Missing fingers haven't stopped this guitarist

DO you notice anything missing in this picture?

Neither do a lot of people.

Michael Shanks is not that conscious of the missing fingers on his left hand, either.

"I war born this way," he said with a degree of nonchalance.

Despite having only a thumb on his left hand, Mr Shanks, 30, of Buderim has learned to play the guitar. And it is not the first instrument he had picked up, either.

"My mum was really musical. I learned the ukulele at seven and when I was 10, I learnt the trumpet," he said.

Mr Shanks gets around his digital challenge by playing left-handed, even though he is naturally right-handed, and wearing a pick on his thumb which he mainly uses to strum chords.

"I can do picking stuff as well but I'm limited in my ability what I can do a bit, but I usually do figure out a way to do stuff, to emulate what others are doing," he said.

Like many left-handed guitarists, Mr Shanks played for many years with an ordinary right-hand guitar simply switched over, and rated learning to play a left-handed guitar at 20 as his greatest challenge.

"It's like a leftie struggling. It was really hard and frustrating for a while because you're so used to doing what you're doing a different way. But guitarists are pretty adaptive," he said.

Missing four fingers did not stop Mr Shanks from completing a Bachelor of Music at Central Queensland University.

He is also in a band, Chasing the Jeffrey, a commercial rock outfit which has recorded two albums but is now in semi-hiatus with members scattered between Cairns, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.


Some people notice Michael Shanks' missing fingers, others do not.
Some people notice Michael Shanks' missing fingers, others do not. Warren Lynam

Mr Shanks includes Jeff Buckley, KT Tunstall and progressive '70s rock groups such as Pink Floyd and Genesis among his influences.

Although he has co-written songs with band members, he prefers to play.

"I think you've got to write dozens of terrible songs before you write a good one. I think I gave up after two," he said.

Mr Shanks was busking at the Fisherman Road markets on the weekend, enjoying the opportunity to play in front of people again for the first time in months.

Now close to completing a chef's apprenticeship, he said music was a hard business to make money out of but he would always play.

"It's just fun to play. It feels good."

Topics:  buderim guitar guitarist hand left-hand

Ballina council votes to expand shark net trial

Ballina Shire Council has supported the trial of shark nets.

Today's vote is a big win for shark net supporters

'I will still surf on the North Coast': Greens MLC

Greens MLC Justin Field

He says shark nets give a false sense of security

North Coast film industry slams scrapping of course fee subsidies

Screenworks General manager Ken Crouch slams the government's VET shake-up.

Our booming screen industry is not a 'lifestyle choice'

Local Partners

Exterminate! Exterminate! The Daleks are coming

BCC Lismore will be screening a limited-run theatrical special presentation event of Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks animated series from Saturday, November 12.

This is one of the most celebrated Doctor Who stories

Top 5 in entertainment this week

FULL VOICE: Dorian Mode performing the Nat 'King' Cole Tribute Show.

Here's what's happening across the Northern Rivers this week

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

Top 5 events at Tropical Fruits 2016

IT'S ON: Tropical Fruits Festival over New Years.

Festival guide hits the streets this weekend

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals