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