Looking for your first acoustic or classical left handed guitar? This article should serve as a good primer to help you understand the various different styles of acoustic guitars. Head to the bottom of the page for an in-depth list of the best beginner left handed acoustic guitars, sorted by price bracket.
If you’re looking to buy for a child or just have smaller hands, you may like to check out my article on 3/4 Sized Left Handed Acoustic Guitars.
Acoustic or Electro-Acoustic Guitar ?
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide whether you want a traditional acoustic or an electro-acoustic guitar. The main difference between the two being that you can plug your electro-acoustic directly into an amp, whereas with a traditional acoustic you will need to use a microphone to amplify the sound when playing live.
A great advantage to starting out with an electro-acoustic guitar is that many will come with a built-in tuner. If your guitar doesn’t come with a tuner I highly recommend a clip-on headstock tuner such as a Snark – find out more about these in Part 7 of the Newbie Guide.
After reading this you may be thinking of just buying an electro-acoustic. Hell, it’s the same as an acoustic with a few extra bells and whistles right? This is true, but these extra gadgets obviously come at a price. Think carefully about what you need.
Steel String or Nylon String Guitar?
There is a common misconception that new players should start out on a nylon string guitar due to the strings being much easier on the fingers. My advice is to start out on the instrument that best reflects your musical tastes. Likewise, if you ultimately prefer electric guitar, there’s no need to start out on an acoustic. For some reason, many people feel like acoustic is a stepping stone on the way to playing electric. If you are unsure, just take a look at what your favorite artists use and go down that route.
Steel string guitars are best for rock, pop country, and to be honest, most other styles. The most popular style of steel string acoustic guitar is the Dreadnought shape (above left) as it can handle pretty much any style of music and is a good size for most people. For most new players, a Dreadnought steel string acoustic is the right choice. For a more in-depth look at the various different body sizes available, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
If you want to play classical, folk or flamenco/latin style guitar then you will need a Nylon string Classical (shown above right with cutaway) model. While steel string acoustics have a crisp, bright tone, classical guitars tend to sound a lot more mellow.
Types of Wood
The main element which will affect the sound coming from your guitar besides the shape is the wood that it is made from. However, as a beginner this is not something you should be desperately concerned about. There is a difference, but to an untrained ear most acoustics will sound more or less the same! If you’d like to learn more about guitar woods, head to the bottom of the page for extra information.
Enough chat, let’s look at a few good examples of left handed acoustic guitars…
In every price bracket, I’ve arranged the guitars in order of my personal preference. Classical options are shown separately at the end of each list.
It’s worth noting that with acoustics more so than any other style of guitar, you should really try to spend as much as you can comfortably afford. It’s a false economy to buy something cheap now, only to spend more later on getting the guitar you should have chosen in the first place.
Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Around or Under $100
- Omega Classical Kit – link
Best Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $200
- Ibanez PF15L – link
- Oscar Schmidt OG2 – natural or black or with cutaway
- Stagg SA30D – black or natural
- Jay Turser JTA424 – link
- Johnson JG-624 – link
- Stagg C546 Classical – link
Neal Says: In this price bracket I’ve placed the Ibanez PF15L at the top of the list. It looks fantastic, is built from quality materials, and the famous Ibanez name on the headstock means it will hold its value very well. For under $200 it’s going to be hard to beat the Ibanez!
Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $300
- Fender CD-100 – link
- Ibanez AW400L – link
- Ibanez AEG10L Black – link
- Alvarez AD60L – link
- Taylor BT-1 Baby – link
Neal Says: This is the price range at which we begin to see guitars from the bigger, well known brands (and if it were me personally, I’d start my search here!). The Fender CD-100 is pretty much the go-to beginner guitar for southpaw players – it’s affordable, you’ve got the big name on the headstock and it sounds great. It’s our best selling lefty acoustic by a long way and is a very good choice!
The Ibanez AW400 just scrapes into this price bracket at a shade under $300. But if you can stretch to the full $300 this should also be high on your list, as it it the very first acoustic in this guide to feature the highly sought after solid wood top. Head to the bottom of this page for more info on solid wood versus laminated wood, but in a nutshell – a solid top acoustic will give a slightly improved sound quality over cheaper laminated options. The Alvarez is also another great choice featuring a solid wood top.
The Ibanez AEG10 has a slightly smaller, thinner body than the others on this list, making it a little bit more manageable for smaller framed individuals. It comes in a sleek black finish and includes electronics and a built in tuner for the ultimate in convenience.
Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $400
- Fender CD-100CE – link
- Yamaha FG720SL – link
- Ibanez AEG18L – link
- Taylor BBT Big Baby – link
- Dean Exotica Quilt – link
- Dean Performer – Black
- Dean Espana Classical – link
Neal Says: In the previous price bracket I picked the Fender CD-100 as the best buy. For a little bit extra cash here, the CD-100CE adds electronics/tuner and a cutaway for improved upper fret access – once again the Fender is a great choice. Another top pick in this bracket is the solid wood topped FG720SL – Yamaha is famed for producing guitars that seem to punch well above their price – and this model is no exception.
The Ibanez and Taylor both feature slightly smaller/slimmer bodies, making then a great choice for smaller framed players. And if you like to stand out from the crowd, the Dean Exotica is a real conversation starter with its amazing quilted ash body!
Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under or Around $500
- Taylor GS Mini – Sapele or Mahogany
- Seagull S6 – link
- Epiphone ’64 Texan Limited Edition – link
- Epiphone EJ-200SCE Limited Edition – Natural or Sunburst
- Fender Sonoran SCE – link
- Dean Exotica Bubinga – link
Neal Says: Now we’re getting into the real quality picks – anything here will potentially last you for life. Personally, I would take the Taylor GS Mini (in fact, I did! I have one hanging on my wall right now!). These guitars are slightly smaller than usual, making them ideal for new players – but they sound every inch as big as a full sized acoustic. In my opinion, the GS Mini is the best beginner acoustic guitar – period. Unless you’re 6’5 with shovels for hands…
For full sized options, the multiple award winning Seagull S6 is fantastic value for money with its solid cedar top. Seriously, people rave about these – this is the one to consider is the GS Mini is too small for you.
The Epiphones are both limited editions, so these will make a nice investment if you’re looking for something a little bit more special. My personal choices aside, you cannot go wrong with any of the guitars in this price bracket.
So there you have it! The best left handed acoustic guitars for beginners. Hopefully you’ll have spotted something that interests you amongst these choices.
Up until now we’ve looked at things at a fairly basic level, with the aim of getting you into guitar as quickly as possible. But for those of you who really want to nerd out and learn a little more about what you’re about to buy, here’s a few more pieces of additional information that you may like to consider.
Solid Wood versus Laminate Acoustic Guitars
Alrighty! Broken down into its component parts, an acoustic guitar body is made up of a top, sides and a back section. As a general rule of thumb, more expensive guitars will be constructed entirely of solid woods, whereas cheaper guitars might be composed of laminate wood sections, or a mix of solid and laminate parts. Due to the low price of the guitars I’ve recommended above the majority are going to be full laminate, or laminate back/sides with a solid top.
Solid wood is exactly as it sounds – one solid piece of wood. Whereas laminate is constructed of several thin layers of wood – usually a more expensive piece on top and cheaper layers underneath. As I’ve already mentioned above, as a beginner you really aren’t going to notice too much of a difference, but it’s generally accepted that solid wood sounds better than laminate. Why? Laminate doesn’t resonate as well, giving a slightly thinner sound.
The big advantage to a laminate guitar however is the much lower cost, as well as the fact that they will be much more resistant to changes in humidity.
If budget permits, try and opt for a guitar with a solid top. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it…
Acoustic Guitar Body Sizes
Acoustic guitars come in a seemingly endless variety of different shapes and sizes and you’ll want to take this into deliberation when buying your first guitar. Various shapes and styles are suited to different genres and so this can be an important consideration to make. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common shapes.
The most popular acoustic guitar body shape. Dreadnought guitars have large body shapes which will equate to a louder sound being produced. Due to the deeper soundbox the Dreadnought style will produce a very bassy, boomy sound. For the average player, this is the right style of guitar to go for. This is however a fairly large guitar and may be a handful for a smaller framed individual.
Grand Concert Guitars
The Grand Concert (GC) body style is the major body style most directly derived from the classical guitar. It has the thinnest soundbox and the smallest overall size of the major styles, making it very comfortable to play but also one of the quietest. Its smaller size makes it suitable for younger or smaller-framed players.
Grand Auditorium Guitars
The Grand Auditorium (GA) is very similar in design to the Grand Concert, but slightly wider and deeper. Many GA-style guitars also have a convex back panel to increase the volume of space in the soundbox without making the soundbox deeper at the edges, which would affect comfort and playability. The result is a very balanced tone, comparable to the GC but with greater volume and dynamic range and slightly more low-end response, without sacrificing the ergonomics of the classical style, making these body styles very popular.
Jumbo Guitars are designed to be loud and full of bass. It’s basically similar in function and usage to the dreadnaught. In some situations, the mid frequencies get lost, overpowered by the bass. Again, due to its size, it may not be right for a beginner player, or a small framed person. Ideal for use in large open environments where sound projection is important.
Classical Nylon String Guitars
Classical guitars are characterized by the use of nylon strings. Typically, these instruments have a wide neck and a very flat fingerboard. Some “old school” instructors feel that this is the only guitar a beginning guitarist should consider as the lighter string tension and nylon material are easy on the fingers.
Travel Guitars / Small Scale Guitars
If you need something to learn with on the road then these more compact guitars are an ideal choice. Likewise, if you are a smaller individual a travel guitar can be much easier to tame than the more sizeable options. Check out our list of 3/4 Sized Left Handed Guitars. Keep in mind that these smaller guitars will also have a much smaller ‘voice’ than their full bodied cousins.
All of the body styles listed above can have a portion of the body ‘cut away’ on the bottom side to allow easier access to the upper frets. The cutaway will affect the tone of the guitar to a degree.This type of guitar tends to be favored by players who are more into a fingerstyle type of playing due to the better access to higher frets. Most manufacturers will differentiate between full body and cutaway guitars by adding ‘CE’ to the end of the model name.
If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below.
Part One : Tips Before You Buy
Part Two : Beginner Electric Guitars
Part Three : Beginner Acoustic Guitars
Part Four : Beginner Bass Guitars
Part Five : Amps
Part Six : Effects
Part Seven : Accessories
Part Eight : Lessons