Newbie Series Part 3 : Lefty Beginner Acoustic Guitars

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 excellent beginner left handed acoustics, 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.

The Anatomy of an Acoustic GuitarAcoustic 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.

Electro Acoustic Left Handed GuitarsBody Styles

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.

Dreadnought Left Handed Acoustic GuitarsDreadnought Guitars

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 Left Handed Acoustic Guitar

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 Left Handed GuitarGrand 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 Left Handed GuitarsJumbo Guitars

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 Left Handed Guitar Nylon StringsClassical 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.

Left Handed Travel Acoustic GuitarTravel 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.

Cutaway Left Handed Acoustic GuitarCutaway Guitars

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.

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.  To an untrained ear most acoustics will sound more or less the same!

Enough chat, let’s look at a few good examples of left handed acoustic guitars…

Best Left Handed Acoustic GuitarsPopular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $100

  • Jameson EA Black – link
  • Jameson EA Blue – link
  • Rogue RG-624 – link

Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $200

Neal Says: I’ve placed the Ibanez at the top of this list because if it were were my cash dollars on the line, this is the one I’d go for personally.  They look good, sound good, and because of the name on the headstock, resale value is high if you decide to upgrade later on.

Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $300

  • Fender CD-100 – link
  • Ibanez AEG10L Black – link
  • Ibanez AW400L – link
  • Lag TNL66ACE Classical – link
  • Stagg C546 Classical – link
  • Stagg SA30 CE Black – link
  • Tanglewood TW28 – link
  • Takamine GD30 – link
  • Taylor BT-1 Baby – link
  • Taylor BT-2 Baby – link

Neal Says: 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. In my opinion it’s the best buy in this price bracket, but honestly you cannot go wrong with any of the guitars mentioned here.

Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $400

  • Cort MR710 – link
  • Dean Espana Classical – link
  • Dean Exotica Quilt – link
  • Dean Performer – Black or Natural
  • La Patrie Etude Classical – link
  • Lag TNL66 Classical – link
  • Yamaha FG720SL – link
  • Fender CD-100CE – link
  • Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat – link
  • Martin LXME – link
  • Recording King Classic 12 – link
  • Taylor BBT Big Baby – 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 and a cutaway for improved upper fret access – once again the Fender is a great choice. Another top pick in this bracket is the FG720SL – Yamaha is famed for producing guitars that seem to punch well above their price – and this model is no exception. If you’re after something with a little wow factor, take a look at the stunning wood tops on the Deans.

Popular Left Handed Acoustic Guitars Under $500

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. If you can afford it, you will not be disappointed. 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 list.

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

25 replies
  1. Alexandra
    Alexandra says:

    I really like how you broke down each guitars unique sound because I am trying to find my first guitar and have absolutely NO CLUE what the difference is in any of these. I'm at an absolute loss when it comes to figuring out which is good for me. I know i want to have the "Eric Clapton on acoustic" sound (or even like Crosby, Stills, and Nash) but whether that falls under dreadnought or classical i have no idea. I want to lean more towards blues/rock and eventually do the electric crossover. I've been looking at Fender brands recently, like the CN 90 or CD100LH. Can you please help me?

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      If you want to specialise in Blues or Rock you'll want to stay away from classical guitars and find a steel string guitar. That rules out your CN 90.

      When you are looking for a specific sound the best idea is to head over to YouTube and see what other people are playing. So in your case, if we search for Clapton videos we can see that he is almost always playing a steel-string dreadnaught, so your Fender CD100 should be a fairly safe bet. As I said above, 90% of the time a Dreadnaught is the best choice for a beginner. Try any old dreadnaught at your guitar store to check out the rough size.

      It also may be worth noting that it would be far easier to do the 'crossover' from electric to acoustic rather than the other way around. Electrics have smaller bodies and thinner necks and so are far easier to play than a big 'ol acoustic. Best of luck :)

  2. Cramer
    Cramer says:

    Can you advise me on a nice lefty acoustic guitar? It is obvious that your list here above is fantastic and very helpfull but I'm still on the lookout for a nice acoustic guitar that isn't all that pricey but still delivers some sweet sound. Can you help me and tell me maybe a good model?

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Hey Cramer, I couldn't possibly advise anything based on the information you've given. Register and ask on our forum and try and be as specific as possible with your requirements, i.e. budget, music style etc… Even your location can make a big difference, for example if you were in the UK there are some great British brands. Sign up and we'll sort you out! 😉

      If you just want a good starter guitar which is an all-rounder, stick with well known brands and honestly you'll be fine. And don't be afraid to go second hand – acoustic guitars tend to sound better with age (as long as they've been looked after).

  3. JD Grabel
    JD Grabel says:

    I am a newbie when it comes to playing any sort of guitar. I love the sound of the Acoustic and been wanting to learn to play for years. Well, I finally have it narrowed down to the Alvarez RD4102CL, Fender CD100-CELH, Ibanez AW30LECENT, and the Ibanez AEL10LE. I love the Greg Laswell acoustic sound, as well as Aaron Lewis Acoustic Sound. What would be the best Acoustic/Electric guitar out of those to begin with? Or should I start with something completly different? I want the most for my money and I felt $400-$500 would be a good price to start at. Afterall you get what you pay for.

  4. TKder
    TKder says:

    I'm a total newbie to guitar playing and this guide is really informative.

    My brother has an old right handed guitar which he doesn't use anymore and would like to give it to me, but I'm a leftie and feel totally uncomfortable trying to play with my right. So I was just wondering if it is a good idea to restring the right handed guitar so that I can play with my left or I should scrap that idea and get a lefty guitar instead?

    Thanks alot in advance! :)

      • Steve
        Steve says:

        As an experienced player you can do it well… no doubt. For me as a beginner I gave up the guitar for a long time after getting frustrated trying to learn on a right handed guitar strung left handed never realizing what my biggest challenge was. A beginner NEEDS to have a lefty guitar if they are serious about getting past stage 1.

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      A new left handed bridge, and nut set, installed but someone who knows their stuff will make that guitar play beautifully in your hands. 😉

  5. MissBurgess
    MissBurgess says:

    Someone has recently given me a Washburn lefty guitar so I can learn left handed. It sounds lovely! It couldn't have been expensive otherwise he would not have parted with it! I think it is a student grade guitar, but I would recommend…

  6. Steve
    Steve says:

    An awesome beginner dreadnaught guitar is a Yamaha Eterna EF-15. Solid mahogony with a laminated spruce top that gets golden with age, and will hold a tune forever. They sound deep, and rich, and can be picked up used for under $200.

    Don’t make this mistake!
    Mine was built right handed, and had the strings flipped for a lefty before I bought it thinking it was a lefty guitar. I tried to play it for months, got frustrated, and put it away for ten years because the action(gaps between frets, and strings) was all screwed up. I mentioned this to an awesome player who asked me to let him work on it. He built a new nut, and bridge set for it, and gave it back to me. I’ve been playing it ever since.

  7. Ged
    Ged says:

    I was gonna start accoustic cos Keith Richards says it’s the way to go. Now you say it’s easier to start electric. Which is it?

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Learn whichever instrument appeals to you the most. Acoustic is slightly harder on your fingers, but the bonus is that you’ll build up good calluses and finger strength faster.

  8. jervis
    jervis says:

    I am a large newbie. Big hands…. Big fingers…. Just an all around big guy. Is a jumbo guitar for me? Any suggestions?

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      I don’t think that just because you’re a big dude you automatically have to play a big guitar – you’ll just have an easier time playing one compared to a smaller person. Buy something that is suited to the style of music that you want to play, a dreadnaught is a good place to start as it is a good all-rounder.

  9. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Hi Neal! I don’t know if you still post, but you said you check so whatever xD Well, I’m a newbie at guitars and I wanted to learn how to play acoustic first because I feel pretty comfy playing it at my house, and since I am a pretty small girl, I’m having trouble trying to decide on which guitar I should start off with :/ Do you think I should get the Grand Auditorium or the Travel one? They both sound nice! Thanks so much!! :]

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      You need to try them yourself and see which you like better. Generally the smaller the guitar gets the quieter the sound becomes. A great quality small guitar is the Taylor GS Mini – I have one and it’s a great little guitar with a surprisingly loud sound.

  10. Devin
    Devin says:

    So I have been looking into the right guitar for myself and have narrowed it down to two. I was hoping you might be able to give me some in-site as to what to expect to purchase and which might be the best fit for me. The two I have narrowed it down to are the lbanez TCY10E or the AEF18. I want something that will keep me occupied for a good few years and has the potential to do digital recordings in the future. I would like to play rock and some jazz / blues but mostly want something that will be as versatile as possible for as little money as possible while still keeping a good enough sound to keep me interested until I feel the need to drop a large amount of money on the next one. Could you also please help me with trying to decide if I should purchase online to get a better deal since I really don’t know what would feel right to me anyways? Shocking thing is I haven’t really been able to find very many stores in the Nashville, TN that has more than two or three left handed guitars for sell. Especially when requesting an electric/acoustic. The other thing I was wondering is if these need to have battery power to play or if its just if your wanting that electric sound. Also should I consider going ahead and purchasing an amp or is that something I could always wait on and/or just play through my computer? Also, how do you feel about all the bundle kits you see online for sell?


    • Neal
      Neal says:

      That’s a lot of questions – maybe consider joining the forum and asking there for a detailed reply :) As far as i’m aware the TCY10E isn’t available left handed. Unless you really want to play loud and with effects I wouldn’t worry about an amp right away, and avoid guitar bundles like the plague.

      • Devin
        Devin says:

        Thanks! I’m going to join the forum now! I thought so about the bundles but just wanted to make sure. Thanks again!

  11. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hi Neal! Im looking to buy a new acoustic guitar one with a cut away i mainly play blues rock and fingerstyle.i live in the uk and because im left handed its hard for me to get my hands on a decent left handed guitar. I started of on a westfield acoustic dreadnought body it was around £100 for the first couple of months i was happy with it but comparing it to my friends yamaha im really not happy with it and the action on the guitar is terrible and now i want to upgrade ive been playing guitar for almost a year now. What reccommendations do you have for left handed acoustic cut away guitars? I rather try out guitars in a music shop but if im lucky they only have 1 or 2 my budget is £150 any reply would be great thanks(:


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