The guitar is one of the the most popular instrument in the world, and it is the most widely played string instrument internationally. This means that there are new people playing the guitar every day, and many of those people are left-handed. Most guitars are made for right-handed people, and those who want to play left-handed may be wondering what the differences between them are.
There is no fundamental difference between left and right-handed guitars, except that they are in an opposite orientation. Left-handed guitars are played with the right hand on the neck and the left hand on the strings, and vice versa. The hardware on these guitars is arranged accordingly as well.
The differences between right and left-handed guitars are important. If you are a left-handed person, it is good to consider using a guitar designed for you. However, there are some considerations to make aside from the physical and design differences between these guitars. Let’s explore right and left-handed guitars and answer some frequently asked questions along the way.
The Differences between Right and Left-Handed Guitars
The design of the guitar means that every individual instrument must be built in one specific orientation. The neck of the guitar can only be on one side, and the hardware and controls must be on the other.
This means that guitars are built to be played with one hand on the neck and the other playing the strings, meaning that a guitar can only be built to be either left-hand or right-handed.
Most people internationally have a dominant right hand, which in turn means that most guitars are built for right-handed people. Most guitars built internationally are designed in this orientation, and most guitar manufacturers only produce one or two models in a left-handed orientation.
However, guitars that are designed and built in left or right-hand orientation look functionally identical, regardless of how they are made. This leads many guitar players to wonder what the difference is between left and right-handed guitars.
The truth is that left, and right-handed guitars are functionally the same, and they operate in the same way. The only real difference is that these guitars are designed in an opposite orientation.
This means that right-handed guitars have the thickest string on the top when they are held with the right hand on the fretboard, and the body cutaways are on the left or bottom of the instrument to accommodate playing the instrument with the right hand on the frets.
The hardware controls of right-handed guitars are on the bottom or left of the instrument as well so that they can be controlled with the left hand while playing the instrument. Right-hand guitars have pickups polarized for the thick string on the right of the pickup and the thin string on the left of the pickup.
Guitars that are built for left-handed people are designed in the opposite orientation. The neck of these guitars is on the opposite of the body of right-handed guitars, and the hardware, pickups, body cutaways, and controls are all on the opposite side as well.
This makes playing a left-handed guitar far easier for left-handed people and keeps all of the controls within comfortable reach, and keeps the pickups oriented the correct way for the different string thicknesses.
These are the only real differences between left and right-handed guitars, as they function in the exact same way as one another; they are just designed to be played with the opposite hands as each other.
Why do these Differences Matter?
The functional differences between left and right-handed guitars are very minimal, but the orientation differences are drastic. If left and right-handed guitars are played and used in the same way, why do these differences matter so much?
Left and right-handed guitars have no functional difference, as they are both played in the same way and used for the same music, but they are drastically different guitars. If a right-handed guitarist picks up a left-handed guitar or vice versa, the difference between these instruments becomes clearly apparent.
The differences between these two types of guitar matter because they make the instrument easier to play for people who have one hand dominant over the other.
Playing the guitar works better with the dominant hand playing the strings and the sub-dominant hand playing the frets. This provides accurate control of tone and playing techniques in a way that benefits the sound and ability of the instrument overall.
It is true that left-handed people can learn to play guitar right-handed, but this comes with significant challenges and can be far more difficult than learning the guitar in the correct orientation for that person.
Left-handed people who have learned right-handed skills can learn to play right-handed guitars well, but those who are predominantly left-handed and have not learned to perform any right-handed skills throughout their lives will have great difficulty playing right-handed instruments.
Making an instrument that is easy for left-handed guitar players to use is a necessity, and without these instruments, most left-handed guitar players would not be able to learn the instrument, or it would take them significantly longer to learn even the basics of the instrument, leading to a large number of these people giving up on the guitar altogether.
Should Left-Handed people play Right-Handed?
There are several accounts of left-handed guitar players who play right-handed guitars, and many guitarists state that learning to play right-handed is better for those who are left-hand dominant. Are these claims true? Should lefties learn to play right-handed?
The truth is that there are benefits that come along with learning to play right-handed guitars. The biggest benefit is the fact that there is a much wider range of instruments available in the right-handed orientation. Left-handed guitarists are limited to a very small range of left-handed guitars, and this can be frustrating, especially when searching for the right guitar to match the tone that you seek.
Learning to play right-handed allows lefties a far great range of guitar options and removes any limitations regarding the instruments they can play.
However, there is more than only one way to get around these limitations. Many guitar greats such as Jimi Hendrix and Gary Moore were left-handed guitar players, but they solved the problem of left-hand limitations in different ways.
Gary Moore was a great left-handed guitar player, and he learned to play the instrument right-handed. This allowed him to play guitars made in a right-handed orientation, which allowed him to play any guitar.
Jimi Hendrix, on the other hand, opted to keep playing guitar in a left-handed orientation, but he played right-handed guitars upside down. He did this by switching the strings and installing them the opposite way. This allowed him to play right-handed guitars in a comfortable way.
The truth is that left-handed guitar players should find their own solution to this problem. Learning to play the guitar is an immense challenge for everyone, regardless of which is your dominant hand, so find a way that works well for you and keep with it until you learn to play the instrument well.
Left-handed guitar players have more options these days, and there are left-handed guitars out there for them to play. They can also modify right-handed guitars for left-handed use, which removes the limitations that many suppose to be a major issue.
Left-handed guitar players do not need to learn to play the guitar right-handed, but they can if they choose to. This may make the process more challenging, but it will make their guitar options more varied. This is ultimately a highly personal decision that every left-handed guitarist must make for themselves.
Are Right-Handed or Left-Handed Guitars Better?
There are several stories passed around which tell a tale of left-handed guitars being inferior to right-handed guitars of the same model, simply because there are fewer of these instruments made and manufacturers have not taken the time to work out the flaws in left-handed guitars. Are left-handed guitars worse than right-handed models?
There is some truth to this broad claim, and some manufacturers do not produce left-handed guitars of the same quality as right-handed models. This is particularly true for guitar makers that were forced to quickly design and produce left-handed guitars to meet competition but who did not have the infrastructure to do so.
This issue is especially apparent with major manufacturers who use large machines to manufacture many components of their guitars, as this tooling has to be changed in order to manufacture left-handed models of their instruments.
Many large guitar manufacturers have produced poor-quality left-handed instruments, but there are several smaller companies who make world-class left-handed guitars made to the same standard as their right-handed models.
This means that while there are some quality issues with left-handed guitars, left-handed guitarists should not default to using right-handed guitars due to this issue. There are several guitar companies that produce very good left-handed instruments, and they have solved this problem once and for all.
The quality difference between left and right-handed guitars should no longer be a reason to learn to play one guitar over another. There are many good options for left-hand guitarists nowadays, and even the larger manufacturers are improving the quality of their lefty models.
Is it Harder to play Guitar Left-Handed?
Many guitar players find themselves comparing left and right-handed guitars and wondering if either of these instruments is harder to play than the other? Many states that left-hand guitars are harder to play, but is this true?
Left and right-handed guitars are not more difficult to play than each other. These instruments are fundamentally the same, with the only real difference being the orientation on which the guitar is built.
The only way left-handed guitars are more difficult to play is when right-handed guitarists, or a guitarist who has learned to play right-handed, try to play one. The same is true for right-handed guitars.
If you are used to playing guitar right-handed, playing a lefty guitar will feel completely alien, and vice versa. This is why most people think that one type of guitar is harder to play than the other.
There are some unfortunate problems that come along with playing left-handed guitars that right-hand guitar players may not realize, however. For example, standard chord and scale diagrams are the wrong way round for left-handed guitarists and must be re-made for lefties.
This can make certain learning methods and programs difficult for those who play left-handed guitars and can be a limiting factor in the learning process. However, this does not make learning to play a left-handed guitar fundamentally more difficult than learning to play a right-handed version.
Learning to play left-handed and right-handed have the same level of difficulty, depending on your dominant hand. Left-handed guitar players will find left-handed guitars easier to play, and right-handed guitarists will prefer right-handed guitars.
Right vs. Left-Handed Guitar Price comparison
Every left-handed guitar player has come to accept that guitars that are built for them are likely to cost more than the same model of guitar made for right-handed guitarists. This is a crucial comparison to make between these instruments, and understanding why lefties are more expensive is important.
The unfortunate reality is that left-handed guitars are more expensive than right-handed versions of the same guitar. This is especially true for guitars made by very large guitar manufacturers. The price difference is usually not a deal-breaker, as most lefties are less than $100 more expensive than right-handed models.
Almost every left-hand guitar is more expensive than right-handed instruments, which can be frustrating, but there is a good reason for this. Left-handed guitars are overall more expensive to build due to the cost of re-tooling machinery and the time it takes luthiers to build them.
Luthiers are used to building right-handed guitars, and switching their techniques and process to building a left-handed version of their guitars requires extra time and concentration, which increases the labor costs of producing left-handed guitars.
Re-tooling expensive machines such as CNC machines and mills to manufacture left-handed guitars is an expensive process and must be done to produce lefty guitars on. Large scale.
Another factor to keep in mind is that there are significantly fewer left-handed guitars sold annually. This means that there are fewer units sold to offset the additional costs involved with manufacturing these guitar models.
This results in the higher price of left-handed guitars, which is unfortunate, but an extra $50 for your lefty Gretsch is a small price to pay compared to the price that the manufacturer paid to produce the instrument.
Lefty guitars are the same as right-handed guitars, but they are mirror images of one another. These instruments are both as playable as each other, depending on the dominant hand of the player. There is no fundamental difference between these instruments, but they are very different to play.
Left-handed guitars cost more to produce and more to buy, but if you are a left-handed guitar player, the cost may be worth paying. Take the time to find the right guitar for you, regardless of its orientation, and spend the time to learn how to play it by overcoming your own challenges. This will always produce a good guitar player, regardless of their dominant hand.