Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Myth. It's Too Expensive/ How To Find A Left Handed Guitar/ Electric Guitars

When I was first learning how to play the guitar I had a cheap department store acoustic. It was a right handed guitar, so I filed the nut and saddle and restrung it for left handed playing. I tried to learn how to play left handed and maybe I just didn't give it enough time to get used to it but eventually gave up. I went to a music store that was owned by a friend and asked how to find a left handed guitar. He didn't have any in stock and said that it would take several weeks to get one. There also wasn't much of a choice back then. That was in 1981. I bought a right handed Takamine off the shelf on credit.

I used the Takamine to teach myself how to play upside down. After about a year with the Takamine I traded it in for a Martin. I have been playing Martins ever since. During that time a friend loaned me a right handed electric Les Paul. I fiddled around with it somewhat but never felt comfortable with it with the knobs being on the top of the body. They interfered with my picking hand. I'll talk more about electric guitars in a minute.

I read guitar forums occasionally and talk with other guitar players. Whenever the subject of left handed guitars comes up I read or hear the same comment. They are more expensive. That is a myth. It may have been true in 1981 but with the Internet where you can get most anything, I just don't see expense as being the case. You can even find cheap Basses on the Internet. For you strictly left handed guitar players (not upside down players like myself), Who don't know how to find a left handed guitar, there are plenty of web sites that sell them at reasonable prices. Most may be used but who cares. Sometimes used is better. Any Thing Left Handed is a site that provides links to several guitar sales sites. Southpaw Guitars may be the the one stop site to go to if you're looking for a left handed guitar. If you can find a quality left handed guitar for under $1000, that's a good thing. The two web sites mentioned above can do that. As for electric guitars, I get e-mails asking if this site is for acoustic only because of the title of the blog. I only use the word acoustic for the search engines, and I play an acoustic guitar so I know more about them than electric guitars. It doesn't imply that this is an acoustic site only. Which brings us to the problems of playing a right handed electric guitar left handed upside down. The dreadful knobs. They will most likely be on top of the guitar body where your hand and wrist are positioned. You will inadvertently turn the knobs while playing or they will just be in your way. Also there's a problem with the cord if it's plugged in the front of the guitar. It will be in the way. The cord problem can be fixed pretty easily by running it to the back of the body and securing it with ol' reliable duct tape. The knobs are a different story. When I played the electric guitar for a short period, I made sure that I was aware of the knobs and avoided touching them while playing. It takes getting used to but it can be done.

A more expensive way to customize an electric guitar for playing left handed upside down is to buy a left handed guitar and restring it for right handed playing. Problem solved. The great bluesman Albert King did this. You are playing comfortably and the knobs and chord are on the bottom of the body where they should be.

Ben Willis demonstrating the "left handed upside down guitar method".


A chord

B Chord

C Chord

D Chord

E Chord

F Chord

G Chord

B Barre Chord

D Barre Chord

Contact Info

E-mail Ben Willis at
bwillismusic@gmail.com