Female and non-binary artists make up less than 6% of the signature electric guitar market

Tash Sultana, Lari Basilio, Yvette Young
(Image credit: Fender / Orelha Fotos / Yvette Young/Instagram)

A study conducted by Find My Guitar has found that from a selection of 226 leading signature electric guitars currently on the market, only 13 of them belong to female and non-binary artists – a ratio that highlights the need for greater diversity in the guitar market.

Of the non-limited-time signature electric guitars from the top 21 brands currently available to purchase, 213 of them belong to male guitar players. That figure means just 5.8% of female and non-binary players have signature electrics to their names.

In the study, Find My Guitar found that eight of the 21 companies had partnered with players who identified as female or non-binary for signature guitars. Even in these cases, the overwhelming majority of signature models from such brands heavily favored male artists.

Out of the 30 signature guitars it currently offers, Fender has three female and non-binary signatures in its roster. These are Chrissie Hynde's Telecaster, H.E.R.'s Chrome Glow Stratocaster and Tash Sultana's HSS-configured Strat. In comparison, 27 male artists have signature Fender guitars.

Ibanez has signature guitars for three female artists on its books: Yvette Young’s two Talman models, Lari Basilio’s LB1 and Nita Strauss’s JIVA10 and newly unveiled JIVAX2-GH. Again, this contrasts with the 23 male-owned signatures it offers, meaning Ibanez’s female representation sits at 11.5%.

The final female signature guitars currently on the market include Reba Meyer’s RM-600 from ESP – which in comparison has 30 male-named guitars available – St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man, Nikki Stringfield’s Schecter A-6 and Jenn Wasner’s Reverend JW-1.

Three Gibson/Epiphone signatures complete the list: Lzzy Hale’s various Explorer and Explorerbird models, Nancy Wilson’s Epiphone Nighthawk and Emily Wolfe’s Sheraton Stealth.

Of all companies consulted, the 13 remaining brands did not offer a non-limited-edition signature model from female artists. These names include Gretsch, which currently offers 14 male signature models, and Jackson, which has 16 male players on its books.

Other big names that currently do not offer a signature for female or non-binary artists include Charvel, Dean, ESP, Squier, Kramer, Sire, Solar, Washburn and Yamaha. All brands named offer at least one male-branded signature electric.

PRS currently offers an Orianthi Private Stock model, but as this is limited-edition, it was not included in the survey's results.

A survey conducted by Fender in 2018 found that 50% of all aspiring guitarists are female. In that study, Fender claimed “women continue to define the emerging guitar market” – a statement that conflicts with the representation artists are receiving at a signature guitar level.

When H.E.R.’s signature Strat arrived, the Grammy winner told Guitar World she hoped the guitar would “inspire a lot of young Black girls – and actually a lot of young girls in general – to pick up the guitar”.

Find My Guitar says its research highlights the need to “produce signature guitars that point directly to female guitarists who have shaped the music industry”.

To read the full study, head over to Find My Guitar.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.