Exposed: 10 Female Guitarists You Should Know
Many of you may be under the impression that there aren’t a lot of female guitarists worthy of a mention on GuitarWorld.com.
Oh no! That is where you are DEAD WRONG! In fact, we have come across so many kickass players, across every genre and era, that we thought we’d give you a tasty tidbit of a few that stand out from the pack.
So, just relax and allow yourself to be educated in a most wickedly delicious way. Oh, and prepare to ROCK!
And don't forget to check out the photo gallery below.
Nita Strauss with Consume The Fire
Nita Strauss is hot. Did we say hot? We mean BLAZING! With a striking look coupled with guitar chops that go the distance, Strauss knows how to put on a show. An LA native, Strauss has shared the stage with artists from R&B star Jermaine Jackson to deathcore heavy hitters As Blood Runs. We came across Strauss when we were turned onto the all-female Iron Maiden tribute band The Iron Maidens, a group that seems to be a breeding pool for amazing female guitar talent. Skilled in thrash and prepared to kick all ass that stands in her way of doing so, Strauss is a true guitar disciple. Strauss and her band Consume The Fire are in the studio recording their debut album with producer Logan Mader (Five Finger Death Punch, Devildriver), which will be released in 2012. Learn more here.
Here’s a video of Strauss laying it down with The Iron Maidens:
Ruyter Suys with Nashville Pussy
Leopard-print bra? Check. Skintight leather pants? Check. Riffs that would make Ted Nugent blush? CHECK. An X-rated band name inspired by the Nuge’s live intro to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” on 1978’s Double Live Gonzo (“This is a love song. I’d like to dedicate it to all that Nashville Pussy”) and X-rated song titles are still the least-shocking part of the Nashville Pussy experience. Sure, singer Blaine Cartwright’s whiskey-fueled growl and bassist Karen Cuda’s bone-shaking bass notes are nothing to sneeze at, but when Suys sheds her shirt and rips a solo that would put Phil Campbell to shame, the only time you’ll draw your eyes away is to pick your jaw up off the floor. Watch Suys in action and then start praying Nashville Pussy brings their explosive live show to your unworthy town ASAP. More at NashvillePussy.com.
Check out Suys in Paris in 2002:
You’ve gotta be a bit more than bodacious to rock on stage with stars like P!NK and Beyoncé. And if there’s one thing Bibi McGill has, it’s the talent, the look, and the guts to hold her own (OK, that was three things, but who’s counting?!). McGill picked up the guitar at age 12 and was inspired by Earth Wind & Fire and the Isley Brothers. A professional model called upon for her unique tattoo-toting, afro-sporting style, McGill has scored principal roles in national commercials for companies like Motorola, Nike and Heineken. But it’s her guitar prowess we’re interested in here, and McGill has a naturally tasty, energetic style and can lay it down without blinking. Check out this video compilation of McGill playing the solo for Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy,” and you’ll see what we mean! More at bibimcgill.com.
Bibi McGill compilation of solos from “If I Were a Boy” from several Beyoncé performances:
Maria Andersson with Sahara Hotnights
Not only does Andersson barely bat an eye while churning out riff after riff for Sahara Hotnights’ high-octane, poppy rock 'n' roll – she does it while singing, which, as any singer/guitar player can tell you, is no easy feat. Her seemingly effortless style – which she’s had years to develop (she was barely 10 when the band formed in the early '90s) blends seamlessly with second guitarist Jennie Asplund’s assertive rhythm and lead playing, and Thin Lizzy-style duel leads – albeit a little less metal but no less melodic – can be found all over the Swedish band’s six full length albums. More at saharahotnights.com.
Check out Andersson with Sahara Hotnights live at the Reading Festival in 2002:
Dirty Jenny aka Jen Leigh
If Jimi Hendrix were reborn as a funky, bulldog-loving blonde woman, he’d come back in the form of Dirty Jenny. Now, get yer minds outta the gutter. Leigh took on the moniker Dirty Jenny as a tribute to her grunge-infused tone that would make a good dog howl. She can hold her own and then some, booking her first pro studio credit on Michael Jackson’s HIStory—Past, Present and Future—Book I. She’s shared stages from Carnegie Hall to Toad’s Place with legends like George Clinton and P-Funk, 420 Funk Mob, the Grammy award–winning Sweet Honey in the Rock and Merl Saunders, to name a few. Leigh has just finished mixing her new EP, aptly titled American Bulldog, for Medallion Music. Featuring her unique bend of rock and funk, it’s chock full of nasty grooves and riffs. You can be sure Dirty Jenny will get your toe tapping, your head banging and, well, you’ll just feel good all over. Although you might need to take a shower after! Find out more at dirty-jenny.com.
Here’s a video of Leigh rocking it with George Clinton:
If you think guitar playing is a boys’ club now, try to picture the South in the 1930s. Memphis Minnie – born Lizzie Douglas in Louisiana in 1897 – had no shortage of inspiration to write her cut-to-the-bone songs about hustling, gambling, drinking, no-good men and no-good women stealing her no-good men. She was one of the few women in the late '20s and early '30s to make her living playing the blues and surpassed many of her male contemporaries, paving the way for Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers and Muddy Waters (who recorded her song "Bumble Bee"; his version was called "Honey Bee"). When she switched from acoustic guitar to electric, got a bass player and drummer and moved north to Chicago, she helped establish the 1950s Chicago blues sound. She died in 1973, leaving behind an impressive number of classic blues numbers during her incredible 40-year recording career.
Take a listen to "Bumble Bee" here:
Laura Pleasants with Kylesa
Laura Pleasants lives a misnomer, as her guitar playing is anything but “pleasant”! Descriptors like raw, driving, nerve-scraping and just plain aggressive are a boatload more appropriate. Heavier than heavy, Kylesa’s dual drummers drive a tribal war beat that’s like a sledgehammer right to the core, and Pleasants ably joins the fray on both guitar and vocals. Taking their name from "kilesa mara,” a Buddhist term denoting delusory mental states, Kylesa borrows elements of punk, sludge metal, stoner rock, psychedelic rock and a few other styles thrown in for good measure. Check them out at kylesa.com.
Here’s a live performance of Kylesa in Germany:
Marissa Paternoster with Screaming Females
Google Marissa Paternoster, and among dozens of videos of New Jersey’s Screaming Females doing their post-punk, riot grrl metal thing, you’ll hit on a blog called “Fuck Yeah Marissa Paternoster!” Watch any of the videos, and it’s no mystery why, at 24 years old and a diminutive 5’2,” Paternoster can shred like the best of them. And she isn’t afraid to infuse some good old '80s metal solos into the band’s unique blend of Hüsker Dü punk and Bikini Kill angst paired with a Sleater Kinney stripped-down sound. Among the new crop of indie rock bands, Paternoster’s style of jarring dissonant riffs and full-on shredding is regrettably absent; as such, the Females have been garnering loads of attention for infusing sleepy indie rock with a burst of much-needed energy. Fuck yeah! Dig in at screamingfemales.com.
Perhaps a bit more laid back than you’re expecting to see here among the screaming, but take a minute to check out the amazing handiwork of Vicki Genfan. Drawing upon folk, jazz, pop, soul and world music, Genfan exhibits a mastery of the acoustic guitar that borders on pure magic. Using 29 alternate tunings and the percussive technique she calls "slap-tap," Genfan was crowned 2008 Guitar Player Guitar Superstar in a live performance contest judged by a panel that included Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Elliot Easton, Brendon Small and George Lynch. Luna Guitars offers a signature Vicki Genfan acoustic that meets Genfan’s “dream guitar” specifications, with gorgeous laser-etched embellishments. She has performed at the International Montreal Jazz Festival, Germany’s Open Strings Guitar Festival, Italy’s Soave Guitar Festival, as well as at venues and performing arts centers across the US and abroad. Check out Genfan’s artistry, warmth and undeniable guitar chops at vickigenfan.com.
Here’s a video of Genfan live at the Soave Guitar Festival in Italy:
Best known for her 1962 R&B hit “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” Texan Barbara Lynn is way more than a pretty voice. She bought her first guitar in high school – a right-handed Gibson that the southpaw learned to play upside down – and formed an all-girl band, Bobbie Lynn and the Idols, earning the nickname "The Black Elvis," for her electrifying live performances. The Rolling Stones recorded her song "Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin’)," and Lynn went on to tour as a solo artist with Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina and Stevie Wonder, among others. Her playing style is her own – she wears a finger pick on her left thumb and when she plays rhythm, strums open handed. Her style looks incredibly loose but her rhythm playing is tight as can be, and her bluesy solos are impeccable. See what Barbara’s up to now right here.
Check out Lynn live in ’66, and just try to tell us this isn’t the coolest thing you’ve seen all week:
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco Bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Acoustic Bass Amps, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the lead singer for the rock band Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.
Anna Blumenthal is the advertising coordinator for Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado and Revolver. She’s been playing guitar and singing in rock 'n' roll bands for the past 12 years and currently fronts the New York City-based all-girl garage band Party Lights. More at facebook.com/partylightsband.
Laura Pleasants with Kylesa: Her guitar playing is anything but “pleasant.” Raw, driving, nerve-scraping, and just plain aggressive are a boatload more appropriate.
Vicki Genfan: Drawing upon folk, jazz, pop, soul and world music, Genfan’s percussive ‘slap-tap” performance technique is pure magic.
Marissa Paternoster: Bringing back the ‘80s guitar solo, minus the hairspray.
Memphis Minnie: Blazed a trail for generations of male blues musicians.
Dirty Jenny: If Jimi Hendrix were reborn as a funky, bulldog-loving blonde woman, he’d come back in the form of Dirty Jenny.
Maria Andersson with Sahara Hotnights: And you thought the ladies of ABBA were hot.
Bibi McGill delivers her naturally tasty, energetic style on stages worldwide with Beyoncé.
Ruyter Suys: Riffs that would make Ted Nugent blush.
Nita Strauss with Consume the Fire: Skilled in thrash and prepared to kick all ass that stands in her way.
Barbara Lynn knocked Ray Charles off the charts in 1962 and is still knocking everyone’s socks off today.