List of musicians who play left-handed

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This is a list of notable left-handed musicians who play their instruments naturally. This does not include left-handed people who play (or played) right-handed, such as Joe Perry, Mark Knopfler, and Gary Moore.

Contents

Guitarists and bassists

Paul McCartney playing a true left-handed guitar (a Gibson Les Paul). Paul McCartney on stage in Prague.jpg
Paul McCartney playing a true left-handed guitar (a Gibson Les Paul).

Left-handed people play guitar or electric bass in one of the following ways: (1) play the instrument truly right-handed, (2) play the instrument truly left-handed, (3) altering a right-handed instrument to play left-handed, or (4) turning a right-handed instrument upside down to pick with the left hand, but not altering the strings – leaving them reversed from the normal order. (The fingering is the same for methods 2 and 3.) Any style of picking with the left hand (flatpicking or fingerstyle guitar) is considered playing left-handed.

Guitarists

Left-handed with normal stringing

Guitarists in this category pick with their left hand and have the strings in the conventional order for a left-handed player (i.e. the low string on the top side of the neck). They either have true left-handed guitars or have right-handed guitars altered so the strings are correct for a left-handed player. Some guitarists in this category (e.g. Paul McCartney) play both genuine left-handed instruments and right-handed instruments altered for left-handed playing.

Changing the strings on a right-handed guitar involves several things. The nut of the guitar has to be changed to accommodate the string widths. The bridge needs to be changed to make the lower strings longer than the top strings for correct intonation. On almost all acoustic guitars the bracing is non-symmetrical. On electric guitars altered this way, the controls will be backwards.

Notable players
Hendrix on stage in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1967 Jimi Hendrix 1967.jpg
Hendrix on stage in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1967
Tony Iommi playing a true left-handed guitar (a Jaydee Custom S.G.) Iommi at the Forum a.jpg
Tony Iommi playing a true left-handed guitar (a Jaydee Custom S.G.)
Jonathan Butler at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, 2011. Jonathan Butler May 2011.jpg
Jonathan Butler at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, 2011.

Left-handed with strings backwards

These are left-handed players who play naturally, but with the strings organized to emulate an unaltered right-handed guitar, thus the strings are backwards for a left-handed player. The guitar is held left-handed with the high string on the top side of the neck (e.g. Bob Geldof). Some players in this category (e.g. Dick Dale and Albert King) had left-handed guitars with the strings as on a right-handed guitar, since they had learned to play that way.

Notable players
Dick Dale playing a customized left-handed guitar with the strings backwards. Dick Dale.jpg
Dick Dale playing a customized left-handed guitar with the strings backwards.
Bob Geldof playing a right-handed guitar upside down (a Gibson). BobGeldofLeftHanded.jpg
Bob Geldof playing a right-handed guitar upside down (a Gibson).
Dan Swano live at Nosturi Nightingale Nosturi 20032008 DanSwano 02.jpg
Dan Swanö live at Nosturi

Unclassified left-handed players

Bassists

Paul McCartney playing a left-handed Rickenbacker 4001 bass Paul McCartney during a Wings concert, 1976.jpg
Paul McCartney playing a left-handed Rickenbacker 4001 bass

Drummers

A drum kit for a left-handed person is set up so that percussion instruments drummers would normally play with their right hand (ride cymbal, floor tom, etc.) are played with the left hand. The bass drum and hi-hat configurations are also set up so that the drummer plays the bass drum with their left foot, and operate the hi-hat (or, if using two bass drums, plays the second bass drum) with their right foot. Some drummers however have been known to play right-handed kit, but play leading with their left hand (e.g. playing open-handed on the hi-hat). This list does not include drummers who are naturally left-handed but play drums purely right-handed such as Ringo Starr, Stewart Copeland, Dave Lombardo, Travis Barker and Chris Adler.

Notes

Violinists

The violin can be learned in either hand, and most left-handed players hold the violin under the left side of their jaw, the same as right-handed players. This allows all violinists to sit together in an orchestra.

Ukulele

Trumpet

French horn

The French horn is a naturally left-handed instrument, with the right hand only used to shade the pitch sharp or flat. Right-handed horns exist but are comparatively rare.

Trombone

Banjo

Mandolin

Bansuri

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Heavy metal drumming

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