The 13 most iconic left-handed guitarists of all time
13.08.2020

The 13 most iconic left-handed guitarists of all time

Words by Will Brewster

No one knows the meaning of FOMO quite like a left-handed guitarist does.

It’s well-known that left-handed guitars are a lot harder to come across than a regular right-handed model, and even when you do manage to find one, they always tend to be a little more pricey than they ought to be, adding insult to injury in the mind of many a southpaw out there.

Despite this inconvenience, there’s still a great gamut of lefties out there who’ve stuck with their instrument and risen to become considered as icons in the guitar world, and it’s these players that we’re celebrating today.

From guitar heroes like Hendrix and Cobain to some of the instrument’s lesser-known (but all the more vital) players, join us as we celebrate the 13 most iconic left-handed guitarists in music.

Check out all our Features for more on iconic artists and the gear they’ve used.

Jimi Hendrix

Surely we don’t need to elaborate on this one. Although his dad supposedly urged him to learn to play right-handed, Jimi Hendrix’s penchant for flipping right-handed Fender Stratocasters to suit his left-handed style accounted for an iconic tone and appearance that helped cement his status as one of the all-time greats of the guitar world.

While he preferred to play left-handed, there’s various accounts out there that saw Hendrix was quite adept as a righty as well, and honestly, we wouldn’t put it past him.

Tony Iommi 

Considered as the Godfather of heavy metal guitar due to his cataclysmic playing with Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi is another notable southpaw, favouring a Gibson SG due to its ergonomic design and heavy tone.

Even after he lost some of right fingertips in a carpentry accident, Iommi refused to switch to a right-handed style, instead detuning his SG three semitones to compensate for the damage and subsequently creating one of the most iconic guitar tones in history.

Paul McCartney 

Another obvious pick here, Paul McCartney is surely the most successful left-handed musician of all time, with his time spent with the Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist resulting in him achieving huge influence upon the music world.

Since his earliest days, Macca’s proudly flown the flag for lefties all over the world, with the ergonomic Hofner 500/1 bass and Epiphone Casino hollowbody guitars being immediately associated with his name as a result.

Kurt Cobain

Just like his fellow southpawed Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain played guitar left-handed despite being a natural right-hander.

Early in his career, Cobain tended to play Univox guitars that he could easily repurpose to suit his left-handed preference, and would later graduate to a gamut of left-hand Fender reissues and quirky old offsets he’d find in various pawn shops.

Albert King

One of the most technically proficient blues guitarists of the 1960s, Albert King was celebrated as being one of the three Kings of the Blues alongside Freddie and BB King, with his 1967 Born Under A Bad Sign LP still being considered as a standout of the era.

Albert was left-handed, and played a flipped right-handed Flying V upside down in a myriad of dropped open-tunings to achieve his booming blues licks.

Courtney Barnett

The most prominent left-handed Australian player to have emerged in recent years, Courtney Barnett tends to favour a range of lefty Fender electric models while performing and recording, and opts for a left-handed Maton model for acoustic work.

While she’s occasionally been seen playing flipped righty guitars in the past, Barnett has previously stated that she prefers to play standard left-handed guitars, and in this day and age when they’re readily available, why wouldn’t you?

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Whether he’s rocking a Squier Supersonic with post-hardcore trailblazers At The Drive-In, smashing a signature Ibanez with prog-rock juggernaughts The Mars Volta or guesting with Bosnian Rainbows on his new Ernie Ball Music Man Mariposa signature model, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has always sought after ergonomic instruments to suit his left-handed playing style, acting as a platform for him to unleash his frenetic licks in that chaotic style we all know and love.

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Dick Dale

A genuine pioneer of the electric guitar and an icon of surf guitar, the late, great Dick Dale is another notable lefty who originally opted for a flipped right-handed guitar before he partnered with Fender and received a left-handed Stratocaster.

However, Dale made the unique move to string the guitar upside down to help account for his distinctive tone, and could often be seen reaching over the fretboard to nail some of the zippy staccato lines he was best known for.

Otis Rush 

Highly revered as one of the originators of the Chicago Blues, Otis Rush was another notable lefty who played a regular left-handed instrument, but strung his guitar upside down to achieve a unique guitar tone, curling his pinky finger under the Low E to help position his picking hand.

Rush was considered as a huge influence on British blues pioneers like Eric Clapton and Peter Green, and utilised a distinctive guitar style characterised by his long, slow-burning solos and whopping vibrato.

Barbara Lynn

While she mightn’t be a household name, Barbara Lynn is one of the most respected soul survivors of the 1960s, having achieved her first number one single in 1962 with ‘You’ll Lose A Good Thing’ and touring with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, BB King and Gladys Knight.

Lynn was noted for being one of the only female artists in the ‘60s to write her own songs and play a lead instrument, sometimes flipping a Fender Stratocaster in a similar vein to Jimi Hendrix before settling on a standard left-handed guitar in recent years.

Mdou Moctar

Hailing from the depths of the Saharan Desert in Niger, Mdou Moctar is undeniably one of the greatest guitar stories of the 21st century, having created his first instrument from old bicycle parts and having his music discovered through a Bluetooth song trading network in the Sahara.

A natural left-handed guitarist, Moctar’s guitar style blends elements of traditional Taureg guitar music with contemporary psychedelic and blues styles, with many considering him as one of the most exciting players of the modern age.

Tim Armstrong 

Best known for his contributions to punk, ska and country inspired groups like Rancid, Devil’s Brigade and Transplants, Tim Armstrong is best-known for rocking a beaten-up old Gretsch hollowbody, flipped upside down to suit his preference as a right-handed player.

When combined with his ludicrously low hanging guitar strap, Armstrong creates a formidable onstage appearance, which is only matched by the intensity of his singing and playing styles.

Malina Moye

With her scorching hot fusion of funk, blues and psychedelic rock, Malina Moye has asserted her status as a true force to be reckoned with on the US touring circuit, with her flashy playing and ludicrously fun live shows making her a bit of an underground sensation in the guitar world.

Moye is best known for rocking a left-handed Surf Green Stratocaster with a reversed and painted headstock, making her the first female African American endorsee to join the Fender family.

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