Learning and playing a musical instrument should always be a pleasurable experience. The guitar is by far one of the most popular instruments because of its portability, versatility and relative ease of learning. For every guitarist there is a brand, style and sound that will fit perfectly. Or is there?
One of the perplexing aspects of our world is the preference given to right-handed people. Right-handed people make up the vast majority of our world; correspondingly, everything from desks to scissors is designed primarily for right-handers. Sure, there are some products for lefties, but they’re seemingly thrown in as an afterthought. This is also sadly true of guitars. Let’s look at some of the challenges southpaws face with purchasing guitars – and then we’ll discuss some great solutions.
Where to find a left-handed guitar
Although they are usually harder to find, most reputable guitar makers have left-handed guitars available. Most music stores will have one or two available and can order left-handed counterparts to what they have on display. Some retailers may charge you more for these than their right-handed models. Nothing personal, it’s a case of supply-and-demand. Still, you should not have to pay substantially more for a leftie model. In fact, many online retailers offer their left-handed product at the same price as right handed. But, do give your local shop an opportunity to price-match. Generally, they would rather make the sale and keep you as a customer even if their profit on the individual item is lower.
You also have the option of using a right-handed model and playing it “upside-down” (a la Paul McCartney) or with the strings reversed. The advantage is immediate availability. That is the ONLY advantage. Some right-handed guitars, especially electrics, look downright awkward and are even more awkward to play left-handed.
An added frustration is that, in order to play a right handed guitar left handed, the strings have to be expertly installed, tuned, and set up. This is an added expense. Right-handed acoustics are generally not so awkward looking when played by a southpaw, but it can still look and sound wrong if not set up correctly.
The heart of the matter
Let’s get to the bottom of what really matters: the music. It’s not always about the instrument. Great music, like most other art forms, comes from the heart. Your instrument is an extension of you. Playability of your instrument is so important because you want to express yourself freely. Having the wrong instrument can hamper your ability to express yourself. In time, it can lead to discouragement. You may wonder if you have what it takes. You may even put the guitar down.
Don’t be discouraged. Understand that it is best to start with the right guitar. Yes, it’s likely that you won’t be able to get the model you want right away. It may cost a little more. But in the long run, you are much more likely to stay in the game if you play an instrument the way it was designed to be played.