Left Handed Guitar Players On the Increase?

Are left handed guitar players becoming more commonplace? This evening I happened across a really insightful video where ‘The Cars’ guitar player Elliot Easton talks about growing up as a left handed guitar player in the 1960s. This got me thinking…

In the video (see below) he chats about how he wasn’t even aware that such a thing as a left handed guitar existed when he first decided to start playing.  Whilst listening to him talk it really hits home about how unconnected the world was as little as 50 years ago.  He talks about getting little nuggets of information about guitars from other bands or from friends of friends.

Throughout the comments section for this video on YouTube there are several users who describe how they were in the same situation when they were younger and first getting into guitar.  They either didn’t realise left handed guitars existed or they simply could not find one in stores.  Another frequently mentioned theme in the comments is that all of these people are fiercely proud of being left handed, which is very cool!

I think the point made about the lack of information back in the 60s is very interesting and is almost certainly the reason why so few people from this pre-internet generation play guitar left handed.  The lack of availability literally forced them to buy a right handed guitar and either string it upside down or play it righty.  Would many people have even contemplated restringing the guitar upside down?  They may not have realised that was an option…

So with that in mind let’s fast forward to 2011 where any information you might require is available at the click of a button.  Does it not make sense to assume that the number of people playing left handed guitar should have risen significantly in the last 10 or 20 years?  It is super easy to log on to the internet, find a great left handed guitar and have it delivered direct to your doorstep the next day, a luxury that players like Elliot Easton lacked. Although in some countries it is still hard to source a good guitar, things are definitely looking up.

I think this is a really fascinating idea because if this is taking place and larger numbers of people are playing lefty, then with a bit of luck that upsurge in demand should trigger an increase in left handed guitar models from manufacturers. Speaking from experience, there has certainly been a large boost in the number of left handed guitar options in only the past 10 years.

Or maybe this is just wishful thinking.  What are your thoughts?

19 replies
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    I just bought a Fender American Deluxe Strat. lefty, for the same price as the right hand one’s approx. $1700.00.

    I know my GIbson Les Paul I bought in 2008 was about $200.00 more then the right handed ones.
    It seems to me things are getting much better.

  2. ant1
    ant1 says:

    Manufacturers, distributors and resellers are stuck in a a old self fulfilling prophecy: lefty guitars don’t sell, so they don’t make many of it and hence don’t sell many. Lefties only buy black guitars ( we know why.. ), so they keep offering only blacks. And so on…i think you see the point.
    In France we have some big guitar shop with huge walls with tens of guitars in display and not a single one lefthanded. The rare , if any, ones are in a corner on a floor stand with the other low end items.
    In my small town there is a smaller shop, a one man operation. I bought there a (vintage) Guild and more recently a Squier Stratocaster (sunburst the other ‘lefty color’!) wich was one of the only two lefties they had (the other a low-end black ibanez), and sold my Seagull acoustic. Sometimes i take one of my other axes in for some setting job, or simply to show and talk about.
    The owner/keeper must see i’m quite active at buying guitar, and may imagine i’m not the only one in town. I befriended with him and tell him regulary that if he don’t show some in his shop he wil not sell lefthanded guitar, to me or to other lefty.
    But alas he don’t get new ones for us to dream about and eventually to buy….
    Perhaps the other self fulfilling prophecy is “lefties only buy gear on the Net”
    Sorry for the weird english.

  3. Robert Nadjiwan
    Robert Nadjiwan says:

    I’ve visited this site a few times and appreciate the comments that are shared by the lefties who play guitar (left handed) or want to play guitar (left handed). it seems like there is ample discussion by a lot of lefties who tend to re-enforce the excuses that the right handed shops continuously say. “Not enough leftie players to make it worth my while to stock left hand instruments”. Let’s look at it this way. If the leftie world is about 10% of the population – then it stands to reason that 10% of the guitars out there ought to be leftie. In the real world that doesn’t happen… So we need some kind of benchmark to justify how many potential guitar players are out there that either play leftie or want to play leftie. One of the starting points is related to understanding the percentage of people comprising the 90 % whom are right handed, that play guitar. If we can some how come up with that statistical fact – Then we can do a projection on the 10% that are left handed. When I see internet photos of overseas guitar shops – they appear to be making a lot of guitars… At this point nobody has shown any stats on how many left handed guitars are made per year in any guitar manufacturing sites. If we can research and generate some stats then that information could be shared with guitar shops who may bring more left handed guitars into their inventory. I know two guitar shops in Ontario that have left handed guitar technicians who work on those left handed instruments (and the right hand one s as well). I played right handed guitar for most of my life and now play left handed. I would like to see some more options out there at a price that is reasonable and decent quality. The lefties have to ask for the guitars and state their case clearly and concisely. Win the shop owners over with meaningful information and eliminate the demonizing effects of prejudices against lefties and don’t use emotional rhetoric. Good stats and committing to buying a left handed guitar will win the day.

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