Best left-handed Stratocaster: Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  November 28, 2022

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The Stratocaster is the electric guitar that almost everyone is familiar with, but not all guitars are created equal, and there are many varieties available to suit your specific needs.

While Fender makes the original Stratocasters, other brands make amazing Strat models (Yamaha is a brand to note).

The Stratocaster excels in versatility and sound quality for a reasonable price, making it a great instrument at all levels of musicianship.

But what if you’re a left-handed guitarist? You’re certainly looking for a Strat that doesn’t compromise on tone and playability.

Best left-handed Stratocaster: Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL

The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL is not only one of the best left-handed Stratocaster guitars on the market today because it is crafted with high-quality materials and sounds great, but it also has a beautiful natural finish that will stand out on any stage.

Keep reading to find out all the features, pros, and cons of the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL. I also share my buyer’s guide, so you know what to look for.

What is the Yamaha Pacifica Series electric guitar?

The Yamaha Pacifica electric guitar is a popular electric guitar that is great for left-handed players. It’s actually one of the few Stratocaster-type guitars for left-handed users.

The Pacifica 112V is actually my favorite Squier alternative because it’s just as affordable but of excellent quality.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come in a left-handed version but don’t worry, the 112J is amazing too.

This leftie model is designed to be played in the same way as a right-handed guitar, but it has a reversed headstock.

The Yamaha Pacifica is also one of my favorite budget-friendly non-Fender or Squier Strats.

Yamaha is known for making high-quality guitars, and the Pacifica series is no exception. It has a solid alder body with maple set neck construction for optimal tone.

Best left-handed Stratocaster- Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL complete

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Rich Lasner and guitar maker Leo Knapp collaborated to create the line’s initial designs in Yamaha’s California custom facility.

Yamaha Japan decided to produce the instruments, even though Lasner and Knapp had originally meant for them to be a test project.

The outstanding features of the Yamaha Pacifica 112 is the excellent single-coil alnico pickups and the humbucker bridge pickup.

Also, the vintage-style tremolo makes you think of the Fender Stratocaster, adding to its authentic sound.

Because of the quality materials and construction, this guitar has excellent sound quality with rich, full tones that are perfect for any style of music you might have to play!

Buying guide

The characteristics of Stratocaster guitars make them distinctive.

The three single coils that give the guitar its distinctive tone are an important feature in original Fender strats as well as the copies by other brands.

Being unusual from most other guitars in terms of body form also makes it a little trickier to play if you’re not used to it.

What’s special about a left-handed electric guitar? Reversed headstock

One of the main features that makes a left-handed electric guitar special is the reversed headstock.

This means that the strings are oriented in the opposite way than you would typically see with a right-handed guitar, which is a very important consideration for most lefties.

Most left-handed players are used to having the strings on the right side of their bodies, as opposed to being on the left side.

So if you’re used to playing with a right-handed guitar, this could initially feel uncomfortable.

But the benefits of a reversed headstock outweigh this initial challenge.

Since the strings are oriented in the opposite direction, it’s a lot easier for you to strum with your dominant hand instead of having to learn how to use your non-dominant hand.

Also, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the tuning process.

When you’re playing with a right-handed guitar, it can be difficult to see the string placement on the headstock if you’re used to playing with your dominant hand.

Pickup configurations

You’ll also want to consider the style of pickups when buying a Stratocaster-type guitar.

Unlike many other guitars, Fender Strats typically have 3 single-coil alnico pickups, which are a bit more difficult to find in other brands.

Some Fender models have humbucker pickups at the bridge, which gives a slightly different sound.

Yamaha Pacifica comes with 2 single coil pickups and a bridge humbucker.

This gives you the versatility to play a wide range of music styles, from blues and jazz to rock, pop, and more.

Tonewood

There are different types of woods used for building electric guitars. Which one is best?

Well, it depends on the sound you’re after.

Since you’re in the market for a Strat, you want to consider the tonewood used for the body and neck of the guitar.

If you want a full-bodied and punchy attack, you need an alder tonewood body for your electric guitar.

Alder is a popular choice for Strats, as it delivers a clear, full tone with plenty of sustain. Other popular options include maple and mahogany.

Neck wood & shape

Stratocasters usually have a bolt-on neck construction, which makes them easier to repair if needed. The neck is also an important factor in the sound of your guitar.

Maple is the most popular choice for Strat necks, as it gives the guitar a clear and bright tone. Other popular options include rosewood and ebony.

The shape of the neck also contributes to the sound and playability.

A “C” shaped neck is most common, as it’s comfortable to play and gives the guitar a traditional Stratocaster feel.

Fingerboard/fretboard

The fingerboard, aka the fretboard, is another important factor to consider when buying a Stratocaster-type guitar.

The most popular choice is rosewood, as it gives the guitar a warm and full tone. Other popular options include maple and ebony.

The fretboard also contributes to the playability of the guitar. Some guitars have 21 frets, while others have 22.

The radius also matters – a smaller radius is easier to play, while a larger radius gives you more room to bends the strings.

Specifications

  • type: solidbody
  • reverse headstock: for left-handed players
  • body wood: alder
  • neck: maple
  • fretboard: rosewood
  • pickups: Humbucker pickup in bridge with 2 single coils
  • neck profile: C-shape
  • vintage-style tremolo
  • Gloss Polyurethane finish (Natural Satin, Sunburst, Raspberry Red, Sonic Blue, Black, Metallic Silver finishes)
  • 25.5″ scale
  • 22 frets
  • volume and tone pots (with push-pull coil split on the 112V)
  • 5-position pickup selector switch
  • Vintage vibrato bridge with block saddle
  • weight: 7.48 pounds
Best left-handed stratocaster

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL BL

Product image
8.8
Tone score
Sound
4.6
Playability
4.2
Build
4.5
Best for
  • lots of tonal variety
  • reversed headstock
  • affordable
Falls short
  • a bit heavy
  • goes out of tun

Why Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL is the best Stratocaster for lefties

The Yamaha Pacifica is a lightweight guitar. It’s not the lightest model, but it’s lighter than a Mexican Fender Stratocaster.

This is something to consider if you want to play for long periods without straining your arms or shoulders.

Overall opinion: The 112 is a good bare necessities type of electric guitar – it’s versatile, so you can play all musical styles, it’s good for beginners, too, and it sounds pretty good considering it’s so affordable.

Sure, you don’t get all the fancy upgrades of a luxury guitar, but it’s well-made, and if you care for it, it’s going to last you for many years!

Now let’s look at the defining features:

Reversed headstock

As I mentioned in the buying guide, this left-handed guitar has a reversed headstock.

This is an important feature for left-handed players, as it makes it easier to strum with your dominant hand.

You won’t have to struggle to see the strings, or to tune them using your non-dominant hand.

Another advantage of the reversed headstock is that it makes the guitar comfortable to play for left-handed guitarists.

Using a standard right-handed guitar as a lefty can be awkward at first, so the reversed headstock makes it much easier to transition.

Body & build

The Pacifica 112 is made out of a single piece of alder – this is extremely unusual for budget guitars.

Usually, the cheaper Strats have an alder frame with a poplar or maple body. Thus Pacifica has the build of a pricier Fender.

This gives the Pacifica excellent tone and sustain, making it the perfect choice for guitarists who want a high-quality instrument for all styles of music.

Other features include a C-shaped neck profile, vintage-style tremolo bridge, and humbucker/single-coil pickups.

The tuning keys are also pretty good.

Neck

This guitar has a modern C-shaped neck which is made of maple. It doesn’t feel cheap because there are no rough edges.

When you play, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to slip and slice your hand open on a jagged fret.

The maple gives the 112 a bright and snappy tone, which is perfect for all genres of music.

The nut width is 41.0 mm at the top of the neck and 51.4 at the bottom of the neck. The neck profile is slim, making it comfortable to play for long periods of time.

Compared to the original Fender Stratocaster, the neck radius of the Pacifica is thinner, which makes it easier to play if you’re a beginner.

Fretboard

Yamaha Pacifica comes with a rosewood fingerboard and has 22 frets. The radius is 12″, which is a bit larger than average but still manageable.

This guitar has a 25.5″ scale length, which is the standard for Stratocasters.

The larger scale length means that the strings will have more tension, which gives the guitar a brighter sound.

Compared to the Squier Affinity series, this Yamaha seems better built, and the rosewood fingerboard is very playable. It even has a bit of rounding at the edges.

Pickups

Unlike the Fender Stratocaster, which has 3 single-coil pickups, the Pacifica 112 has a humbucker in the bridge position and 2 single coils.

The humbucker gives the guitar a fuller, richer sound, while the single coils add some brightness and twang.

Also, the humbucker allows for those funky style licks, and with the help of your amp gain, you can achieve those bluesy tones.

This makes the Pacifica 112 a versatile guitar that can be used for a variety of genres, from country to metal.

If you want to play blues or jazz, the single-coil pickups will give you that classic Stratocaster sound.

Or, if you want to play heavier music, you can use the humbucker for a fuller sound.

The Pacifica also has a 5-way pickup selector switch, which allows you to choose between the different pickup combinations.

Overall, my impression is that the pickups aren’t good enough for experienced players, so if you’ve moved on from the beginner stage, I recommend upgrading them.

The bridge humbuckers won’t provide as much output as other pickups on the market.

Controls

The Yamaha Pacifica 112 has 1 volume knob and 2 tone knobs. The 3-way selector switch is located on the upper bout.

The tone knobs are positioned differently than on a Stratocaster – they’re closer to the neck pickup.

This is a great location for the tone knobs because it’s easy to reach when you’re playing.

The volume knob is located in the middle, which is also a good location. I like that the tone and volume knobs are separate, so you can adjust them independently.

Great tone & action

Since the guitar is made of alder wood, it sounds good. Alder is an excellent tonewood that is highly prized for its ability to create clean and crisp notes.

This Yamaha 112 model has 2 single coil pickups and a bridge humbucker pickup, so it’s a bit different from the typical Fender Stratocaster sound.

However, the tone is still very rich and clear, which is great for a wide variety of music styles.

Players are impressed at how great the action is on this guitar.

But if you’re into detuned metal, the output might not be good enough, but for the other genres, the sound is pretty good.

But the most important factor in choosing the best Strat is how it feels to you.

If you’re a left-handed player, then the Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL is the best Stratocaster.

Check out the Yamaha Pacifica 112 left-handed guitar in action, here’s how it sounds:

Finish

The Yamaha Pacifica 112 comes in a variety of finishes, including natural, yellow satin, sunburst, black, and white.

The natural finish is popular because it lets the alder wood grains show through.

However, the natural finishes look a bit cheap – they aren’t as glossy or shiny as the finishes on higher-end guitars.

If you go for a dark blue or black, you can get vintage-looking Strat vibes.

But if you’re looking for a good-sounding and don’t mind compromising on the appearance, this is still a good leftie instrument.

Best left-handed stratocaster

YamahaPacifica PAC112JL BL

This budget-friendly Yamaha Strat-style guitar is perfect for those looking for a quality left-handed guitar.

Product image

What others say about the Pacifica 112

As I searched to see what other players are saying about the Pacifica 112 left-handed guitar, I realized we have a similar opinion.

These guitars are simple since there isn’t much to learn about them.

They’re also versatile because they can easily handle the majority of musical genres without any major issues.

Even the reviewers at Guitar World are fairly impressed by the build.

According to them, the level of care and craftsmanship that went into what is, in essence, a mass-produced, entry-level guitar, though, is impressive.

Amazon buyers also have many positive things to say: the action is really good, and the thin neck makes the instrument easily playable.

Most people say it’s easier to play than a leftie Squier bullet because of its design.

The neck is gaining a lot of praise, especially from beginner left-handed players. This neck doesn’t grab the hand at all, which can’t be said about most of the other cheap guitars.

The only complaint I found is that the guitar doesn’t stay in tune for long.

This is a common issue with cheap guitars, but the tuning keys on the Pacifica are of good quality.

You might need to replace them after some time, but that’s to be expected with any guitar at this price point.

Watch this review by intheblues:

Who is Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL not meant for?

The Yamaha Pacifica 112 is not meant for people who are looking for a guitar that already has upgrades.

If you’re looking for a guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo system or EMG pickups, this isn’t the guitar for you.

The Yamaha Pacifica 112 is also not the best for serious metal players. If you’re looking for a guitar that can handle detuned metal, you might want to look elsewhere.

That’s because the humbucker pickup might not be powerful enough.

There are some excellent higher-end left-handed guitars like the PRS SE Custom 24.

But if you want a true Stratocaster, you can check out the Fender Player Stratocaster, which is also available for left-handed players.

The Fender Player is definitely number 1 in my ultimate review of the best Stratocasters

Alternatives

Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL vs PAC112V

The Yamaha Pacifica PAC112JL is the left-handed version of the PAC112V (that I’ve reviewed here).

The main difference between the two guitars is that the PAC112V has the Alnico V single-coil pickups, while the PAC112JL has the Alnico II single-coil pickups.

You end up paying up a bit for the pickups, but the sound is a bit better.

Also, the 112J has cheaper-looking plastic buttons, whereas the 112V has metal buttons.

Other than that, there isn’t much difference between these guitars except for the fact that the PAC112V is not available in a left-handed version.

In terms of tone, the Alnico V pickups have a bit more output and are a bit warmer sounding. The Alnico II pickups are a bit brighter and have less output.

The Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a great guitar for beginners or for players who are looking for an inexpensive backup guitar.

If you’re looking for something with better quality components, you might want the 112V, but that’s only if you can play right-handed guitars as a leftie.

Best Fender (Squier) alternative

YamahaPacifica 112V Fat Strat

For those looking to buy their first guitar and not want to spend a lot of money, the Pacifica 112 is an excellent option that you won’t be disappointed with.

Product image

Yamaha Pacifica 112JL vs Fender Player Stratocaster

The Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a good guitar, but it’s not in the same league as the Fender Player Stratocaster.

The Fender Player Stratocaster is a true Stratocaster, while the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a Strat-style guitar.

The main difference is in the construction and tone: the Player is more expensive and definitely more than a simple budget guitar.

The Player also has a better build quality, construction, and hardware. It’s also available in a wider range of colors.

The bottom line is that the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a good guitar for beginners and people who are looking for an affordable Strat-style guitar.

If you’re looking for a true Strat for left-handed players, the Fender Player is the one to go for.

Overall best stratocaster

FenderPlayer Electric HSS Guitar Floyd Rose

The Fender Player Stratocaster is a high-quality Stratocaster that sounds amazing whatever genre you play.

Product image

FAQs

Is the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL a great guitar for beginners?

Yes, the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a great guitar for beginners. It’s easy to play and has a very comfortable neck with a flatter radius.

Since it’s designed specifically for left-handed beginners, it’s a great choice for people who are just starting out or are sick of struggling to use a right-handed Strat.

The guitar also stays in tune reasonably well for a budget instrument. It’s also very affordable, which makes it a great option for beginners.

Can the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL be used for metal?

The Yamaha Pacifica 112JL can be used for metal, but it might not be the best option for serious metal players.

The humbucker pickup might not be powerful enough for detuned metal.

Is the Yamaha Pacifica 112 a real stratocaster?

No, the Yamaha Pacifica 112 is not a real stratocaster.

It’s a Strat-style guitar, which means it shares some similarities with the Stratocaster, but it’s not an exact copy.

It’s designed with the Stratocaster in mind, but the “real” Strats are the Fenders.

Takeaway

Left-handed players have always been a bit left behind by the guitar world.

But with the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL, they finally have an affordable and good-quality Strat-style guitar.

It’s a great beginner guitar or a simple gig guitar for left-handed players who want to stick to a budget.

The tone is good, and it’s built to last.

The only downside is that it doesn’t have the same high-end features as some of the more expensive brands like Fender.

Overall, the Yamaha Pacifica 112JL is a great guitar for left-handed players who are looking for a budget-friendly option and a versatile instrument that can play almost any musical style.

Read next: How Yamaha guitars stack up & 9 best models reviewed

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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