Guitars

The Best Left-Handed Electric Guitar

It doesn’t take long before a left-handed person comes to realize they are living in a right-hand world. But after several hours of research and hearing from a variety of left-handed guitarists and guitar specialists, we’ve discovered a large variety of electric guitar options for lefties.

After scouring the internet and giving a strum to several southpaw electric guitars, we’ve concluded that our favorite is Fender’s Left-handed American Standard Stratocaster. Explore the following buyer’s guide to learn more about this classic instrument and how to choose the best left-handed electric guitar.

Credit: Amazon.com

Top Pick: Fender Left-Handed American Standard Stratocaster

Buy from Amazon

This guitar features a classic alder body, exceptional hardware, and produces a well-engineered sound. 

Why Trust Us?

According to an article in Psychology Today, German researchers determined that left-handed musicians showed no signs of physical discomfort and had a more positive outlook than their right-handed peers. Opinions of left-handed guitars vary throughout the music community.

To test the waters, we visited Mr. Music, a prominent new, used, and vintage guitar shop in Allston, Massachusetts. We were accompanied by a left-handed child looking for a 3/4 sized electric guitar. While the store stocked several left-handed models, the seasoned attendants pressured us to purchase a right-handed instrument.

They reasoned that an untrained child would need to develop strength in both their hands. However, if they chose a left-handed guitar, they would have far fewer options in the future. Such logic is sensible, but not all left-handers are willing to settle for convenience.

A sales person is also more likely to focus on building a lifelong customer, while an avid musician is not going to let a lack of inventory stand in the way of their music.

Despite the variety of feedback we received, our research showed there are a number of excellent left-handed guitar models on the market. However, online marketplaces have a far more diverse inventory than traditional brick-and-mortar shops. While we recommend testing an instrument in person before purchasing, thorough research and online shopping may land you with a superior model.

How to Choose a Left-Handed Guitar

If you are looking to purchase a guitar for a novice musician, you must first determine which direction the player prefers to hold the instrument. A left-handed guitarist strums and picks with their right hand while manipulating the fretboard with their left.

Younger players may have dexterity in both hands, while older ones might struggle to perform complicated fingering tasks without their dominant hand. While many guitar stores urge underdeveloped musicians to veer to the right, giving up on your dominant hand can come back to haunt you.

If these guitar greats have taught us anything, it is that there are a variety of ways to successfully play the left-handed electric guitar. Options include purchasing a standard left-hand guitar, flipping a right-handed one, playing upside down, or taking a stab at a traditional right-handed model.

Left-Handed Models

If you’ve settled on the left side, remember you are not alone. Famous lefties include Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Paul McCartney. There are also several accomplished left-handed musicians who opted to play right handed, such as B.B. King and Duane Allman.

Budget

Whether purchasing a left-handed or right-handed guitar, a musician must always start their search by determining their budget constraints. While a vintage Fender Stratocaster Left-hand can cost over $2000, there are several new, used, and vintage models priced between $200 and $600 that will meet the needs of any player.

There are also many luxurious vintage instruments, such as this Traditional Les Paul that have a price tag that reflects the ingenuity and craftsmanship needed to develop such an exceptional instrument. However, many midrange modern models are capable of producing great sound without breaking the bank.

Size

After you’ve declared your budget, consider who the instrument is for. For example, children and small adults will want to purchase a 3/4 size guitar or a lightweight model.

Style

Aspiring musicians will also want to consider what type of music they want to play with their guitar. There are preferred models for country, hard rock, punk, metal, etc.

Before you nail down a choice based purely on aesthetics, talk to an objective guitar seller to determine which left-handed models will produce the sound you are seeking.

Anatomy

Shopping for a left-handed electric guitar is essentially the same as shopping for a right-handed one, only there are far fewer options available. The important thing to consider is that a guitar’s anatomy is going to be the same.

You will want to familiarize yourself with basic the basic elements of a guitar before committing to an instrument.

Body

Electric guitars come in all sorts of flavors. Stuck between choosing a solid, semisolid, hollow, single cutaway, double cutaway, arch top, or horned guitar? Check out this article on types of electric guitars for a complete guide to common electric guitar varieties.

We recommend a solid bodied Stratocaster, but there are plenty of other less traditional options that still fit the bill. Apart from aesthetics, bodies are made from a variety of woods.

Alder, ash, and mahogany are all popular choices, but economy options sometimes feature lesser known tonewoods, such as Agathis or poplar (Ratcliffe).

Pickups

The two major types of electric guitar pickups are the single coil and the humbucker. If you were to dissect a single coil pickup, you would find a coil of wire looped around six magnetic pins. Each of these pins is linked to a string.

The coil of wire picks up the string’s vibrations and transmits them to your amp when a string is manipulated. On the other hand, the humbucker pickup consists of a pair of wire-wrapped magnetic pins.

By adding the additional set, the humbucker reduces the instruments hum. By muting the hum, the humbucker seems to lose some of the bright tonal qualities provided by single coils. It also gains a bit of warmth and clarity.

Tremolo

Some guitars feature a tremolo bridge and whammy bar. A whammy bar is used to alter string tension and produce a vibrating effect. Check out this fun article on how to use a whammy bar. You can easily enjoy a guitar without a tremolo system, but there is no doubt that having one gives a player more options.

Neck and Fretboard

The neck and fretboard are often made from a variety of woods, such as rosewood and maple, that differ from the guitar body. When researching a guitar you will want to look at this along with the size of the frets, the style of inlays, the neck radius, and even the feel of the wood lacquer.

While the widest selection of southpaw guitars is available online, stepping into a brick-and-mortar store will allow you to rest an instrument in your hands and confirm that it feels and fits just right.

“Flipping”

Some circumstances make “flipping” a right-handed guitar the most viable option. Nevertheless, there is more to this switch than simply reversing the strings. For this reason, we recommend purchasing a left-handed model whenever possible. If you are locked into modifying a righty model, consider the following:

Nut

The nut is the white bar at the top of the fingerboard that aligns and spaces the strings. Nuts are made from a mixture of materials and are usually glued to the guitar neck. The slots in the nut are designed to fit strings in a descending order. Once you reverse the strings, the nut will also need to be replaced or modified.

Bridge

This is where “flipping” a guitar can get more complicated. While bridges vary between guitars, instruments that feature slanted bridges, such as Gibsons, can be a major hassle to adjust.

You will need to readjust the intonation for each string to assure your guitar sounds right. For this step, it is sometimes best to send your guitar to a designated professional.

Other Challenges

Even if you’ve made it past “flipping” the bridge and perfectly adjusted the intonation, there are still several struggles lefthanders may face when restoring a right handed guitar.

Consider the fact that the majority of electric guitars are asymmetrical. While many double cutaway guitars feature equal access to the fretboard, having a longer arm or horn can prove to be a major hindrance when turning the instrument around.

Moreover, the knobs, pickguard, input jack, and tremolo bar will all be in reverse. For lefthanders with little to no other option, “flipping” is a possibility. If you are in doubt, look at what Jimmy Hendrix was able to do with a minorly adjusted Stratocaster.

But times have changed and finding an affordable left-handed model is far easier than it was a few decades ago. We consider “flipping” to be a last resort.

Going Righty

As we discussed previously, there are plenty of advocates for making the full right-handed switch. However, many southpaws choose to embrace their difference and refuse to assimilate into a right-handed world.

Don’t let others manipulate you into buying a righty guitar. There are left-handed guitars for every type of musician. Plus, playing a right-handed guitar could severely inhibit your ability to play more complicated licks and solos as you grow into a more seasoned musician.

The Future of Left-handed Guitars

Most guitar manufacturers agree that producing left handed guitars is a major hassle. Between rerouting machines, deadstock, and lack of demand, making lefties costs more and doesn’t give a lot of rewards to those on the production side. That being said, modern manufacturing processes have allowed for an uptake in production.

While lefties will always have to deal with the awkwardness of positioning themselves onstage, lacking a backup instrument, or finding left-handed guides to learning or playing guitar, we can securely say that they will continue to have access to a growing variety of instruments designed just for them.

Unfortunately, the same rule does not apply to finding luxurious vintage models. This class of left-handed electric guitars is and always will be a rare and generally unattainable assortment.

Learning Guitar Leftie

As if finding a perfect left-handed guitar wasn’t difficult enough, learning to play one has its own set of hurdles. For obvious reasons, it’s quite difficult to find a left-handed guitar teacher or, for that matter, a right-handed one who is competent in left-handed instruction.

Some instructors will pressure left-handers to conform to a right-handed instrument. You need to use your own best judgment when facing pressure from others. Teaching yourself is always an option, but guitar texts and chord diagrams are commonly written for right-handed musicians and can be frustrating to translate.

Fortunately, there are a number of online resources that left-handers can utilize. While this can sometimes be impersonal, it is nice to know these options exist.

Remember, while a lack of options can seem like a setback, nothing stopped Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain from reaching great heights and it should

The Competition

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


InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Fender's left-handed American Standard Stratocaster
Features a rounded neck that makes for extreme comfort and versatility for a variety of playersOut of stock
Fender's left-handed Squier Stratocaster
Produce a quality vintage sound$249.99
Fender's Squier Affinity Telecaster
Beginner is sure to see the beauty and potential in this affordable instrument$199.99
Epiphone Les Paul
Capture the well-rounded tones of this vintage-inspired instrument$449.00
Ibanez GRX70QATRBL
Has a unique pickup combo$249.99
Schecter Guitar Research C-1 Hellraiser
Has been producing top quality guitars for a number of professional musicians$828.80
Fender Standard Telecaster
Provides all the promises of the Stratocaster with a bit of a different look and sound$599.99
Gibson Les Paul Traditional 2017 T
Made with high-quality maple, mahogany, and rosewoodOut of stock
Ibanez AS73 Semi Acoustic Guitar
Features a maple body, mahogany neck, and bound rosewood fingerboardOut of stock
Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster
Unique features of this model is its custom Alinco V single coil pickups$399.99

Our Recommendation

Fender American Standard Stratocaster

Credit: Amazon.com

After careful consideration, our top left-handed electric guitar is Fender’s left-handed American Standard Stratocaster.

Aesthetically, this guitar is available in a wide range of classic finishes, such as black, white, candy apple red, and sunburst.Its body is constructed of solid alder, while the fretboard is made of either solid maple or rosewood.

According to an article in Guitar Player, Fender often utilizes these woods because they are light weight and produce full-bodied sound (Hunter). The guitar features a rounded neck that makes for extreme comfort and versatility for a variety of players.

It also features Fender’s well-made parts, including their standard single coil pickups, a tremolo bridge, and aged plastic knobs.

The Stratocaster comes with three premium single coil strat pickups that provide it with its signature well-balanced tones. It features a vintage-inspired tremolo bridge.

If you aren’t familiar with the sound of a tremolo system, check out Guitar World’s YouTube video “Super-Vee Maverick Telecaster Tremolo System” for a complete audio definition.

The tremolo system includes a metal arm that produces desirable shaking or vibrato sound that has been popularized by many modern rock songs, such as “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. However, there seems to be no limit to what you can do with the Strat’s accessories.

The body is a double cutaway with a smooth, thin gloss urethane. However, the frets are glossed in a satin urethane that will prevent marks and allow for smooth playing for years to come.

Unlike cheaper models, the standard Stratocaster features copper body-cavity shields that eliminate unwanted feedback. While the shields don’t reduce or eliminate tone flexibility in any way, you don’t need to deal with the annoying buzz that is sometimes noticeable in Fender’s cheaper models.

For those looking to invest in a well-built midrange guitar, the Stratocaster is a solid instrument. It sells on Amazon for around $600.

This is an excellent value considering Fender’s strong historical significance and preferability amongst musicians. While it may never live up to the value of a vintage Stratocaster, most customers find it to be a sturdy, playable tool.

Runner Up: Fender Squier Stratocaster

Our runner up is Fender’s left-handed Squier Stratocaster. Fender’s Squier line of electric guitars is specifically designed to meet the needs of beginners and those on a tight budget.

For around $200, the Squier Strat is a solid instrument with a gorgeous look. The neck features the standard smooth “C” shape, with 21 frets, two tone controls, and three pickups.

The frets are wide and allow ample room for easy fretboard manipulation. The pickups are the standard single coil variety. They produce a quality vintage sound but do produce a bit of undesirable feedback.

While we are aware that there are several more dynamic sounding left-handed guitars, this strat is an exceptional choice within its price range. Unlike the standard Strat, the Squier’s body is made of solid Agathis. This wood is far cheaper than Alder, but it is still known to produce balanced tones.

For beginners, the price break from using cheaper woods is compelling. Its Alnico pickups and other onboard accessories are decent for their price range.

While you cannot expect the Squier to live up to the same standard as traditional Fenders, it is a good-looking alternative for beginners and bargain-hunters looking to get a taste of the Fender experience.

Other Products to Consider:

Fender’s Squier Affinity Telecaster

The Affinity Telecaster is another example of a finely crafted guitar that comes from Fender’s budget line. Crafted of solid maple, this instrument features two single coil pickups, a six-saddle bridge, and three-way pickup selectors.

While it can be difficult to distinguish the differences between the Stratocaster and the Telecaster, basic differences in pickups, body shape, and placement of knobs and pickups define these two instruments.

If you are struggling to choose between the two, stepping into your local, brick-and-mortar guitar shop and handling the guitars will probably narrow the field of ambiguity.

However, at $200 the Affinity telecaster features a gorgeous mock vintage design inspired by a Fender classic. As an added bonus, it comes in a variety of desirable finishes.

If you are already guitar savvy, we suggest you look at something with a higher price point. This telecaster is not going to provide you with the highest quality pickup or most dynamic tones. However, a beginner is sure to see the beauty and potential in this affordable instrument.

Epiphone Les Paul

Credit: Epiphone

Epiphone’s Les Paul features a gorgeous mahogany body, maple top, and rosewood fretboard. It also incorporates two Alnico Classic Humbucker pickups which capture the well-rounded tones of this vintage-inspired instrument.

We appreciate Les Paul as a longstanding American instrument manufacturer. However, the craftsmanship of their products has dwindled since they sent production overseas.

Still, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative to a Gibson Les Paul, Epiphone’s model makes the grade. For around $450 you can possess this durable solid body guitar and pump out some halfway decent sounds too.

Other perks of this classic guitar include chrome accessories, a name-brand tuners, and a tune-o-matic, stop tail bridge. According to an article on dummies.com, this bridge combination is known for its sharp, clear notes and enhanced sustain.

The Ibanez GRX70QATRBL Left-Handed Electric Guitar

Credit: Amazon.com

Ibanez makes yet another midrange left-handed electric worth taking a gander at. For some, the modern style and details of this guitar will make it their preferred model. The guitar’s body is made of solid basswood, with a maple neck, and rosewood fretboard.

We like that it has a unique pickup combo. There are two humbucker pickups separated by a single coil pickup. While the tonal balance you get with this Ibanez is pretty standard for guitars within this price range, what stands out most about this guitar is its unparalleled style.

The art grain top and sharp pointed horns of the guitar body make it an instrument of choice for countless heavy metal and hard rock musicians. In fact, a recent article in “Spinditty” lists Ibanez as one of the mainstays for metal musicians over the decades.

Schecter Guitar Research C-1 Hellraiser

Schecter Guitar Research is a 40-year-old company that began as a Californian guitar repair shop. Since its formation, Schecter has been producing top quality guitars for a number of professional musicians.

Their C-1 Hellraiser is an optimal guitar for metal guitarists. At around $850, this is not a great investment for a beginner. Still, a more seasoned guitarist will appreciate this mahogany masterpiece.

It features ultra-access cutaways and extra jumbo frets for ultimate playability. It also comes equipt with black chrome inlays that compliment its hard rock aesthetic flawlessly.

It comes with EMG active 81TW/89 pickups that give it dynamic tones. This instrument is solid and will hold up well to years of play.

Fender Standard Telecaster

We could not go without recognizing Fender’s standard Telecaster as an ultimate left-handed electric guitar. At around $600, we recommend this guitar for musicians with some experience.

While a beginner would appreciate the Telecaster’s fine tones, a cheaper model is best while still learning. We love the smooth C-neck, solid maple body, single coil telecaster pickups, and block saddles.

This instrument has all the promise of the Stratocaster with a slightly different look and sound. With the Telecaster, lefthanders have the luxury of enjoying the classic profile of a single cutaway guitar without the hassle of misplaced knobs and an ill fitted bridge.

The downside of this model is that it is outsourced to Mexico. While we found the instrument to be durable and soundly constructed, some customers have experienced issues with production defects.

Gibson Les Paul Traditional 2017 T

At around $2300, you’d best believe that the traditional Gibson Les Paul is a superb left-handed instrument. Unless this instrument fits both your budget and your playing ability, we suggest reserving these beasts for the professionals.

The 2017 model is a vintage-inspired model with all the benefits of modern technology. It is made with high-quality maple, mahogany, and rosewood. Its sound is completed by Burstbucker 1 and 2 Humbucker pickups.

Aesthetically, this guitar looks like its beloved ancestors and comes in three traditional sunburst shades. To put it simply, it sounds delightful. If you are diehard Gibson fan and left-handed guitarist, we suggest you give this instrument careful consideration.

After all, up until the 2017 T’s release, Gibson had taken a multiyear break from manufacturing left handed models. We only like to think that purchasing a beauty like this will convince them the demand for southpaw electric instruments is real and growing.

Ibanez AS73 Semi Acoustic Guitar

Let it be known that no style or variety of guitar is off limits to lefties. The hollow-bodied, semi-acoustic Ibanez is a grand instrument considering its low price of $500. It features a maple body, mahogany neck, and bound rosewood fingerboard.

It features stunning pearl fretboard inlays and signature F-holes. Beyond looks, this instrument offers a surprisingly wide range of tones. While we are disappointed that more guitar manufacturers haven’t stepped up and offered a comparable hollow body electric, this Ibanez is a decent option.

Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster

If you haven’t noticed, we have developed an appreciation for Fender’s line of left handed guitars. The Classic Vibe 50’s Telecaster is yet another predictably good model. One of the unique features of this model is its custom Alinco V single coil pickups.

Alinco V’s contain a very strong magnet that is responsible for “an aggressive, punchy sound” (Owens). It has a 9.5-inch fretboard radius. This size fretboard is common amongst Fender electrics.

It can be harder to play but has its perks for those who desire to perform complicated solos. Aesthetically, this Telecaster looks a lot like its ancestor. Considering a true 50’s era Telecaster typically sells for well over $3000, we think this replica is quite a steal.

Sources

Best Metal Guitar: Top Guitars for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal
Guitar Gopher – https://spinditty.com/instruments-gear/Best-Metal-Guitar

Hunter, D. (2008, January 28). Retrieved December 21, 2016.

Hunter, D. (n.d.). The Tune-o-Matic Guitar Bridge and Stopbar Tailpiece. Retrieved December 28, 2016, from http://www.dummies.com/art-center/music/guitar/the-tune-o-matic-guitar-bridge-and-stopbar-tailpiece/

Is Left-Handedness a Disadvantage for Musicians?
@PsychToday – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/why-music-moves-us/201112/is-left-handedness-disadvantage-musicians

Owens, J. (2011, February 9). What are Alnico Pickups? | Fender Tech Talk
http://www2.fender.com/experience/tech-talk/alnico-pickups/

Ratcliffe, A. (n.d.). Buyer’s Guides: Electric guitar tonewoods. Retrieved from Buyer’s Guides: Electric guitar tonewoods

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