Girls Need Guitars! – A Tribute To Great Female Guitarists

Boys might need girls but some girls just need guitars and some boys need girls who just need guitars. It’s complicated.

If your idea of the iconic rock-guitarist is a spandex-clad, hairy-chested, poodle-permed, plank-spanking version of a professional wrestler then we’d like to broaden your mind. Girls play guitar too and they can be just as innovative, aggressive, expressive and impressive as their male counterparts but with better fashion sense.

This is our tribute to the contribution female guitarists are making to the world of Rock. These women are the cool, confident and talented ambassadors of Rock Chic and you won’t find any of them playing patronising pink heart-shaped guitars either!

Joan Jett

Joan Jett

A no-nonsense player who in only a few strums can get an entire barroom howling her 1982 hit, “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” Joan Jett was inspired to teach herself how to play guitar aged 13, after seeing Black Sabbath and The New York Dolls in concert.

Joan’s traditional weapon of choice is the Gibson Melody Maker.

Lita Ford

After jamming with Jett as lead guitarist in the Runaways in the 1970s, Lita Ford embarked on a solo career with her pop-metal shedder sound, hiring fellow rocker Sharon Osbourne as her manager. In 1988, she released Lita, a sexy riff-filled album that included the top 10 hit “Close My Eyes Forever,” her duet with Sharon’s husband Ozzy.

You know those BC Rich guitars that are like, two guitars? Well apart from the Gibson SG she is shown playing here, Lita Ford is famous for playing one of those… dude.

Nancy Wilson

Nancy started playing at age 8. In the same way that her sister Ann Wilson was born to sing, Nancy Wilson says she’s definitely a born guitar player.

The self-taught guitarist says she has a good ear for picking things up and imitating what she’d heard on vinyl records. “Before Heart, I played nonstop and way into the night, and I just couldn’t put the guitar down,” Wilson says. “I didn’t mind that my fingers hurt. I had to know every song that I loved.”

Nancy is shown here playing a Fender Telecaster but her favourite guitar is the Gibson Les Paul Special that she’s played since the ‘70s and continues to play now.

Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten also got hold of her first electric guitar at the age 8. Little did she know that years later in 1987, she would get her big break when she was picked from more than 100 guitarists to tour with Michael Jackson.

Well known for her bi-manual tapping style Jennifer teaches at the Guitar Institute of Technology. She plays bespoke guitars by Washburn, Parker and Stuart Box.

Donita Sparks

L7 guitarist Donita Sparks taught herself how to play guitar aged 16 by playing bar chords along to Ramones records.

Donita is a die-hard Gibson fan, favouring the Gibson Melody Maker and an Epiphone Flying V.

Kim Deal

Kim Deal’s iconic status solidified as the bassist for The Pixies but her rhythm guitar playing with supergroup The Breeders is also hugely influential.

Kim plays a Fender Precision bass, a Fender 1991 Strat Ultra and a Gibson Les Paul.

Kelley Deal

Kelley Deal didn’t pick up the guitar until she was 30 (and was taught by her twin sister Kim), but that’s the reason her disheveled playing for the Breeders is so powerful. It’s untrained, uncalculated, and completely unreal.

Kelley Deal plays a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe and a Fender 1991 Strat Ultra (a Christmas present from Kim).

Carrie Brownstein

At 15, Brownstein took a few guitar lessons from Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk. Though she played in early ’90s riot girl band Excuse 17, Carrie’s most famous work came in the form of her tireless riffing for Sleater-Kinney from 1994 to 2006.

Carrie plays a Fender Jazzmaster, Rickenbacker 330 and a Gibson SG Standard.

Poison Ivy

The Cramps were playing envelope-pushing ’80s psychobilly before it became mainstream in the ’90s and influenced bands like the Black Lips, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine.

Guitarist Poison Ivy plays a plethora of vintage Gretsch hollow-body guitars but her vintage 1958 Chet Atkins 6120 is her traditional weapon of choice.

The Great Katt

Juilliard-trained violinist the Great Kat has been called “The High Priestess Of Shred” and is one of the most mind-bogglingly fast guitarists you’ve ever seen. She is best known for her thrash metal interpretations of well-known classical pieces.

The Swindon-born Katherine Thomas has played a huge array of pointy guitars over the years but normally tends to go with the Jackson Flying V and Gibson Flying V.

Orianthi

Australian newcomer Orianthi’s stunning guitar playing has already been endorsed by Carlos Santana (“If I was going to pass the baton to someone, she would be my first choice,” he told the Aussie Today show) and Michael Jackson handpicked her for what would have been his comeback tour.

Orianthi is a PRS endorsee with her own SE signature model.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmarK1bosZU&feature=related

Sandi Thom

Best known for her hit-single “I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair” Sandi Thom is shortly due to release her much talked-about blues album “Merchants and Theives” which features a performance from Joe Bonamassa.

Sandi is pictured here with her Sandi Thom signature Farida guitar. She also plays a Farida M-2.

Katie White

The stylish Ivor Novello winning songwriter and guitarist Katie White of The Ting Tings is the embodiment of “Rock Chic” and this exceptionally cool photograph by Karen McBride shows you why.

Multi-instrumentalist Katie is shown here with her Fender Stratocaster.

(Photo courtesy of Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com).

If you would like to develop your own concept of “Rock Chic” then check out our Friends at

Dead Legacy Rock’n’Roll Clothing in Manchester. www.deadlegacy.com

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  1. Mary Osborne , Mary Ford and Emily Remler ! Check ,em out ….

  2. Dan Griffiths says:

    Seriously…… No Bonnie Rait?

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