Skip to main content

Guitarist who relearned to play left-handed returns with ambidextrous playthrough using Michael Angelo Batio’s double-sided Sawtooth signature

Philippe Drouin
(Image credit: Obvurt/YouTube)

If you thought the story of Philippe Drouin had already reached its motivational and inspirational peak, you wouldn’t be the only one. 

After all, Drouin – guitarist for death-metal outfit Obvurt – not only relearned the electric guitar left-handed after an accident robbed him of his picking powers, he also bravely took the stage to celebrate his achievements with a high-octane performance at his elementary school.

But, as it turns out, there’s one more twist to the tale, because although his accident left him unable to pick with his right hand, his left fretting hand was still fully operational.

So, in true Drouin fashion, the metalhead decided he’d make the most of his ambidextrous playing powers and put them to the test in a visceral new playthrough of his band’s latest track, The First Light.

That’s right. In The First Light video, Drouin plays both right-handed and left-handed at once, gliding up and down the fretboard with the ease and agility of someone who only has to concern themselves with one ‘board.

Using one of Michael Angelo Batio’s Sawtooth Double Guitar signature models – perhaps the perfect guitars to accommodate such playing – Drouin channels his inner Batio for four whole minutes, serving up everything from rock-solid riffs to harmony-laden exchanges.

Intriguingly, the guitar looks to be kitted out with two EMG humbuckers – a deviation from the original spec sheet – which are up to the task of supplying the monstrous gains that Drouin's playing demands.

“The beginning was written with one hand,” he explains. “When I received my guitar, I had the idea in my mind that I could play legatos, hammer-ons and pull offs with my right hand, so I arranged the songs for two guitars, adding the harmony on the other hand.”

Drouin’s association with Batio goes beyond this playthrough and the guitar, however. When Drouin was relearning the guitar as a leftie, he sought out Batio’s help – help that the guitar luminary was more than happy to provide.

“I practiced for one year alone and then I realized I needed help,” he told Metal Sucks. “I asked Michael Angelo Batio for lessons and he accepted. Since that day, I’ve practiced over four hours every day.”

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

Matt Owen

Matt is a News 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.