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222 Great Road · Littleton MA 01460 · (978) 486-0112 · Interstate 495 Exit 31

Left-handed Instruments

We try to keep a selection of left-handed guitars and basses in stock. As of February 3, 2017 here's what we have for lefty players:

Click on one of the models or just scroll down for photos.

New Lefty Instruments

The lefty instruments described on this page are all new. Used and vintage lefties are on the Zach's Attic page.

Left-handed Acoustic Guitars

Martin OO-15M Lefty

This is one of our favorite and best-selling guitars. The "OO" size is extremely comfortable. Whether you are a smaller player or simply prefer a smaller-bodied instrument, the Martin OO-15M will not disappoint.

The OO-15M top, back and sides are solid mahogany for that rich Martin sound. The bridge and fingerboard are rosewood with a 1-11/16 inch nut. This guitar has a stunningly loud sound for a smaller instrument.

Yamaha FG720SL

The FG720SL is an affordable left-handed Dreadnaught with a solid spruce top. The back and sides are laminated mahogany with a cream-colored binding and black purfling around the body and neck.

About left-handed guitars

If you write or bat left-handed, you don't necessarily need a left-handed guitar. Playing guitar or bass is an ambidextrous activity that requires roughly equal skill in both your right and left hands. You may find that playing a right-handed guitar feels as normal as a left-handed instrument.

But if your left hand is strongly dominant it may feel more natural to hold a guitar with the neck pointing to your right. In that case, you have two choices: Either learn to play a right-handed guitar "upside-down" or purchase a left-handed guitar.

Jimi Hendrix was a lefty who famously played a right-handed guitar upside-down. (Even more amazing, he sometimes restrung his guitars to put the bass E string back on top - but he could also play just fine with the bass E string in its original position on the bottom!) The advantage to learning 'righty' is that most guitars you encounter will be right-handed - but there are some downsides. The body shape will be awkward if you play an acoustic cutaway or an electric. Controls for an electric will be on top and probably in your way. You will not be able to find method books or chord charts that fit the upside-down playing technique. And you will have a subtly different sound than a right-handed player because you will be striking the treble-E string first as you strum rather than the bass-E. A left-handed guitar solves many of these problems.

Some folks think they can simply restring a right-handed instrument to reverse the string order. This doesn't work well and is only suitable for inexpensive entry-level guitars. To learn why, check out these photos.

This is the nut on a left-handed guitar. Notice that the low-E string is on the right. The slot for that string has to be wide to accommodate the large diameter of the low-E. The high-E string is on the left. Notice that the slot for that string is very narrow, since the string diameter is small.

If you try to install strings in this order across a right-handed nut, the low-E string will not seat properly and may even crack the nut. The high-E string will vibrate loosely in the oversize slot and may buzz annoyingly.

Now look at the saddle:

Quality steel-string acoustic guitars have a compensated saddle as shown in this photo. Notice that the top of the saddle does not run in a straight line; the top ridge wiggles toward or away from the neck depending on the string it is supporting. Each string is a different weight and diameter and therefore flexes differently as it vibrates. The compensating saddle provides the correct resting point for each string so the guitar will play in tune.

If you install strings in the opposite order, the compensation will be incorrect and the guitar's intonation will suffer.

And less obviously, the internal bracing on an acoustic guitar will be all wrong for the new string locations. Sound and structural integrity will suffer.

The answer, of course, is to play a correctly-built left-handed guitar. That guitar will be an exact mirror image of a right-handed guitar in all respects, including the slots in the nut and the compensation on the saddle.