Good news: more and more women are picking up guitars, prompting instrument makers to re-think their marketing strategies and to reach out to top female artists.
Fender announced last week that a new study had found 50% of new guitar players in the UK and the US were women. The research reinforced an earlier, US-only survey a few years back that found the same thing.
Interestingly, back in 2016 when the rise was first identified it was put down to (or dismissed, depending on your take on it) as the “Taylor Swift factor” – that is young women were being inspired by guitar-playing Taylor Swift. The industry seemed to think these fickle females would soon get bored and ditch the instrument, so no one did too much about it.
But given Taylor’s music has moved on and she’s barely been seen with a guitar in her hands in recent years, that theory doesn’t really stand up. Fender CEO Andy Mooney now thinks the rise in female strummers is down to a changing cultural landscape. “Rising artists like Mura Masa, Tash Sultana, Youngr, Daniel Caesar, Grimes and Ed Sheeran are changing the way guitar is being used,” he says.
The industry appears to finally be waking up to the fact that they’ve been ignoring a potentially lucrative market for a long time. Fender is now building relationships with female-fronted bands such as Warpaint and Bully. This is brilliant news, but there’s still long a way to go before there’s real change in the male-dominated guitar world.
It was, and remains, very much a boys’ club. Rolling Stone’s list of the world’s top 100 guitarists, for example, includes just two women (all praise Joan Jett in at number 87 and Joni Mitchell in at 72). While a quick glance at Fender’s YouTube channel shows that 18 of the first 20 videos featured male guitarists.
We’ll leave you with a clip of the awesome St Vincent playing guitar.
MAIN IMAGE: Joan Jett rocking it on stage.