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Left-handed people play guitar or electric bass in one of the following four ways: (1) play a right-handed guitar or right-handed bass in a right-handed manner, (2) play a true left-handed guitar or bass, (3) play a right-handed guitar or bass that has been altered to play left-handed, or (4) turn a right-handed guitar or bass upside down, pick with the left hand, but leave the strings as they were - which makes them reversed from the normal order. (The fingering is the same for methods 2 and 3.) Any style of picking with the left hand (flatpicking or fingerstyle guitar) is considered playing left-handed.
Jimi Hendrix's Les Paul Custom - a right-handed guitar with the strings reversed for playing left-handed
A left-handed Martin D-28. The internal and external construction is the mirror image of a right-handed guitar.
Left-handed with normal stringing
Guitarists in this category pick with their left hand and have the strings in the conventional order for a left-handed player (i.e. the low string on the top side of the neck). They either have true left-handed guitars or have right-handed guitars altered so the strings are correct for a left-handed player. Some guitarists in this category (e.g. Paul McCartney) play both genuine left-handed instruments and right-handed instruments altered for left-handed playing.
Changing the strings on a right-handed guitar involves several things. The nut of the guitar has to be changed to accommodate the string widths. The bridge needs to be changed to make the lower strings longer than the top strings for correct intonation. On almost all acoustic guitars the bracing is non-symmetrical. On electric guitars altered this way, the controls will be backwards.
Paul Gray (Slipknot) started out playing right-handed, then changed to left-handed because it was more comfortable.
Paul McCartney (The Beatles) first tried playing right-handed, but was making no progress. He saw a picture of Slim Whitman playing left-handed and realized that it was necessary to reverse the guitar, pick with the left hand, and reverse the strings (Babiuk 2001:14).
These are left-handed players who play naturally too, but with the strings organized to emulate an unaltered right-handed guitar, thus the strings are backwards for a left-handed player. The right-handed guitar is held left handed with the high string on the top side of the neck(e.g. Bob Geldof). Some players in this category (e.g. Dick Dale and Albert King) had custom instruments that were essentially left-handed guitars with the strings as on a right-handed guitar, since they had learned to play that way.
Dick Dale playing a customized left-handed guitar with the strings backwards.
Bob Geldof playing a right-handed guitar upside down (a Gibson).
Paul Gray (Slipknot) started out on a right-handed instrument but flipped it over and re-strung it to a true left hand style instrument and found that being left handed, playing left handed was much more natural and then moved on shortly after to playing actual left handed guitars and basses.
A drum kit for a left-handed person is set up so that percussion instruments drummers would normally play with their right hand (ride cymbal, floor tom, etc.) are played with the left hand. The bass drum and hi-hat configurations are also set up so that the drummer plays the bass drum with their left foot, and operate the hi-hat with their right foot. Some drummers however have been known to play right-handed kit, but play leading with their left hand (e.g. playing open-handed on the hi-hat). This list does not include drummers who are naturally left-handed but play drums purely right-handed such as Ringo Starr,Stewart Copeland, Dave Lombardo, Travis Barker and Chris Adler.
The violin can be learned in either hand, and most left-handed players hold the violin under their left chins, the same as right-handed players. This allows all violinists to sit together in an orchestra.
Paavo Berglund (A well known Finnish left-handed conductor who also played violin, often joining orchestra players for chamber music just for fun. Due to the value of his violin collection he did not want to change his instruments and had trained himself to play left handed on violins with a normal set-up.)