A Complete Guide To The Left Handed Acoustic Guitar For The Lefty Guitarist.
If you're left handed do you have to play a left handed guitar? Not neccessarily. In fact, I'm left handed and I've always played right handed. Probably because I never saw any left handed guitarists when I began playing (yes, I did start that long ago).
There are some real advantages to playing right handed if you're a lefty. One is that it's easier to learn how to play chords and scales with your dominant hand.
The poor "righty" has to learn all of those tricky chords with his/her weak hand. For some reason learning to strum or pick comes easier to people than forming chords. Most people don't have any trouble doing either with their weak hand.
The other most obvious reason is selection. It's hard to find a left handed acoustic guitar. Lefty's are only 10-13% of the total population. Most guitar shops can't afford to stock many guitars to serve such a small number of players.
There are a few shops that cater to left handed players. They tend to be in large urban areas. If you aren't in or visiting those areas you have to order the guitar that you're interested in.
So what do you do? If you're a brand new player you might try playing right handed. It worked for me, maybe it will work for you.
If that doesn't work you have a couple of options. You can take a right handed guitar and play it left handed. This breaks down in a couple of different ways. You can take a right handed guitar and fret it with your right hand.
Elizabeth Cotton is the most famous fingerpicker with this approach.
You can also play a right handed guitar left handed and reverse the order of the strings. Jimi Hendricks is an example of this approach.
Switching a guitar over creates its own problems. A Fender style electric is probably the easiest type to convert. All that is required for that is to have a new nut made and the saddles modified or replaced. The controls are in the wrong place but that hasn't slowed down Otis Rush.
Acoustic guitars come with a different set of problems. With an acoustic guitar the nut has to be replaced and the bridge has to be switched. This means pulling the saddle out of the bridge. The saddle slot is filled with a mixture of wood dust and glue and then re-cut at the opposite angle. You have to do that to have the intonation be correct.
After you (or, hopefully, a qualified guitar tech) does all of that, there is still a question of the bracing inside the guitar. The bracing strengthens the top, but it also has an affect on tone. I know of people who have had their bracing moved. It usually worked out O.K. but what a pain! And a big expense.
The Ultimate Option
We are living in the golden age of the guitar. There are a ton of quality guitars out there in all price ranges.For those who want to play left handed, the left handed acoustic guitar is the ultimate option.
Most guitar manufacturers make left handed acoustic guitars. These guitars are sometimes no more expensive than the right handed versions.
If you don't have a strong reason for converting a right handed guitar, you should seriously think about buying a lefty. It could be the best choice for a left handed acoustic guitar.
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