Why Isn’t There An Ambidextrous Guitar?

Last month I wrote an article describing why restringing a right handed guitar for a lefty was a bad idea.  I received a handful of amusing comments back from readers who recalled many of the troubles they had when they first started playing guitar and restrung their dad’s old right handed model upside down.  These comments got me thinking…

How hard could it be to design a guitar that could be played by both left and right handed players?  It’s probably the most rediculous idea I’ve ever had, but hey, wouldn’t it be fun to try and design something like that?!  Well I spent a lonely evening in Photoshop and came up with the ‘2-in-1’ .  Please don’t take this idea too seriously, it’s just a bit of fun…

The Premise

This is a guitar that through some very minor adjustments could be set up for either left handed or right handed players.  It would be aimed purely at beginner players and would be the only left handed guitar in the world that any store would be happy to stock more than one of.  The guitar would be mass produced and would be priced at the lower end of the market to make it appealable to new players who don’t neccessarily want to spend too much on a new hobby.

Imagine walking into a music store as a new lefty player and asking the salesman what left handed guitars he has in stock. “Oh, well I’ve got a couple of Strat copies in black, a Les Paul copy in black, and I think there’s a Tele copy somewhere, it’s black “.  Your heart sinks.  “But wait, I’ve also got these 2-in-1 models, if you give me 5 minutes I can switch them to being left handed and you can have one in any of these 10 colors I have in today “.  Woot!

Ambidextrous Guitar For Left or Right Handed Play

The Features

Symmetrical Design.  The guitar features a symmetrical design to ensure an easy playing experience when played both right and left handed.  One problem with restringing a right handed guitar upside down is poor reach to the upper frets due to the body obstructing access.   The double cutaway design here will eliminate this problem completely.

Volume and Tone Sliders.  A problem associated with playing a right handed guitar upside down is that the direction in which pots are operated will be reversed.  This dilemma has been overcome via the use of sliders – control of the sliders will always remain the same regardless of dexterity.  As the guitar is aimed at the beginner market it isn’t expected that controls will be operated during play, so locating them at this harder to reach position should not be a problem.  Levels can be set before beginning to play.

Pickup Selector Switch.  The switch has been sited in a central position behind the bridge to again ensure that operation remains universal regardless of dexterity.  Toward the neck to select the neck pickup, and away from the neck to select the bridge pickup.

Bridge.  The bridge will be fixed to ensure beginner friendliness.  It will also be slightly deeper than usual to allow for a greater range of intonation adjustment when switching playing direction.  The deeper than usual bridge would also result in the knife-edges being taller than usual in order to avoid the strings touching the bridge.

Nut. The nut will be held in place by a spring clamp mechanism.  To switch from a right handed to a left handed position it can simply be lifted up, rotated 180 degrees and snapped back into place, ready for restringing.  If this method is found to be too unstable then an alternative design feature could be to include an extra left handed nut with the guitar that could be easily snapped into place.

Strap Pegs.  The rear strap peg will be located at its usual position at the bottom of the guitar.  However the front peg will be centrally located beneath the neck and body join to ensure that the guitar can be comfortably worn lefty or righty.

Is it Feasible?

Would a company actually build a guitar like this?  Probably not!  At least not without a hell of a lot of refinement!  Due to the more complex design and unique parts the cost of production would be higher than that of a regular beginner guitar, and at best only 5-10% of players would actually bother to switch it over, in fact it would probably be cheaper for them to straight up buy a left handed guitar!  If such a small number of people would actually make use of the guitar’s big design feature it becomes just that – a design rather than a possibility.

At best this is just a fun idea that could certainly make for an interesting project build for someone! If anyone is handy with wood, why not have a go? 😉

Leave me a comment if you have any input on how we could make this work!  Also, show off your own crazy designs if you’ve come up with any!

7 replies
  1. Kieran
    Kieran says:

    Haha I like it! I'm not very good at design but I do want to eventually try building a guitar, I will keep this one in mind lol 😛

    Reply
  2. Dave
    Dave says:

    I think the issue here is with the neck, nut, and bridge that have to be made or adjusted to suit either left or right handed. It'd be viable if physics weren't out to get us…

    Reply

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