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Andres Segovia


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If you are left-handed, you are among,at best, 7.5% of the civilized world's population. Quite the minority! You have probably been learning to do things the opposite or backwards from the way everyone else does them. There are web sites and organized groups dedicated to you, rare, people and some of them have catalogs and stores of 'left-handed' merchandise to sell.

So, you're a lefty and you want to play guitar. Do you get a lefty guitar or do you learn righty? Most lefties think they should learn lefty, play lefty and have a lefty guitar. And if anyone has suggested you learn righty, you have probably thought of their advice as discriminatory and intended to handicap you. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In the decades I have taught, I have only taught one left-handed student who I allowed to play lefty while we worked together -- and that was because he had been playing for several years and was unwilling to switch. In retrospect, I should have insisted he do so.
It is my practice now. All the rest of my left-handed students, including ones who began with other instructors, have played righty, and played exceptionally well.

Think about it:
If your naturally stronger, dominant and more dexterous hand is your left hand, and the righty manner of playing is with the left hand on the fingerboard, do you really want to put your clumsy right hand on the fingerboard and only pick, with your very precise and agile left hand? Anyone analyzing this impartially, has to say NO! The real question is why don't righties play lefty?

There is an adjustment that righty-playing lefties have to make: It is the mental adjustment from reversing everything you were taught how to do by a righty. It's much easier said than done .... but it is worth the adjustment. You can master the confusion in about 2 weeks, if you apply yourself to playing righty and do not waver or intermittently revert to lefty technique.

After this sincere urging, if you still insist on learning and playing lefty, please take note: you cannot restring a righty guitar and play it lefty! There are lefty guitars for a reason. That reason is that the construction of a guitar, whether acoustic or electric, is predicated on the degree of tension on each string, the layout of the tuners, the necessary height and possibly the angle of the bridge and/or bridge nut and more factors. The interior bracing of a righty acoustic guitar may not support the tension if it is restrung lefty. Realize the difference in the pounds of tension on the two E strings of an acoustic guitar. The bass E string is loose an thick. The high E string is thin and very tightly strung to get it to pitch. A well made guitar is braced to compensate for those disparities.

So, my best advice for your success as a lefty guitarist is to discipline yourself to learn and play righty.

[This is a digression, but let me add here, that you CANNOT string steel strings on a nylon string guitar nor nylon strings on a steel string guitar. The former will destroy the guitar -- the previous owner of one of my nylon string guitars ripped the bridge off by trying to make it a steel string. The latter will be too slack to play and will only buzz.]


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017