Let’s face it. Being a left handed guitarist is pretty awesome, but it certainly has its challenges!
Here are 8 annoying things that only left handed guitarists will understand.
8 Left Handed Guitar Disadvantages
1. Store Selection is Usually Poor
Working for a guitar store myself, I know that nice lefties can be some of the strongest selling products in the shop (if they buy the right guitars!). For example, when Epiphone released the limited edition Casino a couple of years ago it was essentially a license to print money. When a nice lefty arrives in the store it doesn’t hang around for very long! Unfortunately, it would seem that a good number of stores don’t realise their strong sales potential, which results in a pretty lacklustre selection.
I’ve walked into many a guitar store and then walked straight back out again after unearthing just one or two rubbish lefties amongst a sea of ‘normal’ guitars.
If you took away all of the right handed guitars most stores would probably look similar to this…
2. Not Being Able to Try Before You Buy
A guitar can be a fairly expensive purchase, so it only makes sense to give it a whirl before you bust open the wallet, right? But as we’ve already noted above, the southpaw selection in most stores is usually less than inspiring.
So unless you’re after something pretty standard, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be able to try before you buy. You’ll either have to special order one (deposit probably needed) and wait potentially months, or order it online from a store that does have stock and pray that you don’t get a lemon.
3. Many Guitars Don’t Even EXIST
Something that greatly contributes to the problems above is the fact that there just aren’t as many left handed guitars as there are right. Not even close in fact…
Although many smaller brands will offer pretty much their entire catalog left handed, most of the bigger brands only produce a few popular models as lefties. Some companies such as PRS don’t even bother making lefties at all, outside of very small limited runs once every couple of years.
So it may be the case that the dream guitar you’ve spotted in the latest catalog will never be anything more than a dream.
4. Uninspiring Color Choices
All left handed players love gloss black guitars, right? At least that’s what many brands would have you believe judging by their southpaw range!
While the right handed versions of guitars will often come in a plethora of colors, their left handed counterparts will oftentimes only come in a single hue. Usually black. Gloss black.
For example, I’ve just had a peek at the ESP range we currently have in stock where I work. Out of 23 left handed ESPs, TWENTY of them are black. That’s 87% of our stock. Why? Partly because these are mainly what the distributor has brought into the country, so these are all that we get to choose from. But it’s mostly because black is a fairly safe option in the grand scheme of things, so this is what the companies put out. Also it’s cheaper to paint a guitar black as less is required for an adequate finish 😉
5. Left Handed Guitars Cost More!
You’ve decided on your next guitar and have noted that the right handed model is retailing for $500 in this month’s guitar magazine. So you phone up the local guitar store to see if they have the left handed version in stock. Boom. $550!
That’s right folks. On top of these guitars being harder to find, and coming in less colors, some brands even have the cheek to dump a 10-15% upcharge on southpaw models. Well that’s just the icing on the cake isn’t it!?
To be fair, there are plenty of companies out there who don’t upcharge for lefties. So if this bothers you, support the brands who support us.
6. The Great Second Hand Hunt
If the guitar you’re after is discontinued you could potentially be in for a very, very long wait to get one. Looking for a used left handed guitar can genuinely be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
When I was a young shredder, my dream guitar was the super rare Ibanez RG3120L Prestige. In what must have been an entire year of scouring eBay, I think I spotted one. It was overpriced. And slightly damaged. And in another continent. And the seller wouldn’t ship internationally.
Sometimes endlessly trawling eBay and the like is the only option. But hey, when you finally find what you’re after it often feels like you’ve just won the lottery.
Better get used to setting up those custom search alerts 😉 Find out how to use smart searches to find the hidden lefty guitars on eBay with our guide.
7. Know-It-All Righties
‘Why didn’t you learn the ‘normal’ way?’ Working in a guitar store I get this all the time. Here’s the usual line…
‘If you’d have learned right handed you would have had your dominant hand doing the frets. You’d have had a big advantage!‘
In that case, GENIUS, why are left handed guitars not the norm? Why don’t righties all play left handed and enjoy this ‘advantage’? Why don’t YOU play left handed? Urgh…
Another common one is – ‘You don’t get a left handed piano‘. Hardly a fair comparison though is it? Both hands are carrying out similar tasks. P.S There is a left handed piano.
8. Not Being Able to Try Friend’s Guitars
This one is essentially the same as not being able to try before you buy. Maybe you’re at a friend’s house and they have an awesome vintage Les Paul you’d love to try, or you’re sitting around a campfire with an acoustic being passed around.
Well, you’re basically shit outta luck. You can hold it and get a feel of it, but that’s about as far as you’ll get unfortunately. Unless you’ve learned to play a few basic things right handed as a neat party trick.
So Why Bother?
In spite of all of these left handed guitar disadvantages, being a lefty player is not the absolute living hell that many guitarists would have you believe. In fact, I love being on team southpaw.
I stand out from the crowd, always getting questions from other players. All of my guitars are rare and special. The hunt for the next guitar is always a satisfying challenge. Plus I’ve come across and owned so many guitars from amazing lesser known brands, because i’m forced to look a little further afield for what I need sometimes. It’s certainly much more interesting than being an average joe right handed player.
Sure we may not get as much choice as right handed guitarists, but come on, how many guitars do you really need anyway?
At the end of the day, most of these negatives can be turned on their heads. Always play whichever way is the most comfortable to you! It’s not worth playing the wrong way around and potentially limiting your playing ability just to have the choice of a few extra guitars. That would just be silly now, wouldn’t it?
Check out 9 Awesome Reasons Why You Should Play Guitar Left Handed next.