from Nesral Nairb !  ;D
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Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2020, 11:38:07 pm »
you naught, naught boy. Soap & water!

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Offline brianlarsen

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2020, 11:45:11 pm »
I don't really have an opinion on this, but I'm looking forward to the first video from Nesral Nairb !  ;D
Ha! I like that- and may well use it as my pseudonym for my more miserable musical musings  ;)
I shall direct you to the ciotóg (Irish for clumsy/left-handed) experiment of our fearless leader, Mr. J. Sandercoe himself; sure aren't I following in his footsteps?

Offline sairfingers

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2020, 12:00:56 am »
Learning guitar is hard enough. I’ve given up trying to do it standing up in a hammock on my left foot.
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Offline Drubbing

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2020, 02:29:56 am »
It is neither a left or right handed instrument, it is a two-handed instrument. How many left-handed pianos are there?  I can't speak to the need for non-standard guitars, pianos or other instruments.

With piano there's no fretting, muting (at both ends), no string bending, no large movement to create rhythm.

They fact they make left handed guitars is testament that handedness makes a difference. If it didn't matter, then RH players would find it as easy to learn left. They never bother of course because? ...they're right handed and that feels natural.

The logic of dominant handedness is lost on those in a majority. It never comes up in their lives so it's a triviality, and for some seen as a perverse preference created to annoy them. Epitomised by professional orchestras - while left handed Cellos and violins are available, their long standing bias sees few accepting left handed players, as they 'ruin the uniform aesthetic'.

Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2020, 02:40:01 am »
Paul McCartney, Albert King, Dick Dale, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Iommi and Stewart Copeland play(ed) left handed just to p*** rightys off I reckon ;)
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Online stitch101

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2020, 04:36:14 am »
Jimi Hendrix is a good example of the dominant hand.
His father forced him to play right handed. He could play right handed so why would
he play left?
I guess he did to pick up chicks.  ;D

Albert King a right handed guitar upside down. I guess that solved the problem of
limited choice of guitars.
Doyle Bramhall II (plays with Clapton on occasion) also plays a right handed guitar
upside down. He even has a left handed strat strung right handed.




Offline Drubbing

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2020, 07:47:32 am »
Jimi Hendrix is a good example of the dominant hand.
His father forced him to play right handed. He could play right handed so why would
he play left?
I guess he did to pick up chicks.  ;D

Hendrix is an interesting one. Yes, he used to flip a RH back the right way when dad was around apparently. Like King and Mary cotton he could play a RH guitar upside down just as easily. He probably stuck with left because he wanted to be as different as possible.

I've tried it with my Son's guitar and it's not quite as difficult as it sounds. Strumming for it is harder though.

Offline joueur de guitare

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2020, 11:12:17 am »
King had a LH Flying V as well as the RH ones he played.



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Offline LievenDV

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Re: Southpaw
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2020, 05:56:08 pm »
it must be the 100th I write it on this forum; :D

if your left hand is your dominant hand, it will be be most likely your strumming hand.
when you beat the rhythm with a stick or the hand that claps on/shakes a tambourine; it is al rhythm dictaed by the dominant hand.

Your fretting hand has time to set itself but the strumming/picking hand can't afford to be late or too early.
It involves timings but its timing is far less crucial.

The coordination in your other hand can be easily learned; thining that needs to be done is, imo, a newbie mistake.
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