I am often struck by the absence of left handed guitar tabs available on the internet or even the recognition that left handed guitarists might struggle to use the vast majority of guitar tabs out there because they are presented in a right-handed friendly format.
In fact, nearly all guitar tabs are written assuming the guitarist is right handed, and that offended my British sense of fair play!
What’s more, my daughter is left handed, so I’m particularly sensitive to this fact.
So, I got to thinking about that and how a left handed guitar player might be able to read guitar tab written for the right hander (most of them!).
And so, may I proudly present – (drum roll) – my method for making (right handed) guitar tab more usable and easily readable for left handed guitar players.
Oh by the way, if you’re not familiar with guitar tab, I have a useful post on How to Read Guitar Tab which you can check out as well.
So, when presented with a typical, right handed, guitar tab, how can you go about making sense of it?
Unless you are able to interpret it (do the transposition to left handed in your mind) straight away (some can, but many can’t), I recommend the following technique that I developed to help my daughter out.
Start with the tab as it would normally be presented to you:
Take a screen print and paste/drag into a photo/image editor. Most computers, whether Windows or Mac will have a basic image/photo editor, just make sure it has controls to flip and rotate.
Your next task is to flip the image over so that it is upside down:
Now, rotate half a turn (180 degrees) clockwise or anti-clockwise, doesn’t matter as the result will be the same whichever way you choose.
Maybe that’s enough for some, but all the letters and numbers are upside-down, so a final step might be to print out and then use a different colour pen or pencil to write on the letters and numbers the correct way up. I know this is laborious, so see if you can read as they are before embarking on this step.
Tada – there you have it – neat trick isn’t it?
Remember, a tab is portrayed as if you are holding your guitar and looking down at the fretboard from above – and this is what you now have for the left handed view as in the video below.
In fact, you have a true left handed guitar tab here.
…please excuse the “after a long weekend”, oh so nearly beard! Also, I feel I must point out that the guitar I am using here for this demo is not mine! It’s actually my daughter’s guitar; I’m not convinced this is my style!
I really hope you find this useful, it’s an area I haven’t seen addressed before and I intend this website to be friendly to left handed guitar players.
How can anyone ignore left handed guitar players when arguably the most famous guitar player, or at least the most influencial, was left handed – Jimi Hendrix himself!
Of course, Kurt Cobain, Paul Mccartney and Albert King were also left handed, but I don’t suppose they spent too much time looking at guitar tabs.
Still, I came up with this idea whilst teaching my daughter to play, so thought that others might find it helpful, so I wanted to share it with you here.
Please do comment below on my method for left handed guitar tabs, I’d love to hear from left handed players and whether this method works for you and perhaps you could share your own ideas and frustrations!
All the best and keep on rockin’
P.S. – Why not try the method on one of the best resources for guitar songs, written by Kenny Mann.
This has over 1,300 songs faithfully and accurately produced in high quality guitar tab with every guitar part.
A huge variety of styles is covered from AC-DC to Gordon Lightfoot, the Beatles to ZZ-Top via BB king, Frank Zapper, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Kansas, Alice in Chains, Santana and on and on!
If you want guitar tabs for songs to play at home, to play with a band or to play at open mic nights – you can’t do any better than this!
Check out the Instant 1,300+ Song Tab Library – highly recommended.