As a left-handed guitarist, there has been many occasions over the past 13 years where all that was around was a right handed guitar to play. Sometimes guitarists feel the need to play a guitar when they see it no matter whose it is. There’s just one problem for me.. There are not many lefty guitarists! I have learned over time how to play a right handed guitar upside down, and I would like to share with you some tips and techniques that can make the learning curve smaller for you if you do the same!
The first time I ever tried to play the guitar upside down, I already had some (1 year) experience playing the guitar, so I knew how to form the chords, and some scales already. My brother got an acoustic guitar for Christmas that year, so I took it upon myself to try to make it play using it the same way I would with my left handed guitar. It was a little interesting to try to flip everything I had learned upside down inside my head, and then figure out how to make those same fingerings with totally different fingers. Below I will explain a couple quick techniques you can use to form the “hard” chords. All in all, playing this way is a bit more tricky than regular, and it is much more challenging to gain speed with transitioning from chord to chord.
Funny story, I mentioned in another article about my guitar teacher I had for 4 years. Amazingly enough, he picked up my guitar the first day and played it right handed, and it sounded like he was playing his regular guitar. It was that good! The more you know on the guitar, the easier it will be to extrapolate the information to upside down.
Forming some of the notes is interesting, especially the “G” chord. The easiest way I have found to do it is, use the middle and ring finger to play the “top or low” strings’ fingering, and use the thumb curled over the top of the neck to play the high “E” string. If you are going to learn how to play the guitar upside down, you should definitely experiment with different fingerings and use the ones that work best for you for speed and articulation.
Some professional musicians actually prefer playing their guitars this way because it adds a rather unique sound to their music. When the player strums down, it has the effect of an upstroke. Jimmy Hendrix and B.B King were well known for their ability to play their guitars upside down. Also, some guitarists find pinched harmonics easier to master using a guitar this way because of the way the strings are set up with the action being slightly higher on the lighter strings.
If you are interested in learning how to play the guitar upside down, whether it be for personal knowledge, amusement, or changing to this way full time, it can be a lot of fun, and I suggest it. Go out there and find a guitar that is opposite yours and give ‘er a go!