Yes, you can change a right-handed guitar to a left. It’s not only possible but it’s also easy!
All you have to do is flip the headstock so that the strings are now on the other side of the neck. The tuning pegs will be in different places. Some guitars need new or additional components to make everything work properly though.
In this article, I’ll take you through the steps of how to change a right-handed guitar into a left-handed one.
So without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is The Difference Between a Left- and Right-Handed Guitar?
When it comes to playing a left-handed guitar, there are some things that you need to be aware of.
First off, the strings will be on the opposite side of your strumming hand. If you’re used to playing right-handed guitars then this is where it gets really different for you!
The second thing is about how chords work in relation to the strings. The order of your fingers on a chord will be different if you’re used to playing right-handed guitars.
Lefties are actually in good company when it comes to guitarists that play left-handed too!
Both Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney played lefty, even though they were both naturally right-handed.
A quick overview of the difference:
- Right-Handed Guitar – You have your left hand on the fretboard and right-hand strumming.
- Left-Handed Guitar – You have your right hand on the fretboard and left-hand strumming.
So to point out the obvious, a left-handed guitar is the same as a right-handed guitar but reversed.
If you reverse a left-handed model in front of a mirror, the mirrored image will be a right-handed guitar.
The thickest string is still at the top, the tuning order remains the same, and the control arrangement is exactly the same.
The easiest method to distinguish between a left-handed and right-handed guitar is to hold the instrument vertically in front of you and look at the strings:
- The thickest string is on the right if the guitar is a lefty.
- If it’s on the left, it’s a right-handed model.
Is My Guitar Left- or Right-Handed?
How can you tell whether a guitar is left-handed or right-handed with certainty?
The best way to do that is by checking the thickest string’s position on the body. If it’s located at the top right, you’re dealing with a left-handed guitar.
On guitars where this isn’t possible (for example Washburns), there are two other options:
If your guitar has an electronic tuner installed, you can check the image on it while looking at your guitar from behind.
If a right-handed model is reversed in front of a mirror, the mirrored image will be left-handed. In this case, though, make sure that there’s no electronic tuner installed since they work differently for each side!
How Can I Change A Right-Handed Guitar Into A Left?
If you want to change your right-handed guitar into a left, there are multiple ways of doing it.
The first option is the hard way: You take off all strings and flip them around (meaning that they go on the other side). This method works only if the headstock isn’t glued to the neck.
Option two is a bit easier: You flip your guitar horizontally so that it’s in right-handed mode but upside down.
This method works for both left and right guitars!
The only downside of this option is that you’ll have an increased risk of mechanical damage since it involves adjustments on stings, truss rods, and pickups.
Option three is the easiest option but requires a bit of planning ahead: You buy a left-handed guitar from the get-go.
It’s not much cheaper than buying it in a right-handed mode so if you’re on a budget this isn’t an option for you!
Do Left-Handed Guitars Cost More?
It’s a common assumption that left-handed guitars cost more.
In reality, though, there are no significant price differences between the two models! The only difference is in their design and construction which means they look different but have exactly the same features.
Left-handed players get to enjoy playing guitar from day one since it comes prestrung. Since right-handed models are the standard, you have to pay extra to get it prestrung.
You can rest easy knowing that you’re not paying more for your guitar!
The only downside is that there might be a lack of choice in lefty guitars which means your favorite model might not come in this configuration.
This is why it’s important to choose your left-handed guitar well before you make the purchase.
Things To Keep In Mind
The Bridge Saddle is the tiny strip of either plastic or bone (sometimes ivory or tusq) that is positioned in the bridge and which, while it may not appear like much, is an essential element of your guitar.
The bridge saddle transmits vibrations generated when plucked or strummed to the bridge and soundboard.
It also aids in spacing the strings and regulating their height.
The bridge saddle also has a few extra features, including the recessed area beneath the high E string, which lowers the surface area of contact, and a shortening of the length of the string.
The B string, on the other hand, has a recessed region to the front of the saddle that extends the B string.
The first two strings’ saddles are shaped differently than the lower ones, which compensates for the non-wound strings’ lack of mass.
The gradual thickening of the G to Low E String’s first point of contact is also noteworthy.
The bridge saddle’s height may also be adjusted to compensate for the guitar’s fingerboard radius, which though rounded to match the instrument’s radius nevertheless rises in height as the strings become thicker to avoid the lower strings from buzzing against the frets.
In the end, there’s a lot of compensation for intonation and playability in your guitar’s bridge if you just flip the strings, most of these characteristics are lost, and in many cases, they’re actually working against you.
How To Change The Bridge Saddle
The procedure entails removing the existing bridge saddle and rerouting it on a reversed angle.
Unless you have prior experience doing this type of job, you should leave it to a professional luthier.
The possibility of causing serious damage to your guitar if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing is very significant.
If you must do it yourself, you should wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from dust and debris.
There are several methods but the easiest one is using a router table with an appropriate bit that’s similar in size to the original bridge saddle.
The process can be made easier by clamping down the guitar body so as not to move it while routing.
This method doesn’t work for all guitars, but with a little experimenting and research, you should be able to find the most suitable one if your guitar is not an exception.
If this step is too much of a hassle or risk, there’s always option two: You buy a left-handed guitar from the start.
This way you’re sure to get the best out of your guitar right away, and it also has the advantage that there’s no need for additional adjustments or modifications after purchase!
Do left-handed people need special guitars?
You don’t have to own a left-handed guitar at all. You may even convert a right-handed guitar into a left-handed one simply by flipping it over.
However, some guitars are designed asymmetrically, so if you play them upside down, it will feel strange.
Left-handed guitars are not a necessity for lefties, but they have some advantages:
They come prestrung.
If you’re right-handed and want to play guitar with your dominant hand on the thickest string, a left-handed one is exactly what you need!
You can easily convert any right-handed model into a left-handed one, and it doesn’t even require a lot of practice.
There is no difference in price between left and right guitars so you don’t have to pay more for the privilege!
Lefty Guitars Are Harder To Find?
Some guitar models are harder to find if you’re looking for them as a left-handed person.
However, there are plenty of guitars available in the left-handed mode so the only problem is finding your favorite model!
There are no significant price differences, so if you’re on a budget, don’t worry about this.
Left-handed people can play any guitar they want!
As you can see, there are multiple ways of changing a right-handed model into a lefty one!
The only downside is that some models might not be available in this configuration and finding them could prove difficult.
Make sure to do your research before you decide to go for a left-handed guitar.
If you’re on a budget, the easiest option is buying the same model in its original configuration and then flipping it horizontally!
This way, you don’t have to worry about damaging anything because there are no changes needed when switching guitars.
Of course, if this method doesn’t suit you, there are other options available to you.
Choose the one that fits your style and budget best!
Left-handed guitars might be harder to find but they’re not too different from their righty counterparts price wise so if money isn’t a problem – go for it!
Also, don’t forget about the option where you can convert a right-handed model into the left-handed one – it’s not difficult, and it doesn’t take too much time either.