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.

1 comment:

  1. I agree...the stores should be carrying a larger selection for lefties. BUT, I must say that just because 10% of the population are left-handed doesn't mean they play guitar left handed. So that would be why the stores aren't carrying 10% left-handed guitars. Also, of course, retail is always geared for the masses. Anyway, I am one of those lefties playing a right-handed guitar. That's what I started with so that's what I am comfortable with. I'm glad I went that route. It makes life a lot easier.



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