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by:© Steve Carmody


    Although many of us "northpaws" forget it, there are lefthanded strummers in the world. But left hand oriented guitars are far and few between. And well played guitars with tone and character are even rarer. So it sometimes makes sense to convert a right hand manufactured guitar to a "lefty" set up. The elements involved in a conversion are : 1. Replacing the nut with one slotted to acccomodate the reversed thickness of strings. And 2 . Re-orienting the string saddle in the bridge to enable correct "intonation".

    I fashion an insert of wood to match the wood of the existing bridge ( generally ebony or rosewood) and glue it into the existing saddle slot. The grain of the insert is matched as closely as possible to that of the bridge. The excess is then planed off.


    A jig is set up to enable a routing tool to cut a slot which will provide the correct setback for the strings in their new orientation. A bone saddle is then made to fit the slot.


    I have heard concerns expressed about the fact that most right hand constructed acoustic guitars( in the Martin / Gibson tradition) have top braces which are asymetrical. The question is whether the reversing of string gauges will affect the tone of the guitar , and if so will it be a negative effect?

    In my experience the effect is certainly not bad , in fact I haven't heard a difference. Of course I've done this conversion on no more than 15 guitars. But I don't hesitate to do the job. It should be noted that many builders are now using a symetrical bracing pattern which negates this concern.

    The finished job is discrete and provides vintage tone for the southpaws among us.