UPDATE - June 27, 2009

This blog was on my website for a long time and never really used.
Now, with this new google connection I'll be here most every day.


I'm finally getting to write about the Namm show in Anaheim, California at the end of January. 1500 manufacturers were showing everything musical at the show. There were nearly 90,000 registered attendees. I went with the intention of getting more manufacturers to make us lefty guitars.

These are the manufacturers that had leftys that I saw.
(and I looked pretty diligently).

Guild- 1 GAD 50
Duesenberg- 1 Starplayer TV (1st Lefty of its kind) made for me.
Trussart- Steelcaster made for me.
Suhr- Classic in Sonic Blue- made to surprise me (it did!)
Eastwood- 1 Tuxedo
St. Blues- 5 new models!
Italia-1 Maranello- they want me to be a dealer.
Di Pinto- a very nice Bacchus with Bigsby. I'm considering being a dealer for them.
Eastman- 1 mandolin (strange choice to bring)
G&L- 1 Tribute Legacy
Musicman- 1 bass
Taylor- 110

That's it! Many thousands of guitars all in one building and only 16 lefty guitars!

These are the manufacturers I had appointments with: Duesenberg, St. Blues, Breedlove, Eastman, Heritage, Larrivee, Morgan, Reverend, Composite Acoustics, Rainsong, Warwick, Epiphone, Santa Cruz, Huss & Dalton, Blueberry, Swampcaster, Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Guild, Fender, Martin, Tacoma, G&L, Morgan Hill, Blueridge, Peerless, Suhr, Goodall, Trussart, Eastwood, Tradition, DiPinto, and Collings.

I talked to a lot of other manufacturers in passing. Amps, strings, pedals, straps, etc. It is one of the most unbelievable sights you could ever see, all things that relate to music, from all over the world, all under one roof. If you ever have the opportunity, go to NAMM. Just don't expect to see many left handed guitars!

Why are there so few lefty guitars in the world?

...well, good ones anyway.

I plan on using this blog as for all things lefty relating to guitars and the guitar business. I'll start by talking about why it is so difficult for us southpaw guitar players to find instruments. About 10% of the people in the world are left handed. Less than 1% of guitars built are left handed. Doesn't seem quite fair does it? I'll try to explain why this is from a business and music store standpoint.

Let's say your typical medium size music store stocks maybe 300 guitars. The owner applied to each manufacturer, was approved, and was sent a list of all the instruments the manufacturer has in stock. The store owner usually has to buy a certain number of instruments as per the agreement with the manufacturer. This varies from one instrument (rare) from a boutique manufacturer to an initial order of $150,000 from a major American manufacturer. That is a lot of guitars if they are going to cost $300 to $2000 on average. But your store owner has the entire manufacturer's catalogue to chose from. Sometimes hundreds of different models, colors, pickups, etc., options to choose from. So he picks out a variety of instruments and hangs them on the wall, hoping he chose well and you will buy them from him. In the case of most manufacturers, all those stock guitars are right handed. Fender stocks some leftys, Epiphone and Gretsch, a few. There are others that have a few models also. But, here is the really bad part, almost all those southpaw guitars are lower end guitars. And either black, white, or sunburst in the case of electrics. If acoustic, a laminated wood import guitar. Now if your music store owner is going to serve the entire population of players, you would think he would have 10% of his stock in leftys. We all know this is not true. If your local store has 3 leftys, that's a lot. An Epiphone Les Paul, a MIM Fender Strat, and if you are really lucky, a Fender Highway One. All are about 3 years old scratched, dinged, and forlorn. What happened? Where's the 10% that should be there? The store owner has not been given an inventory that gives him many options on leftys, usually none. So to get left handed guitars, he must special order. Special orders cannot be returned. Special orders must be paid in advance and your money is gone until the guitars arrive. This is usually many weeks to many months. You are not selling anything because you don't have anything to sell while you wait for your unreturnable special orders. So just get the couple of leftys available in case a lefty guitar player comes in. He can play something, you haven't entirely forsaken him. When the lefty buyer comes in the store (we do this when we first begin playing, thinking music stores serve everyone) and there are our 3 choices. Hurrah. So we stop going to the guitar store except for strings or to try out an amp (bring your own guitar!). We are frustrated. Don't I know. Unable to go in your local guitar store and play dozens or hundreds of guitars. To find the instrument that speaks to you. So we turn to the internet and ebay, searching for those rare instruments that every righty can buy anywhere.

This is what brought me to have this store. I wanted to be able to play anything and everything available to righty players. The only way to do that is to start ordering leftys made. Keep calling week after week, month after month, sometimes for what will become years. Will you make leftys? When? How many do I have to order? How long will they take to get? If not now, would you build some next year?

This is my world and your world. I'm trying to expand our options. I want you to be able to play anything and everything a righty can play. That is my plan and my mission.

Why play left handed?

This is maybe a question you have been asked or even ask yourself. I've had guitar instructors who have called me when confronted by their first lefty guitar student. They ask if I would advise the novice lefty to play right handed. After all, look at all the wonderful choices in right handed guitars and in left handed, well, you know how that is. This used to be kind of a tough question for me. Just look at all those wonderful righty guitars out there. I thought I was maybe the only right handed player in the world who plays lefty. I know many more rightys playing lefty now. Some for reasons like mine, caused by an accident, some because "it felt right", and some because of being inspired by Jimi Hendrix or Paul McCartney. So the answer as to "why play lefty" is different for everyone. But I have discovered some psychological reasoning that has me asking now "why play right handed?"

Right Brain/ Left Brain

Science knows that your brain has two distinct halves. Your right half controls the left side of your body. The left half controls the right side of your body. Each half of your brain also has a distinct personality. I'll identify these below.

So check out what yor left brain is up to first. Analysis, Logic, Control, Memorize. And this controls your right hand. It does not matter if you are right handed or left handed, it is still true. Seems to me I want my right hand to be in control of that fretboard. All those things having to do with structure and control. All those specific chord structures. All those notes layed out in patterns that has worked logically for hundreds of years.

Now the right brain. controls my left hand. My spontaneous, emotional, unplanned left hand. This is the hand I want holding that pick, or picking those strings. Changing time signatures, holding and releasing, choosing those spaces between each note or strum. I want to FEEL those notes. The MUSIC comes from this emotional movement. So the question seems to me to be "Why would anyone play right handed?"

A Lefty players only forum you might be interested in:

leftyfrets.net is a lefty players forum that has been in existence for a few years. It was started by long time player/collector of lefty guitars Rick Witthaus and administered by Gary and Kevin. It is a home for all of us lonely lefty players. (How many of you have ever played with another lefty? Or even met one?). There are guitars for sale, for show, and great spam free discussions.

I promise you will learn things about lefty guitars you don't know.
I have. It has fewer than 400 members, so it is easy to get to know everyone. Check it out.

A few words about upcharges for lefties.

As lefty guitar players we have all experienced being charged more for guitars that are leftys than our righty brothers and sisters pay for the same guitar. Some manufacturers like Bourgeois, Larrivee, Suhr, Santa Cruz, and Anderson do not have upcharges for leftys even though they cost more to make. They absorb the extra cost. They also will make any of their instruments available to leftys. Fender does not have an upcharge, but also doesn't make many models or colors available to us. Most manufacturers have upcharges that range from $100 (Timberline), to $350 (Collings), or is a percentage. I'm working to get manufacturers to eliminate all upcharges for us leftys. I've got some to lower the upcharge for me by making it a policy to not pass any upcharges on to my customers. It is in my interest to promote those companies that have no or low upcharges and I'm letting the manufacturers know this.


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