Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
sal
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Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by sal » Wed May 09, 2018 10:36 am

I have seen some guitars that are right handed guitars that are restrung left handed. I have been reluctant to consider purchasing because I do not know if the restringing can cause damage to the guitar. I suspect it could, but what do I know. ANyone know what kind of damage could be done when switching the string order? Thanks for any insight

Pat Dodson
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by Pat Dodson » Wed May 09, 2018 11:35 am

sal wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 10:36 am
I have seen some guitars that are right handed guitars that are restrung left handed. I have been reluctant to consider purchasing because I do not know if the restringing can cause damage to the guitar. I suspect it could, but what do I know. ANyone know what kind of damage could be done when switching the string order? Thanks for any insight
I’m left handed and have done this but also have had classical guitars “converted” at saddle and nut and, yet again, bought factory made left handed guitars, a luthier made left handed guitar and commissioned a luthier built left handed guitar.

I am pretty sure that simply restringing a guitar will not cause any damage; I have one that’s over 40 years old showing no signs of it.

Simply restringing can affect the intonation a bit but whether this bothers you depends on the extent and one’s ear for intonation. If it is an issue then you can have nut and saddle changed and even compensated (maybe even the bridge altered) so that the guitar is better intonated. Best done by a luthier (unless you know what you are doing) and obviously that will cost.

Some, “better” cgs have necks/fretboards that are slightly asymmetrical and on these guitars, simply restringing might affect action and playability. It’s not been a problem on two of my guitars but is something to be aware of. Again a luthier can change things but this is getting quite expensive and is probably not worth it unless it is a very good quality guitar.

Lastly, some will say that some, “better” cgs have asymmetric tops (thinning and/or bracing) and that restringing these may cause the guitar to have a different tonal balance. Other luthiers suggest this is simply not the case.

To sum up. I suggest it won’t cause any damage. Try it and see if you are happy with the sound, action, playability and intonation. You very well might be, in which case the matter’s sorted! (If not there are remedies, mostly at low to medium cost.)

Regards

Pat

OldPotter
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by OldPotter » Wed May 09, 2018 11:46 am

Simply restringing can affect the intonation a bit but whether this bothers you depends on the extent and one’s ear for intonation. If it is an issue then you can have nut and saddle changed and even compensated so that the guitar is better intonated. Best done by a luthier (unless you know what you are doing) and obviously that will cost.
Just to expand on this a little bit, the nut is usually slotted to fit particular diameter strings and the saddle is usually higher for the bass strings. Otherwise I completely agree with Pat.
"When I was younger, I could remember almost everything, whether it happened or not." Mark Twain

simonm
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by simonm » Wed May 09, 2018 12:15 pm

sal wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 10:36 am
….. ANyone know what kind of damage could be done when switching the string order? ...
Apart from getting a string ding, which can happen anytime with any guitar, no reason at all why any damage should occur. Regarding intonation and playability, there are two mysteries to be solved. 1) Is the bridge or the the saddle skewed? i.e. bass side scale: about 1-2mm long millimeter that treble side. 2) Is the bass side of the fretboard thinner than the treble side? The latter is likely only on pricier hand made guitars. The saddle is likely to be a bit higher on the bass side so a new saddle with the high difference changed round would be needed. Even if the bass side of the fretboard is lower, you could still try it out and see if it makes a noticeable difference.

sal
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by sal » Wed May 09, 2018 12:18 pm

Thank you for the replies-I guess what I am most concerned about is would reversing the strings create a detrimental brace and internal issue because the tension is now opposite of what the maker intended. Forgive my ignorance, but I am thinking that putting bass strings where the treble strings are supposed to be, might be a problem because the builder did not intend bass string tension on the lower part of the guitar, and vice versa with the trebles being reversed. Am I way off on this?

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bacsidoan
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by bacsidoan » Wed May 09, 2018 3:37 pm

sal wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 12:18 pm
Thank you for the replies-I guess what I am most concerned about is would reversing the strings create a detrimental brace and internal issue because the tension is now opposite of what the maker intended. Forgive my ignorance, but I am thinking that putting bass strings where the treble strings are supposed to be, might be a problem because the builder did not intend bass string tension on the lower part of the guitar, and vice versa with the trebles being reversed. Am I way off on this?
The difference in tension of bass and treble strings are negligible. There will be no structural damage.

The majority of CG's are constructed symmetrically. You do need to replace the nut and saddle, however.

Some guitars have their soundboards thicknessed and braced asymmetrically to enhance treble response. Switching the strings will not hurt anything structurally, but the sound might not be the same as intended by the builders.

A few rare guitars have their fretboards relieved or radiused asymmetrically and you may feel the difference in playability or buzzing.

Eric Sahlin is one luthier (that I know) who intentionally put a twist on the neck to enhance playability. You definitely do not want to switch strings on his guitars.

Scott Phillips
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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by Scott Phillips » Thu May 10, 2018 12:08 am

You don't just need to replace the saddle and nut, but replace the whole bridge and have the saddle slot compensated for left hand playing. My wife is left handed, and is so small that she played a
3/4 Guitar and that was almost too big for her. It is nearly impossible to find a quality left handed, solid wood guitar in 3/4 size.

Rather than commission one, I bought her a right hand model and had a new bridge put on and a new nut made. We had no problems with the guitar after having her Cordoba Cadete reversed. It cost almost 2 bills for he work, but it was still way cheaper than a commissioned insrument. If my wife ever gets past grade 2, then I might think about having one built, but she is hardly interested.

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Re: Right handed guitar restrung left handed-bad?

Post by simonm » Thu May 10, 2018 7:57 am

Laudiesdad69 wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 12:08 am
You don't just need to replace the saddle and nut, but replace the whole bridge and have the saddle slot compensated for left hand playing. ….
No. Not necessarily true. It depends on how the guitar was done. If the bridge and saddle are both "straight" rather than skewed, then a new saddle is all that is needed*. Even if there is a skew it still might be possible to make all the necessary adjustments by shaping the saddle. In some case a new saddle slot might be an approach. I am surprised that the Cordoba needed a new bridge.

*(On the other end, the nut needs to be adjusted or replaced).

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