In a world in which right-handed people constitute the majority, left-handed guitarists often wonder whether they should play a guitar built for left-handed players or if they should make do with a right-handed guitar. The answer can vary from guitarist to guitarist, but on the whole, if you're a lefty, you'll probably be better off with a model built for left-handed players.
Why Choose a Left-Handed Guitar?
Guitars designed for left-handed players differ from guitars designed for right-handed players, and which type you should choose depends on numerous factors. What applies to beginners might not apply to more experienced players. For example, some lefties might not need a left-handed guitar if they have already become accustomed to playing a right-handed model in a right-handed fashion.
Considerations for Lefties
Since musicians use both hands on a guitar, the issue of dominant handedness isn't as obvious. The norm is to use your dominant hand on the strings and your non-dominant hand on the fretboard. The first thing you should consider is whether you actually play left-handed, with your left hand on the strings. Some left-handed guitarists have already learned to play right-handed on a right-handed guitar. If you're one of these people, then changing to a left-handed model could prove awkward. If you're a beginner, you might want to start out on a left-handed guitar to ensure maximum confidence, skill, and comfort, both now and over the long haul.
Differences from Right-Handed Guitars
If you try to play a right-handed guitar left-handed, you will quickly run into problems. You'll also encounter different issues on an acoustic than on an electric. Either way, though, if you're a lefty who plays left-handed but uses a right-handed guitar, you'll encounter a great deal of difficulty playing an instrument that simply isn't designed for your hand dominance.
- Electric Guitars - On any left-handed guitar, whether electric or acoustic, the strings from heaviest to lightest are reversed from their right-handed positions, and the intonation settings for the strings are likewise different. Left-handed electric guitars also vary from right-handed electric guitars with regard to the position of the nut, the bar located at the top of the guitar's neck that aligns its strings. Slanted bridges are fixed at different angles on left-handed guitars than on right-handed guitars.
- Acoustic Guitars - Acoustic guitars have internal bracing to support the tension that the strings place on the neck. Heavier strings put more tension on the neck of an acoustic guitar than do lighter strings. Since the positions of the heavier strings to the lighter strings is opposite on a left-handed guitar from those on a right-handed guitar, the internal bracing must be likewise constructed to support the tension produced by how the guitar is strung.
Converting a Right-Handed Guitar
Since there are more right-handed guitars than left-handed models on the market, some left-handed players buy a right-handed guitar and try to convert it to left-handed. To do this, you must reverse the position of the strings, change the positions of the nut and possibly the bridge, and change the intonation settings for the strings. The reality, though, is that these changes are tricky even for experienced luthiers and can damage the structure of an acoustic guitar which requires adequate internal bracing for the reversed string positions.
Advantages for Lefties
Lefties have significant advantages as guitarists when they choose left-handed models. It's especially important that beginning lefty players choose lefty guitars in order to learn to play and fully reap the benefits of playing an instrument especially designed for them. Unless you've already been playing a right-handed model in a right-handed style for a number of years, do yourself a favor and choose a left-handed guitar.
- Since both hands are used to play guitar, beginners might not notice a preference, since each hand is busy on the instrument. As students advance, though, they discover that they will make more demands on the hand that picks the strings than the hand that works the fretboard. When lefties start from the ground up with a left-handed guitar, they can look forward to years of making the most of their dominant hand on their new instrument.
- If you like wild, funky, or irregular shapes in electric guitars, then you simply must get a dedicated lefty guitar in these models if you plan on playing left-handed. Otherwise, you can expect to be downright uncomfortable while you're playing.
Guitars for Lefties
Though more guitars are designed for right-handed players than left-handed players, lefty guitarists still have a good range of choices when it comes to instruments especially designed for them. You'll find a variety of lefty guitars including acoustic models, electric models, and acoustic-electric models with different kinds of features at a variety of price points.
Martin LX1EL Little Martin Left-Handed Electro-Acoustic
Hear the Music Play lists the Martin LX1EL as its top pick for the best acoustic guitar for left-handed players. The three-quarter size guitar, which has gained fame as Ed Sheeran's guitar of choice, costs around $350.
- Construction and Appearance - Lefties will love the warm, resonant tone given by the LX1EL's Sitka spruce top and mahogany HPL (High Pressure Laminate) sides. The instrument has a surprisingly big sound for its small size. The LX1EL also has a three-quarter size stratabond neck with a 20-fret richlite fingerboard. The guitar is a beauty with its boltaron rosette and natural, hand-rubbed finish.
- Desirable Features - As a small-bodied, three-quarter size electro-acoustic guitar that comes with a well-padded gig bag, it's a great choice for lefties who love to travel. The LX1EL is equipped with Fishman Isys T pickups that deliver its gorgeous Martin sound straight to your amplifier. The onboard electronics give guitarists a wide sonic palette with which to create unique sounds.
Fender Left-Handed Standard Telecaster
If you're a lefty who plays electric guitar, you can't go wrong with the Fender Left-Handed Standard Telecaster. Available for around $600, this iconic guitar is a magic mix of vintage style and modern innovation. LeftyFretz includes the Telecaster in its list of the best electric guitars for left-handed players.
- Construction and Appearance - The Fender Left-Handed Standard Telecaster has a solid alder body, a rapid-action maple neck with a gloss finish, and a maple fretboard. You'll find this guitar available in a variety of colors including Lake Placid Blue Gloss, Candy Apple Red Gloss, Brown Sunburst Gloss, and Black Gloss.
- Desirable Features - With two single-coil hot Fender Standard pickups on the neck and bridge, this guitar has a raw sound which has captivated musicians and fans alike since the 1950s. The C-shaped body of the modern Telecaster is designed for modern musicians who seek ergonomically designed guitars, and it's a feature that left-handed guitarists will definitely appreciate.
Rogue RG-624 Left-Handed Dreadnought Acoustic
If you're a left-handed beginner, you'll want to look into the RG-624 Left-Handed Dreadnought Acoustic. At only $70, the RG-624 is a good, solid choice for lefties on a budget who want to learn to play guitar.
- Construction and Appearance - The RG-624 features a rosewood fretboard, a laminate spruce top, and laminate mahogany back and sides. The guitar has a vintage look and feel with its non-cutaway dreadnought body, dovetail neck joint, rosette, and glossy finish.
- Desirable Features - Beginning lefty guitarists will find much to like about this guitar. The RG-624 comes with Martin strings and die-cast tuners. On Musician's Friend, the guitar has a ranking of 4.5 stars based on 58 reviews. Customers praise the guitar for its ease of tuning and good sound, and they are glad that the RG-624 exists as an affordable option for left-handed guitarists.
Fender Sonoran SCE Electro Acoustic
Dawson's Music lists the Fender Sonoran SCE Electro Acoustic on its roundup of the best acoustic guitars for lefties. This distinctive guitar, which you can buy for around $450, is a real head-turner both with regard to its appearance and its sound.
- Construction and Appearance - With a design inspired by the fun feel of Southern California, the Sonoran SCE is a stylish, single-cutaway dreadnought with a solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides, and a C-profile maple neck. The bridge is a vintage Viking style designed by Fender. The guitar has a rosewood fingerboard, a bridge with a bone saddle, and scalloped X bracing that gives it extra resonance.
- Desirable Features - The Sonoran SCE's onboard electronics consist of a Fishman Isys III pickup system which you can use to great advantage while plugged to control your tone and your volume. Lefties will appreciate the guitar's cutaway style, which will let them reach the highest frets while playing.
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Left-Handed
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is a highly acclaimed electric guitar that left-handed beginners are sure to appreciate. Available for around $500, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard earned high praise from Guitar Fella as the "gold standard" of beginners' guitars and the "patron saint" of new guitarists.
- Construction and Appearance - The Epiphone Les Paul Standard has a solid mahogany body with a maple top, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. While the body shape is inspired by the distinctive look of the Gibson Les Paul guitar, the Epiphone is much more affordable.
- Desirable Features - Lefties will find the Epiphone Les Paul Standard a comfortable guitar to play. The guitar comes equipped with two Alnico humbucking pickups as well as knobs that are configured for quick, easy adjustments of your volume and tone. You'll also appreciate the reliable hardware on the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, such as die-cast tuners and adjustable saddles on a Tune-O-Matic bridge.
Fender Left-Handed Standard Stratocaster
Hear the Music Play names the Fender Left-Handed Standard Stratocaster as their top pick for the best electric guitar for lefties. This guitar, which will cost you around $600, is a time-honored classic model that offers a seamless blend of vintage and modern features.
- Construction and Appearance - The Fender Left-Handed Standard Stratocaster has a vintage-shaped alder body with shielded cavities that lighten its weight. This body is also contoured, both for comfort and to lessen the guitar's hum. The neck of the guitar is C-shaped which also enhances ease of play. This left-handed Stratocaster is available in Brown Sunburst, Black, and Lake Placid Blue.
- Desirable Features - Lefties will enjoy the placement of the tremolo with a high-mass block on the bridge to pump up your sustain. The guitar comes equipped with three single-coil Fender Standard pickups that give the Strat its timeless, distinctive tone. If you're a lefty, you'll also like the well-placed knobs, one that controls volume and two that control your tone.
Ibanez GRX70QA Left-Handed
The Ibanez GRX70QA is a great choice if you're a left-handed, beginning guitarist on a budget. This guitar is mentioned on LeftyFretz as one of the best beginner's electric guitars for under $300, and this particular instrument can be purchased for around $250.
- Construction and Appearance - The body of the Ibanez GRX70QA is made of basswood with an attractive quilted maple top. The guitar has a maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and chrome hardware. You will love the instrument's Trans Red Burst color scheme, which beautifully complements the quilted-style wood grain.
- Desirable Features - Lefties can get all the hard rocking power they want with the Ibanez GRX70AQ's FAT6 tremolo bridge and two PSND humbucking pickups. Despite this guitar's lower price point, it delivers a strong, consistent tone and plenty of control over your sound, no matter what genre you like to play. You'll also enjoy the five-way pickup switch, which will let you experiment with countless sonic possibilities.
Breedlove Discovery Concert Left-Handed
For lefties who want a simple, elegant acoustic guitar with no onboard electronics, the Breedlove Discovery Concert has a lot to offer. It's affordable, too, and is available for around $300.
- Construction and Appearance - The Breedlove Discovery Concert has a concert-sized body, which means a narrower waist than the larger dreadnought models. The guitar's top is made of Sitka spruce, and its back and sides are made of mahogany. The guitar has a natural gloss finish and chrome tuning machines.
- Desirable Features - The Discovery Concert is known for having a clear, warm, balanced tone, whether you prefer strumming or fingerpicking. The guitar's more compact size and slimmer neck make it easy and comfortable for lefties to play, even lefties with little hands. The Discovery Concert also has a pinless bridge that reduces strain on its saddle.
Taylor 814ceLH Electro Acoustic Left-Handed
If you're a lefty who's in the market for a high-end acoustic-electric guitar, you might want to check out the Taylor 814ceLH. This gorgeous instrument costs around $3,500, and with its top-notch quality and superlative tone, it's a guitar you can cherish for a lifetime.
- Construction and Appearance - Taylor uses only the highest-quality tonewoods to construct the 814ceLH. The guitar, which has a gorgeous Venetian cutaway, is made of solid Indian rosewood, and its top is made of Sitka spruce. The 814ceLH's size is Grand Auditorium, which falls in between the traditional dreadnought and concert sizes and which works well for both fingerpicking and flatpicking. The Grand Auditorium is as wide and deep as a dreadnought but has the narrower waist of a concert model.
- Desirable Features - Lefties will love the size and feel of the 814ceLH, since it has enough depth to provide amazing resonance along with a narrow waist that makes it comfortable to play. The guitar comes equipped with Taylor ES2 (Expression System 2), sophisticated onboard electronics that make the guitar sound fabulous when you are plugged, along with easily accessible knobs to refine your tone. The guitar also has an exquisite tone when it's unplugged, with stunning depth, clarity, and balance.
Range of Choices for Lefties
Since numerous guitar manufacturers have recognized the importance of designing dedicated guitars for left-handed players, lefties have access to a good selection of instruments that will suit their needs. With careful research and consideration, you're sure to find a guitar that's perfect for both your tastes and your budget.