After playing guitar for 15 years, I’ve heard my share of insulting remarks coming from guys about me being a female guitarist. No, just no.
Most of the time the comments are not out of malice, but rather sheer obliviousness. However, there is the occasional guy trying to be a smart-ass. Not funny guys, not funny.
And just to set the record straight, I’m not a man hater; on the contrary, I admire and respect my male cohorts, and get along pretty darn great with them, because we learn a lot from each other. It’s truly a wonderful dynamic when there is mutual respect and understanding.
So here are the things you should think twice about before saying them to a woman who plays guitar, and the things you should say instead. Because at the end of the day, our classification is not male or female… it’s musician.
Here we go:
• Is that your boyfriend’s guitar? Mmmm, no. Maybe remarks like that coming from men like you make me not want to have a boyfriend. Next.
• Are you a singer-songwriter? Actually, no. I love progressive rock and metal, and nothing makes my heart skip more than obscure jazz-fusion, and highly technical and cerebral music. I also like Tupac and enjoy listening to power ballads. Stereotype = fail.
• You’re good for a girl. Just so you know, comments like this say far more about you than they do about me. I’m good for a guitarist, period.
• I never figured you’re the type to play guitar. Oh shucks, I didn’t know there was a type. Please, enlighten me. Last time I checked all you needed were two hands, 10 fingers (…and a brain). Wink.
• Oh yeah, sexy momma (or any other form of catcalling). Don’t get me wrong, compliments are appreciated, but catcalling is not a form of compliment. It’s tasteless and it overshadows our musicianship – the whole reason we’re on stage. So much no.
• There aren’t many female guitar players. Oh really? Perhaps you haven’t bothered paying attention to musicians like Jennifer Batten, Gretchen Menn, Commander in Chief, Nili Brosh, Bonnie Raitt, Sharon Isbin, Ali Handal, Joan Jett, Jen Trani, Nita Strauss, Kaki King, Angela Grant, Gabriella Quevedo, Briana Alexis, Ana Popovic, Lita Ford, Malina Moye, Orianthi, Samantha Fish, Malina Moye, Desiree’ Apolonio Bassett, Hayley McLean, Gabriela Quintero, Bibi McGill, Melissa Etheridge, Muriel Anderson, Chantel McGregor, Joanne Shaw Taylor, and the list goes on.
As far as things you should say, this is quite simple: whatever you would tell a guy.
• That is one sick riff
• You rip the hell out of that guitar
• You’re so bad-ass
• You’re incredibly talented
• You rock
• You have mad skills
• You have some serious chops
You get the point. So if you want to make a positive impression on a guitar-wielding princess, you now know the basics of guitar etiquette 101. Trust me on this one.
A classically trained guitarist, Pauline France is the PR & content manager for boutique music & audio firm Mad Sun Marketing. Prior to that, she served as the corporate publicist for Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.