Most guitars are designed to be played right handed, however there are many guitars made for left handed players.
While it is great that you can choose whether you want to play left or right handed, sometimes you might want to convert an acoustic guitar to fit your play style.
Can a left handed acoustic guitar be changed to right handed?
Yes, with a few exceptions, most acoustic guitars can be converted from left handed to right.
Changing a guitar from left to right handed requires a few simple changes, but depending on the guitar, may cost a few dollars.
Flipping the nut and saddle is required for the conversion, and if desired, the pick guard as well.
Can you convert a left handed acoustic guitar to right
Yes, a left handed acoustic guitar needs a few adjustments to complete the conversion to right handed play, however, it is usually a simple process.
Bridge Saddle and Neck Nut Flip
The nut on the neck, and the bridge saddle, both points of contact with the strings, will need to be adjusted.
Standard nuts and saddles have grooves in them that are to match the size gauge of the string they’re meant to hold.
To simply restring the guitar won’t be enough, we need to remove and flip both the saddle and the nut.
This is a video showing how to flip the nut on an electric guitar. The bridge of an acoustic guitar is usually the same process.
In the video he shows a couple different nut styles, some are not able to be flipped, and will require you to purchase a new right handed nut for your acoustic guitar.
For example, below is a picture of my Taylor acousitc guitar, if I wanted to convert the play orientation of this guitar, I would need to buy a new nut for the neck.
This is because the nut is not symmetrical, but has a slopped side, if you flip the nut around, you would likely have buzzing issues at best, and an unplayable guitar at worst.
While bridges and saddles are designed to hold the string precisely, if the guitar is more of a beater acoustic guitar, you could consider filing down the necessary grooves.
You can file the smaller grooves enough to fit the large gauge strings, and the smaller gauge strings should fit well enough in the preexisting larger grooves.
This isn’t ideal, but not every left to right handed guitar conversion will be ideal.
Pickguard and Scratch Plate Conversion
You should know that when you convert a guitar to the opposite side of playing, the pickguard or scratch plate will be upside-down.
Many acoustic guitars have a simple pickguard that’s glued to the body of the guitar.
You have two options, leave it as is, and go without a pickguard, or remove it and reapply it to the new orientation.
Both options have pros and cons.
It will look funny to have a pickguard upside-down, if you choose to leave it as is.
However, when you remove a pickguard, there’s often discoloration from aging underneath the pickguard.
Over time the wood and finish on a guitar will age, and the area under the pickguard will not age at the same rate.
So if you move it you’ll have an area of discoloration, you just need to decide what your preferences are and how you want to proceed.
Lastly, there are some structural considerations to be aware of.
Guitars are designed and crafted to be played a certain way, and the structure and supporting braces within the guitar may be designed in such a way that switching the strings can cause problems.
Is this a huge, major problem?
Not necessarily, most guitars are strong enough that this isn’t a major concern, however, you may want to consult a guitar tech or luthier prior to making the conversion on a nice guitar.
The worst case scenario would be warping and more frequent maintenance adjustments for the guitar, perhaps faster wear.
You’ll still be able to play as normal after the conversion, I just want you to be aware of all the considerations, even minor ones like this.
Can a left handed acoustic guitar be changed to right handed play without structural issues occurring?
Yes, and it’s done all the time, however, you ought to ensure you know the considerations before you start the conversion.
Can an Acoustic guitar be left and right handed
While you can convert most guitars from left to right, or vice versa, you do not want to be constantly changing the orientation of your guitar.
For example, you shouldn’t buy one guitar expecting that both a right handed and left handed guitar player can play the guitar every day.
The conversion, while simple, isn’t something you should be doing daily.
Guitars are designed to be left OR right handed, but not both.
It’s not as simple as flipping a switch.
To convert a guitar to a different hand of playing it will take about an hour of time to complete the conversion.
Of course, there are many ambidextrous musicians and guitar players out there.
However, guitars themselves, are not designed to be ambidextrous.
Can you restring a left handed guitar to right handed?
Just restringing the guitar from left to right handed will not be enough to set the guitar up correctly, and can cause issues that can be easily avoided.
Restringing the guitar isn’t enough, however, while restringing if you can flip the nut and the saddle, that should meet the basic needs of the guitar.
This of course assumes that the string gauge can fit properly in the saddle and nut grooves.
A little bit of filing may be required.
How to change left hand acoustic guitar to right
In order to convert a left handed acoustic guitar to be played right handed take the following steps:
- Remove all the strings from the guitar
- Carefully remove the nut from the neck and saddle from the bridge (both may be lightly glued in place)
- Flip the nut and saddle to the opposite orientation and replace them
- File the grooves in the saddle and nut to match the new string gauges as needed
- Restring the guitar in the new orientation
- Remove and adjust the location of the pickguard (optional)
Converting an acoustic guitar from left handed to right hand play isn’t too hard.
Can a left handed acoustic guitar be changed to right handed play?
Yes, and it’s a simple job too, you just need to be aware of all the considerations when doing so.