Five Famous Left-Handed Guitarists

by Alain Abou Atmeh, Aug 13, 2017 . 3 min read

Five Famous Left-Handed Guitarists

As with many areas of life, left-handed people face challenges when it comes to playing the guitar. Standard guitars are built so the right hand does all the picking and strumming while the left hand does all the fretting and chord barring. But that didn’t stop these five famous left handed guitarists from picking up the guitar, getting creative with it, and making history!

Jimi Hendrix

Widely recognized as one of the most influential guitarists ever, Jimi Hendrix met the challenge of being left-handed by restringing standard guitars – most notably, his famous Fender Stratocaster – so when he flipped his guitar over to strum with his left hand, the strings were in the normal order. This had an interesting effect on his guitar’s sound, reversing the brightness of the strings. Even though it means all the pickups, sound controls, and other features of the guitar are in the wrong places, guitarists trying to emulate Hendrix’s distinctive sound have been restringing their own right-handed guitars for left-handed playing ever since.

Kurt Cobain

The parallels between Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix don’t stop at their phenomenal talent, pioneering sounds, and tragically early demise: like Jimi, Kurt was a lefty, too.
Like Jimi, Kurt also restrung the used guitars he picked up in his early days at pawn shops and second-hand stores under the motto “junk is always best.” According to Guitar World magazine, it was around the time Nirvana recorded the album Nevermind that Cobain developed a taste for Fender guitars, and he soon became well known for playing true left-handed Fender Mustang and Jaguar models.

Billy Ray Cyrus

In his memoir Hillbilly Heart, country music star Billy Ray Cyrus describes the moment when he decided to launch a career in music, recalling a voice telling him to get a guitar and start a band. But he’d tried to play guitar before and couldn’t, since he is left-handed, he lamented. So the voice told him, calmly and directly, “Buy a left-handed guitar.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tony Iommi

Legendary Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi originally learned to play guitar left handed but faced an even bigger challenge when, at the age of 17, he lost the tips of two fingers on his right hand. After trying to learn to play right handed and nearly giving up the guitar, he was inspired by the story of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, who had also lost the use of several of his fretting fingers, to find a way to carry on. He created plastic covers for his fingers, fitted his guitar with lighter strings, and went on to invent what we know and love today as “power chords” and “heavy metal”.

Joe Perry

Aerosmith rock ‘n’ roller Joe Perry is left handed, but when he was 12, he taught himself to play guitar right handed. Interestingly, though, among his guitar collection can be found several left-handed Fender Stratocasters, which he plays flipped over, putting the strings in reverse order. As reported by GroundGuitar, when asked why, Perry indicated that it’s all about the different feel and unique tone of playing these guitars this way.

 

References:
Wikipedia

Guitar World

Google Books

Wikipedia

Buzzfeed

Ground Guitar



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Take advantage of our biggest backer-exclusive discounts and get your hands on this next-generation automatic tuner. Back the Kickstarter campaign today and be the first to receive the Roadie 3.

In this Beginners guide to pedalboards, we’re gonna help you navigate the sea of choices available.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Jan 15, 2021 . 4 min read

History has witnessed a plethora of guitar geniuses, like the late Eddie Van Halen, who passed away this year — but not after revolutionizing guitar playing and bringing the tapping technique to the forefront.

Ethan Brookes
Jan 7, 2021 . 4 min read

The musicians we lost in 2020 were highly influential and contributed immensely to culture.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 14, 2020 . 4 min read

The seven best guitar apps of 2020 will be of great use for most guitarists. Even though we faced unparalleled challenges this year, creators did their thing and provided value in 2020.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 11, 2020 . 4 min read

Shopping for Christmas gifts for guitarists? You’ve come to the right place! Despite all the challenges 2020 has bestowed upon us, there is still reason to celebrate.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Dec 4, 2020 . 4 min read

Learning how to soundproof your music room is very important. It is also one of the most neglected issues when it comes to home studios. After all, soundproofing or treating your room is not as sexy as buying expensive microphones and gear.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Nov 13, 2020 . 3 min read

The five best websites for guitar tabs are a great resource. They contain thousands of songs, killer riffs, burning solos, and more.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Nov 7, 2020 . 4 min read

Great female fingerstyle guitarists are on the rise. However, guitar playing is a field dominated by men.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 26, 2020 . 3 min read

There are plenty of bassists that started late. Many of them played another instrument and then jumped to bass later in life.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 23, 2020 . 3 min read

There are so many famous pedalboard setups. Sometimes the same guitarist will have different setups for different situations. This is partly because of the seemingly endless amount of guitar pedals in the market. As a result, the possible combinations are endless.

Rodrigo Sanchez
Oct 12, 2020 . 4 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!