Left Handed Guitars

30th May

Left with a right handed guitar?

left-handed-guitarsPlease raise your dominant hand all budding electric guitar players out there! Good, I see we have a few who is left handed. Anything else would have been quite a surprise. Oh yes, feel free to take your hand down now :-)

Through the years I have met quite a few left handed guitar players, many of whom were struggling with either finding a decent lefty guitar, or biting the bullet and adopting to a regular right handed one.

Then you had a number of lefty guitarists, who bought a right handed instrument and converted it into a left handed one. Possible? Absolutely. The best solution? Not very likely.

In the following, we will take a look at the various options and potential obstacles you have as a lefthanded guitar player. And more importantly: Is it really needed to go shopping for dedicated left handed guitars?

A good left handed electric guitar

If you really insist on getting a good lefty, then at least take a look at the Agile left handed guitars. As you probably know by now, I’m a huge fan of these guitars – moderately priced and an almost insane value for your money.

Apart from these instruments, many makers have a wide variety of left handed guitars you may hunt down. That said, there are far less guitars being made of the lefty variety, simply because right handed guitar players are in the overwhelming majority.

The flip side of the (guitar) coin

One option that is tempting to a number of players, is to modify a right handed guitar to play “up side down”. While this has been done by many players, including giants such as Jimmy Hendrix who flipped his Fender Statocaster over and let it rip.

Very few of this category of left handed players used a right handed instrument without altering it. Without any modifications, the strings will be reversed also.

The common thing to do in this case is to reverse the order of the strings, so that you still have the low E-string on top. But before you say “cool!” and merrily hop along off to do some guitar flipping 101, consider this:

- The guitar nut will have to be changed
- The bridge and each bridge saddle has to be changed
- The controls will end up on the top
- The output jack will be in an awkward place
- The cutaways may no longer give you access to the upper frets
- Any vibrato unit will have the arm upside down
- Strap button placement needs to be altered
- The balance of the guitar changes, some times significantly

On some electric guitars, it is quite easy to alter the bridge and the bridge saddles. On others, like the ones which uses the Gibson tune-o-matic bridge, you’ll have to do some hefty modifications to the guitar in order to have the instrument play in tune.

Is this really worth all the hassle? The answer, in my right handed and biased opinion, is plain and simply a resounding no.

Seen many left handed violin players lately?

Consider this: There are quite a number of left handed violin, viola and cello players. Where are they, or how come they don’t use left handed instruments?

Also, don’t you think that the mere fact that a left handed violin player can handle a regular violin without a problem should tell us something of importance here?

When a real complicated instrument like this can be handled the “other way around”, I dare say it is no harder for a left handed guitarist to play a regular right handed guitar. I would even go so far as claiming you’re at an obvious advantage! You lucky duck :-)

Let your stronger hand do the heavy work!

If you start out with a regular, right handed instrument from day one, then you can in fact let your dominant hand (your left, right?) take care of the most difficult task, namely the fretting.

Also, since your left hand will be the strongest, it is an advantage to use that hand for the task which requires the largest amount of force – again it’s the fretting.

I can’t begin to count all the times I have had claims from left handed people who wants to learn electric guitar, saying something to the effect: “I need a left handed guitar, it feels so awkward to play right handed!”

Next thing you know, they go and purchase a lefty guitar … and guess what? They soon realize that it isn’t easier to play a left handed guitar. It is the act of learning guitar in the first place that is hard.

I’ll leave you with this train of though… Late, great Jeff Healey was legally blind, and as we all know he was an awesome and inspirational guitar player. Healey adopted a unique style of playing with the guitar placed in his lap while he played with his fingers. Many say this is simply because no one told him how he was supposed to play the guitar.

In any case, when you hear this sadly missed giant play “While My Guitar Gently Weep” with his guitar placed like this – don’t you think the rest of us can at least adopt to playing our guitar the other way around? You’ll be the judge of that for yourself.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Used Electric Guitar

9th January

Beginning With A Used Instrument

used electric guitarFinding a used electric guitar – or used acoustic guitar for that matter – should probably be one of the simplest and most straight forward tasks a budding guitar player could ever undertake.

The shops are constantly full of second hand guitars and these stringed instruments are being advertised in guitar magazines and online sites such as Craigslist and eBay by the thousands each and every day.

Add to that another massive number of classified ads running in newspapers and other magazines, plus used guitars changing hands trough bulletin boards and personal contact.

There are many valid reason why someone wanting to learn how to play guitar would want to consider buying  a used guitar.

At the same time there are quite a substantial number of potential pitfalls and things you should be aware of when you might be considering purchasing a second hand guitar.

In the following, we’ll take a closer look at all this.

Why buy a second hand guitar?

Why would you want to consider buying used in the first place? After all there’s an abundance of  really good brand new beginner guitars and the prices are way low too! These days, finding a new electric guitar bargain is basically compared to a Sunday stroll in the park.

Well, the way I see it, is that you may get a better quality instrument for the same price … if you know what to look for. Secondly, you will get an instrument that is played and thus has had the chance to “settle in” properly. Again you will need to know what to watch out for.

What to look for in used guitars

First of all you will absolutely be best off if you can manage to get help from someone who knows how to test guitars properly. Just trusting your eyes and the words of a seller is not the way to go about it.

If you have someone helping you out, then you may consider trying all sorts of used electric guitars – well known brands as well as the totally unfamiliar ones. You may be positively surprised by what you can find :-)

If you go about this without qualified help, you should stick to the better known brands. For a start, you may want to check out what other players are saying about the actual make and model at: Harmony Central.

If you like what you see here, you should examine and play the instrument thoroughly. It should go without saying that I advice you not to purchase a used guitar without having the chance to test if first when you’re a complete beginner.

Here are some of the things you should check:

Neck: Is the guitar neck straight? Look along the length of the neck. It should look perfectly straight. If you press down one of the outer strings at the first fret and the 12th fret, you should see just a tiny, tiny gap between the string and the fret in the middle – around the 5th or 6th fret. If the neck is bowed or got a “lump”, don’t buy – unless the owner can adjust the neck for you at the spot.

Frets: check all the frets. Loose frets is a no-go. Play all strings one note at the time all the way up and down the neck. If you hear any major buzz or dead notes (or indeed the same note on two different frets when you go up or down the string), you have a problem. You may also run your fingers (carefully!) along both sides of the neck to feel if the guitar frets are sticking out. If they are, you may check the frets more closely, since there may be a problem with the wood drying out. Finally, check the frets for major grooves and fret wear – some wear is common and not a problem.

Guitar wood: Check the back side of the head stock for hairline fractures or cracks. A broken headstock that has been fixed by a pro is not a problem. Done by someone who don’t know how, it is probably not worth taking the risk. Check along the length of the neck for fractures as well. How is the neck and body fit? Does it seem tight and solid? This is very important on glued in necks!

Hardware: Are all the guitar tuners working properly? Is it possible to adjust the bridge height and the bridge saddles? If there’s a tremolo bar – does if function well? Are both strap buttons in place and screwed on tight?

Electronics: When you plug the guitar in and test it (which you definitely want to do of course), is all switches working properly. You may sometimes try to tap all pick-ups lightly and carefully with a screwdriver to make sure they work – at least you should hear how the sound changes as you play the guitar and use the switches and pots. Scratchy pots can most likely be fixed with contact spray but  do use a little caution! You want to check that the guitar cable fits firmly into the output jack of the guitar, and that there are no sound drop outs.

Playability: How does the guitar feel? Is it hard to press down the strings at the first fret? Is the neck width and size OK to you? Use a guitar strap and check that it hangs and feels OK.

Intonation: If you know how, you should probably also check the guitar intonation. I will advice you to bring a guitar tuner and that you learn how to use it before you start looking at guitars. Go online and do a search for how to check intonation on a guitar. There’s also a video below which shows you how to do this.

If you go through these steps and you don’t rush into things, you should have no problem finding a nice used electric guitar, perfect for your playing style and needs.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,