UPDATE: NGD - 2008 Brook Tamar & Left Handed Conversion Pt. 1 (temporary) and Pt. 2 (full)

GTCGTC Frets: 49
edited November 22 in Acoustics
I've recently acquired a lovely right-handed 2008 Brook Tamar (European Spruce Top and Koa back and sides).

I'm left-handed and was told by an experienced luthier a while back that the tone and structural integrity of modern steel-strung guitars are not normally affected by changing the strings round on a right-handed guitar to left-handed, despite many reports to the contrary. Since then I've carried several successful left-handed conversions of suitable mid-range right-handed guitars (e.g. Washburn Historic series, Alvarez Masterworks, Blueridge).

By suitable I mean that the body is symmetrical and that there is no pickguard or electronics positioning to worry about. Before carrying out any conversion I would always change the strings round first just to check there was no adverse affect on the tone before proceeding (and I've yet to find a problem). The conversion would normally involve a new left-handed bone nut, the existing saddle slot in the bridge being filled with a matching piece of wood and a new correctly angled saddle slot being routed out to accommodate a new left-handed compensated saddle, and fretboard side dots being installed on the correct side for a left-hander.

I have a trusted local luthier to do the bridge work for me but the rest I can manage myself. For the fingerboard side dots I normally use 2mm mother of pearl or abalone dots from Small Wonder Music inserted above carefully drilled 2mm holes and pressed home with the flat edge of a steel ruler to give a strong, lasting glue-free "interference" type fit. The result is that the only outward sign that the guitar was once right-handed is the existence of the original right-handed fingerboard side-dots. Done properly, the saddle slot plugging is virtually invisible.

Before buying this guitar I contacted Simon at Brook who confirmed that there should be no adverse impact from a left hand conversion. However, he said that, as the bridge is slightly cambered and the bridge pins are at a slight angle, they would normally prefer to install a new bridge rather than routing out a new saddle slot in the existing one in addition to the other conversion stuff. So - the plan is to take it with me down to the Brook Workshops for conversion by them  when I collect my new custom Brook Taw (Cedar / Cherry) shortly.

However, rather than leave the guitar sitting idle I've done a temporary lefty conversion in the meantime involving the following:
 - Replacing the saddle with a new compensated left-handed saddle in the existing saddle slot
 - Carefully filing the original 1st, 2nd and 3rd nut string slots to accommodate the 4th, 5th and 6th strings when strung left-handed (note: the right handed 4th, 5th and 6th string slots were high enough to accommodate the left-handed 1st, 2nd and 3rd strings without fret rattles etc.)
 - Using removable stick on fretboard side dots on the left-handed players side from Jockomo Inlay Stickers. At 1/8th diameter they are a bit bulkier than normal side dots but they serve the purpose well.

The guitar sounds and plays beautifully as a left-hander. It has a beautiful crisp tone but with strong, distinct lows and mids which lend it well to solo playing - providing a good contrast to the warmer tones of my recently acquired custom Avalon S7 (Redwood / Bog Oak) and the new (coming soon) custom Cedar / Cherry Brook Taw. Surprisingly, the intonation issues caused by the right-handed saddle slot, are not that significant in general use - even when playing on the upper frets.

The guitar also has an L.R. Baggs Active Element under saddle piezo pick-up which works well. Although the volume control is at the wrong side of the soundhole for me, this doesn't get in the way at all. I was originally thinking that I'd get this swapped for my favoured K&K Pure Mini on conversion but the L.R. Baggs pickup does a remarkably good job for an undersaddle piezo so the jury is out on that one.

I'll update this thread when the proper conversion has been carried out. In the meantime, I've provided some photos below

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Comments

  • GTC said:
    I've recently acquired a lovely right-handed 2008 Brook Tamar (European Spruce Top and Koa back and sides).

    I'm left-handed and was told by an experienced luthier a while back that the tone and structural integrity of modern steel-strung guitars are not normally affected by changing the strings round on a right-handed guitar to left-handed, despite many reports to the contrary. Since then I've carried several successful left-handed conversions of suitable mid-range right-handed guitars (e.g. Washburn Historic series, Alvarez Masterworks, Blueridge).


    what about the asymmetric bracing patterns that are fine-tuned to deal with bass and treble strings?
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  • GTC said:
    I've recently acquired a lovely right-handed 2008 Brook Tamar (European Spruce Top and Koa back and sides).

    I'm left-handed and was told by an experienced luthier a while back that the tone and structural integrity of modern steel-strung guitars are not normally affected by changing the strings round on a right-handed guitar to left-handed, despite many reports to the contrary. Since then I've carried several successful left-handed conversions of suitable mid-range right-handed guitars (e.g. Washburn Historic series, Alvarez Masterworks, Blueridge).


    what about the asymmetric bracing patterns that are fine-tuned to deal with bass and treble strings?
    Yeah, I thought that as well.  It wouldn't matter to (most) Larrivees as they have symmetrical bracing. 

    But if it works for the OP, as it is his instrument that's the only thing that really matters! 

    @GTC may you enjoy your Brook, they are truly delightful guitars. 
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 49
    edited September 29
    GTC said:
    I've recently acquired a lovely right-handed 2008 Brook Tamar (European Spruce Top and Koa back and sides).

    I'm left-handed and was told by an experienced luthier a while back that the tone and structural integrity of modern steel-strung guitars are not normally affected by changing the strings round on a right-handed guitar to left-handed, despite many reports to the contrary. Since then I've carried several successful left-handed conversions of suitable mid-range right-handed guitars (e.g. Washburn Historic series, Alvarez Masterworks, Blueridge).


    what about the asymmetric bracing patterns that are fine-tuned to deal with bass and treble strings?
    I'd always thought that asymmetric bracing systems would cause a problem with conversions tonally but I was informed by two very experienced and respected luthiers that in most cases there is no discernable difference. The tests that I have carried out seem to back that up. For example, I've compared a purpose built  Alvarez left-handed Masterworks Parlour with a converted right-handed model - both of which had asymmetric bracing systems to suit their original orientation. I couldn't notice any difference.

    I'd previously done about seven similar conversions on various types of guitars before this one and in each case I tried initally just  restringing left-handed to check the tone before continuing with any conversion work - so I could easily change back and sell on if it didn't work. But, in practice, I've yet to find a problem 

    With the Brook Tamar I was taking conversions into a different league so I contacted Simon at Brook first to check I wasn't doing anything foolish that would lead to disappointment. He confirmed that that I would not be able to notice any difference - and, changing the strings round I've still got the crystal clear ringing trebles, and well-defined middles and lows that were there with right-handed stringing. I should add that I bought the guitar from a private seller on eBay - and just went to Brook for advice beforehand.

    As earwighoney says - the Brook Tamar is indeed a delightful guitar which has taken well to a lefty conversion. It has worked for me and it is something I wouldn't hesitate to do again with appropriate caution.


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  • GTC said:
    GTC said:
    I've recently acquired a lovely right-handed 2008 Brook Tamar (European Spruce Top and Koa back and sides).

    I'm left-handed and was told by an experienced luthier a while back that the tone and structural integrity of modern steel-strung guitars are not normally affected by changing the strings round on a right-handed guitar to left-handed, despite many reports to the contrary. Since then I've carried several successful left-handed conversions of suitable mid-range right-handed guitars (e.g. Washburn Historic series, Alvarez Masterworks, Blueridge).


    what about the asymmetric bracing patterns that are fine-tuned to deal with bass and treble strings?
    I'd always thought that asymmetric bracing systems would cause a problem with conversions tonally but I was informed by two very experienced and respected luthiers that in most cases there is no discernable difference. The tests that I have carried out seem to back that up. For example, I've compared a purpose built  Alvarez left-handed Masterworks Parlour with a converted right-handed model - both of which had asymmetric bracing systems to suit their original orientation. I couldn't notice any difference.

    I'd previously done about seven similar conversions on various types of guitars before this one and in each case I tried initally just  restringing left-handed to check the tone before continuing with any conversion work - so I could easily change back and sell on if it didn't work. But, in practice, I've yet to find a problem 

    With the Brook Tamar I was taking conversions into a different league so I contacted Simon at Brook first to check I wasn't doing anything foolish that would lead to disappointment. He confirmed that that I would not be able to notice any difference - and, changing the strings round I've still got the crystal clear ringing trebles, and well-defined middles and lows that were there with right-handed stringing. I should add that I bought the guitar from a private seller on eBay - and just went to Brook for advice beforehand.

    As earwighoney says - the Brook Tamar is indeed a delightful guitar which has taken well to a lefty conversion. It has worked for me and it is something I wouldn't hesitate to do again with appropriate caution.


    that's good news then
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 49

    that's good news then
    I came across a response in a Martin Guitar forum thread started by someone who wanted to change a left-handed guitar to right-handed:
    "Asymmetric bracing systems do something (beneficial) - but it doesn't seem to matter which way round they go"

    It is strange though how some producers of left-handed guitars make a big thing about the bracing being the correct way round for a left-hander. 
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 49
    Update: I dropped the Tamar off with Simon and Andy at Brook for full conversion when I collected my custom Taw a few weeks ago.

    They removed the old bridge and installed a new left-handed bridge and saddle; installed a new left-handed nut; replaced my stick-on fretboard side marker dots with properly installed mother of pearl ones and moved the controls for the L. R. Baggs electronics to the other side of the sound hole (see photos below).

    As Simon promised, It looks and plays as beautifully as it did in its original right-handed form - but that was no surprise following my temporary conversion mentioned earlier.

    I did ask Simon how he managed to replace the old bridge with a new one with no residual signs of the replacement. The answer was quite obvious really - make the new one slightly larger!

    The guitar is now a true lefty - with the only outward sign of its right-handed origins being the original right-handed fretboard side marker dots (which Simon mentioned he could have dealt if it was important (which it wasn't)


    imageimageimage
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 49
    Whoops - one of the bridge pictures was meant to be of the nut (see below) image
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  • As a lefty i've always fancied trying a Brook, but they are hard to find left handed. As a matter of interest did you notice any difference in sound between the tempory and full conversion?
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 49
    As a lefty i've always fancied trying a Brook, but they are hard to find left handed. As a matter of interest did you notice any difference in sound between the tempory and full conversion?
    No difference in the quality of the sound itself - but, of course, the intonation (staying in tune as you move up the fretboard) was improved by the new bridge and correctly compensated saddle angle. Personally, and perhaps surprisingly, I didn't find the affect on intonation in the temporary conversion all that bad to my ear - although you could clearly see it with a chromatic tuner.
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