How to Convert a Left-Handed Acoustic Guitar to Right-Handed: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve acquired a quality left-handed acoustic guitar that you love the sound and feel of, you may be wondering if it’s possible to convert it for right-handed use. While not an easy process, it is definitely doable with the right tools and some experience working on guitar setups. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to convert a lefty acoustic guitar to a righty.

Cost of Conversion

Having a luthier or guitar tech do this conversion can cost $150-$300 or more. The exact price depends on the guitar, any special parts needed, and labor rates in your area. It’s certainly cheaper than buying a new right-handed guitar, but not an insignificant expense.

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials To do this conversion, you’ll need:

  • String winding tools like pliers, cutters, and a winder
  • Sharp woodworking files and chisels
  • C-clamps, cauls, and clamping tools
  • Drill bits (3/16″ and 1/4″) and a drill
  • New sealed tuning machines for right-handed use
  • Wood glue, painters tape, and rags
  • Nut files, bridge radius sanders, and fret tools (if redressing frets)

Step 2: Remove All Existing Hardware First, remove all the strings carefully. Next, unscrew and remove the tuning machines, nut, saddle, bridge pins/saddles, pickguard (if present), and the bridge itself. Fully clean the body, neck, and all hardware pieces.

Step 3: Relocate and Install the Bridge On the bass side of the body where a right-handed guitar bridge would sit, use a sharp chisel to create a slight hollow for the new bridge foot. Take measurements from the existing bridge location.

Once relocated, use clamping cauls and plenty of glue to secure the bridge in its new orientation. Let it cure for 24-48 hours before removing clamps.

Step 4: Cut New Bridge Pin Holes With the bridge set, use incrementally larger drill bits to create new, angled bridge pin holes on the correct treble side. Go slowly and carefully to avoid tear-out.

Step 5: Cut New Holes for Tuning Machines On the new treble side of the headstock, precisely mark and drill the new tuning machine holes, using the sizing for your new tuners. Ensure the holes are cleanly drilled and the tuners fit snugly.

Step 6: Install the New Nut and Saddle On the new treble side of the neck, use a chisel, files, and sanders to create a flat shelf for the new bone nut and saddles. Carefully glue in place, being mindful of the new string spacing.

Step 7: Install the Tuning Machines and Bridge Hardware With all new holes and surfaces prepared, secure the new sealed tuning machines on the headstock using the provided bushings and washers. Reinstall the saddle, bridge pins, pickguard, etc on the new bridge location.

Step 8: Restring and Set Up Following standard right-handed string order from low E to high e, carefully restring the guitar. You’ll likely need to adjust the truss rod and do a full setup with nut and saddle heights, intonation, and action adjustments.

Step 9: Final Adjustments and Quality Check Once restrung, fret dress and level if needed. Play every string, checking for buzzes or setup issues. Make any final tweaks to the truss rod, nut slots, bridge height, etc.

With some patience and attention to detail, your converted right-handed acoustic guitar should now play as good as new! Just be sure to keep humidity and temperature stable as the wood settles into its new arrangement.

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