List of musicians who play left-handed

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This is a list of notable musicians who play their instruments left-handed. (This does not include left-handed people who play right-handed, such as Noel Gallagher,[1]Duane Allman, Billy Corgan, Dave Hill, Mark Knopfler, Barry Gibb, and Paul Simon.)

Guitarists and bassists[edit]

Paul McCartney playing a true left-handed guitar (a Gibson Les Paul).

Left-handed people play guitar or electric bass in either one of the following four ways depending on the person: (1) play a right-handed guitar or bass right-handed, (2) play a true left-handed guitar or bass, (3) play a right-handed guitar or bass that has been altered to play left-handed, or (4) turn a right-handed guitar or bass upside down, pick with the left hand, but leave the strings as they were – which makes them reversed from the normal order for a left-handed player. (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.

Left-handed with normal stringing[edit]

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[edit]

Hendrix on stage in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1967
Tony Iommi playing a true left-handed guitar (a Jaydee Custom S.G.).
Jonathan Butler at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, 2011.
Dan Swanö live at Nosturi
  • Jimi Hendrix was naturally left-handed but his father tried to force him to play right-handed because he believed playing left handed was a sign of the devil. Hendrix took right-handed guitars and restrung them for playing left-handed (Cross 2005:55). Hendrix did continue to write right-handed. Hendrix did learn to play right-handed as mandated by his father, he had to play right-handed any time his father was around (and left-handed, upside down, when his father was not around) or risked losing the guitar forever. Once he started making modifications that allowed him to play left handed with the strings in the proper order, he still had to play right-handed with his father nearby, so he also learned to play right-handed with the strings upside down. His brother Leon's testimony confirms this in Sharon Lawrence's biography Jimi Hendrix: the man, the magic, the truth and in quotations from guitar players such as Mike Bloomfield in Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child of the Aquarian Age by Dave Henderson.

Left-handed with strings backwards[edit]

These are players who play left-handed, but with the strings as on an unaltered right-handed guitar, thus the strings are backwards for a left-handed player (e.g. Bob Geldof). Some players in this category (e.g. Dick Dale and Albert King) had custom instruments that were basically a left-handed guitar with the strings as on a right-handed guitar, since they had learned to play that way.

Notable players[edit]

Dick Dale playing a customized left-handed guitar with the strings backwards.
Bob Geldof playing a right-handed guitar upside down (a Gibson).

Unclassified left-handed players[edit]

Bass guitarists[edit]

Paul McCartney playing a left-handed Rickenbacker 4001 bass


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 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,[9] Stewart Copeland, Dave Lombardo, Travis Barker and Chris Adler.


  • Christopher Guanlao of Silversun Pickups is left-handed but plays a right-handed set primarily in "open style" (opposite to cross handed) and has his ride cymbal to his left.
  • Josh Eppard of Terrible Things and Coheed and Cambria also drums open-handed (left-handed on a right-handed kit) but writes right-handed.
  • Joey Waronker of Beck, R.E.M. and Walt Mink is notable as left-handed drummer since the middle 1990s, but in the early of his career (as a drummer of Walt Mink) is notable as right-handed drummer.
  • Gorden Campbell is left-handed but plays a right-handed set primarily in "open style" (opposite to cross handed) and has his ride cymbal to his left.


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

  • Richard Barth
  • Paavo Berglund (A well known Finnish left-handed conductor who also played violin, often joining orchestra players for chamber music just for fun. Due to the value of his violin collection he did not want to change his instruments and had trained himself to play left handed on violins with a normal set-up.)
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Terje Moe Hansen [11] (Norwegian classical virtuoso and pedagogue)
  • Rudolf Kolisch
  • Ashley MacIsaac
  • Katrina Pearce Nicolayeff (champion folk fiddler, plays "over the bass") She does not string her fiddle backwards.
  • Ryan J. Thomson [12] (naturally right-handed, but learned to play left-handed after developing focal dystonia that made right-handed bowing impossible)







  • Hariprasad Chaurasia, right-handed, started his career playing right-handed, switched to left-handed playing


Many Muppets whose arms are controlled by rods play instruments left-handed. This is because most right-handed puppeteers control the puppets' heads with their right hands leaving their left hands for playing.


  1. ^ Noel Gallagher (Oasis) Late Late Show - 1996 circa 5 mins.
  2. ^ a b c d e f (Stetin 2001:5)
  3. ^ Metzger, Richard (2013-07-17). "Mother Superior jumped the gun: Unknown all female prog rock group from the 1970s". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  4. ^ "TICE". Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Russo, Nick (2014-09-28). "Maddie & Tae Make Their Concert Debut in Pasadena, Texas " 100.3 The Bull". Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  7. ^ "Chase Bryant Talks Brantley Gilbert and ZZ Top, Performs 'Take It on Back' [Watch]". 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  8. ^ (Ferguson 1979:121)
  9. ^ "Ringo Starr Reveals The Secret Of His Distinctive Rhythm – CONAN on TBS". YouTube. 2012-02-02. Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  10. ^ "Steve Hewitt – Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and pictures at". Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  11. ^ "Terje Moe Hansen Home Page – Violin Virtuosity". Retrieved 2015-12-21. 
  12. ^ Ryan J Thomson. "Captain Fiddle Music". Retrieved 2015-12-21. 


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