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Epiphone EJ-200 to Left-hand conversion

Converting an Epiphone EJ-200 acoustic guitar to left-hand

Note: In this post I refer to “left-handed” and “lefty”. This refers to a guitar which is strung, looking at the guitar face on, with the 1st string on the left and the 6th string on the right.

A customer asked me to convert their brand new Epiphone acoustic to left handed. It seems that Epiphone don’t make a lefty model.

Epiphone EJ-200 to Left-hand conversion

Epiphone EJ-200 to Left-hand conversion

In order to convert it there are a few things that need to be done.

  1. Nut
  2. Saddle slot
  3. Pickguard
  4. Trim

Preparation

I peeled off the pickguard in order to use it as a pattern for the new one. It came off pretty easily as it was mostly paper with a thin plastic veneer! It did leave a lot of adhesive befind which I cleaned off with lighter fuel.

Nut

I replaced the Epiphone plastic nut with a Tusq one, cut for left-handed stringing of course.

Saddle slot

Old right-hand saddle slot filled and levelled

Old right-hand saddle slot filled and levelled

I measured the distance of the old saddle slot from the front of the bridge at each end and also the depth of the slot and made a note of those measurements. I’d use the same treble and bass spacing and depth for the new saddle slot.

Then I filled the existing slot with a carefully cut piece of rosewood and levelled it with a chisel.

Next, using a 3mm router bit on my Dremel, with a Stewmac router base and a home-made jig, I routed the new slot, a millimeter depth at a time, to the measurements I’d made earlier. A final run through with the router cleaned the base of the slot nicely to accept the new saddle.

I made the new saddle from a piece of bone, using the old one as a pattern. I couldn’t use the old one as it was compensated for right-hand stringing. I profiled the saddle and polished it nice and glossy with micromesh.

New saddle slot and saddle test-fitted

New saddle slot and saddle test-fitted

Here’s a picture of the new saddle in its slot.

Pickguard

Copying the tortoiseshell pickguard

Copying the tortoiseshell pickguard

I used the old pickguard as a pattern for the reversed copy from self-adhesive faux tortoiseshell sheet. I cut the material with a craft knife before sanding and scraping the edges smooth.

I couldn’t easily reproduce the floral pattern of the old ‘guard but maybe that is a good thing?

Trim

The final tasks were to reposition the strap button on the heel to the other side and fit new side dots on the edge of the fretboard.

The holes for the side dots were drilled using a small jig I made for the purpose so that they are all the same distance from the fretboard edge. I glued in small lengths of 2mm plastic rod before cutting them flush and polishing smooth.

Plastic rod used for side dots

Plastic rod used for side dots

I filled the hole left by the strap button with a maple plug and put a dab of tinted lacquer over it to seal.

Strap button moved to correct side

Strap button moved to correct side

54 Comments on “Converting an Epiphone EJ-200 acoustic guitar to left-hand

  1. Hi Steve

    I have been searching everywhere for a left handed EJ200, and finally found out they do not make them. Im am looking at purchasing one soon. I was wondering how much u charge and if possible to be sent away to you to convert left handed.

    Regards

    Ross Matthews

  2. Hi Steve, I like Ross would also like to inquire on having my EJ-200 converted to Left Handed. Prices and how long it could take you?

    Look forward to hearing from you

    Cheers
    Denny

  3. how much to setup a lefty ej-200 epiphone acoustic ?? usa sent to okc,oklahoma 73159

    • Not nearly as much as the shipping each way!

      You should really find someone in Oklahoma City.

  4. Hi
    amazing work on the guitar,i too would like you to email me how much you charge for this conversion.
    many thanks.
    Tom

  5. Pingback: Another Epiphone EJ-200 Left-hand Conversion : manchesterguitartech.co.uk

    • hi steve.i,m left hand. my dream,s to get a gibson j200 or a guild f50 i,ve tryed some guitar not much expensive but I thought about selling my ovation acoustic electric L.778 elite to buy the guild f50 or any gibson J200 but They are very expensive but., i think to buy some acoustic electric like epiphone EJ200 or any other one. so i woul like your suggest other one the best to compare with the guild or gibson. i ll, be very grateful if you can to help me in its suggestion. thak you very mucho for your job. i,m sorry my english is not to good but i hope you will undestand me..i,m living in connecticut usa i from brasil.
      thanks steve. ( my name is dimas.)

      • Hi Dimas, I realise that left-handed guitars are hard to find but I think you just need to try out as many as you can within your budget and find one you like. Maybe consider one that isn’t as fancy but has a good build quality, such as the cheaper Taylors?

  6. hi im looking to buy a epiphone ej200VS. but need it turning to a lefty.how long will it take and how much is it please. thankyou steve pennycad hull east yorkshire

    • Conversion costs around £150 including parts and takes a day or two. I recommend you buy a new one – the one I did this week was second-hand and removing the pickguard left tan lines where the wood had not darkened under the guard. I think that the colour will even out over time though…

  7. Hi…I’m looking at buying an epiphone acoustic and needing it turning into a lefty. Are u able to do this on any epiphone model? As I am not 100 certain on which one I’m going for just yet. Cheers

    • Yes, pretty much. Of course I can’t change cutaways or move a preamp!

  8. Hello Steve.

    I was thinking of buying an Epiphone Dove as my second guitar,which is somewhat likely to the ej-200.
    As a left handed person, and a left handed player I’m a little afraid to do these modifications.

    I’ve got a few questions that I would like to ask you.

    -Are there any problems with the sound concerning the body?

    -Are there any major problems converting these to a left handed version?

    -Are there any benefits doing a complete conversion, instead of using something like a Saddleboy left handed conversion kit?

    -What is your opinion about a Saddleboy left handed conversion kit?

    I just have to make sure that it is possible before I buy one, would be a waste of money if I couldn’t mod it later on.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Mike Janssen.

    • I’m sorry but I don’t have any experience of using the Saddleboy left handed conversion kit.

      I know how the Saddleboy works but do wonder how adjustable for action they are. I expect that on many guitars you end up with an unplayable high action. Usually when I have converted Epiphone guitars, the saddle has ended up cut very low to get a good string height and I suspect that this would just not be possible with the Saddleboy. Also I don’t think that they would sound as good as a bone saddle seated snugly in the slot. You certainly couldn’t use an under-saddle piezo transducer. Even with a Saddleboy you need to fit and cut a new nut which is not a simple job.

      As for the Epiphone Dove, I think that the sound of acoustic guitars, especially cheaper models, varies a lot between examples and you should try some before buying. I don’t see any problems with a left-handed conversion because as you say, the guitar is basically the same as the EJ-200.

  9. hi could you tell me where you got the 2mm plastic rod from as im about to start the conversion of my epiphone?
    thanks
    dean

    • I first scored around the nut with a sharp knife to prevent chipping the finish. Then I placed a small block of wood against it on the fretboard side and tapped lightly with a hammer to break the glue joint.

  10. Steve – just curious as to whether you’re still doing these conversions? I am interested in having one converted.
    Thanks in advance.

      • OK excellent. I am living in Australia at the moment…would there be any problem with purchasing an EJ 200 in the UK and having it shipped directly to you?

          • Hello Steve. I think I’ve found an ej 200 that would be suitable for a conversion. However, I’m not a fan of soft guitar cases used for international travel. Would it be possible to have a hard case shipped to you and the converted guitar shipped on to me in the case? Let me know if this is a problem.

          • Hello Steve, I have an EJ200 ready to be sent to you.

          • Thanks Cam, let me know when to expect it!

          • Thanks Steve, no problem. May I have an address to post it to you?

          • It’s on my contact page accessible from the menu at the top of the page.

  11. how much do you charge for this because I’dove to have one in the future?

  12. I live in the States so there is no way I could have you do this for me. I have an aj200e i need converted. I see the price you estimated was approximately $235 us. If I were only concerned with the nut and the bridge/saddle would it save me any money? Also would it be easier to just replace the bridge with a left handed one? Im asking you so I can have a reference point when i talk to shops near me. thankyou for your time, nice article.

    PT

    • It’s harder to replace the bridge as it is necessary to remove the old bridge, fabricate a new one and attach it to the guitar. This is a lot more work.

      Of course the price is relative to the amount of time that’s spent so doing less work ought to be cheaper.

  13. Hi Steve the Yamaha plays so much better than before.Its a new Guitar but
    the set up now is just Fab.Thanks again and will recommend you to my
    Friends A great job and have a couple more Guitars for you to sort out

    • HI STIVE. THANKYOU FOR ANSWER ME. I KEEP LOOKING FOR SOME GUITAR . BUT I THINK TO BUY SSOME EPIPHONE RIGHT HAND . A LITLE MORE EXPENSIVE AND CONVERT TO LEFT HAND. SO ., I WILL TALK YOU LATER. THANK VERY MUCH.

  14. hi stive. this is me again may name is dimas. did you suggested I look for another guitar that you could reverse it to left hand. i found some like epiphone EJ200 and others like guildo in low price. I just would like to know if you do the reverse in any one acoustica guitar or you just do on epiphone?
    I even found one already ready Rainsong, I do not really like the sound.
    but, it is not wood made. she seems to be fibers… tell me what you mark ( kind guitars ) do you convert to left hand. so… then I’ll buy a new and i llask you to make conveting for me. let me know about you do and you dont on guitars any way a would like a godd epiphone j200 came with the best wood likes rosewood, or maple back and side . i keep try asking for that.so after to be ready, i wan adapter a fishman ellipse or some good likes that.
    i got a gibson j200 but was not natural wood.. thanks mr stive. thanks for help me.

    • Hi Dimas, If you don’t like the sound of the Rainsong guitar then you probably shouldn’t buy it. I can’t convert these guitars because as you say they are not made from wood but carbon fibre and plastic.

      I could convert almost any conventional non-cutaway guitar from right to left hand. I can fit any pickup you wish.

  15. hello stive . First point I want to thank you for your attention to me. I ‘m still looking for a EJ200 as king flat top . I saw in their descriptions , you prefer a new guitar to facilitate removal of the guard pik right ? . so I would like your better suggestion . I see some guitars to demo you’ve ever posted . I have searched some made ??of best wood like for example. rosewood back and side . but I do not date. I do not know if it would be ok to send you a guitar from connecticut , and you give it back to me without any damage for the delivery . maybe you already have a better possibly in the hands and then . , I can pay the amount and you send me that had run less risk of damage . so that you understand exactly what I want . and have the best king ej flat top natural color that I can also pay you to adapt better pickup fishman ellipse, or some one that can a help to get the best sound possible. i need a suggestion as wood because,i would can not pay over $ 3000 or 4.000 U.S. dollars for a gibson. please tell me what should I do. thsnk you stive.

    • Hi Dimas, I think you’d be better sourcing something in the USA. I will send you an email.

      • thank you. stive for answer me.. so I thought,some people used to send you the guitar from any distance. so then I would love to live near to your city since., then here i found no one who could to do the same work you normally get to do. but allways I want most, would be a EJ200 best possible quality. I’ll keep trying here. i already found other excellent acoustic but they do not seem the gibson. actually I just want one that is like a copy of J200..
        but i appreciate yous help. thank you very much your attention

  16. Hi Steve,

    Rob here from the US of A. I just purchased an EJ200 myself. I’m a lefty and have already started converting the guitar. The pickguard is off and I’ve replaced the nut. Mine is the sunburst model and I like it without the pickguard. My question is regarding the bridge. I have the stock one still and I just flipped it around. I know I need a left handed one so do I need to do all the filing and such or can I just buy a compensated left handed saddle? I’m also going to bring it into a local luthier to get it properly set up.

    My other concern is guitar itself. Should I worry about warping or anything? I have it restrung now and it sounds fine aside from some tuning issues which is suspect is because of the bridge. But I just want to know if there should be any mods to the body itself to prevent damage. Appreciate all the help in advance!

    Rob

    • I think that the EJ-200 is built solidly enough for there not to be any structural problems with a LH conversion.

      Your intonation problems are of course due to the saddle being slanted the wrong way. I think that the best solution id to fill and recut the slot but there is a device called a Saddleboy which may work for you.

  17. Hi Steve ..

    if you’re still there I’d like to ask you a question that I couldn’t find it here in the comments.
    About the conversion to lefty, when you remove the pickguard, is there gonna be any damage on the wood finish or there could only be a slight visible perimeter line ??!
    How about the glue then .. easy to remove it ??!
    Could you pls explain in a few words the removing of the pickguard ??!!

    PS – how would a conversion be on an Epiphone Hummingbird ??!!

    Thanks!
    Gian

    • If I’m still here?! :)

      Warming the pickguard using a hairdrier softens the glue and the pickguard peels off. Any residual glue can be removed with white spirit.

      If the guitar is not new there may be a shadow where the surrounding wood and finish have darkened with age.

      I’ve done this on hummingbirds lefty printed pickguards are sometimes available on eBay.

      • oh you’re still there lol :)

        I meant .. due to the comments dates I thought this blog could prob not still be active … but yaay here we are!
        yes lefty pickguards are available plenty online
        ok at this point I take this opportunity for one more easy question ..

        – about the strap button for belts you just need to unscrew it right ??!
        – what’s the most potential damage the guitar may undergo ??!!

        Thanks!
        Gian

        • Yes you just unscrew the strap buttons.

          The most potential damage? It depends how careful you are!

  18. Ok Steve.. thanks a lot !!
    shipping costs are still very high and that’s what we all need to improve anyhow :/
    Gian

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