zzxc | Guitarists (1): left-handed


#1 Guitarists: left-handed

In this column: guitarists who play left-handed: Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Doyle Bramhall, Otis Rush

Albert King

It is customary to place the thick strings on top. Albert has the thin strings at the top, which makes it easier for him to pull down the strings and thus raise the string half or whole tone. That gives King its specific sound.

King: “I learned that style myself. And no one can duplicate it, though many have tried.”

King: “what you don’t play counts as much as what you do, and speed can be learned, but feeling must come from within. I do all of the vibrato with my hand. I don’t use no gadgets or anything. I used to only use Acoustic amps, but I went to a Roland 120 because it’s easier to handle and it puts out for me.
I play the singing guitar, that’s what I’ve always called it. I also sing along with my notes, it’s how I think about where I’m going.”

You’re also noted for your tendency to bend two strings at one time?
King: “Yeah. Lots of times I don’t intend to do that but I’m reaching for a bend and bring another one along. My fingers get mixed up, because I don’t practice. When I get through with a concert, I don’t even want to see my guitar for a while.”

Why haven’t you ever used a pick?
King: “I couldn’t hold one, my fingers were too big. I kept trying and the thing would fly across the house. I just always had a real hard time gripping it, so I learned to play without one.”


Jimi Hendrix

Jimi uses a right-handed guitar and flips it.

Doyle Bramhall II

Doyle uses a left-handed guitar and reverses the string order: thick down, thin up.

Otis Rush

Otis playing a right-handed guitar

Rush: “I learned to play by myself. Nobody helped me. Nobody teached me. That’s why I play left-handed. If somebody would have been there to teach me how to play the right way, I would have had my strings strung up the right way. But nobody was there, so I learned a note here and a note there, and here I am, still trying to learn.
You learn from listening to any guitar player. If you’re interested in learning about music, you just pick up things from each one. And from that, you put it into your style. But you don’t forget those particular notes, so you make up your own song. We all play like each other in a sense. If we all had to play our own music, there wouldn’t be too many musicians.”


A left-handed guitar

Rush: “ Because I had heard these guys (Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Muddy Waters) on stage and I said well I gotta' do something. I was working a day job and I quit the day job to make $5 a night. But like I said it was Muddy! That's the guy I kept my eyes on. And Little Walter, I began to watch him, Willie Mabon, Willie Dixon.”


Sources: Thomas Moon: The Verdict Of Big Joe Williams, weeniecampbell.com, BBC news, Talkin' to myself: Blues lyrics, Michael Taft, digitalcitizen.ca, federalcigarjugband.com, pancocojams.blogspot.nl, americanbluesscene.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, Hudson Motors Compagny, Archive Minneapolis, The Cruel Plains, M.H.Price a.o., truewestmagazine.com, The Austin Chronicle, Cambridge Free English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, TheSaurus.com, dragonjazz.com/grablue/blues_travel, Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture, Blues by Paul Breman, Blues by David Harrison, Quora.com, urbandictionary.com, Blogs.loc.gov, The Ballad Hunter by Alan Lomax, Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920th by Daphne Duval Harrison, jopiepopie.blogspot.nl, redhotjazz.com, The Blues Lyrics Formula by Michael Taft, American Ballads and Folk Songs by Alan Lomax and John Avery Lomax, The Past Is Not Dead: Essays from the  Southern Quarterly by Douglas B. Chambers, EarlyBlues.com, railroad-line.com,  Jason Lee Davis' RailFan Pages , centertruthjustice.org