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What Makes a Guitar Left-Handed?

We were asked whether any of the travel guitars we sell could be supplied in left handed versions. The unfortunate answer is “no”. The bigger question is what has to be changed from the “standard” right-handed guitar to make it suitable for left-handed use?

Obviously the strings are the “other” way around and to maintain symmetry of action when tuning the machine heads are reversed.. Then one or more of the following –

  • the saddle is reversed/replaced
  • there is a different bridge
  • the saddle is reversed/replaced
  • there is a different soundboard bracing

Just how many of these changes are required depends on the design of the guitar. A guitar is rarely symmetrical from treble to bass.

The strings are of different diameters and this needs to be accommodated in the depth of the grooves in the nut and in the slope of the saddle

Intonation issues are addressed by angling the saddle in the bridge and/or by having a compensated saddle. Occasionally a luthier will fit a compensated nut. To angle the saddle means having a slot cut in the bridge at an angle and it is this that can mean alternative bridges for left- and right-handed versions.

Finally there is the issue of asymmetric bracing under the soundboard where different weights of wood or different patterns are used for bass and treble. In such cases and left-handed guitar has a different soundboard to a right-handed one.