So you want to learn the left handed electric guitar huh? Let’s see if I can get you started…
This article lists a number of quality beginner guitars that are still reasonably priced and should give you a solid introduction to your new hobby. As a good rule of thumb, if you stick with big name brands it is hard to go too far wrong. If you are buying for a child or would prefer a smaller guitar, check out my post on 3/4 sized left handed guitars.
As a beginner there really isn’t a lot you need to ponder over. Seriously. Types of woods used, number of frets, type of tuners – these are really non-issues for now. Just buy something (preferably from the list below) that you like the looks of and dive in. But just before we start looking at the guitars, there are a couple of things you might like to consider…
Single-Coil vs Humbucker Pickups
Single-Coil – Check out the image at the bottom of this article. Notice the slimmer looking pickups on the 3rd and 4th guitars? Those are single-coils. As you can probably guess from the name, these pickups are made using a single coil of wire. Typically they produce a bright, lively tone with low to moderate output. A traditional single-coil pickup does not have the ability to reject noise or hum from being picked up along with the vibration from the string. This may mean that you notice a subtle humming noise when playing, however this is a small trade-off to gain the sought after tones which only single-coils can produce.
Humbuckers – These are so called because of their ability to ‘buck the hum’, unlike single-coil designs. The Gibson Les Paul in the image above features humbuckers. They typically have a fatter sound and higher output than single-coil pickups and are therefore a little more suited to overdriven styles of playing. Although that’s not to say that they can’t handle cleaner tones as well – they just won’t be quite as bright and jangly sounding as a single-coil.
I would suggest that for your first guitar, it really doesn’t matter too much what you pick. That is, unless you want to rip out some high gain metal as soon as possible. You sir, need humbuckers!
Scale length is defined as the distance between where the strings contact the nut and where they contact the bridge, i.e. the length of the string that will vibrate to produce a sound. Typically there are two common scale lengths – 24 3/4 inches and 25 1/2 inches. For the most part, most Gibson style guitars (1 and 5 in the image below) will utilise the shorter 24 3/4 inch length, while Fender style guitars (2, 3 & 4 below) will generally use 25 1/2 inches.
All other things being equal, a longer scale length will result in increased string tension. This will give a slightly brighter sound with a tighter bottom end. The added tension will also make it slightly more difficult to bend strings. Shorter scale lengths will give a thicker, chunky lower end and make string bending a little easier.
If you have smaller hands you may prefer to start with a 24 3/4 inch guitar such as a Les Paul or SG type due to the slightly shorter stretches required. Otherwise, don’t worry about it too much for now.
Enough talk! Let’s see the guitars!
I have arranged the guitars into different price brackets so that you can quickly find something suited to your budget. The guitars are also listed in order of my personal preference.
Complete Packages Under $200
Although I don’t generally recommend beginner packages, sometimes it just has to be done if you are on a tight budget. A cheap guitar is better than no guitar! If you look carefully you should be able to find a full starter kit for as little as $150.
On a budget, the brand that I generally suggest is Sawtooth. They have a good number of left handed Stratocaster and Telecaster style packages which come in a wide variety of colors. Check them out at the link below.
- Sawtooth Beginner Packages – link
Popular Left Handed Electric Guitars Under $200
- Squier Affinity Stratocaster – link
- Squier Affinity Telecaster – link
- Jay Turser 300 – link
- Stagg S300 – black or sunburst
Neal Says: The Squier Affinity series is probably where most new guitarists on a budget will start out. They’re affordable, look great, play great, and you’ve got that famous name on the headstock which means that they’ll hold their value. For under $200 these two are your best choice – pick whichever style you like best as both are very similar guitars. Job done!
Popular Left Handed Electric Guitars Under $300
- Squier Standard Stratocaster – antique burst or black
- ESP Ltd EC-100 – link
- ESP Ltd EC-50 – black or silver burst
- Ibanez GRG120 – link
- ESP Ltd M-50 – link
- Jackson JS22L – link
- Stagg G300 – link
Neal Says: Once again I’ve put the Squiers at the top of the list! The Standard Series is a step above the Affinity models mentioned in the previous price bracket. You just can’t go wrong with one of these.
Although! If you are looking to rock out that little bit harder, you’ll probably need some powerful humbucker pickups right? In this case, you’ll want to take a look at the EC-100 and EC-50 from ESP Ltd. The EC-100 is basically the same as the EC-50 but with a fancier quilted maple top. The Ibanez is also a fine choice, but the fixed bridges on the Ltds make them a little more beginner friendly.
Popular Left Handed Electric Guitars Under $400
- Squier Classic Vibe 50s Stratocaster – link
- Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster – link
- Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster – link
- Gibson SGJ – link
- Epiphone G-400 Pro – link
- ESP Ltd EC-256FM – link
- ESP Ltd MH-50 – link
- ESP Ltd M-100FM – link
- Schecter Omen 6 – link
Neal Says: Are you starting to see a trend here? Squier once again claims the top spot. In my humble opinion, the Classic Vibe series from Squier are the best value guitars available – period. I have the 50s Strat and Tele myself and prefer them over my USA Fenders which cost 3-4 times the price. One of these could potentially be your main guitar for life.
For a heavier sound check out the humbucker equipped Epiphone G-400 or ESP Ltd EC-256.
Update May 2015: I’ve just added the Gibson SGJ to this list. These are currently on sale in a variety of colors for only $399 while stocks last. If you read this article while these are still available – get one. For a USA-made Gibson this is an insane bargain.
Popular Left Handed Electric Guitars Under $500
- Epiphone Les Paul Standard – ebony or cherry
- Fender Standard Stratocaster – link
- Fender Standard Telecaster – link
- Ibanez RG450 – link
Neal Says: These are all really solid choices. For $500 you can get that famous Fender quality, and these guitars come in a huge number of color choices. You get a lot of bragging rights by having that logo on your headstock too!
Alternatively the Epiphone will give you that authentically beefy sound that only a Les Paul can produce. Everyone looks cool wearing a Les Paul! Lastly, the Ibanez is a fantastic choice for those of you looking to be the next shred maestro!
Any one of these will make a great starter guitar, but obviously if you are willing to drop a little more coin then things can only get better! As a beginner left handed guitarist the choice isn’t exactly overwhelming, but don’t worry, things get much better later on.
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