Guitars

The Best Left-Handed Acoustic Guitar

I’d like to start out with a warning that it is very difficult to attempt to play a righty guitar left-handed. On an electric guitar, this is challenging because you need to restring the guitar and flip it upside down, so the body might be poking into you or otherwise be uncomfortable.

On an acoustic it is much harder. The reinforcing strips of wood in an acoustic are built to preserve the life of the instrument and ensure it will last through a lot of playtime.

Because of the location and design of those strips it is essentially impossible to play a right-handed guitar lefty, and you are left looking for guitars designed for left-handed players from the beginning.

I have reviewed and tested several left-handed acoustic guitars and I think the best value is in the Martin LX1EL Little Martin Left Handed Electro Acoustic Guitar. It’s a great little guitar with a lot of tone and some useful features, but before I get to that I want to discuss what to look for in a left-handed acoustic guitar.

I know the selection is not as broad as it is for righties, so I’m making an effort to help lefty players find the best option for them.

Credit: Amazon.com

Top Pick: Martin LX1EL Electro Acoustic 

Buy from Amazon

Composite design. The combination of a sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides creates a beautiful sound worthy of the Martin name. It is deep, rich, and warm without weighing down the instrument.

Why You Should Trust Us

I have been playing guitar for years and evaluating guitars of different types for nearly that long. While I am not lefty myself I have a left-handed friend who plays acoustic guitar, who helped me determine the particularly important aspects that lefties need out of their acoustics and also playtested some of the guitars that I will be evaluating today.

I’ve put a lot of time and thought into finding the best guitars for left-handed players because I know how difficult it can be to find a good guitar and how frustrating it is to be locked out of a big part of the market.

Buying a Left-Handed Acoustic

I want to note that I will aim this guide at a less experienced reader. It is logical to assume that if you are reading this then you do not know your own style well enough yet to decide exactly what you want. Here are the important characteristics to keep in mind when you shop for a left-handed acoustic guitar.

Woods

It’s very important to take into account the type of wood that makes up the guitar. Each wood, or combination of woods, creates a different sound and tone. Guitars can have different woods in the body and the neck, and generally the body is more important in terms of tone.

Wood also determines the appearance of the guitar, although that is obviously not as high a priority as tone. Lastly, wood can affect the weight of the guitar, which might seem silly but can actually significantly change how the guitar feels to play.

Woods are generally divided into two types: hardwoods and softwoods. It is common for luthiers to use a mix of the two in order to get a balance of tone and weight. In general, alder provides great mids and lows with some sustain. Ash provides more sustain and a better high tone.

Basswood is well-balanced and strong throughout the spectrum. Korina is known for sustain, detail, and lightness. Mahogany is warm, deep, and balanced. Maple is very bright and appealing but tends to be heavy.

It is common to mix maple and mahogany to get a medium-weight guitar with a great overall sound. Poplar has balance but the tone is not particularly attractive and it is mostly known for its inexpensive cost.

Rosewood is extremely bright and borders on being too bright, and it is also heavy. Walnut has a tone similar to mahogany but with a little more grip in the bass notes. There are other woods, but those tend to be the most common ones for guitars.

Even if you are not convinced about a particular model of guitar, it would be a good idea to find some examples that are constructed with different common wood combinations and try them out in person to see how they differ.

That can help you narrow down your choices because you can hear the difference and get a feel for what each wood is like. Don’t feel bad about making your decision in part on appearance, either. You should be happy with your instrument in all of its details.

Price

The price for a good acoustic can vary a lot, so you need to make sure you are getting exactly what you want and for a good price. There are a lot of factors that play into the price of a guitar. A higher price is generally associated with higher general quality.

That includes things like more care in putting the instrument together, better materials, more effort in the design, and so on. This can hit a point of diminishing returns, however, when all you need is a guitar that can play well.

It doesn’t need a detailed inlay or elaborate finishing work to sound good. The quality of the wood does matter, though. Some woods are more expensive than others in general, and even in the same species the location matters.

It might be worth it to spend a little more to ensure that you know the wood is coming from a good source. This is about durability as well as tone. Usually a guitar with a more detailed and careful assembly process will cost more. Even ingredients like glue can make a difference.

Try to come up with some key attributes that your dream guitar must have and then another list of nice options that you can live without. That will help guide your search and show you what you can sacrifice so you can still meet your budget.

I know from experience that you need to go into a shopping trip like this with a budget and stick to it. It is way too easy to get excited and overspend on musical gear, so discipline will make a big difference to what you eventually shell out.

The limited selection for lefties does mean you might wind up paying more than a right-handed friend with a similar feature list, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get good value.

Other Features

There are several features that can differ with an acoustic guitar.

The fingerboard can look and feel quite different from one guitar to another. Partly that comes down to the wood and the finish, but other things also play a role like the action, the size of the frets, and the bridge.

You also need to think about how easy the guitar is to work with. Do the tuners turn easily? Is the strap tight and secure? These questions can be a concern with older or used guitars.

Think about whether you have any interest in being able to hook up your guitar to an amp at some point. Most acoustic players won’t use this feature much but it could come in handy in a secondary guitar.

The Competition

After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.

InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Martin LX1EL
Creates a beautiful sound worthy of the Martin name$349.00
Redwood RD100
Good tonewood combination and you will probably see it a lot because the sound it creates is suitable for a wide variety of genres
Rogue RG-624
Sound that is equal or better than what you will hear out of significantly more expensive guitarsOut of stock
Breedlove Discovery Concert
Narrower "waist" which gives the guitar a different feel as well as changing the sound$299.00
Ibanez AEG18LII Cutaway
The design is beautiful with a sunburst finishOut of stock
Ibanez AW400CENT
The big difference here is a preamp with its own equalization tools$412.49

Our Recommendation:
Martin LX1EL Little Martin Electro-Acoustic

My top pick for a lefty is the Martin LX1EL Little Martin Left Handed Electro Acoustic Guitar. As the name implies, it is an acoustic guitar with electric capabilities, meaning that it has a port for you to connect it to an amp, if you want to.

The guitar itself is a composite design. The top is made of sitka spruce and the back and sides are mahogany. That combination creates a beautiful sound worthy of the Martin name. It is deep, rich, and warm without weighing down the instrument.

The neck is made of stratabond with a fingerboard of richlite. The Martin has 20 jumbo frets and chrome tuners. It has a set of Fishman Isy T pickups. What makes this guitar such a great choice is its versatility.

For about $500 you get the ideal acoustic gig guitar. The ability to hook it up to an amp lets you bring its tone to a venue-sized space. It comes with a gig bag for protection and safekeeping during travel.

If you are not interested in playing through an amp, the unplugged tone is excellent on its own. It’s a flexible choice whether you are playing at home or on the road, so even though it costs a little more than some other options, it means you do not need to buy a second road instrument.

Runner Up: Redwood RD100 Acoustic

In second place, I have selected a more affordable and accessible option. The Redwood RD100 Left Handed Acoustic Guitar costs just about $125. It uses the “dreadnought” body shape, which is rounded and symmetrical.

Like the Martin, it has a spruce top and mahogany body. That’s a good tonewood combination and you will probably see it a lot because the sound it creates is suitable for a wide variety of genres.

This is an inexpensive generalist guitar. The fingerboard and bridge are made of sonokelin, and the fingerboard itself has a pearl inlay.

The cost savings comes from slightly lower quality of wood and the lack of electronic elements. This guitar is more suitable for home play than travel.

Other Options to Consider:

Rogue RG-624 Dreadnought Acoustic

For an even more budget friendly choice consider the Rogue RG-624 Left-Handed Dreadnought Acoustic. It only costs about $90. It has the familiar spruce and mahogany construction with a rosewood fretboard.

You’ll get a sound that is equal or better than what you will hear out of significantly more expensive guitars. You get a lot of value out of the Rogue and it is perfect for those without much experience playing.

Breedlove Discovery Concert Acoustic

Next, consider the Breedlove Discovery Concert Left Handed Acoustic Guitar. It is another spruce and mahogany build but this one has a concert body design instead of dreadnought.

The difference is a narrower “waist” which gives the guitar a different feel as well as changing the sound. This model costs $300 and is of somewhat greater quality compared to the Rogue.

It has the flexibility to be played fingerstyle or with a pick, and it will sound good whether you are strumming or picking out individual notes.

Ibanez AEG18LII Cutaway Acoustic-Electric

The Ibanez AEG18LII Cutaway Left-Handed Acoustic-Electric is another example of an acoustic that you can plug into an amp for bigger output. It has a new design, a cutaway where part of the body near where it will rest against your torso is cut out.

This can make the guitar more comfortable and also alter the sound, because the resonating space inside the body has changed shape. The design is beautiful with a sunburst finish. It is mahogany and spruce.

Ibanez AW400CENT Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric

The Ibanez AW400CENT Artwood Solid Top Dreadnought Left-Handed Acoustic-Electric is another acoustic electric hybrid that brings the signature Ibanez focus on tone and technique to the fore.

It has a cutaway, a port for an amp, the same wood construction as we have seen so far, and Fishman pickups. The big difference here is a preamp with its own equalization tools.

That shows a real commitment to the electric half of the instrument and gives you a greater degree of control over the sound signal that comes out. At $430 it is not the cheapest option so you need to make sure that you really want to play it through an amp regularly.

Start the discussion at talk.hearthemusicplay.com

/* ]]> */