In most cases a right handed instrument can be easily converted to a left handed instrument. In fact, on a classical guitar, the conversion may be as simple as restringing it. The saddles on classical guitars typically have no compensation angle, and the nylon strings are close enough in diameter that the nut slots are often wide enough to accommodate the strings in whichever order. The difference in this case would be negligible. Though, sometimes this does not work, and the guitar has to be fitted with a lefty nut. On a mandolin, or archtop guitar, the instrument would require a new lefty compensated bridge along with the new nut. On a four string banjo, one would need to replace the nut, while a five string banjo cannot be converted. Any electric guitar with a tune-o-matic type bridge will likely be installed with a compensation angle, and the post holes would have to be plugged and re-drilled. Often times, on an electric guitar, hardware like tailpieces can simply be replaced with their lefty equivalents. Steel string acoustic guitars require some extra attention, and require that the compensated saddle be removed, and replaced with a saddle with the opposite angle. This requires that the slot where the saddle is fitted must be “plugged” with a matching wood to that of the bridge. Then the angle must be re-cut with the opposite compensation. The saddle itself can then have a more precise compensation pattern filed onto the top of it. This means that the crown point (the highest point where the string touches the saddle, and the exact location where the string length ends) of each individual string is located where it should be for proper intonation along the length of the saddle. This is a much more difficult process, and should be done by a skilled repair person. If one is purchasing a new guitar, it is recommended that they order the left handed version, though, unfortunately many companies do not offer left handed guitars. Luckily, converting a guitar to left handed typically presents no structural or tonal difficulties, or damage. There are a few things to consider, though. The side markers along the neck of the guitar would be on the wrong side. They can always, though, be installed on the proper side, if this is an issue for the player. Also, the pick guard will be on the wrong side. In many cases, the pick guard will be difficult to remove, as removing it will expose unfinished wood. A new pick guard, can, however, be installed on the correct side.
Grosse Pointe Music Academy Staff/ Certified Luthier