Question by John McMahan
I am missing the little finger on my left hand. Should I reverse my guitar strings and strum with my left hand? I would like to study classical and flamenco.
Hi John, there should be nothing stopping you from learning to play left handed (left hand strum/pick). There are countless stories out there of people doing this exact same thing, either because of an injury or, for lefties-turned-righties, a wider availability of guitars (back in the pre-internet days - not so much of an issue now).
It will be hard work as, physically at least, you are essentially relearning the guitar and rebuilding your muscle memory. Mentally, however, you will retain all the theoretical knowledge you have accumulated over your time as a musician. This will certainly have a positive effect on how quick you progress compared to when you first picked up the guitar.
If you want to get into classical guitar then, without doubt, you will greatly benefit from having that little finger on your fret hand.
Saying that, not all classical music requires the use of a 4th finger. It depends on how advanced you wish to progress, how elaborate the pieces you wish to play are.
Bear in mind, many players who have fewer than 4 fingers have learned to incorporate slides, legato, different tunings etc. to compensate for their "handicap" (I only put that word in inverted commas because in reality, it's only a handicap if you feel your own playing style and aspirations are limited by it).
Inadvertently, they have developed a unique sound from playing in a compensatory way.
But here's my personal opinion...
If you have a lot of time to devote to guitar (i.e. more than a few hours per week), and you know you're the type of person who perseveres and aims for the best possible results, then I would go for the restring and hand switch.
Whatever you choose, go for it with a full heart and don't look back.