Earlier this week, Find My Guitar reported that only 5.8% of signature electric guitars from the top 21 brands came from female and non-binary artists – a percentage that equates to 13 out 226. It’s an eye-opening stat, especially given 50% of aspiring guitarists are female.
Find My Guitar’s findings got us thinking about all the players worthy of a signature model who haven’t yet had the honor.
Of course, bestowing a player with a signature six-string is by no means a requirement to recognize their talents – nor is one a necessity to eternalize an artist’s achievement.
But there has never been a greater need for players to have diverse role models, and there are plenty of pro guitarists who can be just that. Not to mention the fact that there are countless opportunities for some killer guitars, from Melanie Faye’s neo-soul Kiesel machine to Nili Brosh’s none-more-yellow Ibanez RG.
With that in mind, here are 10 signature guitars we'd like to see in the near future.
1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – ’61 Gibson Les Paul SG
Now, we’re pretty sure Gibson already has this in the works – earlier this year, the guitar giant launched a Sister Rosetta Tharpe merch collection, including t-shirts, guitar straps and even a miniature version of the guitar we’re about to discuss.
But a full production run of the triple-humbucker SG Tharpe used to invent rock ’n’ roll is long overdue, particularly with contemporary artists such as Celisse paying homage with her own triple-humbucker SG, and Yola taking on the role of Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s recent Elvis biopic. Indeed, Reverb noted the resurgence of the SG in a 2020 article – hopefully it won’t be long before the real deal is made available. And would it be too much to ask for an Epiphone version, too?
Whatever the model, the creamy white finish, gold hardware and Sideways Vibrola tailpiece are utterly essential. There are very few guitars you can say truly changed the course of history; this is one of them.
2. Phoebe Bridgers – Custom B.C. Rich Warlock
The Pasadena indie-rocker became the six-string provocateur du jour after smashing one of her favored Danelectro Dano ’56 baritone guitars on SNL last year, provoking an overblown backlash to her ’extra’ performance. Said model ended up raising over $100,000 for charity.
Far cheaper would be a signature version of her other iconic (and somewhat ironic) guitar, the B.C. Rich Warlock – the unlikely partner that has accompanied live versions of open-tuned tracks Kyoto and ICU. Initially, Bridgers was using a budget Bronze by B.C. Rich model, but B.C. and co clearly caught on, and recent sets have found her employing what looks to be a custom satin black model with pearloid binding, a Floyd Rose tremolo and Fishman Fluence humbuckers – the capo at the fourth fret is the cherry on top. Singer-songwriter indie-folk on a B.C. Rich? Stranger Things have happened.
3. Melanie Faye – Custom Kiesel
Social media sensation Melanie Faye has played numerous models during her rise through the ranks, most notably in the form of Fenders and D’Angelicos. Though her recent link-up with Kiesel raised some eyebrows, we can’t help but feel the custom model she’s currently rocking should be turned into a standard-run signature ASAP.
It maintains a Strat vibe courtesy of three single-coils, though injects a bit of intrigue thanks to a black burst flamed maple colorway, gold hardware, unique block inlays and a reverse color-matched Kiesel headstock.
It sounds darn good, too, and looks to be more than capable of accommodating Faye’s effortless neo-soul fretboard noodles, despite its more heavy-leaning DNA. The Faye/Kiesel combo might be a peculiar pairing, but for some reason this just works. It works very well indeed.
4. Susan Tedeschi – 1970 Fender Stratocaster
It’s a surprise that Susan Tedeschi doesn't already have a signature guitar to her name, despite having such an illustrious resume. Founder of the Susan Tedeschi Band and one half of the Tedeschi Trucks Band with husband Derek Trucks, Tedeschi is a master of lyrical blues phrases, and we’ve no doubt fans would clamor to try out a guitar with her name and specs on it.
She could be assigned a Telecaster, but a vintage Strat just screams “Tedeschi”. A signature based on her go-to 1970 sunburst model – her “dream guitar”, which has a three-way switch – would be the most sensible candidate, with a warm neck pickup for those smooth rhythms, a poppy middle single-coil and an oversized headstock for those CBS vibes. The road worn dings could be thrown in there for good measure.
5. Samantha Fish – Gibson SG
While we can imagine a cigar box signature for the blues-rock royal – she has been organizing annual Cigar Box Guitar festivals for the past eight years, after all – Samantha Fish is one of the most gifted SG players currently on the circuit, and any potential signature should reflect that.
Sporting the half-guard vibe of a ‘61 Les Paul SG, Fish’s prized possession flashes a brilliant white finish – one commonly associated with the triple-pickup loaded original – though opts instead for a tried-and-trusted dual humbucker configuration. As we mentioned earlier, an increased interest in Tharpe has spearheaded the white SG renaissance, but Fish’s recent role can’t be ignored. A specially spec’d signature with some personal tweaks added to the factory blueprint she currently swears by would be a nice way to recognize this.
6. Joanne Shaw Taylor – 1966 ‘Junior’ Fender Esquire
The best signature models have a story behind them – a spec that’s out of the ordinary, sometimes via mods from a previous owner. That’s the case with Kurt Cobain’s humbucker’d Jaguar, it’s true of Joe Bonamassa’s ’51 ‘Bludgeon’ Nocaster, and the same can be said of Joanne Shaw Taylor’s Esquire.
“His name is Junior. I think it’s fair that I get male guitars since all the boys name theirs after females,” the UK blues ace told us earlier this year. “I found him on Denmark Street when I was 15.
“With Esquires, there’s always a gap underneath the scratchplate where you could put a neck pickup, and I think the previous owner had attacked it with a knife and gouged it out doing a home job to put a humbucker in.”
What with the well-worn finish and vintage sticker, there’s the potential for a pretty neat Road Worn model here, don’tcha think, Fender?
7. Nili Brosh – Custom Ibanez RG
One of today’s foremost virtuosos has already spec’d her dream Ibanez LA Custom Shop model – putting it to use in a main stage Coachella set with Danny Elfman, no less – so a signature version is simply a case of the Japanese guitar giant putting it into production.
With its combination of ’80s yellow fluro and a contemporary purple fade finish (complete with matching headstock), we can see Brosh’s vision doing well. It boasts the endlessly versatile HSS pickup configuration – here, armed with passive EMGs – with a basswood body, maple Wizard neck and Brosh’s natty exclam inlays.
All that yellow presumably helps when you find yourself shredding The Simpsons theme with an orchestra in front of tens of thousands of people, too.
8. Lianne La Havas – Harmony Stratotone
Harmony doesn’t really do signature guitars, but if it did, it would be hard pressed to find a player more deserving than Lianne La Havas to honor with its first. The soul singer-songwriter’s black Stratotone has become part and parcel of her studio sessions and live act, and that single DeArmond pickup is the crux behind her mellow yet luxuriously clean extended chord-loaded progressions. It's perhaps the most obscure inclusion of the list, but arguably one of the best: when it's in La Havas' hands, it absolutely sings.
So, if Harmony wanted to dip its toes into the signature guitar market, La Havas is a no-brainer. In fact, the Stratotone has been discontinued for a while now, so we reckon a signature model is the perfect way to bring it back…
9. Malina Moye – 1970 Fender Stratocaster
To perform her blend of rock, blues, funk and soul, there was only ever going to be one option for Malina Moye. Another Strat wielder, Moye has been one of the standout left-handed, upside guitarists in recent memory, and a recreation of her trademark Surf Green Stratocaster should certainly be on the cards.
There may be some logistical hurdles to overcome, most notably the issue of dexterity, but there are a number of key specs that are non-negotiable – the pastel colorway with a color-matched reverse headstock, maple neck and single-ply pickguard among them. Heck, it could even come factory fitted with Moye’s signature strings for an additional layer of signature spice. A Moye model that encompasses some Hendrixian flair? Yes please.
10. Diamond Rowe – ESP LTD Deluxe EC-1000 EverTune
Atlanta nu-metaller Diamond Rowe is one of the architects behind Tetrarch’s mammoth tones, and her weapon of choice is almost always ESP. Rowe is rarely – if ever – seen without one over her shoulder, and was demonstrating a particular penchant for the LTD Deluxe EC-1000 long before demoing the EverTune iteration last year.
That EverTune version, though, has proven to be a favorite of Rowe’s, and has accompanied her on the stage numerous times. As such, it makes sense that her signature would take inspiration from this model. An EverTune bridge and EMG pickups are a must – not much else would keep up with Rowe’s riffs, after all – while a new flamed maple finish for some Rowe flair would be the icing on the cake.