Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Craig's List: Lefty Instruments

Here's a Craig's List ad that I found interesting:

We'll hit the typos first:
Sound Gear is a typical typo--the writer was thinking ahead to the G in Gear and dropped it into the D's position.
Losing the 2nd E in Peavey twice was pure dumb, especially since he has the amp right there to double-check.
But I like that he spelled 'cord' correctly.
Most beginners soon learn that muliple notes played at the same time with a musical relationship is called a chord, so when entry-level gear appears for sale it invariably includes a chord instead of the shielded cable with 1/4" plugs the rest of us know as a cord.
Kudos, grasshopper.

What got me was the mention that it was a "right-handed" bass, until I looked at the photos.
Did he flip them 180 degrees to attract attention and be clever, or was this one of those amazing errors that amateur photogs manage to produce somehow?
I don't know, but it struck me as funny.
At least he knew that the first photo was misleading by showing what appears to be a left-handed instrument, so I appreciate the clarification.
We have to assume that it's a right-handed amp, too.

Lefty instruments are an anomaly in the music business.
In the 1980s Aerosmith's Joe Perry played left-handed Fender Strats, followed by his copycats like Warren DeMartini of Ratt and George Lynch of Dokken, attempting to channel the cool factor of Jimi Hendrix who had little choice but to play right-handed Strats flipped over since he was a southpaw.

There are actual tonal and string-response factors that make flipping a Stratocaster the wrong way desirable, but the inconvenience of knobs and switches and output jacks and tuners being on the wrong side means that you have to be pretty hardcore to relearn most operational aspects.

As it is, the numbers of lefty guitars produced are far below the percentage of left-handed people in the population.
Because they require serious manufacturer's effort and cost to produce compared to meager sales, only a very few guitar models (and probably less basses) are ever made left-handed.
They are rare and pricey.

My theory is that lefties are often discouraged when they first try to play guitar since 98% of the ones in stores and among their friends are "normal" and thus are stringed the "wrong" way, so they either quit early or never start at all, which reduces the demand and buying power of this minority.

With drums, you just swap everything to the opposite side.
Keyboards are only made one way--learn it or don't--but at least the controls are still in a logical place so there's no great hardship.
Guitars and basses are hard to find for left-handed people, so I'm not surprised that this craigslister with the oddly-flipped photos made sure to specify that the instrument was a righty, to avoid the waves of disappointed minor league pitchers who might have wasted his time responding to the ad.

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