Meet the death-metal guitarist who relearned the instrument left-handed after a car accident robbed him of his picking ability

Philippe Drouin
(Image credit: MetalSucks)

In one of the most inspiring guitar-related stories you’ll ever hear, electric guitar player Philippe Drouin completely relearned the guitar left-handed after a car accident left him unable to use his right hand for picking.

The accident rendered Drouin – who had 15 years of experience under his belt at the time – incapable of playing guitar in his natural right-handed position due to the effect it had on his picking hand. Despite his efforts, it quickly became apparent that he was fighting a lost cause.

Rather than opting for the easy way out and hanging up his Dean KSV Black V for good, he instead restrung it to suit a left-handed player and promptly got to work teaching himself the guitar the other way round.

Drouin, who is also the frontman and guitarist for Quebecois-based death metal three-piece Obvurt, spent three long years relearning the guitar from the ground up and, with the help of legendary tutor Michael Angelo Batio, continued his passion for playing guitar.

Now, Obvurt have released a playthrough video for their track Scars of War, taken from recent EP The Beginning, which showcases Drouin's newly learned left-handed guitar-playing powers.

The inspiring guitarist recalled to Metal Sucks, “After being victim of a car accident in late December 2016, I lost my picking as a right-handed guitar player for more than 15 years. After talking with Pat Martino in 2017, I bought my first left-handed guitar, and it begins there.

“Since I made that choice, I tried to recover and practice a lot, trying to get my picking back on my right hand in 2018. I was playing both sides every day for a while. One day, I felt I was able to become left-handed, so I decided to leave everything behind and start over.”

He continued, “I left my previous band I had for more than 10 years and learned a new instrument. I practiced for one year alone and then I realized I needed help. I asked Michael Angelo Batio for lessons and he accepted. Since that day, I’ve practiced over four hours every day.”

The technically demanding, appropriately titled track is an ode to perseverance, and was written by Drouin with the message that “everything is possible when you put in your 100%”. 

Obvurt’s new EP, The Beginning, was released March 31 via Brutal Mind, and is available from the group’s Bandcamp page.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.