Left Handed Guitar

left handed guitar
Paul Gilbert: Left-Handed Guitar Insanity, ’95

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Is there a difference between a right handed and left handed guitar?

I’m aware that right handers hold their guitars with the neck in the left hand and left handers hold the guitar with the neck in the right hand.

But if you take out the strings and swap them around will there still be a difference?

Yes, there are several differences that prevent you from simply stringing the guitar backwards. It *can* be done, but there are some adjustments necessary…not always practical to do. The slots that the strings pass through at the top of the neck (the “nut”) are cut for the different widths of the strings. These would need to be re-cut if you swapped the strings. The bridge is slanted for the proper intonation. Electric guitars generally have adjustable intonation, but acoustics don’t. You would need to re-mount the bridge saddle at the opposite angle. Of course there are obvious differences like the pick-guard would be on the top…not protecting the finish anymore. Any electronic controls will be in inconvenient places. Some acoustic guitars have internal bracing that’s different on the bass and treble side….being backwards, you wouldn’t get optimum tone.
I don’t know if you’re asking this question out of pure curiosity or because you’re considering learning to play left handed. If you are left handed, you should be told that lefties are fully capable of learning on right handed (normal) guitars. Both hands do equal work…just like on a piano or a band instrument. Whether you’re left or right handed, your off-hand is going to feel clumsy at first. I think a lot of lefties assume that this clumsiness is due to playing a right handed guitar….but imagine how hard it is for rightys to do intricate fingering of chords with their left hands!

There are other good reasons to play a standard guitar. They are far easier to find. Although most manufacturers now offer left hand guitars, they aren’t available in all models….so you have fewer choices. Since there are fewer actually stocked in stores, you often have to special order…which means buying without getting a chance to try them out.

All the instructional material, tab, and chord diagrams will be backward for left handed guitars…now *there’s* a handicap!

For all these reasons, I urge all left handed people to give a standard guitar a fair chance before ever considering a left hand model. The vast majority of left handed guitarists play normal guitars…the ones who play left hand guitars just are more noticeable.

left handed guitar