Converting your right-handed guitar to be a left-handed one?

A few things to know:

  • If you are just getting started, play right-handed if possible.  Remember that left-handed orchestral instruments are not a thing, but there are plenty of left-handed players.  Also instruction material and options in regards to later instruments will be very limited comparatively.  
  • It is likely less expensive just to buy a left-handed guitar if you really need to have one as opposed to modifying an existing guitar.
  • There is a lot involved - it is not as simple as reversing the strings

Ok - disclaimers aside....what needs to be done?

In order to convert a right-handed guitar, you will need to have the following done:

  1. A new nut needs to be cut (the white piece at the top of the neck holding the strings) in order to have the string height be correct and in order for the guitar to play properly.
  2. If it is an acoustic guitar, the bridge slot (which is angled in order to help intonation) will need to be filled with wood and then a new slot opposite in orientation will need to be cut.  Without this step the guitar will never play in tune
  3. You will also need a new saddle made to go with the new slot in order to have the correct bearing edge - again this is for intonation.
  4. Finally, the guitar will need a setup to ensure it is playing correctly now that it has been completely reversed.

With all this work done, it may make more sense just to get a different guitar, but it can be done correctly if need be and this will ensure you can get the most out of your guitar.  Of course you could always just flip the right-handed guitar.....Jimi played this way and it seemed to work for him!

July 12, 2022 — Ben Calhoun