H.E.R.: “I've been underestimated a lot when I pick up the guitar, but then when I start playing, it's like, ‘Oh, okay!’”

Grammy-winning R&B six-stringer H.E.R. has talked about her guitar journey and what it means to be Fender’s first Black female signature artist, as part of Guitar Center’s new Make Music campaign.

The Make Music series seeks to spotlight 25 acclaimed artists and why they make music. It launches with H.E.R., who begins by discussing why representation on the instrument is important for its future – and how she feels her talents have been overlooked in the past.

“I've looked up to a lot of guitar players, but there haven’t been many Black female artists who have been in this position and have been able to represent Black women,” she says.

“The goal is to inspire with this guitar. And representation is really important. I know a lot of little girls out there who may want to pick up the guitar, but they don't have anybody to look up to, or they don't have anyone that's doing it that makes them feel like, ‘I can do it, too.’ That's the idea of this guitar and even in just what I do, and the message that I carry with me.

“The legacy I want to leave is just to inspire and pass the torch on to the next girls who want to kill it on the guitar, who want to shred. You know, I've been underestimated a lot when I pick up the guitar, but then when I start playing, it's like, ‘Oh, okay.’ So, you know, I want to make people feel like they can do it, too.”

The video interview also sees H.E.R. wringing some sweet clean licks from her new signature model, which is fitted out with noiseless pickups and a dazzling Chrome Glow finish.

As for what she hopes players will get out of the guitar, she says, “I hope people really dig into their creativity when they pick up this guitar. The possibilities are so endless, which is why I love it. It’s really easy to play.

“I love the Strat especially for bending. I love to bend. I love to make a guitar sing and sometimes play along with the melodies that I sing. You can really find your own sound in the guitar. There's not one way to play it. There's not one thing. It’s not much of a structured instrument. It’s very free. You can make it sing, you know.

“When I play it, it’s a part of who I am. It’s an extension of me when I play it, and it’s my favorite way to express myself. So, I hope people can pick it up and find a new outlet, find a new way to express themselves and their feelings.”

For more from the Make Music series, head over to Guitar Center.

H.E.R. recently gave her new signature model its live debut on Saturday Night Live with a stellar performance of Hold On.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.