9 Guitarists You Never Knew Were Left-Handed

01
of 09

Albert King

albert king
David Redfern | Getty Images

 According to most studies, left-handed people represent only about 10% of the world's population. Yet this list of left-handed guitarists represents many of the greatest musicians to walk the earth. Albert King definitely fell into that category.

Primary Guitar: Gibson Flying V ("Lucy")

How His Guitar Was Strung: high E String on top (upside down)

Blues guitarist/singer Albert King Nelson (1923 – 1992) is considered to be one of the legends of blues guitar. King is best known for "Born Under a Bad Sign", which was made even more popular when covered by supergroup Cream.

Albert King was a massive man - standing 6'4" and weighing 250 pounds - who physically dominated his guitar. King didn't play a left-handed guitar, or even re-string his guitar - he simply turned the guitar around and played the instrument "upside down". The result of this was a big difference in his tone, because when bending strings, he "pushed" strings in situations where other guitarists would be "pulling" them.

02
of 09

Dick Dale

Dick Dale
Robert Knight Archive | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Fender Stratocaster

How His Guitar Is Strung: high E String on top (upside down)

Surf-rock guitarist Dick Dale is considered to be an early influencer many heavy rock guitarists, including Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix. Dale began recording music in the early 1960s. By 1962, Dale had recorded his signature song "Miserlou", which gained additional popularity after Quentin Tarantino used it in Pulp Fiction.

Dale plays the guitar "upside down", meaning that he can't use any traditional shapes for playing chords. He also uses incredibly heavy strings (16-58) which also dramatically impact his tone.

03
of 09

Kurt Cobain

kurt cobain
Ebet Roberts | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Fender Jag-Stang

How His Guitar Was Strung: low E String on top (tradional setup)

Although not known for his guitar work, many consider Kurt Cobain to be a formidable player. Cobain played in a "traditional" way for a left-handed guitarist - meaning he uses all the same chord shapes as a right-handed guitarist would.

04
of 09

Jimi Hendrix

jimi hendrix
David Redfern | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Fender Stratocaster

How His Guitar Was Strung: low E String on top (tradional setup) 

Apparently Hendrix was naturally left-handed but - as was common at the time - he was pressured to learn to write, play guitar, etc. right-handed. Although Jimi reverted and began playing guitar left-handed, he continued to write using his right hand.

Hendrix tended to turn right-handed guitars upside down, and restring them so the low E string was closest to him (the same way as it is when playing the guitar in the traditional manner).

05
of 09

Bobby Womack

bobby womack
Gijsbert Hanekroot | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Gibson Les Paul Junior

How His Guitar Was Strung: high E String on top (upside down) 

Many classic rock fans know Womack's work through the music of others - The Rolling Stones' hit "It's All Over Now" was written by Womack. Other hits included "Just Crossed 110th Street". Like several of the other guitarists on this list, the left-handed Womack simply turned a right-handed guitar upside down, and played the instrument that way. This makes holding and strumming chords particularly difficult.

06
of 09

Paul McCartney

paul mccartney
Robert R. McElroy | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Often plays a Gibson Les Paul

How His Guitar Is Strung: low E String on top (tradional setup)

Although obviously best known as a bassist, former Beatle Paul McCartney regularly plays guitar on albums and in his live shows. McCartney uses left-handed instruments, strung in a traditional manner.

07
of 09

Tony Iommi

tony iommi
Paul Natkin | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Gibson SG

How His Guitar Is Strung: low E String on top (tradional setup)

As a teenager, the left-handed Tony Iommi - best known for being Black Sabbath's guitar player - lost the tips of both the middle and ring fingers on his right (fretting) hand in a factory accident. Many guitarists early in their careers might consider switching to a right-handed manner of playing guitar to minimize the impact of this injury, but Iommi continued playing guitar left-handed. Many credit this injury as birthing the signature "Iommi" sound and approach to playing the guitar.

08
of 09

Cesar Rosas

cesar rosas
George Rose | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Choice of guitars has changed over the years. Known to use a Gibson 335, but now favors guitars made by Alhambra instruments.

How His Guitar Is Strung: low E String on top (tradional setup) 

Left-handed guitarist Cesar Rosas is one of two amazing guitar players in Los Lobos - the other being David Hidalgo. Rosas plays left-handed guitars strung in the traditional manner.

09
of 09

Otis Rush

otis rush
Jack Vartoogian | Getty Images

Primary Guitar: Gibson 355

How His Guitar Is Strung: high E String on top (upside down)  

Blues guitarist Otis Rush is credited with being an influence on many legendary guitarists including Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton. Rush has the most unusual setup on this list - he chooses a left-handed guitar, but restrings it upside down, so the high E string is on top. 

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Cross, Dan. "9 Guitarists You Never Knew Were Left-Handed." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/left-handed-guitarists-1712156. Cross, Dan. (2017, March 3). 9 Guitarists You Never Knew Were Left-Handed. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/left-handed-guitarists-1712156 Cross, Dan. "9 Guitarists You Never Knew Were Left-Handed." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/left-handed-guitarists-1712156 (accessed November 20, 2017).