Left Handed Guitar World

Left Handed Guitars FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions Answered!

Left-Handed Guitars FAQ

Welcome to my website. I am a left-handed guitarist from Australia.  I have been playing left-handed since I first started playing as a child and have played and tested hundreds of guitars.  This article will cover everything you need to know about left-handed guitars.  Finding left-handed guitars to buy is much easier now than it has ever been in the past.

 

Should I Learn Guitar Left-Handed?

If you are naturally left-handed, then yes.  No one these days would encourage anyone to write with their opposite hand.  Playing guitar left-handed is more common now than it has ever been.  If your strumming hand when you air guitar is left hand, you should embrace that.

Jimi Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar as a left-handed guitarist
Jimi Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar as a left-handed guitarist

 

Should I buy a left-handed guitar or flip a right-handed guitar?

I have always preferred playing a left-handed guitar over flipping a right-handed guitar, but there is no set rule.  My first electric guitar was a left-handed Squier Stratocaster, and it was a lot more natural “on” than an upside-down right-handed guitar.

The main reason why this is easier is that firstly, you will be able to reach further up the fretboard.  The second reason it’s preferred is your forearm will not bump or change the volume and tone controls accidentally.

 

What about the guitar heroes that were Lefties?

While many of the masters back in the day flipped their guitars upside down, it came out of a lack of available lefties. Not to mention that between 1950-1970 parents were “encouraged” to pressure their children to be right-handed dominant. Being left-handed had a certain stigma about it going back to the early days.

Albert King was one of the blues guitar masters.  He played a right-handed Gibson Flying V upside down.  Later in his career, he had a left-handed one made while still having the strings upside down.

You can flip the majority of dreadnaught acoustic guitars and nylon string Flamenco guitars with little to no effect on the playability. (think Kurt Cobain).

Below is a video of Albert King playing a custom Flying V made for a lefty, but with the strings upside down.

 

Is it hard to learn left-handed guitar?

Beginners who are naturally left-handed on guitar do not have a disadvantage when compared with a right-handed beginner.  Again, it comes down to your natural and preferred orientation.

One potential learning issue is reading guitar notation or Tablature. Guitar Tab is composed of mostly right-handed players given the percentage of right-handers vs left-handers. It won’t take you long to learn how to read guitar tab the right way even if the orientation of it seems unnatural at the start.

 

What percentage of guitar players are left-handed?

10% of the population in the World is left-handed. This percentage means that there are far fewer left-handed guitars in the World.  Over the last 15 years, left-handed guitarists won’t struggle so much to find a great instrument.

 

Where can I find Left-Handed Guitar Reviews?

Check my Left-Handed Guitar Reviews page for all of my reviews.

 

Famous left-handed guitarists

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Albert King
  • Otis Rush
  • Eric Gales
  • Tony Iommi
  • Dick Dale
  • Elizabeth Cotton
  • Zacky Vengeance
  • Elliot Easton
  • Tim Armstrong

 

Famous left-handed guitarists that play right-handed

Many famous guitarists opted to play right-handed. His decision was no doubt down to the lack of instruments back when they started playing.

  • Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)
  • David Bowie
  • Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)
  • Elvis Costello
  • Duane Allman (Allman Brothers)
  • Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
  • Janick Gers (Iron Maden)
  • Gary Moore

 

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler
Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits is naturally left-handed playing a right-handed guitar.

 

Is it hard to find parts for left-handed guitars?

Left-handed guitars are more available now than they have ever been. You can buy them online, in-store, or on the used market.  The idea of this website is to make finding them as easy as possible.  There are now more shops than ever carrying left-handed guitars.  Brands like Fender, Schecter, Gibson, and Gretsch are making more left-handed guitars now than ever.

 

Acoustic Left-Handed Guitars

Nearly every major acoustic brand in the World is making left-handed acoustic guitars.  Some of these brands include:

  • Cort
  • Martin
  • Maton
  • Cole Clark
  • Taylor

"Acoustic

Electric Left-Handed Guitars

Many electric guitar manufacturers have an extensive list of left-handed guitars in their catalog.  Some of these brands include:

  • Squier
  • Fender
  • Gibson
  • Epiphone
  • Yamaha
  • Pure Salem Guitars
  • Vola
  • Suhr
  • PRS (Paul Reed Smith)
  • Harley Benton
  • and many more

 

Dedicated Left-Handed Guitar Shops

There are several dedicated and great left-handed guitar shops around the World.  Some of these shops include:

Jerry’s Lefty Guitars (Florida, USA)

I have personally visited Jerry’s Lefty Guitars many times in Sarasota, Florida. Jerry and I have become good friends, and I visit his store every 2-3 years to produce videos of lefty guitars.  Here is an interview I did with Jerry from Jerry’s Lefty Guitars a few years ago.

 

 

Jerry carries a mix of more high-end instruments with a few at the more affordable end of the market.  Some brands include Suhr, Tom Anderson, Gretsch, Nik Huber, and much more.

 

South Paw Guitars (Texas USA)

South Paw Guitars is located in Texas and carries a lot of left-handed guitars you can not find anywhere else from Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, and a lot of mainstream brands.  Jimmy, who owns Southpaw Guitars, is a lovely guy and was the pioneer of the lefty guitar shops in the USA.  He carries a lot of fantastic instruments and is worth a look.

For more shops, visit my left-handed guitar shop location guide (coming soon).

 

Relearning Guitar Left-Handed

You can learn to play the guitar with your opposite hand.  Many people who do decide to swap to playing the opposite side do so because of injury.  The above interview with Jerry is the exact reason why he opened his shop.

How fast you will adapt comes down to your current knowledge of the guitar mixed with getting through the initial frustrations of feeling like you are starting again.  The advantage that a lot of experienced players have is precisely that Experience!

Keep and it, and you’ll adapt to the change and eventually be able to train your brain to swap everything around.

 

How to play a right-handed guitar left-handed

To play a right-handed guitar as a lefty, you have to options.  The first option is to do what Albert King did and just flip the guitar upside down and play it with the strings up the wrong way. What this means is the thinnest guitar strings will be closest to your chin if the guitar is on your lap.

While you might think this is a bit odd, many current players do this today.  Two examples of this are Doyle Bramhall II and Eric Gales.

The other option is to have the Nut rotated around and to resting the guitar to suit a regular left-handed orientation. Naturally, this means the thickest guitar strings will be closer to your chin when you have the guitar on your lap.

Here’s an example of Doyle Bramhall II playing a left-handed guitar with the strings upside down. Doyle is an excellent guitarist and songwriter who has toured with the likes of Eric Clapton. Please remember that there is no right or wrong way to get started.  Just get your fingers on the fretboard and do what feels right!

 

 

Can a left-handed person play a right-handed guitar

Yes.  It’s not uncommon for kids to learn on whatever they have available.  For older folks starting, I would suggest going with whatever feels the most natural.  New players who have increased ability in their right hand should play as a left-handed guitarist.  For those with better excellent motor skills in their left-hands, I would suggest playing as a righty.

The rhythm hand/strumming is the hand that defines your orientation as a left or right-handed guitarist.

 

What is the Difference Between a Left-Handed and Right-Handed Guitar?

Typically, they are the same guitar.  The lefty is a mirror image of the righty.  Additionally, this can also be true for guitar electronics as well.  Some guitars like Gibson and Tokai will wire their lefty guitars with right-handed electronics.  What this means is, your volume or tone controls will roll “backward” to turn them up/on.

Some guitar manufacturers like Squier, Fender, and Epiphone will wire their lefty guitars up the proper way where the volume controls wind forwards for on.  It just depends on the guitar brand.  Throughout the years, I have had a mix of both forward and backward rolling pots/potentiometers.

 

What does a left Handed Guitar Look Like?

Top: This is an example of a left-handed guitar.  It looks identical to a right-handed guitar in its mirror image. Bottom: This is a right-handed guitar of the same type.

Left-Handed Guitar

Right Handed Guitar Example

As you can see from this example above, both guitars are mirror images of themselves.  Fender makes it easy their guitars have forward rolling potentiometers.  Forward rolling potentiometers means that “on” is turning towards the headstock. The guitar pictured above is my Fender ’50s American Original Telecaster. Click the link to read the full review. You should check it out if you’re into classic, yet modern American Telecasters.

 

Do I Need Left Handed Pickups?

Left-handed pickups exist.  You will find left-handed pickups in a Fender Stratocaster, for example, loaded with the guitar at the time of purchase.

The good news is many are interchangeable. Not all left-handed guitars have left-handed pickups.  All humbuckers and P90 pickups can be installed in a left-handed guitar without any issues.

When buying a left-handed Fender Stratocaster, you will get the correct position pole pieces. Consequently, the magnets are designed in the opposite orientation to right-handed pickups.  Fenders’ Noiseless pickups can also be installed without any problems because their pole pieces are flat over the entire length of the pickup.

You can install a right-handed set of Stratocaster pickups into a left-handed guitar as I have done this many times without any problems.  For pickups like Lace Sensors, Joe Barden, or hot rail pickups, their configuration allows trouble-free installations on your left-handed guitar.

 

The Best Place to Buy Left-Handed Guitars Online

My choice for the best range of left-handed guitars online is:

 

Second Hand (used) Left-Handed Guitars

Buying a used guitar is always a great thing to do.  Unlike a lot of products, guitars get way cooler as they get older, and you can generally find yourself a bargain.  Many places sell left-handed guitars online and in person.  Depending on your location you can find quality used instruments at shops like:

  • Jerry’s Lefty Guitars (USA)
  • Guitar Centre (used wall)
  • Cash Converters (UK & Australia)
  • Woodstock Guitars (Denmark)
  • eBay, Gumtree, and Craigslist
  • Reverb (although not usually cheap!)
  • The Music Swop Shop (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Austin Vintage Guitars (US)
  • Music Go Round (US)

There are a million great guitar shops around the World that sell used guitars, and nearly all of them will have at least a few left-handed guitars.  Visit or browse the shops online in your area or country to find the best guitar to suit your needs.

 

Are Left-Handed Guitars More Expensive?

Most guitars companies do not charge extra for a left-handed guitar.  It used to be commonplace for the manufacturer to add up to 10% extra for a lefty guitar.  Most major brands and independent builders will price these instruments the same.  There are exceptions to this rule, though, as some guitar companies still think people are silly enough to spend an extra 10% on the same instrument made for a lefty.

The only time you might see this “lefty tax” is on a one-off run of guitars from a brand that has never made them before and who don’t plan on making them again.  This pricing structure used to be very common with acoustic guitars about 15 years ago.  Nowadays, I haven’t seen a vast difference in prices from their right-handed guitar counterparts.

Know another lefty? Please share 💙