Finding the best guitar brands for lefties can me tough sometimes. Being left handed shouldn’t be punishment for guitar players. Today we take a look at the best brands for left handed guitarists!
The Best Guitar Brands For Lefties: It Can Be Rough Out There…
The most quoted reason for lefty models being hard to find, is because companies seem to say that “It takes totally different tools and processes to make left handed instruments”. While I can see that being a problem, as well as parts, some brands are just better than others at making lefty versions of popular models. The best guitar brands for lefties are few and far between, but we found the top 3, after loads of research. These companies don’t just offer a few lefty models in limited finishes, they have a whole bunch!
There have been so many great lefty guitarists over the years, and even some very modern guitarists are left handed players these days. If you think about some of the people that made huge waves in the guitar universe, I’m sure that Jimi Hendrix is one of the first that comes to mind. Jimi changed guitar forever with his fusion of blues, and hard rock. But Jimi was known to be a lefty, and he struggled to find guitars that suited him.
We all know the famous way that Jimi strung his Stratocaster upside down. This became a preference after a while, since Jimi could have afforded any kind of guitar he wanted, later on in his short career. Some people think that his tone had a lot to do with his guitar being a righty strung upside down, and that the pickups responded differently. This is possible, but let’s be real here…Jimi was just from another planet!
That was 50 years ago, and some of the major guitar companies still have limited selections when it comes to left handed guitars. The bass players have it even worse. For a long time in the 80’s and 90’s, it seemed like most guitar brands would release a few lefty models, but in extremely limited color choice. The biggest brands also limited the models and designs that you could get in lefty. On top of all of this, they were more expensive for lefty models!
Kurt Cobain famously played some pretty cheap guitars when he first started Nirvana. Being poor, and from a poor town meant he had to find the cheapest leftie guitars he could. Kurt played Jazzmaster, Mustang, and Jaguar models that were all meant for student guitarists at the time. This was a revival for Fender Guitars, especially the beginner models that were less popular. Kurt went on to have a few custom Fender Strats to use on stage and studio, but that was after he was worth millions.
Luckily, things have changed quite a bit over the years, and while lefties still have some complaints, the situation is much nicer these days. Today we will take a look at the best guitar brands for lefties, and talk about why they are at the top of the game. The #1 choice may surprise you!
Best Guitar Brands For Lefties: #3 Fender
Honestly, Fender was not going to make it on this list when I drafted it yesterday, but while browsing guitar news I saw that this year Fender is making more leftie models. Usually, Fender would not be on the list of best guitar brands for lefties, but this is new for the company. Strangely enough, the models that are spearheading the campaign are the Kurt Cobain models.
The Fender Jag-Stang and the dual humbucker Kurt Cobain Jaguar are at the top of the page for lefty models. While these are both very cool guitars, they may only suit a specific type of player. Fender also has all price tiers covered this year. From the Player Series, to the USA Professional, Fender seems to have more options than usual. Especially when it comes to colors. Lefty players have more color choices this year, and Fender has said there are more to come.
I may not be able to play lefty, but I can play the same models in the right hand configuration! I chose to highlight the Kurt Cobain Jaguar and Jag-Stang because they have a lot of features that you usually don’t see on a Fender. Plus, we are all familiar with the usual classic Fender models. The lefty models from Fender this year are also fairly priced at the same level as their righty counterparts. The Kurt Cobain Jaguar has some really cool features:
- Alder Body
- Maple Neck
- Rosewood Fretboard
- 24” Scale
- 9.5 Radius
- Modern C Shape Neck
- Lead/Rhythm Jag Switches
- Dimarzio Pickups
- Bound Fretboard
- Hard Shell Case With Commemorative Picture Book
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of the classic Fender offset guitars, minus the Jim Root model.. The short scale really throws me off, but I can see why people that play mostly rhythm guitar would love this scale length. Moving chords around is super easy on this neck, and the C shape has a Stratocaster feel to it. After playing it for about an hour, I can see why people love these short scale guitars.
The Dimarzio pickups are a welcome surprise as well. In the neck you have a 36th Anniversary PAF, and in the bridge you have a PAF on steroids with the Super Distortion humbucker. These two pickups may be polar opposites, but they can cover a lot of sonic territory, especially when you start to factor in the Jaguar’s switch setup. You can go from thick, pristine cleans to all out chugging. Its a pretty cool set of pickups that you usually never find on a Fender.
All of these features give you the look and some of the feel of a classic guitar. The pickups are the secret weapon, though. If you are looking for something with a traditional feel and aesthetics, but with modern sound, this may be the guitar for you. I had way more fun than I thought I would have with this guitar. The hard shell case is nice, and the book that it comes with is bittersweet; featuring a legend that left us far too soon. This is a “New Old Stock”, meaning this is what his actual guitar would’ve looked like if it were new.
But Kurt also had another plan for what guitar he would play going forward, since he knew he wanted to stay with Fender as an artist. In 1993 he took his favorite Jaguar that the above model was based on, and combined it with a Mustang body style. This became his own creation and he called it “The Jag-Stang”. It was the perfect marriage of his two favorite guitars. Unfortunately, he never got to see it roll out of the custom shop and into mass production. But today, you can buy a piece of history. The history is very interesting…
When people think of Kurt, they usually think of his being a simple minded player. But Kurt actually had lots of sophisticated gear choices, and while the guitars he played were originally because they were cheap and accessible, they became part of his sound. He realized this, and liked to tinker with these guitars, especially with pickups. He also had a ever-rotating pedal collection that he tweaked often, chasing the “right tones”. Kurt was secretly a gear guy, and wanted to experiment. The Jag-Stang is the perfect example.
You could tell which guitars Kurt loved, because they never got broken on stage. The Jaguar and Mustang are good examples, as well as the black “Vandalism” Strat. But The Sunburst Jag and Blue Mustang were his “babies”.
The Jag-Stang took features from both of his favorite guitars, and married them in a perfect blend. It all started with Kurt taking a picture of two of his guitars, and taping them together. Kurt then drew it out on a piece of paper for Fender to design, his original drawings had almost every detail laid out. It would be the perfect guitar for him, and it just happened to be totally unique to what Fender had previously done with his custom guitars. Two prototypes were made at the Fender Custom shop, and one was given to Kurt to try.
What we see in Kurt’s drawing below is almost exactly what Fender made for him. The headstock design was different, but if you can read his handwriting it says “If this headstock is not possible, then the old Fender headstock will be fine.” What we get today, is almost exactly what he envisioned. Kurt’s prototype was an aged Sonic Blue, just as he asked for. His prototype also had the older fender headstock with the “Spaghetti Logo”.
Kurt never recorded with the instrument, but he did play quite a few shows with it. Kurt liked to be really comfortable with his guitars before he dedicated it to his collection, and the Jag-Stang was on the cusp. He used it during the In Utero tours, at quite a few shows. He then took it back to Fender for a few tweaks, and after it was adjusted he continued to tour with it.
The neck was an exact replica of the Kurt Cobain Mustang featured above, as it was his favorite neck to play. He decided on a single coil in the neck position for clean sounds, instead of his usual Dimarzio humbucker. He kept the Humbucker at the bridge for dirty tones, and what we see today is the final form that Kurt signed off on. These Anniversary Editions come in the Sonic Blue color that Kurt adored, and a Fiesta Red finish.
Fender has made a lot of promises for 2022, for both the Fender line and the Squier line. I hope that the already expanded lefty section in Fender’s catalog continues to grow. You never know who might pick one up, and become the next guitar hero. Fender has the chance this year to be counted among the best guitar brands for lefties. Don’t let us down!
Although Kurt was seen playing a variety of Fender guitars over the years, his Fender Jaguar and Mustang remain the most iconic due to their use on the Nevermind tour and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video. Kurt designed the Jag-Stang to combine his favorite elements of both instruments and brought it to life with help from the Fender Custom Shop in 1993.
Overall, it is really great to see a major brand like Fender on a list for the best guitar brands for lefties.
Best Guitar Brands For Lefties: #2 ESP/LTD
ESP/LTD have been around for a long time, and it’s a company that has many diverse models. When it comes to the best guitar brands for lefties, ESP/LTD is usually at the top. Not to mention that this year, the company has released over 40 new models! If that sounds crazy to you, then keep in mind that this is only phase 1 of the product release! There will be more models coming in the summer season, and the best part is that 90% of these models come in lefty configuration.
ESP/LTD usually go by number rankings to let you know the quality of the model. For example, the 1000 Series is usually where you get the most value. These are often made in Korea, with quality woods. The 1000 Series also features special hardware like locking tuners, and aftermarket pickups. You often see Fishman, Duncan, and EMG pickups loaded in these models.
This is good news if you want a top-of-the-line, high spec instrument as a lefty. But ESP/LTD also excels in the budget guitar category as well. The 201-401 Series features all of the famous guitars models at a budget price. The budget range is usually where we see a lack of lefty models, but LTD delivers in this aspect. Just about every budget model has a lefty counterpart, and usually comes in a multitude of color options. So ESP/LTD is one of the best guitar brands for lefties no matter what your budget may be!
If you play metal or hard rock, ESP/LTD has a legacy of producing some of the most iconic models. Everyone from Dillinger Escape Plan to Metallica use this brand on stage and studio. The commitment to quality across the board, along with brand recognition make ESP/LTD an easy choice for hard rocking players, making it one of the best guitar brands for lefties who like to rock.
I had a hard time featuring just one guitar from ESP/LTD. But in honor of Alexi Laiho, I went with the Arrow Series. These are fantastic metal axes that take the Flying V idea to the absolute extreme, just like Alexi took his music. Not only is ESP/LTD one of the best brands for lefties, it is also a company that makes a lot of uniquely extreme shapes. The Arrow is a mighty take on the classic V design:
- Mahogany Body
- Maple Neck
- Roasted Jatoba Fretboard
- 25.5 Scale
- 24 Frets
- Shark Fin Inlays
- Floyd Rose
- Single Volume Knob
- 3 Way Pickup Selector
Other than the obvious, absolutely brutal look, the Arrow is actually a pretty ergonomic guitar. It sits just fine with a strap, and doesn’t have any neck dive issues. You would often see Alexi on stage with one foot propped up on a speaker cab, with the Arrow sitting on his leg. The V style cutout allows you to play classical position, and that’s exactly what Alexi was doing during shows. From that angle, you have access to the highest frets with ease.
My two favorite features of this guitar are actually in the design. The input jack is on the bottom of the top horn, so if you use a right-angle style cord, it will always be out of your way. The second feature that I really like is the total disregard for the tone knob. This is a metal axe, and not many metal guitarists mess with the tone knob (But you should!). Having a single volume knob seems understated, and I think it works for the overall design.
Made popular by Alexi Laiho, The Arrow is an amazing neck through mahogany design, with a menacing look. Featuring a maple neck, and roasted Jatoba Fretboard, you'll have no problem with access to all 24 frets. This may be the affordable version, but it plays like a million bucks!
Best Guitar Brands For Lefties: #1 Schecter Guitar Research
I don’t think that its any secret that we love Schecter guitars here. In fact, I play Schecter guitars exclusively and I am working on becoming a Schecter artist this year. That doesn’t mean that I am biased in any way, though. When it comes to reviews, I toss my personal taste out the window and think about the value for the customer. I speak highly of many different brands, regardless of my own preference. But this is a case where my preferences just happen to line up with the topic at hand!
Schecter is one of the best guitar brands for lefties because it offers almost every model in the catalog in a lefty configuration. You can go to any website for major retailers and see that Schecter has the most lefty options by a mile. Schecter is famous for this, and making lefty models is a part of the overall business model for the company. Some of the most popular Schecter endorsers are left handed, like Zach Vengeance from Avenged Seven Fold.
From the absolute top of the line models, all the way to the budget Demon Series, Schecter offers lefty models. Schecter often makes limited edition models as well, and even these can be found in lefty configuration. I was also surprised to find that different colors and finishes were available for each lefty model. So this means if there is a specific color that you saw on a righty, you can probably find it in lefty too!
The entire reason I started playing Schecter guitars was the quality to value ratio. You get some very unique specs with Schecter that you usually never find anywhere else. Things like:
- Upgraded Floyd Rose Systems
- Stainless Steel Frets
- Name Brand Pickups
- Locking Tuners
- Tons Of Signature Models
- 6,7, and 8 String Variants
- Baritone Models
- Semi-hollow Models/Traditional Models
- WMI Factory Quality
- American Setup: Ready To Play Out Of The Box
Schecter guitars offer lots of features that other guitar brands just don’t have. I am particularly fond of the setup right out of the box. A few companies do this, like PRS. But Schecter is pretty consistent with this, even though most of the guitars are Korean/Indonesian made. The guitars all get inspected in California before they get shipped to retailers. I have never had any QC issues, and you rarely hear of any problems on the internet forums.
The wide variety of guitars that Schecter makes is also something to keep in mind, and another reason that it reigns at the top for the best guitar brands for lefties. You have lots of options, although Schecter is known for being a “shredder guitar” company, there are plenty of other models available. The Nick Johnston Traditional is a great example, as well as the many semi-hollow Corsair guitars. But if you want a total shred machine, they make those in lefty too!
You can click the link above for my review on the Schecter Nick Johnston. It’s been a couple of months now, and I am still absolutely in love with this guitar. It has all of the tonal qualities that a classic Fender offers, with modern design features that make it much more playable. The flat radius and thin/wide neck make this the “classic guitar for shredders”. I am already planning to buy another one!
Nick Johnston is world-renowned for his impeccable musicianship, stellar performance, as well as his beautiful Custom Shop Schecter Guitars. And now, for the first time ever, Schecter’s new Left Handed Diamond Series Nick Johnston Traditional delivers many of the specs of Nick’s signature axe at a price point that is accessible to working musicians.
The Best Guitar Brands For Lefties: Wrapping Up…
I have often wondered if I would be a better player if I chose a lefty guitar in the beginning. My right hand is more dexterous than my left, so maybe it makes sense to fret with that hand? But then again, my left hand is better at keeping time, and this is apparent when I play the drums. I’m sure guitarists wonder about this all the time…I know I do!
As a right handed player, I have never put much thought into what an ordeal it might be for lefty players out there. But after doing this article, I definitely understand the struggle. Most companies I researched had as few as 3 guitars for lefties, out of 25 models! Two of the best guitar brands for lefties on our list are primarily known for making “metal” guitars, and not everyone wants to rock a Flying V on stage. We may cater to metal guitar here, but we also know other types of guitarists read our content.
On the other hand (pun intended) it is really nice to see brands that are starting to come around when it comes to producing lefty guitars. Fender was not supposed to be on this list, but the CEO announced on Twitter that the focus on lefty guitars is going up in 2022. This is great news, and I hope all of you southpaw players have more options than just Squier guitars in one color this year.
I hope everyone gets the guitar of their dreams, and the way you hold the guitar should not be a factor.
What Are The Best Guitar Brands For Lefties In 2022?
We managed to break it down to three different companies that produce a hefty amount of lefty guitars.
Schecter took the number 1 spot from the sheer volume of production. Schecter makes a lefty of almost every single model in the catalog. Schecter also makes multiple finishes on many models for lefty players. Fender is catching up as of 2022, releasing more lefty options!
Why Are Lefty Guitars Sometimes More Expensive?
Most companies use CNC machines these days to route the body of a guitar. This takes precise programming, and it has to be changed to do a batch of lefty guitars. There is also the issue of left handed parts, like Floyd Rose bridges, that are more expensive and rare for companies to acquire.
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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