In celebration of International Women’s Day we thought we’d put together a little list of all our favourite guitarists who happen to be women. Obviously gender has absolutely no bearing on one’s skill at playing guitar, but social and cultural expectations certainly do, we are very lucky to live in a time where gender no longer plays a role in whether or not a person picks up a guitar and becomes the next shred master, rock star or folk legend. This list is testament to that fact, consisting as it does of some of the greatest guitarists the world has ever seen.
Dave Grohl said of Kaki King, “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really f*cking good. And then there’s Kaki King”. If you’ve never heard the finger tapping genius of Kaki King, then take Mr. Grohl’s word for it, she’s brilliant.
Her boundless talent has bore six brilliant albums, each one forming a style of it’s own, exploring time signatures, percussive elements and various tunings throughout.
Technically one of the best guitarists in the world today, Oranthi was born to play guitar, sharing a stage with the legendary Steve Vai when she was only 15, and Santana at only 18. The shredtatsic wiz then scored an endorsement and her own signature model with PRS, and went onto play for basically all the legends in the world; Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper, Ritchie Sambora, and her guitar work even features on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
One of the coolest, most original, and intricately brilliant tapping style guitarists you will ever hear. Stern immediately shot to fame with her first solo album in 2008, New York Times crowning the release, “The year’s most exciting Rock n’ Roll album”.
Since then Stern has put out album after album of absolute brilliance. Alongside her solo releases she also performs as a member of Seth Mayers Late Night House Band, and has been featured in the top 100 greatest guitarists of all time in Spin Magazine, 100 Greatest Guitarists in Rolling Stone, and top 12 in Elle Magazine.
Part of the insta-generation Young shot to fame in 2009 when she started her own YouTube channel showcasing her unique talent. Now fronting the Math Rock band, Covet, Young has even landed her own signature model guitar with Strandberg. The guitar, painted by Young herself, is an absolute work of art that perfectly reflects the clean, technically brilliant hybrid tapping, finger style that is Young’s trade mark.
Better known under the mantle of her solo project/band, St. Vincent, Annie Clark is undoubtably one of the most creative guitarists of all time. For Clark her guitar is simply the tool she uses to create sound, often swathed in effects to the point of being unrecognisable. Starting out as guitarist in The Polyphonic Spree, Clark’s own project St. Vincent explores such utterly unique use of the guitar that she has well earned her incredible signature model made by the legendary Musicman.
Clark’s Music Man was one of the most popular signature model guitars on the market in the year of it’s release despite its hefty £2000 price tag. The unmistakably original instrument, specifically designed to fit around the female frame, was so popular that you can now see it on stages everywhere in the hands of the likes of Dave Grohl, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Josh Homme.