How To String & Tune a Left Handed Guitar

How To String & Tune a Lefty Guitar

Many new players seem to become stuck at the first hurdle of guitar – how to string and tune it correctly. More specifically I get an email usually once a week asking about the correct order in which to string a lefty guitar.

I personally can’t remember what it was like being a fledgling lefty guitarist, so I shan’t jest!  Not to your faces anyway…

How To String a Left Handed Guitar

If you have a bona fide lefty guitar then you will find that the nut will only accept the strings if you place them in the correct order. 

By this, I mean that the slots in the nut are different widths, and are designed to snugly fit each string. So if you tried to place the thickest string in the slot designed for the thinnest string it wouldn’t fit inside and would probably sit above the nut.

For both left and right handed guitars the thinnest string will be nearest to the floor (when in a playing position) and from there they will increase in thickness towards you. 

Some beginner southpaw players will take a regular right handed guitar and simply hold it left handed, without adjusting the string order. Although this is a perfectly viable way to play (see Eric Gales), it isn’t recommended as there is next to no instructional material out there for this style of play. You’ll pretty much be on your own when it comes to learning.

If you aspire to possibly become a guitar teacher you’re also going to really struggle to find students if you don’t learn to play in standard tuning! Do yourself a favor and string your guitar in the fashion that I’ve set out below.

How To Tune a Left Handed Guitar

On any standard tuned 6-string guitar the order of strings from thick to thin is EADGBE. Why not come up with a quick mnemonic to help you memorize the order? For example, Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie.

Ever wondered why standard tuning is EADGBE? Check out my article to find out more – it’s pretty interesting stuff!

See below to have this information displayed in pretty colors…

How To Tune a Left Handed Guitar

How To Tune a Left Handed Bass

And what about those of you who prefer the thunderous power of a juicy bass guitar?

Exactly the same as a regular guitar my friend, minus the two high strings.  So on a 4-string bass (which is what you’ve purchased, right?) you’ve got EADG from thickest to thinnest. Easy!

How to Tune a Left Handed Bass Guitar

Hope that cleared things up!  By the way, how badly do you want a multi-colored set of strings now!?

How To Tune Accurately

Now you just need to get yourself a good tuner to make sure you’re pitch perfect. I highly recommend a handy headstock tuner such as a Snark X.

These handy little guys clip on to your guitar’s headstock and tune (extremely accurately!) via vibration. Best of all, they cost next to nothing!

You’ll spot an older model of Snark tuner in the photo of my guitar at the top of this page.

Although you can be cheap and use a free online tuner option, your ear likely isn’t quite good enough yet. Grab one $15 tuner and it’ll serve you for life.

You can learn even more about all of the different types of tuners in my huge guitar tuner guide.

Newbie Guide

If you are new to guitar or bass, you need to check out my Newbie Guide! This 8-part series will explain everything that you will need to know to get started!

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