Switching Righty Guitar To Lefty

How to switch any righty guitar to lefty.

Ultimate Guitar
I, like many aspiring rock stars, had to pay for all of my equipment. While all my friends were getting mommy and daddy to buy them $400 strats, I had to settle for a $40 electric I got from a video rental company. I didn't have enough for an obscenely expensive lefty, so I figured I would just play it backwards. Horrible, horrible idea. While it works for some players like Seal and Jimmy Haslip, figuring out chords like that almost turned me dyslexic. Little did I know how easy it is to switch a rightie to lefty. The first obstacle a person restringing a guitar comes into is the bridge. In a strat style the low E might not fit through the high E's notch in the bridge. If possible, force it through the bridge. If not, take it into a shop to be proffessionally done. A proffessional job will run you between $20 and $50 depending on the store. Once you get the low E through the bridge string run it along the body like you normally would. Once it gets to the nut lay it across the itty bitty hole where the high E should be. Then put it in the string post of the tuning machine like you normally would. On a strat-style guitar this system actually provides a better-playing guitar for drop-D or other drop tunings. The extra 3 or 4 inches the low E has to go increases the tension on the string and makes it less floppy. Be careful when winding the string. It is very easy for the low E and sometimes the A to pop out all of a sudden from their nut slots. It might be beneficial to use one hand to keep the string in place and use the other to wind until you get close to pitch. Miraculously, once the string gets tuned to pitch your worries are over. You can play as hard as you want and the string will not budge from the nut as long as you keep it in relative tune. Repeat the process for the other strings, which should all be pretty easy except for the high E. The problem with the high E is that once it gets into the string post it has a ton of extra string because it is usually at the end of the headstock. It also has a lot more room in the nut than it is supposed to have. Paul McCartney used to cut up toothpicks and stuff the extra space with those. I do not reccommend this, as there really aren't many problems with the high E left in the low E slot. The next conversion takes a bit more gusto and daring. Unscrew the screw holding the strap pin closest to the neck. Approximate the middle of the horn on what used to be the bass side and is now the treble side. With a hammer make a hole almost exactly on the other side from where th old hole is. Then screw the strap pin in and you're done! The final modification is a lot trickier. No matter what kind of guitar you turn into a lefty it will have intonation problems once you're finished. Intonation has to do with the string's distance between the nut and bridge, and needs to be redone. I took it to a proffessional, as intonation is a very easy thing to screw up. If you're going to do it yourself, tune the guitar first. Then check the tuning of the 12th fret and then the 12th fret harmonic. They should be the same note, and if they're not you need to adjust the screw at the bridge and do it again until they are the same note.

91 comments sorted by best / new / date

    WOW! switchin the strings SO HARD! i never realized how HARD it was to switch the strings, dang this is rediculas
    Wish kurt had learned to play the left-handed guitar before he pretended to....
    yea well im left handed but i learned right handed and i had no trouble. if your a lefty and just starting out dont learn left handed unless you just absolutely want to. the reason being there are so many guitars that are only made for righties and only a handful made for lefties. thats the reason i didnt learn left handed.
    The problem with the tuners is easy solved: Simple switch them. They aren't so hard to take off (If you don't want to do it, take it to your store, they do it for you. If they mess up (unlikely) you'll get a new by warranty. And stores usually don't mind ordering a special lefty for you, and it doesn't cost ALL that much more.
    Im lefthanded and I play lefthanded too. I only do so from habit. I've gotte nto good to relearn it all again right hadned. I would if i had the chance og back and learn to play from scratch righthanded, simply because there is no real choice for left handers, its so amazingly frustrating, its like your discimnated against. lol. I can however play chords upside down on a righthanded guitar. some chords are easier for instance. playing a righthanded guitar upside (and vice versa for any righthanded people who're bored) can give you a pretty cooky sound, kinda backwards strumming,
    im a lefty and playing righty is just as easy. i can play both ways, but prefer righty. good to know if i want to turn my left handed guitar into a righty though
    good for hendrix posers or poor people (like me) but im righty so i dont have to deal with it nice article
    I'm left handed But when I bought my first guitar when I was 13 I decided just to get a right handed guitar and learn from that. I feels awkward in the beginning only because I've been air guitaring the left-handed way years before that. But when I started learning my first (major + minor) chords then the awkwardness just goes away.
    Pennyroyal Tea
    Lefty here. When i was a kid i learnt classical guitar right handedly, coz i didn't think it was important to tell my teacher i was a lefty.... as a result i kindof can play with both quite easily, but i picked playing left handed, simply coz i'm proud to be one. Regarding choice of guitars i didn't have much of a problem. I wanted a standard fender strat, and found one without many problems (got quite a discount on it too, i got it down to 500 euros from 600)
    power chordz
    just take a look at jimi hendrix's guitar there meant for a right handed person but switched for left jimi im a lefty too my guitar is upside down just like jimi yea im am cool!! RIP jimi hendrix RIP kurt cobian (they were both leftys
    Some left handed people can adapt to playing right handed, others can't. I'm one of the latter :/ It's plain to see theres a few people here that don't understand what left handed guitarist have to go through been a minority n all. When i was younger all i ever wanted was a Les Paul, i had to sacrifice two! Xmas's in order to get it, and pay extra from a weekend job i had. I still have the Les Paul which i love to bits but my second axe is a Strat 73 Reissue MIJ, right handed converted. I get as much fun outta the strat as i do the LP i swear. All i did to my strat was remove the tone pots as i never really bother with them and they get in the way a little upside down , and move the volume to the middle as i found that suited best. Les Paul http://www.jc0r.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/DSC... Strat http://www.jc0r.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/DSC...
    KevBlue18: lefties are very strange people ..all you righties watch out for the lefties they will get you to do strange things such as playing guitars up-side down.....do it "right" you idiot lefties. [POSTED: 04 January 2005 - 22:25]| little stereotypical, don't you think?
    in my opinion it's not even really worth it, to go through all the hassles of swapping it around, which leaves lots of room for error, or spending the extra money for a left-handed guitar, unless of course you have parents that care about you or something. it's just as easy to play right handed guitars. That's what I do.
    lefties are very strange people ..all you righties watch out for the lefties they will get you to do strange things such as playing guitars up-side down.....do it "right" you idiot lefties.
    see, what i did, is, being a lefty, i bought a right-handed guitar, and i played it right-handed.
    Here's an idea for you lefties. PLAY RIGHT HANDED if you don't want to buy a left handed guitar. It's all the same, you just have to learn how to do it... to a starting guitarist, playing a G chord left handed with a left handed guitar is exactly the same as playing a G chord right handed with a right handed guitar. If a right handed kid was learning how to write left handed, he would be fine. P.S. The high e string sounds like shit when it's in the low e nut slot, cause there's too much space. and the low E string sounds like shit when it's in the high e nut slot, cause's there's too little space and it's sitting on top of the slot instead of fitting nicely into it. P.P.S. Left handed guitars are no more expensive than right handed ones... why would they be? Same materials, same amounts, same quality... just backwards. Don't believe me? Go to www.musiciansfriend.com and look for left handed ones. You should find the prices to be quite similar.
    I'm a lefty that's really just starting to play, and I've got a decent lefty squier strat. By looking at the shape of the body (on the right hander), it would seem to me that you wouldn't be able to comfortably reach several of the highest frets without your hand running into the body.
    NO! You need to learn lefty if you are lefty, unless it feels naatural for you to play right-handed. Most people complain about not having enough lefty guitars out there, but we can still get Gibson SGs, Les Pauls, Strats/Teles, most ibanez guitars. Every playing style fits into those guitars, o you don't hve an excuse, unless you like $700 BC Rich or 300 Mavericks...
    my gf plays a right handed guitar shes a lefty, tip for beginers u dont need a left handed guitar just use opposite hands to everyone else. I wouldnt recomend gettin a righty guitar if uve been playin left for a while though, my gf tried playin a lefty and it was 'wierd'
    i'm a lefty who sorta regrets not playing righty now that im looking for a new guitar. it's not really a big deal though, unless you plan on becoming a gearhead. our selection might be limited, but we can still get all the the really popular/famous stuff.
    Josh D.
    I am left handed...So my left hand is my "stronger" hand.....So I should fret with that? That is such a flawed line of logic. I mean all you right handed people should be fretting with your dominant/stronger hand, right? And which hand would that be?? Your right??? Hmmm. So get to fretting with your stronger hand there righties...I hate that flawed line of logic.
    Im lefty too but not because i was born that way but because i broke my left arm too many times (3 to be exact) and i cant rotate my wrist and hold the guitar neck... i can play simple songs on right handed guitars (held upside down) but i could never play complex songs on that and if you wanna play "non standar" guitars then go righty 'cause getting 7 string or baritone leftys is a pain in the ass.
    ^ But thats the thing. Right handed can openers, school desks and standard shift cars. We make do with the changes and do things right handed but often never as good as we could have otherwise. Why does nobody complain about left handed quarterbacks or left/right handed hockey sticks?
    @milosd3 - honestly you're the first lefty I've encountered in 35 yrs of teaching who has felt that way. I'm left-handed but I play right-handed. In fact I'm so clumsy w/ my right hand I don't believe I could have ever learned to fret that way - I seriously suck at keyboards b/c of terrible RH technique. I studied classical guitar which is very RH demanding and that was never a problem however - so maybe I could have made the switch. I normally encourage lefty students to start right-handed but your post may make me re-think that. The big hassle as a lefty is never being able to pick up a guitar at a party and always having a limited selection of instruments.
    im left handed but ive been playing righty for a few years, and just out of nowhere i tried playing lefty a few days ago. despite the few years of practice the strumming felt a lot more natural with my left hand.. so much so that i think i might actually relearn left handed (not much of a gear head). my strumming is ok now, but i just know that my left hand has so much more potential for strumming.. it just feels so much better when i try it. and though fretting might seem important at first, in the long run the strumming hand is much more important.. thats where most of the soul comes from. might as well cut my losses now and restart.. im sure it will pay off in the long run.
    Do not leave the nut as is. The notches have depth as well as width. A low E in a high E notch will ride much higher and the reverse for a high E in a low E notch. Your higher strings will tend to buzz and since the difference is at the nut end you won't be able to adjust it with bridge adjustments. If you can't take the nut out, turn it around, and figure out how to trim it to give it the same profile as before, fork over 5 or 10 bucks for one from a parts supplier.
    All these people saying that leftys should play righty... I was told the same thing yet I would be absolutely no where near as good as I am now on guitar if I had learnt to play right handed. Alright, there is definately a much larger choice of guitars for right handers, but if it feels natural to play lefty, then play lefty. Good article by the way, I'm gonna try this on my dad's right handed yamaha pacifica.
    i'm a lefty and i had this righty guitar that i got in a pawn shop for $50 in the corner of my room for about 3 years..thanks to this article i just ordered a new nut off ebay for about $6, so i can do this. vary nice article
    i read this article out of boredom... i am a righty and i actually play leftie guitars about 25 percent of the time, for like songs that dont have alot of chords except for a few powers... because my right hand is more dominant, i can move up and down the neck faster than my left ripping out faster crazier solos.
    yeah im a lefty but if its not that big a deal start righty, and you ll spend less and have a much bigger selection, example a small local guitar/music store usually has 50 to 60 guitars (including electrics, acoustics, mandolins, banjos ect) and uslually only 1 or 2 is a lefty but if ur like me when i started i do everything w/ my left and it just felt strange or foreign to me to play right handed, good article
    My friend is left handed, and he plays an upside-down righty. He doesn't even restring it. He's been playing that way for over two years.
    I'm ambidextrous so it really doesn't really matter what hand I play with but I always turn a guitar from right handed to left handed and left handed to right handed I just think it looks cooler and better I prefer playing left handed though
    If you are a left-handed person and learn right-handed guitar you will never be as good a player as you would be learning left from the start, as any time spent overcoming the awkwardness and adjusting to the right-handed style of playing could have been spent further practising just playing guitar (left handed).
    Its all a conspiracy, the righties are just jealous cause we have the greatest guitarist in our corner so they decide to take us down, discouraging us by deliberately taking out all the left handed guitars off the market. Then they come on acting like "lefties" and telling us the evils of our sinistrality and we have to "repent" and learn it right handed cause it will be easier. Pft, they're just doing that so we don't realize how boss we are on the guitar and they don't get owned by us during band auditions and concerts cause everyone knows the best people ever were left handed. Jimi was left handed, and Jesus was left handed (true! read the bible). So all you righties and so-called "lefties" who have a nice selection of guitars wherever you go, while we lefties have to get ours from the backroom, need to stfu because you never have to worry about not finding a guitar that suits you and getting the only one you can find or having to restring. Let us rock and leave us alone. Peace
    Pennyroyal Tea
    lefties should play right handed, which is the strongest hand? yeah the left, so which hand do you use more for fretting? left. im a lefty and my teacher always taught me to play right handed and i have no problems using my hands, just that for the first month i wanted to pick the guitar up the other way, it feels great once you get used to it.
    So how come right handers don't play lefty guitars instead?
    Just wanted to bring up a question regarding the pickups. Do they need to be flopped as well. Lay off the leftys. All of you mean spirited (hatin type)people really cant be musicians can you. Peace to all. Rock on
    Just wanted to bring up a question regarding the pickups. Do they need to be flopped as well. All of you mean spirited (htin type)people really cant be musicians can you. Peace to all. Rock on
    break_it down
    yeah im left handed and originally picked up a guitar left handed but i decieded that i didnt wanna go through all the "not enough left handed guitars crud" and changing rightys to leftys so i stuck it out and learned right handed. heaps good
    i have a left handed strat and i restrung the strings to where the E is at the bottom e at the top...kinna unusual but it works
    personally, i'm learning the guitar upside down like Hendrix. Just stick it out and learn it the hard way.
    Hey im a left handed guitarist who plays a right handed (ibanez) upside down...i've been playing for a year and a half now and know pretty much all the basics you need to know how to play guitar...i rarley read from tablature sights unless it's a song that i wanna learn every single step and note to...i am perfectly fine playing a right handed guitar upside down.....the only problem is that when playing with an amp standing up it screws you over....the knobs are going all over the ****ing place and your strap won't let you go past the 11th or 12th fret. But i have a solution for the very few of you who play like this...and i mean very few...go looking for a left handed guitar that has a 3 by 3 head stock and strap holders on the back of the guitar in the middle so it's kind of like an ambidextris (correct my spelling) guitar....if you are confused and have never seen a guitar like this go look at a epiphone SG....i've seen many SGs like this...and especially because it's left handed it won't bother you playing it with the strings flipped over Now after purchasing your guitar bring it home (make sure you have another set of strings) and re string it the other way...NOTHING and i repeat NOTHING will get in your way....the knobs are on the right side....the strap can be used both ways without getting in your way...and the strings are able to reach because theres 3 tuning keys on each side.... so there you go all of oyu that play like i do try it out if you look like a misfit the way you play....and don't let any **ck heads tell you otherwise -Dani_filth/Jesse Curry
    you just scared the heck outa me i would never try somthing like that cuz i just screw it up but kudos to ya for figuring it our
    im a lefty to and i play righty guitar.... it really dosent matter, its not like theres left handed pianio... but everyones different and they do things how they want them
    hmm im left handed yet i play right handed, theres a nice brain teaser for u all