Black Guitars – The Scourge of the Left Handed Guitarist?

Is it just me, or is it safe to say that the majority of southpaws are sick to death of being force fed budget, gloss black guitars? Every time I post a new article which features the token range of black left handed guitars, 50% of the comments are along the lines of “oh great, just what we need, another black guitar!“.

Boring Left Handed Black Guitars

This opinion is seemingly unique to us left handed guitarists. While right handed players can more often than not pick and choose from a variety of finishes, we lefties are quite often presented with black as the only option.  Walk into any small music store and more than likely you will only have a couple of black Strats and perhaps a few budget black Ibanez models to select from – who wouldn’t get frustrated by this?

Thai food might be your cuisine of choice, but eat it every night and you will eventually grow tired of it, right?  Well this is exactly how I feel about black guitars – they are force fed to us by so many big companies that I am now completely underwhelmed by them.  For the first five years of my guitar playing career I almost exclusively owned gloss black guitars because of a lack of other options, and as a result I wouldn’t touch one with a bargepole now.  It may be a safe and inexpensive choice for these brands to make, but good god it’s also a boring one.

Tonight I was browsing my Twitter feed and noticed that Sterling by Music Man had announced their new 2015 range. At present there is only one lefty electric, as well as a bass or two.  Here’s an image which shows the colors that the JP60 is available in.

Left Handed Sterling JP60

You’ve gotta laugh… Not only is it only available left handed in black – RIGHT HANDED PLAYERS CAN’T EVEN GET THE DAMN THING IN BLACK.  It’s exclusive to us.

A Reflection On You

As far as I’m concerned your guitar should reflect you, it should be an extension of your personality. Black is dull and gloomy. Are you dull and gloomy?

Let’s take a look at a few synonyms that a thesaurus might spew out when you plug in the word ‘black’…

atrocious, bleak, depressing, depressive, dismal, dispiriting, distressing, doleful, dreary, foreboding, funereal, gloomy, horrible, lugubrious, mournful, ominous, oppressive, sad, sinister, sombre

Pretty uninspiring, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I think black guitars can look fantastic – they just need a little help to become less ‘plain Jane’.  It’s the dull as ditch-water, plain gloss black guitars that I despise wholeheartedly…and unfortunately this is more often than not the sole option available to the oft forgotten southpaw guitarist – at least until you are willing to shell out more serious money…

Forgettable

One goal of paramount importance when playing live is to be MEMORABLE. If you’re standing in the back in your dark clothes with a black guitar you’re not making much of a remarkable impression as far as appearances are concerned, are you? Hell, if the lighting at the venue is poor people might not remember you at all when the gig is over…

Black left handed guitars are boring

Misjudged Sales Results

I also feel that it can skew the manufacturer’s perception of market interest.  If you bring out a black left handed guitar and it doesn’t sell well, you might assume that the demand just isn’t there and discontinue the model.  If that same guitar had been made in a color less despised by lefties it could have made all the difference and sold by the bucket load.  The point of view of the southpaw guitarist can differ greatly to that of a righty player – the brands who realise this are the brands who will have loyal left handed endorsers.

I had a couple of digs at Ibanez in this article.  Recently they brought out the new RG721RWL, a guitar with a beautiful rosewood top and matching headstock veneer. At work we have plenty gloss black Ibanez on the walls – these new models sold out before they even arrived in the stores!

Do you agree with me, or am I alone in my quest to inject some color and interest into my guitar playing career? Leave a comment below with your own opinions. Are you bright and colourful, or dark and mysterious?

78 replies
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  1. JJ
    JJ says:

    I agree completely. First strat in 1986, could only get black or white. Black or white are now last on the list for color choice. Finally got a lake placid blue strat, and cannot stop staring at it.

    Reply
  2. antoine
    antoine says:

    It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: lefty guitars don’t sell. The shop keeper got his “mandatory” black cheap ibanez and squiers (one black strat, and one black tele OR one sunburst other strat…) and don’t sell it. Lefty guitarists like the others often buy guitars on a “love at first sight” basis. And won’t fall in love in love easily with the aforementioned. The shopkeeper offer to take an order, but it’s not the same…the mojo is not there, and neither the urge to pay for the object of desire ( …and it’s cheaper on the Internet …). Ugly guitar don’t sell

    Reply
  3. Don
    Don says:

    I have a LH black strat, a black schecter. When I got my wine LP I had to praise God because it was my first non-black LH guitar. My Epi SG is also red but also a budget guitar. I had to order all but my strat online.

    Reply
  4. terryprokopjr
    terryprokopjr says:

    I wouldnt by my first strat until I found a non black one! Found one in blue picked it up just becuse it was not black. What sucks not as color choses is we cant sit &play a lot of thrm till we find one that lets just say speaks to us. It was not till 2008 that I got to go around &play a whole 8 different strats to find one that felt & had the tone that spoke to me! By the way had to hit 8 different GC’s to play them & everyone of them were white!

    Reply
  5. mike
    mike says:

    Yes and they all have cheap pickups etc.(GC) Dusty black or white Strats with right handed whammy bars on some of them. No respect.
    Just picked up a lefty 314ce taylor (sam ash).After 2 different taylors gtrs 144ce,214ce where delivered and returned.None in black lol!

    Reply
  6. Rhitosparsh
    Rhitosparsh says:

    Well, I like black guitars a lot! But still, I feel pretty bored to see guitars which are black, black, black, black…………!!!

    Also, if the guitar doesn’t have a pickguard (most Ibanezes), they get scratched and finger marks quite easily!!

    Also, with lack of too many options and not-very-great budget for guitars of people like me, you’d get only black!!

    But, I’d really like to credit Greg Bennett! They have quite many options, and have other colours too!

    Reply
  7. Folken
    Folken says:

    at least you can find lefty guitars, where I live the only option is to pick a right-handed one and transform it…

    Reply
  8. Ed in Italy
    Ed in Italy says:

    I’m no longer a fan of Strats (after having played one for decades), but a black Strat is the worst of all the dozens of colors Strats come in. Some guitars just don’t look good in black. I love my (lefty) black Duo Jet, perhaps because it’s just like George’s! Anyway, thanks to the internet, we lefties don’t have to settle for anonymous, boring-looking guitars.

    Reply
  9. Tony
    Tony says:

    Guys it’s funny. I do remember one of my first was a black Shane (no longer around) but i look at my leftie guitar wall now and only 2 are black. (thought today i just got a beautiful black Schecter Solo custom with gold hardware)
    Its gotten a lot better. I have some Deans and ESPs (NOT BLACK) and Schecter is by far the BEST when it comes to color options for lefties. I’m not seeing the issue as much anymore. The one company that still seems to live by this is IBanez. Allmost ALL lefties are black.

    Reply
  10. CaptainObv
    CaptainObv says:

    Wondering if I can get some feedback from the lefty community?

    I’m fairly newish to the guitar world. Got my guitar last year, it’s a starburst(? brownish/black) squier 50’s classic vibes stratocaster. Got it for about £300 including a hard guitar case, and some accessories (polish, pics,etc). Does that seem good?

    I like my guitar (despite the fact that the knobs are right handed and the shop wont replace them), but obviously if you give me something and I use it long enough, I will like just about anything so I figured I ask other (probably more experienced) lefties

    Reply
  11. Jim
    Jim says:

    I have a black lefty Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro which I really like and I think looks very stylish. Admittedly the choice of colour for this particular model is Henry Ford like but the options at the time of purchase would need to have been significantly broader for me to think about considering another colour. Clearly some manufacturers, especially the bigger names, view lefties as a PITA and would prefer not to have to deal with them but reality forces them to make the occasional token gesture and black tends to be their go-to colour of choice. Having said that, at the present time Fender offer the lefty American Standard Strat in several different colours and should be commended for that.
    One thing that always intrigues me is this. If black is so undesirable, why do so many of today’s rock bands find it essential to dress in black gear?

    Reply
  12. Bart
    Bart says:

    I just happen to love black, but as a guitar player I do like other color options. Recently I acquired two G&L guitars one in a blue to black burst, the other a transparent blonde. Very sweet looking guitars. 8 of my 24 guitars are black so I have a pretty good variety of color. I can tell you that the left handed market place is better than it has ever been. there are more models and options available than ever before. Hopefully I live to see the day when every model and option is available to us lefties. Ever walk into a store and try to order a signature guitar only to be told “sorry thats not available left handed”. “Why” you ask. “because SRV (example) wasn’t left handed. Really… Kurt Cobain was, yet I have to sift through tons of right handed ones when cruising online for a cool guitar. My goal if I ever got a signature line of my own would be to charge right handed players a small fee in addition to the cost of the instrument. And where does Gibson get off forcing faux wood fingerboards off on us lefties? Richlite? On guitars that are selling for over $4000 ? They’re not putting that crap on any right hander that I’ve seen. Wow didn’t mean to rant. This is my first post here and just got a little carried away with something I am very passionate about. Thank you and good luck finding your special guitar!

    Reply
  13. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    It’s risk aversity to the point that the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. A company only wants to offer a lefty in a single colour. So they choose something bland and middle of the road (black) that is unlikely to frighten people away that they hope will appeal to as broad a section of lefties as possible. Except because pretty much ALL guitar companies choose black and only black it does precisely that – frighten people away! When something different is offered it is a breath of fresh air.

    Reply
  14. Chris
    Chris says:

    Of course it does depend on the style of guitar. Many models only come in a single colour option, but many different styles are regularly not black. Try getting a Les Paul standard style lefty that’s not sunburst!

    Of course, if you go by what you find in stock in stores, you’ll generally only find one, maybe 2, basic entry level guitars, usually a black Squire strat if they only have one, though you might find a basic black Ibanez RG also.

    However, as a lefty I also know that buying a guitar off the rack is rarely an option for me. I will usually need to order in a guitar. So if that’s the case then I’ll go online and check out different brands and different options and find something I like. Once I go down that road there are many other options open.

    What I find is often difficult for lefties is mid-range guitars. Many brands that only have a few lefty models will only have entry level and top of the line ones, and the more mid-level ones are much less often available.

    I found that recently looking for bases. Ended up getting an Ibanez SR300 (yes it’s black, but a sort of sparkly black!) But found Ibanez had basically discontinued that bass in lefty, meaning there was nothing between the basic, entry level SR200 and much more expensive bass guitars. In the end I grabbed an SR300 from a local music shop that seemed to be the last one available in the country!

    Reply
  15. David
    David says:

    I love my tobacco quilt EVH wolfgang lefty. Not just for how amazing it sounds but when I watch shows I’ve done, even if you can’t see me on the dark stage the guitar practically glows in the dark. Wanted the new lefty american standard tele that’s out now. $1250 but it’s only available in Black, bad Blue and Sunburst. How does Fender ever not release a tele in Butterscotch? Hell, even squiers are out in BS. I passed because I just couldn’t bear another black. I just don’t understand why in this day and age they can’t even let you order another color without going to the Custom shop at 2×4 times the price.

    Reply
  16. Jeem
    Jeem says:

    haha; you are so correct on this issue!

    The only time I ever wanted a black guitar would have been a D’Angelico EX-Bass (cuz they ornamented it beautifully).

    So, guess what? Yep…black’s not available for lefties!!!! :-(

    Reply
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