Would you like to convert a right-handed guitar into a left-handed guitar? This is an easy conversion to do, but you will need to do more than just change the strings. While I think it’s best to buy a quality left-handed guitar, you may have found a right-handed guitar that you really like. Perhaps you are a left-hander who is just starting to play guitar and are not yet ready to make an investment in a left-handed guitar. Most left-handed guitarists and bassists face this dilemma.
When I was learning to play, I didn’t have a lot of money to invest in a high-quality guitar, so I went to the flea market and bought the cheapest guitar I could find, a twenty dollar acoustic. Even with its standard configuration, the action was terrible because the neck was deformed. The strings were not keeping in tune. In short, the guitar sounded like a dying animal. But I turned it into a right-handed guitar by moving the strings. I didn’t bother to change the nut or bridge, and this was part of my problem.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and visited a music store. His luthier looked at him and shook his head. He said it would cost a couple hundred dollars to make it sound really good, but for about forty it could make it useful. I went with the last option. In addition to getting the job done, he explained what needed to be done to turn a right-handed guitar into a left-handed guitar.
This works for acoustic, electric, and electric basses. The materials needed to convert a guitar are new strings, a tuner, and wood glue. You may also need a cap nut, screwdriver, sandpaper, and a truss rod adjuster. A twine winder is also a useful tool.
First you need to remove the old strings. Once the strings have been removed, remove the nut (the little thing on the top of the neck). You may need to pry with a flat screwdriver. Once it’s off, scrape off the crunchy glue with a screwdriver or some sandpaper. Add some new glue to the nut and replace it with its reversed direction. The nut has a groove the size of each string, and if you don’t change it, there will be play on the small strings and the large strings will not seat properly.
If something happens in this step, for example the nut breaks or the angle causes the strings to sit too low on the fretboard, you will need to file your own nut. You can have a guitar shop do this, or you can buy a file and do it yourself. There are many tutorial videos available.
For electric guitars, you may want to reverse the directions of the pickups. To do this, you usually just need to unscrew the bump guard or frames from the truck. Be careful not to lose the springs that allow height adjustment. Once the glue dries, go ahead and install your new strings. To prevent the nut from flying off, do not tighten the strings to full tension until all six strings are in place. Use your tuner to get closer to the correct pitch. Stretch the strings a little while tightening them.
Once installed, play around for a while and give them time to do their best. Once this happens, it’s time to set your intonation. Maybe you are lucky and don’t have to configure it. To check the intonation, compare the pitch of the twelfth fret (octave) with the pitch of a bare string. They should be the same.
On acoustic guitars, you may need to modify the bridge to ensure correct intonation. Sometimes this is just a matter of getting a blank and filing it. If you are converting an expensive guitar (not recommended), take it to a luthier and let him do it.
For electric guitars and basses, this process is much easier. Rope saddles are usually tightened with a Phillips screwdriver. All you need to do is adjust them until the 12th fret and open string pitches match. Always use a tuner for this process and be sure to recheck the open string tuning each time you make a string saddle adjustment.
That covers everything you need to know about converting a right-handed guitar to a left-handed one. For more information on left-handed guitars, check out the resource box below.