Is Taylor Swift the New Eddie Van Halen?

(Image credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images)

There’s an emerging trend in the world of guitar, and according to one man, signs of its origin seem to point to Taylor Swift.

If you’ve watched Phillip McKnight’s videos here previously, you know that he usually talks about gear on his YouTube channel. For his latest videos, he’s decided to talk about something more topical—specifically, why so many women have begun taking up the guitar.

  • Phillip comes to the topic from an advantageous point of view. As the founder of the McKnight Music Academy for guitarists, he’s attuned to the trends and changes taking place among guitarists and their interests, and he’s noticed a significant change in the number of women signing up for classes.
  • In 2006, one year after the academy’s launch, less than four percent of its students were women. That number grew slightly over the next few years, to eight percent in 2009. Then, suddenly, the number of female applicants began accelerating. Today, Phil says, roughly 60 percent of his students are female.

So what’s been causing so many women to take up guitar?

“We started asking the students, and eight out of 10 of the students attributed Taylor Swift to the reason why they’re playing the music,” Phillip says. “Really, she’s doing the same thing Eddie Van Halen did in the early Eighties—she’s causing all the young players to want to take up an instrument and play.”

Take a look at the video below to get the full story from Phillip. In it, he also addresses the need for guitar companies to abandon its “shrink it and pink it” philosophy when it comes to making guitars for women and begin designing instruments that meet the needs of this growing sector of the guitar population.

For more of Phillip’s videos, visit his YouTube channel.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.