SMG Revised: Being a Female Guitarist Takes Balls!

Guest Post by Abby Markson

Like anything else in life, being a female musician has it’s ups and downs. It’s something that has always been challenging for me and for every other female musician I know. It seems that every move you make, note you play, song you sing, chord you strike, drum you hit, etc. is analyzed and critiqued to no end. It’s much different for girls in the music world than it is for guys. Not only because there aren’t that many, but also because we have to constantly prove that the stereotype of “girls can’t play” is a load of crap.

This has always been a male dominated industry and females are just now starting to break through and become more accepted as players/musicians. I myself being a female guitarist, have struggled my whole playing career with this issue. Getting to the point where people take me seriously as an actual guitarist, a real player instead of just a chick that can play or just being “good for a girl” has taken years.

I attended Musicians Institute (GIT) for a year and a half to study guitar. During my time there, being one of about 6-8 girls in the program was a huge struggle for me. I felt like everyone was just waiting for me to screw up, just waiting to throw me into the category of chicks sucking at their instrument. My classes usually consisted of about 50 people and a lot of the time I was the only girl in my class. The anxiety, fear, and pressure seemed to consume me at times. I had severe performance anxiety and often had to take a Xanax just to be able to play on stage. Of course you had to play live to get credit so there was no getting around it. I had to just suck it up and get through it.

In my experience, often times people don’t take you seriously if you’re a female musician, let alone a guitarist. I walk into guitar center and the guys working there just flock to me asking if i need help and when I say “no thanks, I know what I’m looking for”…it’s like they don’t believe me or something. They think I have no idea what I’m talking about or what I’m looking for. They try and explain things that I already know to me and pick out things for me that they think I would like because I’m a girl. The fact is, if I was a dude that walked in there, this would absolutely not happen. This also brings to mind the fact that there are “guitars for girls,” which really pisses me off! Those are the kinds of things that just add to this whole mess. All that does is project the idea that girls can’t play a real guitar. That what, we’re so fragile and naive that we need special instruments made for us? It’s really quite insulting if you ask me. Daisy Rock Guitars is one particular that drives me nuts. The woman who made the company claims that she wants everyone to know that girls can rock out. How is giving girls sparkly pink hearts, butterflies and flower guitars going to do that? They’re not even full scale necks, which is very insulting in and of itself. Daisy Rock comes with a CD of female guitarists featuring such artists as Courtney Love and Sheryl Crowe. Now no offense to these women, but I hardly consider them good enough guitarists to be putting them on a CD to inspire young girls to play guitar.

Now in a guys world, the artists on that CD would most likely be players such as Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Zakk Wylde, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Vai, and so on and so forth. I understand that people think because girls have smaller hands that they should have smaller guitars, but this is just not true. Every girl I know that plays guitar is very capable of playing a regular guitar.

 

Many of these things are created simply just to make money, so when they’re put on the market people start thinking “oh yeah, I guess I should get a guitar for girls since I’m a girl and I want to learn how to play”. The fact that there are girl bands out there that play in nothing but bras and undies doesn’t help the real female musicians out there look any better as well. It’s so rare to find girls who really do take their instrument seriously and don’t use their breasts to get them gigs.

I love meeting girls that really kick ass on guitar (or any instrument) and know what they’re doing. Now don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve been going on and on about the negativity’s but there are many amazing things about being a female musician as well. You can go out any night of the week and see a guy play guitar, but seeing a girl play isn’t so common. So for me, it’s great knowing that I can draw people in to see something they probably haven’t seen before. If you really know your stuff, then being a girl can be quite an advantage for getting gigs and making a living as a musician. It’s really all about who you are as a musician and how seriously you take yourself. I have played music for as long as I can remember, and although there is a part of me that is so bitter towards people and their assumptions of me, I wouldn’t change a thing.

There is nothing more fun to me than showing people that girls really can rock just as hard as guys. This issue is something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, but finding new ways to do it is the best part. We are all musicians here, all players, all in it because we love it. Gender, race, religion, etc. has nothing to do with it. Music is a universal language and I’m just glad I can be a part of it.

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  • Hi Abby,

    You’ve brought up many good points. Starting with the last paragraph; yes, it’s true, music is a universal language. And there should be no “black or white”, “male or female”. But I think because we are so influenced as consumers, we come to believe things as “truths” because they are presented to us that way. The commercial marketplace still uses women to sell products. And that de-ligitmizes our value as artists. Just look through the advertisements in guitar magazines. How many women that can actually play are posing with guitars, or tuners, etc. We still live in a world where it’s more important to get a beautiful woman holding the guitar like a moron, than a real woman who can actually play it.

    When I was a younger guitar player, I went through a lot of soul searching situations, “Is it me, is it the way I play, or is it because I’m a woman?” Well, that stuff can make you crazy after a while. Guys go through their share of bullshit in the musical world as well, so I don’t ever want to take away from them how hard it is to strike out there on your own as a musician and make your way in the world. All my respect to anyone who can do that.

    I think it’s just being so outnumbered in the early stages, like you said, at GIT for instance. I was one of 4 girls in the whole graduating class. In the early stages, where young women or girls are impressionable-growing up exposed to the media-they don’t have many examples of females just playing instruments really well. I’m always getting that, “Oh you must love Heart, or Sheryl Crowe, or Bonnie Raitt.” Why? Because we all have breasts? Actually, I love Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. No one seems to see the difference between women who make a living as instrumentalists and singer-song writers who play to write or play to accompany themselves. Although I respect all three women I mentioned, I don’t know that they would be able to work as freelance instrumentalists if they didn’t also sing. Bonnie Raitt may be the exception to that, but only by a small margin.

    And what’s with everybody coming up to female guitarists when they’re playing with a band who clearly has a singer, and asking them to sing a song? Another assumption based on what people see most of the time because it’s more convenient to present women that way.

    Amen on the Daisy Rock comments. I went to see them at NAMM their first year and asked why, at that time they didn’t make a strat. I looked point blank at this salesman and said “What if the girl wants to learn some Hendrix? There’s no whammy bar! When are they going to make strat, and why aren’t the necks full scale?” He just looked at me and said, “well, you know, I just sell these things, I don’t know.” And I just loved in the instructional book how the little girls playing had nail polish on. Nothing wrong with nail polish, but was that to subliminally show that you can kick major rock ass, but you must still show your feminine side so you can wear nail polish? And yes, showing Courtney Love as a shining example of what a woman can be on guitar is to embrace all that sucks about the commercial culture of money and success. A poor example of a woman kicking ass on her instrument. Why wasn’t Jennifer Batten in that book?

    I find Daisy Rock to be not only anti-woman, but also anti-man. What’s wrong with having great male guitar players inspire you? We are supposed to be appreciating the other gender, not having a competition or a war with them. Or excluding them to the point of looking foolish.

    Hands come in all sizes. I have bigger hands than some of my male students and vice versa. It’s amazing how much longer your fingers appear when your technique is good. I remember when I got to GIT in 1985 I had just come out of a relationship with a great guitarist who had me convinced that women could never play as well as men because they didn’t have the physical strength. And so, I took my first lesson with my teacher Keith Wyatt, and said, “Keith, I think because I’m a woman, I won’t have the strength to play like a man, to sound like a man.” And he just broke out laughing. We’ve been friends ever since.

    Look, you’ve got to practice hard, know your stuff, show up to the gig on time, move your own gear, and use your ears. That’s pretty universal. And you have to try to ignore the bullshit or minimize it. Sometimes people will take advantage of you because you’re a woman. Sometimes they won’t know how to work with you, or communicate with you. Sometimes they will feel threatened by you, sometimes they will try to intimidate you. Other times they will not take you seriously. That’s all good and well. Just keep practicing and going after your dreams and goals. Nothing will be able to stop you if you keep your eyes on your instrument and your love of music.

    And the good thing about that is that the little sisters growing up and watching you kick major ass on your instrument will just assume it’s normal for a woman to do that, and they’ll do it without question.

  • Joanne

    Hi

    There are some great female guitarists and bassists out there but they usually don’t get their due. And Daisy Rock guitars and females who play in various states of undress take away the credibilty of being a female player. (Ever see Eric Clapton play guitar in his boxers??)

    I played bass as a teen in the 60s and had no female role models. NOW I have found out about Carol Kaye, thanks to the Internet, but she was kept in the background back in the days. Thank goodness that today’s girls have Tal Wilkenfeld to look up to.

    I don’t have very small hands but I do have a “bum” shoulder, the result of an auto accident. I like to play light guitars but I don’t want them to be pink! I play a Hofner bass (light and short scale) and a Fender 72 Tele Thinline. They suit my needs but are “real” guitars!

    I hope that over time it will get easier for women to become guitarists.

    Rock on!

  • Hey there Joanne,

    Thank you very much for your response!! I definitely agree with you on the whole female musician thing. It’s been so rare for women to be taken seriously in this industry and I can only imagine how hard it was to do in the 60’s! You’re right, thankfully there are some women out there now that we can finally look up to. It’s taken a long time, but it will pay off in the end. And I feel your pain on the whole injury and having to play light instruments. I was hit in a crosswalk in 2006 and broke my right shoulder and suffered a really bad back injury. Unfortunately the guitar that I had just bought was Les Paul status in weight!! It really sucks and it kind of limits you, but it pays off over time because we won’t have bad backs later in life! It sounds like you have some pretty nice guitars and basses, that’s awesome that your fender is vintage! I LOVE vintage guitars! Let me know when you’re playing a show sometime, keep in touch:-p

    Abby

  • Wow Carole, I couldn’t have said it any better myself!! You are right in all aspects of this issue. And along with the whole nail polish thing, my FAVORITE is definitely the women in bikinis on the cover of guitar magazines who have long acrylic nails and are trying to but there fingers on the fret board. Purely hysterical!

    Abby

  • Paul Leslie

    Hey Abby,

    Good selections for your top ten female guitarists. May I add Debbie Davies and Ana Popovic to your list? And for you bassists out there check out Lisa Mann.
    I find it amusing to watch men’s jaws drop when they see these ladies play.

    Best to you,

    Paul

  • Hi Abby,

    I had very similar experiences being a female lead guitar player. But I realized after years of struggling with the issues that my biggest issue was my fear. Fear of not being accepted, fear of not being good enough, fear of dissappointing people. But I guess with age comes wisdom 🙂 Now I don’t care who’s listening or who likes it, I just play my ass off and do what I love and now at my gigs I have more people telling me “youre a great a guitar player” instead of “youre a great singer”. I really like Carole’s comment:

    “And the good thing about that is that the little sisters growing up and watching you kick major ass on your instrument will just assume it’s normal for a woman to do that, and they’ll do it without question”

    My five year old daughter thinks everybody’s mom is in a rock band. Being a great role model for her has given me more inspiration than anything else. She won’t be plauged with fear and insecurities like I was.

    Good luck to you!

    Staci

  • Hi Abby,

    I work for Daisy Rock. And yes, when Tish, the founder and president, started the company, many of our guitars had daisy/heart shapes and were short-scale designs. But this year is our 10 year anniversary, and we’ve grown so much over the last 10 years.

    When Tish started the company, her heart was in the right place. She wanted young girls, emphasis on young, to see guitars made for them, so when they thought about learning an instrument the guitar would appeal to them. She wanted to them see guitars as something young girls can play, and that they don’t have to pick piano or flute or something to that effect. She wanted girls to know that they could rock out just like their brothers, fathers, etc. And honestly, when I started playing music…guitar wasn’t even a thought. I played clarinet because it was that or flute, and I didn’t want to hold my arms up in the needed position for that long!

    Fast forward 10 years, and Daisy Rock’s line of guitars have expanded 10-fold. Those past “Daisy Rock” models have been gathered into a separate beginner line called “Debutante,” and we’ve tried to expand our “Daisy Rock” guitars to fit every advanced guitarists needs, everyone from the folksy singer/songwriter to the hardcore metal girl. To that effect, we are starting to make some sick guitars. Check out our Rock Candy Xtreme (http://daisyrock.com/products/bass-guitars/rock-candy-bass/rock-candy-xtreme?sku=132). It comes complete with a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo system and EMG active pickups. Or take a look at our Stardust Elite Rebel with a Duncan-Designed P-90 pickup (http://daisyrock.com/products/electric-guitars/stardust-elite-series/stardust-elite-rebel?sku=127). Poke around the site – these are just a couple examples. There are so many more guitars that attempt to appeal to a wide variety of girls of all ages and personalities.

    Are these guitars more in line with what you would like to see from Daisy Rock? Do you think we are headed in the right direction? Daisy Rock needs women like you to help fight the fight, help us learn from you. United we stand, and divided we fall. We would love to work together to help all women guitarists out there.

    • Hi Samantha, Mick here, I’m the editor of SMG. Thank you for your comments. I definitely see Daisy Rock going in the right direction. Not just a gimmick, but an actual hip and cool way for both beginners or seasoned players to get there groove on! They’re strong enough for a man, but made for a woman ;P

  • Hi Mick,

    hahaha…that’s right! I’m so glad to hear you think we are headed in the right direction. Our new guitars are a real focus for us. We want all females, seasoned or novice, to have a guitar perfect for them. If you know anything else we can do to help female players, please let us know!

    ROCK!

  • I do understand why Daisy Rock was started. It was innocent enough.That is still no excuse for putting people like Courtney Love or Sheryl Crowe in their instructional books. Other than if the purpose was to lower musical standards for women.

    Any company can create a cool looking guitar. It can be done cheaply these days. Why not encourage women to play like great players who have raised the standards of guitar playing and were and are considered ahead of their time; Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Jennifer Battan, Stevie Ray and other players of this caliber on acoustics and electrics alike.

    To relegate instruction and inspiration to the female role model is to deny the actual history of our instrument and give up on the fact that we can all inspire and teach each other. It’s about as damaging as relegating a woman to an “all girl” band for her entire career. No offense to some successful all-girl bands out there, but they are few and far in-between that couldn’t benefit on a musical level from replacing a couple of players with some male counterparts who play better. Or maybe female counterparts who aren’t as good looking but can play better.

    Men and Women, no matter what their age, just need to be encouraged to be great. They need to be encouraged to find inspiration in their heros. I have male students that I have inspired to become great. They consider me a guitarist, a teacher, or a player further down the road then them. I have many female students that I teach can go out into the world and work as freelance guitarists. They don’t have to become singer-songwriter’s, or pretty products with guitars.

    Well, in order to be that good, you’d better play a lot of licks that preceded you historically, and whatever some people may think about it, those licks have come predominantly from men. That’s just where we are in history right now. And personally, as a woman, I’ve got no problem with that. And I believe that players like Hendrix and Stevie Ray would be nothing but overjoyed to see women carrying their torches into the future.

    It’s the same discussion as “Chicks With Picks”. I see a lot of female singer/songwriters-which is fine, but the backup bands are guys with picks. What kind of message is this once again? Well, you pretty ladies get up front and kind of strum and let the guys do the heavy work.

    If you want to help female guitarists, please stop calling them female guitarists. You’re either a guitarist or you’re not. To use the expression “female guitarist” is to imply another category or standard should be applied to us.

    No, we need to practice our asses off, learn about our gear and electronics, learn every great riff that was ever played by a man or woman and always move our own equipment. Our hands are not weaker or necessarily smaller, we don’t need “special” guitars. We need good technique.

    I don’t consider William Leavitt’s “A Modern Method For Guitar”, to be a “boys” guitar course because it was written by a man. It’s just one of the best all around guitar instructional courses that was ever written. And had it been written by a woman, I wouldn’t call it a “girls” instructional course.

    There’s nothing wrong with a company that wants to encourage a particular race or sex to do something, but not at the exclusion of the great teachers and inspirations who set high standards, because they don’t fit the demographic of the product.

  • Michael Barr

    I like seeing women musicians,the ladies I have seen is great players, I thank its nice,Do what you do and play it well.

  • Always nice to hear.

  • Thank you Michael, and to you as well.
    truly,
    carole

  • It’s a real shame when we treat music and guitars like a competitive sport. For me, I have had the opprotunity to play music with quite a few women and I NEVER thought twice. In fact, I walked away making new friends and learning something in the process. Yes, women CAN shred. (Look at The Great Kat and Jennifer Batten.) Music has no bias, is not prejudice against color, race and whether you’re a guy or a women. It’s sad that these males get their hackles up just cuz a women can play better than them. I have some great women music teachers and God Bless ’em. This is a great article and hopefully we can remember making music is for all of us. It isn’t a batttle of the sexes.

  • Hi Abby-

    Thank you for writing this post! As a singer-songwriter-guitarist who’s been performing for 15 years, it has continually disgusted me to see the perpetuation of the macho boys club stereotypical nonsense in the music industry.

    I never subscribed to any of that lunacy. Rock and roll is a means of liberation for all of humankind, regardless of color, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender, so the fact that this gender gap still persists is unacceptable. When I hear fellow male players spouting the often-heard and idiotic phrase “She’s pretty good for a girl” my reply is always, “She’s pretty good, period! She plays better than YOU!”

    Women are amazing at every instrument. I’ve played with incredible female guitarists, drummers and bassists. The funny thing is, all of the best bass players with whom I’ve recorded and performed have been female! I don’t know if this is happenstance or if women have some mysterious natural advantage at bass over their male counterparts, but in my experience, EVERY female bass player has played circles around their bassist brothers. I’ve played with everyone from top-notch session players to as amazing unknown musicians discovered via musician-wanted ads or word of mouth and female bass players never fail to come out on top.

    Mind you, this could just be a coincidence. Who knows? Regardless, I applaud you for your courage in shattering these antiquated archetypes that sadly still exist in music and I am encouraged to see musicians and instrument companies reaching out to young girls at an early age to show them that music and guitars see no gender.

    Finally, as a heterosexual male musician, I must admit that there is no bigger turn-on than seeing any female musician (especially guitarists and bassists) play the hell out of their instrument!

    Cheers and keep rocking-
    /m/ Mike Dubose /m/

  • Well said Ms. I’m glad somebody, that somebody being a woman, brought up the whole daisy rock guitar thing. Those guitars if anything are for little girls, not women. Way to rock out the way anybody should and great article.

  • I am a professional guitarist I have made a living playing guitar all my life. When I first started it did seem like the guys gave me a hard time but now it doesn’t matter with the younger guys. I think it is old school male players that make a big deal of it.
    I once went job hunting and wanted to do something different in the music business besides touring and recording. So I went to Dean guitars with hopes of a sales Rep position for a women’s guitar line. I was told that man could sell the line better then a girl. I wasn’t even given a chance to prove myself. Daisy Rock also had a male guitar rep. How are you going to sell a female line of guitars with male sales reps? I find that really funny ….double standards?
    Anyway I love and Courtney Love and Hole! I think we all have a place in music good or bad its all opinion and what sells. I listen to everything. Satriani to Lady Gaga. There are many guitarist male female good and bad gender plays no part in that! 😉

  • Lucindra

    Great article……and some great post/replys….
    being a multi_instrumentalist for over 40 years……I kinda get a kick out of watching men snicker when I pull one of my custom guitars out …..knowing it doesn’t need tuning and saying lets rock!!…..doesn’t take long to get respect when their mouths drop open…….Chicks Rock !!!……guys who don’t know it….soon learn…..you Rock Abby……Lu

  • JoeS

    Hey Abby, thanks for sharing. I’ve recently read a number of lists of great female guitarists, and most of them are trading on their bodies instead of their chops. That shouldn’t be. It makes me sad that so many women who seem to want respect as guitarists feel that they have to dress immodestly to even get a second look. Keep pressing on!

    Also, in my experience, most of the salesmen at Guitar Center assume that nobody knows near as much as they do.

  • I enjoy being a female guitarist and being able to inspire younger people to play guitar, no matter who they are. I just don’t give anyone who wants to judge me on my appearance or sex any attention. They’re obviously not focused on the music.

    I wish there were more special guitars made for women, kids and men with smaller hands. I consider any guitar that fits and plays well a real guitar. The thing I noticed about Daisy Rock guitars is that they are not easier to play, which I thought was the point of them. (The fretboards are wide and the body shapes are awkward. They also never sounded very good to me.) I’d LOVE to support them if they made a good guitar for me.

    I do wish that all the folks who worked in guitar shops treated everyone the same, but that just means that I only shop where the folks are cool to women and men. In Seattle, those places are Emerald City Guitars and American Music.

    Cheers to all the musicians out there!

    Susan Palmer
    Guitar Instructor at Seattle University
    Author of “The Guitar Lesson Companion”
    http://www.youtube.com/leadcatpress

  • It’s the same behind the scenes in the music industry. It’s still a man’s world. I’m an inlay artist and it seems only the guys get recognition in the field.

  • Great article Abby! I know that most everyone at GoGirlsMusic.com (the organization I founded 16 years ago) can relate. Our mission is to promote, support & empower women in music. There is so much incredible female talent out there. I am constantly blown away. Thank you for writing a great article the resonates with our online community… cuz chicks rock!

  • R. Rissler

    I enjoyed this essay very much but there is one thing that continually drives me crazy–could we please stop referring to grown women as “girls”? Girls are females under about the age of 14. Most female people playing guitar for a living are a little older than that. So, could we please stop calling adult women “girls” or “grrls” or “chicks” or anything else that makes us sound like children? Thanks.

  • Jessidora

    There is definitely a gender issue going on in the guitar world, but I don’t find it to be terribly different from in any other world (science or business, for example).

    I understand the insult that is implied by “girl guitars, but for some people, such as myself, the size and shape of the guitar can be the difference between playing and not playing. I had tendonitis before I started playing and as a result, could never hold a full size acoustic properly for more than 5-10 minutes without being in severe pain. A “girl guitar” brand with a slimmer body solved that for me. The more girl-targeted design of my particular model is tasteful and appeals to me, but the fact that it is regarded as “feminine” when a man could play this instrument and may be just as inspired by it is the only sexist part of it, IMO.

  • Jessidora

    There is definitely a gender issue going on in the guitar world, but I don’t find it to be terribly different from in any other world (science or business, for example).

    I understand the insult that is implied by “girl guitars”, but for some people, such as myself, the size and shape of the guitar can be the difference between playing and not playing. I had tendonitis before I started playing and as a result, could never hold a full size acoustic properly for more than 5-10 minutes without being in severe pain. A “girl guitar” brand with a slimmer body solved that for me. The more girl-targeted design of my particular model is tasteful and appeals to me, but the fact that it is regarded as “feminine” when a man could play this instrument and may be just as inspired by it is the only sexist part of it, IMO. It’s not necessarily a “girl guitar” it is A guitar, but I’m glad it’s in the world, however that came about.

  • Maxcee

    I’m 55 now…I learned to play guitar back in the late 60’s, starting when I was 11. I had several guitars and a couple of banjos and bought and traded them until 1982. I was a cute young woman working in Boston and I looked up to an older male colleague. He told me that playing a guitar wasn’t feminine and that if I wanted the interest of men, I should get rid of these things and grow my nails out and be more feminine. So I did. I felt terrible, but I trusted that this man was right. This was the days of Disco and New Wave… I SOLD a Civil War parlor guitar with pearl inlay, and I was sick about the whole thing and guess what? No men flocked to me because I DIDN’T have a guitar!

    Flash forward to 1998, I bought a used guitar and sold it, as I couldn’t bring myself to play it. In 2008, I buy a really good but cheap guitar, have the frets dressed and enhancements done… I take it out and plunk on it once in a while BUT the joy is gone and I feel guilty about owning it. I Sold it earlier this year and lost a bit of money on it, but at least I don’t have to look at it anymore. Recently I got the bug again and was thinking about a $1500 Martin, I know from experience that they are amazing to play… Then I saw the You Rock guitar and how much it does for the $, so I am wanting to see the specs on the YOU ROCK GEN2 soon. But the question is, will my guitar phobia go away? I don’t have anyone to please now….and never have, as I have been alone for 30 years. So…I gave up my Heart & Joy…FOR NOTHING… Learn from my sad story…MEN are Takers are not worth giving up your guitars, animals or children for…

  • jackie

    Women do have 50 % less strength than men. I learned that in Anatomy. This has to have some effect on pressing steel strings. I do think there are differences and for in finger size, length and strength that can help or hinder a guitarist.

  • I totally agree that girls who know how to play the guitar are so cool. I am just starting out to learn this instrument and I admit that I am having a hard time, so girls that are good at it really rock. I really admire them and they actually give me inspiration to practice more and improve myself.

  • sarah

    Dear Abby. I am female. My hands are tiny like a childs. When I was 16 I could not play a man’s guitar well. I wish Daisy Rock had been around then. Their company celebrates women as guitar players. Other companies ignore women. Guitar shops have not taken women seriously. Obviously, a female guitar company would feature female guitarists. Get over it.

  • Hey Abby
    Cool article!
    I totally agree with you that it’s a challenge being a girl musician. But I think we should take it a little further into feminism.
    For example, you write that you love to show people that girls can rock as hard as guys. The mere fact that we feel we have to show that to people is an incorrect and non-feminist concept and should be abandoned. Male musicians have the right to make mistakes or to rock a little less on a certain gig, and are not at all pressured to be sexy at all times. We should take that right too. If we’re tired of having to prove we can play, we should act like we have nothing to prove.
    Also, when you write things like ” It’s so rare to find girls who really do take their instrument seriously and don’t use their breasts to get them gigs”, I think it only helps perpetuate the prejudice. I am myself a professional female guitarist and I know many others, and none of them go on stage in their “bras and undies”. If say, some guy who works at the guitar shop reads your article, this sentence will only confirm his assumption that the vast majority of female musicians do use their breast to get gigs and are not to be taken seriously.

  • Seriously?

    “Gender, race, religion, etc. has nothing to do with it. Music is a universal language and I’m just glad I can be a part of it.”

    What is the purpose of this whole blog if not to draw attention to the fact that you’re a female guitarist and are tired of being treated differently. It is not just about the music obviously. If you can play guitar as a woman, you are more gimmicky than GWAR wearing costumes, naturally. On the other side of the spectrum, you do catch a lot of shit that you don’t deserve. Honestly you’re a new face in a new genre of music. It does take balls. But it is DEFINITELY not harder to succeed as a woman with talent than a man with talent. Your sexuality gives you popularity and if you aren’t gonna appreciate that switch genders with me so you can’t complain and will never get anywhere in the music industry because you are an unattractive man. Really, if you get your ass grabbed at shows carry some goddamn bear mace.

  • I do agree with the last statement in many aspects. I have been a professional freelance guitarist for 25 years. I started my career in L.A. and have lived many places and worked many places. For the most part, if you get to the gig on time, are prepared, and act professionally, you will be accepted as a musician and not a “female guitarist”.

    However, my years of experience have shown me that one undercurrent people may not be aware of, is the gigs that women are not called for to begin with. There is a “pre-screening” going on for many gigs; for instance; well known all guy rock bands. Many do not want a woman to upset the “rock ‘n’ roll” party vibe. That’s like taking your wife on the road-the dynamic of the band changes.

    I have known many well known musicians in famous bands, and have been around during times when they were looking to replace musicians, and there was no question that they were looking for guys, not women.

    Women still tend to be compartmentalized on high profile gigs. I have no feelings either way about it, I have worked continuously for over two decades, and teach all my students, male or female; know your parts, have a good attitude, be there early, and never buy any gear you can’t carry by yourself.

  • Abby, great article! even though it’s 2013 unfortunately women are still looked upon as objects in every industry across the board not just music. It’s a mans world and unfortunately women help keep it that way. Women are too competitive with each other to truly come together and unite for equality.

  • IHaveSwag

    Hey Abby,
    I’m fourteen and I play guitar, when I tell people they ask me what can I play because they think because I’m a girl I can only play a couple of chords!! When I told them what I actually could play they were amazed because they didn’t think a girl would or could play rock- my nickname is now the Rock Queen!! More women should be recognised for playing guitar, and one day hopefully everyone in the world would be able to name a famous female guitar player as well as they could name a celebrity!! Your story is amazing, more people should be inspired by it:)
    Hollie

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