8 Annoying Things About Being a Left Handed Guitarist

8 Left Handed Guitar Disadvantages

Let’s face it. Being a left handed guitarist is generally pretty awesome, but it certainly has its unique challenges!

Here are 8 annoying things that only left handed guitarists will understand.

8 Left Handed Guitar Disadvantages

1. Store Selection is Often Poor

Working for a guitar retailer myself, I know firsthand that nice lefties can be some of the strongest-selling products in the store. For example, when Epiphone released the limited edition Casino a few years ago it was effectively a license to print money for retailers that could keep them in stock.

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 realize their strong sales potential, which results in a pretty lackluster selection.

I’ve walked into many a guitar store and then walked straight back out again after unearthing just one or two uninspiring lefties amongst a sea of ‘normal‘ guitars.

If you took away all of the right-handed guitars many stores would probably look similar to this…

Left Handed Guitar Store

Luckily, many stores do stock an incredible selection of southpaw instruments. Check out my guide to the best places to buy left handed guitars.

2. Not Being Able to Try Before You Buy

A guitar can be a fairly expensive purchase, right? So, it only makes sense to give it a test drive before you bust open the old wallet. However, as we’ve already noted above, the southpaw selection in most stores is often less than inspiring.

Therefore, unless you’re after something fairly commonplace, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be able to try before you buy. You may have to special order an instrument (deposit probably required) and wait potentially months for it to arrive. Alternatively, you can order it online from a store that does have stock and pray that you don’t get a lemon.

You can always return the guitar if you don’t gel with it or find it has issues. However, this is potentially a bit of faff that our righty friends will never have to experience.

3. Many Guitars Don’t Even EXIST As Lefties

The main issue that contributes to the issues above is the fact that there just aren’t as many left handed guitars as there are right. Not even close

Although many brands will offer their entire catalog left handed, many of the bigger names only produce a few popular models as lefties. Some companies (for example, Washburn) don’t bother making lefties at all.

So, it may be the case that the dream guitar you’ve spotted in the latest Guitar World news article will never be anything more than a dream.

It Will Be Mine Waynes World

Don’t fret too hard though, as there’s almost always a decent alternative available from other brands. My left handed guitar database is a great place to start looking!

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 ranges!

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. Often black. Gloss black.

Left Handed Black Guitar

For example, I’ve just had a peek at the ESP range we currently have in stock at work. Out of 23 left-handed ESPs across all stores, TWENTY of them are black. That’s 87% of our stock.

Why? Partly because these are what the distributor has brought into the country, so these are all that we get to choose from.

In addition, black is a fairly safe option in the grand scheme of things, so this is what the companies put out. It’s also 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!

On top of these guitars being harder to find, as well as being available in fewer 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!?

Left Handed Guitars Cost More

However, which of these options would you prefer? No left-handed options at all, or a slight price increase from the manufacturer. I know which would be my pick!

At the end of the day, guitar brands are businesses and they need to ensure they can still turn a profit when offering instruments to this much smaller market. Find out why some left-handed guitars cost more.

To be fair, there are plenty of companies out there that 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 find one. Looking for a used left handed guitar can genuinely be akin to 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 stumble across (and win!) the guitar you’ve been coveting it often feels like you’ve just won the lottery.

Treasure Hunt

Better get used to setting up those custom search alerts! Find out how to use smart searches to find the hidden lefty guitars with my eBay guide.

Saved eBay Searches

7. Know-It-All Righties

Why didn’t you just learn the ‘normal’ way?‘. Working for 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 on 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? Unlike with the guitar, both hands are carrying out similar tasks on the piano. P.S. There is a left handed piano.

After a while, you learn to just ignore their silly ramblings.

Check out my article ‘Should I Play Guitar Left Or Right Handed?‘ to discover why you probably made the right decision by opting for southpaw mode. It’ll give you some great comeback material for when you inevitably come across those know-it-all players.

8. Not Being Able to Try Your Friend’s Guitars

This left handed guitar disadvantage is similar to not being able to try before you buy. Perhaps 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 screwed. You can certainly hold it and get a feel for 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 – which you totally should!

On the plus side, it also means that your buddies can’t play your guitars. You can keep them all to yourself…

So Why Bother Playing Left Handed?

After reading through all of these left handed guitarist problems you may be wondering why anyone puts up with it.

Despite all of these issues, 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.
  • Many of my guitars are rare and special, and often valuable as a result!
  • The hunt for the next instrument is always a satisfying challenge.
  • Less choice equals fewer impulse purchases to later regret.
  • The lefty guitarist community is awesome!

Plus I’ve come across and owned so many guitars from amazing lesser-known brands. This is because I’m often forced to look a little further afield for what I need. For example, check out my custom Mensinger guitar build!

It’s certainly far 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. 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?

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Neal Author Bio
Neal has been playing guitar (left-handed!) for over 20 years, and has also worked in various roles within the guitar retail industry since 2012. He started LeftyFretz in 2010. More Info