Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Help! Rookie guitar buying dilemma - Lefties and Righties

I have a rookie dilemma that I'm hoping the more experienced guitar players here can help me with.

I'm a lefty and a beginner. I have the chance to buy one of two guitars from the same seller - one is the make I've been trying to buy for months but have had ridiculous difficulty getting a left-handed version imported. This one is right-handed.

The other guitar is already left-handed but a different brand.

Both are lovely guitars in similar condition at similar prices. Both are from Godin guitars.

The seller has been decent and honest and helpful. I asked about swapping the strings round on the righty and they said that would work but I'd still need to get the saddle reversed.

So now I'm wondering if that's a worthwhile thing to do. Will the quality be affected by doing that, is it too expensive a job to lavish on a guitar for a beginner?

As a beginner would I be able to tell the difference? What difference would it make to the sound if I reverse the strings but not the saddle?

Do guitars forced to be other-handed end up with issues and emotional baggage like left-handed kids who used to get smacked with a ruler by severe Victorian teachers until they buckled and conformed?

Why can't I just have what I want? Answers on a postcard.

Thanks, Caitlin.


Abahachi said...

Lots of great precedent for stringing a right-handed guitar upside down for a left-hander, Hendrix being the obvious example. He didn't change the saddle round (so the trem arm on a Strat was on the opposite side to the usual), but I would have thought there might be some issues with intonation, i.e. getting the strings the right height above the fingerboard and keeping the thing in tune. You would certainly need to change the nut, as that's cut for different sizes of string. That ought to be very cheap. Hope that's some help.

B-Mac & Burger Sauce said...

hahaha i don't know which bit the saddle is!! despite having owned guitars for the last 16 years!!

Dangerpuss said...

Thanks Abahachi. The seller definitely said "saddle" not "nut" although I read elswhere today that the nut needs reversing.

I should probably add that they're acoustic not electric. Does that makes a difference to what you said?

Cheers, Caitlin

Shoegazer said...

As on a righty guitar, it's the left hand that does the heavy lifting, would have thought it would be easier for a lefty to learn on a righty than *ahem* a normal person.

Were some of those lefty guitar gods telly just smart rightys? I think we should be told.

Chris said...

Is there a problem with the already-lefty, Caitlin? If it sounds good and feels good, why not buy it?
I'm impressed that you've been trying to import a first(?) guitar: I seem to remember begging for the cheapest one... but why do you need to introduce complications? There is a small possibility that you and guitarring don't get on, and then you'll have spent time and money fiddling around for no reason.
If, on the other hand, you're a natchrel geetarr player, you'll probably set your eyes on a different one after a while anyway.

As the saying goes: if it ain't broke, don't take it apart, swap things round, modify other bits and put it all back together again.

Cheers, Chris

treefrogdemon said...

Having tried and failed to teach my lefty son to knit left-handed (I just couldn't work out the moves), I decided to teach him the guitar right-handed. Worked a treat.

Dangerpuss said...

Thanks for all the feedback. I got a very cheap trial guitar a couple of years ago to confirm whether I'm a lefty for guitar. With some things in life I've learned to do them right-handed out of necessity and that's felt ok but I spent a few months with the righty starter guitar and it never became comfortable. I reversed the strings and it immediately felt better.

After months of browsing, I ordered a gorgeous lefty through a local retailer who months later said the importer wouldn't order the guitar for me from the manufacturer with a tall tale about them no longer making them. The manufacturer told me directly that they do still make the lefty I want but we're at stalemate which is why I was hoping I could turn a righty of that make into a lefty when it suddenly became available but I'm always wary of tinkering with something to turn it into something it isn't.

I decided this afternoon to go with the already lefty for the first few years. I like to learn on a nice, good quality instrument even if I don't stick with it for more than a few years.

Thanks again for the good advice!

Treefrogdemon, I'm a knitaholic and my right-handed mum taught me. I've apparently developed an in-betweeny way of doing it - mostly lefty but strangely hybrid. So I hope your son sticks with it. Knitting is really booming again with lots of funky creative things to do with it. Plus you can drum with those nice bamboo needles. :o)

Cheers, Caitlin

Abahachi said...

As suggested in considerably more long-winded way above: reversing saddle is probably desirable, nut is essential. Since you can actually get a left-hand guitar, unlike Hendrix, I think that's by far the best bet.

Oddly, my father is right-handed but bats (cricket) left-handed.

CaroleBristol said...

Go for the lefty.

sourpus said...

I would choose the left-hander too

Lostthelot said...

Bit late picking up on this but may be useful anyway. I am a natural lefty (Write with my left) but play guitar (40+ years now) right-handed. It is not a disadvantage as one is more adept with the left hand which is used for fretting. I would advise you go for a left-hander if that is more natural-feeling for you but I would avoid changing guitar from right to left unless it is an expensive instrument. Godin make very nice affordable guitars in left and right handed versions. Check out eBay too for a reputable seller with the model you fancy and have tried. Lefties are generally cheaper as they are in less demand. Contact me if yoiu need any help/advice
Cheers and good luck, it is worth the pain!!!