Lefty Guitar and a Plea for Not Being Stupid

Yes, I play guitar left-handed.  It’s largely because I was born left-handed.  Since I was not old enough to have my hand tied behind my back or be told I was using the devil’s hand, I just kept at it the only way I knew how.

You right-handed people should take note: I picked it up the way it was natural for me, just like you picked up the spoon in your right hand – it was natural for you.

I have long been plagued by not exactly having my choice of guitars when visiting music stores.  When I say that, I am being uncharacteristically polite: most stores have no lefties at all.  Those that do generally have poor selections.

I do not wish to come off as unreasonable.  I fully understand the economics of running a business and don’t expect you to have a plethora of lefty axes in my favorite colors, priced under market, and waiting for me to take home.  I also understand that most companies charge more for lefties (Martin being a notable exception).

What I am asking is for you to Stop Being Stupid.  There are a few stock answers I have gotten at every store I have visited.  These answers assume I’m either a pre-pubescent child or a total idiot (or both).

No, we don’t stock lefties, but we can order you one.

Gee, I’ve heard this before.  In fact, I’ve heard it the most in most stores around the country.  Sure, let me hand you a few grand for a guitar I have never had the chance to even try out.  Let me leave a non-refundable deposit in the hopes that the manufacturer will do a run of lefties sometime in the next twelve months.  Shall I call you monthly to see if it’s in yet?  No, who cares about the color.

Why don’t you just flip it around?

Have you ever played with a volume knob in your armpit?  Do you like drilling into a brand new guitar to put on a strap knob? Do you think about the things you say before they escape your gaping maw?

I advise you to play right-handed.

Thanks for the advice, Dad.  Did it occur to you to ask if I play already?  Try picking up a pen and writing with your non-dominant hand – I’ll wait….  What?  You can’t write that way?  You feel retarded?   My point exactly.

You’re gonna have a hard time finding guitars…

You mean in stores like this, which don’t even carry them?  Surely you jest.  Drat, how will I explain this to the eighteen I have now?

I have had salesmen tell me that I’m the third person that day to ask for a lefty so they don’t understand why they don’t carry any.

Tonight I stopped by the local guitar store to pick up some accessories.  I asked if it would be difficult to convert a beginner mandolin in the store to left-handed.   The fellow assured me it would be a real PITA and I should play it backwards (right-handed).

Excuse me, Doctor Pauling, but do I insist that you drive only in reverse, on the wrong side of the road, and treat it as nothing new?   I asked the fellow how, if I’ve been playing for over thirty years, could I be expected to hold the thing backwards.

It makes my brain hurt.

Then there are the jokesters:

Hey, why not play it in the mirror?

Wow, that’s really amusing guys.  No, really, I haven’t heard that from every group of long-haired, under-employed rock star wannabes in every shop I’ve visited this year.  Very clever.   [fyi: I'm a long-haired, employed rock star wannabe.]

The most mind-numbing event ever occurred a few years back at an east coast chain store.  I can’t tell you the name for legal reasons but it rhymes with “Sam Ash”.  I lamented the fact that there were hundreds and hundreds of guitars in the store but no lefties.  The helpful saleskid’s response was “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Needless to say, I have not darkened the doorstep of any store that rhymes with “Sam Ash” since.  If they don’t want my business, that’s fine.  But I purchase a lot more than lefty guitars.  Many are expensive items that they do have in stock at any time.