Left-handed guitarists have often faced a stark choice: learn to play right-handed or adapt instruments to play upside down. These days, more and more brands are offering guitars specifically for left-handed players.
Note: This post was written by Claudius for our sister site, gearnews.de, and adapted for us.
The world is built for right-handed people.
Right-handed people are often unaware that left-handers need versions of many everyday objects they take for granted. Pretty much everything is available in a “left-handed” version: scissors, computer mice, sharpeners, fountain pens, special knives, corkscrews, can openers, wristwatches or even musical instruments. Have you ever seen a left-handed piano? Or left-handed sheet music? They do exist, but they’re rare. And that’s even though estimates of how many left-handed people there are range from 10 % to as high as 50%!
Since none of us in the editorial team are lefties, we asked the Gearnews community via social media (Facebook, Instagram). Sure, it’s not representative, but it’s still roughly in line with general surveys. About 20 % of readers who replied classify themselves as left-handed. Many complained about the lack of standard models or versions with special colours or pickups. Some bemoaned the higher prices on lefty versions compared to standard counterparts. Simply stringing the guitar the other way round is also a stopgap, and not a good solution for playing every day. Pots get in the way and the tuning pegs are on the “wrong” side (if you don’t play Gibson-style models).
But there is a ray of hope: More and more manufacturers are becoming more aware about the plight of left-handed players. But the situation is far from fair. We think it’s probably easy for manufacturers to make LH versions. Almost everything relevant to the guitar design is programmed on the computer and then milled by machines. Simply mirroring that shouldn’t be a problem. The difficulty is financial. If only around 20 % of guitarists are left-handed, many brands think, it’s not worth adapting many guitar models for them.
But these days, many dealers and stores do offer LH guitars. At Thomann, for example, there are currently 315 models. That’s not bad; other stores have considerably fewer. In total, however, Thoman currently carries 1342 Strat-style models. Right-handed models are not all in one category, of course. They’re divided into Strat, Tele, LP, SG, Hollow, Heavy, Jazz, Premium, 7-string, 8-string, Fanfret, Headless, 12-string, Baritone, Shortscale, Hybrid, Signature, Double-Neck, Other (including all offsets) and Modeling. You get the picture. If each category included only 16 electric guitars, you’d already be at the total range for Leftys at one of the world’s largest retailers.
Which brand had the most LH models listed on Thomann? The answer may surprise you: it was Harley Benton. With 77 models available, it’s currently by far the brand with the most left-handed guitars. Next came Fender (47) and Gibson (30). Now, we should mention that Harley Benton is an inhouse brand of Thomann, which also owns our publisher, Remise3. But here the numbers speak for themselves: it looks like the people at Harley Benton are trying very hard to offer lefties a decent amount of choice.
The best electric guitar models for lefties
Even though electric guitars for left-handed players are only a fraction of the overall market, we can safely say that there are still some gems out there. Of course, left-handed players deserve more choice. We – all guitar players – should make the manufacturers aware of the need, keep pointing out the raw deal lefties get (like with this article). It’s the only way to change things.
We’ve listed a selection of some of the best electric guitars for left handed players, for every budget. We’ve tried to include at least one in every guitar category starting with the lowest priced guitars and working our way up. If you have a favourite left-handed model we haven’t included, we’d love to hear from you! Because they offer the most left-handed models, we included more of the Harley Benton guitars (four).
Harley Benton ST-20LH SB
Money tight? No problem. Whether it’s for the beginning of your guitar career or just to try out or instrument at home, the Harley Benton ST-20LH should be up to the task. This one is in a classic Sunburst finish.
Harley Benton HB-35Plus LH Cherry
Another classic shape, this semi-hollow guitar is great for blues and jazz but also for alt rock and rockabilly. Loaded with two humbuckers, the HB-35Plus sounds great and it’s a timeless shape. This version has a classic Cherry finish.
Harley Benton DC-Junior FAT LH Faded Cherry
“A real rock’n’roll animal” is how Harley Benton describes this guitar. For a budget instrument, the DC-Junior packs quite a punch, with good sound, playability and great value. Loaded with a stacked P90, this guitar has a fatter neck profile. If you’re a lefty with bigger hands and want to snag yourself a red-blooded rock guitar, this one’s for you.
Jackson JS32-L Rhoads
We were surprised to find this offering from Jackson. The Rhoads guitar has a very distinctive jagged V-shape, Floyd Rose and 24 frets. Without question, this one looks likely to make a good companion for the first steps in your metal career.
Fender Squier CV 60s Jazzmaster LH
Offsets are hated and loved in equal measure. I love them, which is why there are quite a few in the list. I had a Squier Jazzmaster as a backup guitar for a long time and was never disappointed. Here is the CV series version, for all those who like slightly more distinctive shapes this side of heavier genres.
One of the most recognisable electric guitars, the JEM is a modern classic. This is the affordable JR version, complete with Steve Vai’s signature monkey grip, double-locking trem, three Quantum single coils and a nice, flat 400 mm radius fretboard with Tree Of Life inlays. Nice.
Harley Benton Amarok 6 LH BKNT Flame Burst
OK, this is the last Harley Benton, promise. All three variants of this dark beast – 6- and 7-strings as well as baritone – are available in LH versions. This is the upper end of the Harley Benton range in terms of specs, with EMG pickups, TUSQ nut, Grover tuners and a 5-ply slim taper neck with a macassar ebony fretboard and glow-in-the-dark markers.
Danelectro DE 59M LH NOS+
The special feature of Danelectro electric guitars is the body. The body of the 59M NOS is only made of wood on the sides and the middle block, the rest is Masonite, a composite material. This makes the guitars lighter and gives them a distinctive sound. Add to that the characteristic Lipstick pickups… This is definitely for those of looking for something a bit different.
Epiphone Les Paul Custom Ebony LH
The Epiphone Les Paul Custom is near the middle of the range pricewise, with a mahogany body and neck, black finish with gold hardware and two ProBucker pickups. You can’t get much closer to a Gibson LP Custom in the three-digit price range.
Fender Player Series Telecaster MN 3TS LH
Fender also has great electric guitars in the mid-market range. The Player Series includes this nice Telecaster in Sunburst with Alnico pickups. The LH version is also available in Butterscotch.
Gretsch G5420LH Electromatic
Gretsch builds some higher-priced hollowbody models in a single-cut design. The Electromatic series offers the classic shape with the characteristic FilterTron pickupsm just in a cheaper version and including this LH guitar! Everything is in the right place, the controls and tuners are where they should be.
Schecter C-1 Hellraiser FR BCH LH
Another LH model for heavier genres. This is for players that favour flat necks, nimble fingerboards and active EMG pickups, but also prefer a Strat shape. Add in a Floyd Rose trem for dive bombs, and 24 frets. What more do you need?
BC Rich Stealth Legacy LH
The BC Rich Stealth Legacy is a very different animal, with a flared X-shaping, an alder body, narrow maple neck and ebony fingerboard. It is clearly intended for heavier styles, and priced well over the €1000 mark this is no impulse buy. But if you’re considering this shape, you’ll probably not be buying it on a whim anyway.
Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar LH
No “lefty” list would be complete without a guitar played by one of the most famous left-handed guitarists: Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana front man played a modified Jaguar for a long time, today it’s available from the factory as a genuine left-handed version. And from my own experience with the right-handed version, I can only say that it is worth every penny.
Gibson Explorer Antique Natural LH
Gibson not only build Les Pauls and SGs, but also Explorers. The Explorer Antique Natural LH isn’t quite full-on style-wise as the BC Rich above, but is still clearly aimed at rock and metal. Perfect for playing Metallica covers. Or U2. Or The Killers. You get the idea. It also feels quite comfortable when played sitting down. And definitely stands out.
Gibson SG Modern TBF LH
The Gibson SG Modern is relatively new on the market, and it’s good to see it includes this lefty model. The SG Modern has a mahogany body, maple AA top, translucent finish, trapeze inlays and binding. It will go way beyond AC/DC covers and definitely looks the part.
Fender AM Ultra Strat LH
Probably one of the most famous guitar shapes of all time, the Strat was recently relaunched in the American Ultra series. Of the roughly 6 LH Stratocasters available at the time of writing, we picked the Arctic Pearl version, with a classic tremolo and three Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat Singlecoils. A good companion for almost any style.
Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s LH
At least as classic is the Gibson Les Paul Standard in the 50s version as the legendary goldtop*. The price tag is correspondingly high – fans of the Les Paul are sure to be happy to pay this for a Gibson including case and Made in the USA. There are quite a few other models up there.
Duesenberg Caribou LH
It doesn’t always have to be one of the big manufacturers. In my experience with the Duesenberg models, I would also blindly recommend them. Above all, they are usually interesting interpretations of classic shapes with great workmanship and a modern touch. The Duesenberg Caribou LH* in Narvik Blue probably stands out in all respects (and has a single-coil humbucker on the neck).
Gibson ES-335 LH
The Gibson ES-335 in Cherry* is fortunately also available as an LH version. The semi-hollowbody guitar is equipped with maple body and top and there is certainly not much to say about the classic. With the 1960s specs, it’s a great guitar for anything that doesn’t get heavily distorted.
Gretsch White Falcon LH
One of the most noble guitars I know is the Gretsch White Falcon*. Hollowbody with centre block, white lacquer, curved f-holes and otherwise golden hardware and FilterTron pickups – everything here calls “premium”. The price is also somewhat higher than you would pay for a “normal board”. Certainly the reputation also plays a role here.
PRS Custom 24 Lefthand 10 Top YI
PRS is also represented here*. And at least at Thomann, it is one of the most expensive electric guitars for left-handers. But in return you get the finest components and a look that is probably second to none. The Custom 24 is so beautiful that I would hardly dare to touch it.