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How Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi got his first left-handed guitar


When Black Sabbath arrived on the rock scene, there was absolutely nothing one would describe as “usual” about them. Led by Ozzy Osbourne behind the microphone, the group created sounds that would leave entire audiences clutching their pearls. Dark and dangerous, the group exuded a means that emanated most pertinently from the guitar of Tony Iommi.

Iommi, too was anything but regular. Though his upbringing was similar to any kids in the pits of workling class Birmingham, he produced a series of songs that would set Sabbath apart from every other band on the scene. However, his dreams of becoming a guitar hero were nearly scuppered when he lost the tip of his finger while working in an industrial plant. And how the guitarist picked up his first-ever left-handed guitar was an equally strange affair.

Iommi was speaking to Gibson when he revealed how the cherished guitar landed in his possession. A left-hander, Iommi, like most people starting out, initially just worked with a right-handed model: “I bought an SG off of somebody, and it was a right-handed one. ‘Cause I couldn’t – in England, it was hard to get a left-handed guitar, and certainly, a Gibson was hard to get.”

Chance would play a big role in Iommi eventually picking up his desired left-handed model, and it would come in curious circumstances: “I used to play it upside-down. And then I heard of this chap who was right-handed and played a left-handed guitar upside-down,” he continued with a smirk on his face and a glint in his eye.

It was kismet! Iommi quickly made his way to the man and tried to set up a deal: “I don’t know how that happened, but I contacted him, and we decided to meet in a car park and swap guitars so he’d then have a right-handed guitar and I’d have a left-handed one. And that’s how I got it.

“A really strange story, but that’s how it did happen,” confirmed Iommi for the guitar maker. “For me, I like it because I like the weight of them and it’s a comfortable guitar to play, I think. You know, I’ve been so used to the SGs all these years, and it’s been great.”

Black Sabbath were never a regular band. So, we’re happy to know that Iommi didn’t get his left-handed Gibson guitar the regular way either. Listen to his full interview with Gibson below.