Left-Handed Guitars FAQ
Welcome to my website. I am a left-handed guitarist from Australia. I have been playing left-handed since I started playing and have played, tested, and reviewed 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 you strum an air guitar with your left hand, you should embrace it.
Should I buy a left-handed guitar or flip a right-handed guitar?
I have always preferred playing left-handed rather than flipping right-handed, 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 this is easier is that you will be able to reach further up the fretboard. The second reason it’s preferred is that your forearm will not accidentally bump or change the volume and tone controls.
What about the guitar heroes that were Lefties?
While many of the masters back in the day flipped their guitars upside down, it came from 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 made a left-handed one 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 upside-down strings.
Is it hard to learn left-handed guitar?
Naturally, left-handed beginners on guitar do not have a disadvantage compared to right-handed beginners. Again, it comes down to your natural and preferred orientation.
One potential learning issue is reading guitar notation or Tablature. The guitar Tab is composed of mostly right-handed players, given the percentage of right-handers vs left-handers. It won’t take long to learn how to read the 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 out my YouTube channel for more left-handed guitar 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 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
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. This website aims 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:
- Cole Clark
Electric Left-Handed Guitars
Many electric guitar manufacturers have an extensive list of left-handed guitars in their catalog. Some of these brands include:
- Pure Salem Guitars
- 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 visited Jerry’s Lefty Guitars often 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 in July 2022.
Jerry carries a mix of high-end instruments, with a few at the more affordable end of the market. Some brands include Suhr, Tom Anderson, Gretsch, and Nik Huber.
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 many mainstream brands. Jimmy, who owns Southpaw Guitars, is a lovely guy and pioneered 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 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 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, flip the guitar upside down, and play it with the strings up the wrong way. This means the thinnest guitar strings will be closest to your chin if the guitar is on your lap.
While you might think this is 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 rest 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 upside-down strings. Doyle is an excellent guitarist and songwriter who has toured with 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 suggest going with whatever feels the most natural. New players who have increased ability in their right hand should play as left-handed guitarist. I would suggest playing as a righty for those with better excellent motor skills in their left hands.
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.
As you can see from this example above, both guitars are mirror images of themselves. Fender makes it easy for their guitars to 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. If you’re into classic yet modern American Telecasters, you should check it out.
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.
You will get the correct position pole pieces when buying a left-handed Fender Stratocaster. Consequently, the magnets are designed in the opposite orientation to right-handed pickups. Fenders’ Noiseless pickups can also be installed without problems because their pole pieces are flat over the entire pickup length.
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. Their configuration allows trouble-free installations on your left-handed guitar for pickups like Lace Sensors, Joe Barden, or hot rail pickups.
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 many products, guitars get way cooler as they age, and you can generally find 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.
You might only see this “lefty tax” on a one-off run of guitars from a brand that has never made them before and who doesn’t plan on making them again. This pricing structure was 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.