On Left-Handed Guitars

A Parable

So, the other day, I was in a music shop checking out the selection of electric guitars.   I usually try to avoid music stores as I find the people that work in such places somewhat objectionable: so beholden to the myriad permutations of equipment and gear, they obsess over petty technical minutia and have no regard for higher aesthetics.

Anyway, while I was perusing the racks of axes, I noticed that a few seemed to be factory defects, what with their necks sticking out the wrong way and the strings being strung in the reverse order.  I enquired with one of the somewhat objectionable sales people whether such an instrument, being an obvious error in manufacture, would carry a hefty discount for any would be purchaser of such a defective item.   In between pedantic descriptions of digital latency and the frequency responses of Chinese made microphones, he informed me that these were in actual fact left-handed guitars intended for left-handed players.

I know, I couldn’t believe it either.

Fig. 1: An abomination.

I asked the assistant why guitar manufacturers were catering to a bunch of deviants who insist on choosing to use the wrong hand with which to write or use tools.  He said that left-handed people have just as much right to play guitar as those who use the correct hands.   Ridiculous, I said, left-handed people are totally free to play right-handed guitars (so long as they use the proper hands).

Next we’ll be making guitars for people to play with their feet.

Fig. 2: Or, even more perverse, their teeth.

It really burns me up that such people are being afforded special rights over and above that of the normal majority.  I’m not sinistrophobic or anything bigoted like that, I just have a moral problem with left-handedness.

For example, Psalm 118:16 tells us that it is “the right hand” that is “exalted” and “doeth valiantly”, and Matthew 25:46 states clearly that while the righties will go “into life eternal” at the Lord’s side, those on the left (goats) “shall go away into everlasting punishment”.  Check.  Mate.

Left-handedness is a choice, and we shouldn’t be validating aberrant behaviour.  The electric guitar was invented by LES Paul, not LEFT Paul.  Right is right, and we should not be teaching our children that left-handedness is acceptable behaviour.  Indeed, children of left-handed guitarists may get confused about which hand to fret with and which hand to strum with.  Won’t somebody think of the children?

Some of us, at least, still have some sense of morality in this laissez-faire, anything-goes culture.

Left-handedness, like midgetry and blue eyes, is unnatural.  Are there any animals that have left-handedness?  And even if there were, animals also eat their own poo, so we shouldn’t be looking to them for moral guidance.

Moreover, I now feel that my right-handed guitar is totally invalidated by the existence of left-handed guitars which undermine the traditional definition of the guitar that has been the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll for millenia.  A guitar is traditionally defined as a stringed instrument with a neck sticking out the left-side to be fretted by the left hand and, crucially, strummed (or picked) with the right.

It should be noted that some traditional definitions of the guitar allow for two or more necks.  This is acceptable so long as they are still played in the correct manner with the correct hands.

Fig. 3: An Ibanez Hagar model: totally acceptable.

If left-handed people want their own stringed instruments, why do they have to insist on using the word “guitar”?  Why not settle for Civil Citharas Sinistra?  Otherwise I fear that manufacturers who bravely persevere in making guitars according to the traditional, right-handed specifications will inevitably get hauled before some human rights commission on charges of sinistrophobic discrimination simply for staying true their moral values.


~ by Isaac Bickerstaff on August 20, 2010.

4 Responses to “On Left-Handed Guitars”

  1. Fig. 3 is an Ibanez.

  2. Fact: Noel Gallagher is left handed. He chose to play guitar right handed though, because it’s proper. Good man.

  3. Haha what a load of old bull. Last time I checked you use both hands to play a guitar, furthermore left handed players use their right hand to fret notes…

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