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Guitars for girls and why they suck (so far)

Having finally embraced my inner pink girlie-girl, in addition to giving up on the idea that tiny mutant hands would get any bigger at this stage in life, I’ve embarked on a quest to find a guitar specially made for saucy Metal Divas (TM). Say, a great sounding 24-to-27 fret super-strat type guitar with excellent neck access, a decent locking trem and other components, but built with a slim neck and shorter scale designed with itty-bitty girlie hands in mind.

I turned to the mighty oracle for the answers to two questions:

1) Does anybody even make guitars for girls?
2) Do they come in pink?

Here’s what the oracle told me:

1) Yes, some manufacturers build guitars specially for girls.
2) Yes, they come in pink.
3) But you’re not gonna like ‘em.

It turns out the oracle was right on all three counts.

Upon further investigation I discovered what appears to be a massive gap between what the guitar manufacturers THINK girls want, and what girls (well, girls like me anyway) actually DO want. For example, which one of the guitars below do you think exists in real life?

guitars for girls

In case it isn’t obvious, the guitar on the bottom is real, but the one on the top isn’t. It’s the product of my wishful thinking and some quick’n’dirty photoshopping (it’s a discontinued 27-fret Hamer Californian, if you’re wondering).

Here’s the deal: With one notable exception (see my next post), all of the “guitars for girls” that I found look** like they would be total poo for serious playing (unless you’re serious about yer chord strummin’). In fact, even the online communities I’ve found that focus on female guitarists seem to be geared towards chord-strumming singer-songwriter types, or maybe “alternative” rocker GRRLs.

Before all you singer-songwriters and alt-rock GRRLs ignite your flame throwers, hear me out: I’ve got nothing against chord strumming or female singer/songwriters or rocker GRRLs. Hooray for all you and all you represent. But what DOES f’n bug me — and what guitar manufacturers just don’t get — is that these genres do not represent the pinnacle of musical aspiration for all girl guitarists.

Frankly, I am baffled by the closed-minded stereotypes that seem to drive the guitars-for-girls manufacturers’ product design: that girls like pink glitter and like strumming chords — they couldn’t possibly be interested in owning the ultimate metal shred guitar. Don’t believe me? Look at the following photos and tell me that these two manufacturers don’t have a rather narrow view of the kind of guitar a girl might actually want:
Daisy Rock Guitars

guitars for girls?

 

Fender (!)

guitars for girls?

Golly gee whiz, they sure are cuuuuute. All pink and purple and flowery and girlie. Some even sparkle like a cheesy MySpace glitter gif.

I have to admit that I’d love to try a Hello Kitty Fender for recording clean parts. Those guitars are beyond cute, and would probably work well for that purpose. But seriously, when it comes to “playing in anger,” would you be interested in any of those guitars? I’m not saying that you couldn’t shred on one of them. Of course it would be possible. The problem is that they are not designed with shredding in mind. Because they think girls don’t want that.

This raises the question: do girls see guitars primarily as fashion accessories? Or as toys, perhaps? I don’t think so. But most of the guitar models above look as if they were designed to appeal to this mentality. I think there is an untapped market out there for guitar manufacturers who want to take a different approach. Couldn’t they make just ONE model that invites technical “shred” guitar playing? I can’t be the only girl with tiny hands who would love to see that happen (and I’m not even into “shred”). Where are girlie versions of guitars like these:

Caparison Horus (drooooool!)
caparison horus - chachamaru special

 

Tagima K1 (Kiko Loureiro Signature) Warning: annoying Flash website
Tagima K1

Hamer Californian (no longer manufactured :-( )
Hamer Californian

And another thing: for people with small hands, neck access is paramount. In fact, it’s one of the most important factors when choosing a guitar. But why do the girlie-guitar manufacturers not provide photos of the heel joint, like Caparison does?

Caparison Horus heel joint

Caparison Horus heel joint

Do they think that girls’ interest in a guitar begins and ends with assessing its sparkle factor? One can only make inferences based on how they present their products to prospective customers.

I do think the guitar makers mean well, but are merely misguided by the persistent stereotypes about girl guitarists (i.e. we’re just not interested in playing screaming, technical lead guitar). I guess they’ve not heard of the incredible Jennifer Batten.

One manufacturer claims to have “a desire to ‘level the playing field’ for dedicated female guitarists and bass players of all ages…” This is indeed a noble cause, and a welcome breath of fresh marketing air. But assuming that girls see guitars as cute fashion accessories that are good for strummin’ chords is probably not the most empowering way to level the playing field. And neither is viewing girls as perpetual beginners who need the lure of something cute, pink and sparkly to even want to pick up a guitar.

Guitar makers, you can do better.

Because I hate to end on a sour note, I saved the good news for last: to my great surprise and delight, there IS one manufacturer out there who seems to be on the right track. In fact, I am actually excited about what I saw on their website. More about them next time!

**[Disclaimer: I have not actually played any of these guitars because they aren't available in the shops where I live. But based on what I've seen, I wouldn't want to bug my local music shop to order any. But I regularly bug them about Caparison...]

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36 Comments

+ Comment by Juan
2007-02-18 22:18:47

Mmm saddly this is all true mainly because

a) the only girls that work at Fender/Gibson/ESP/etc ar the bosses secretary and the hot chick at the front desk (they’re always hot!) So don’t expect the marketing the department to have a shredding-girl approach to the problem.

b) the company knows we don’t have many shredding-girl out there :(

But you can always have it custom made and hope that the companies will notice your idea soon :D

While you’re at it, check this out: ;)
http://www.fretfx.com/

 
+ Comment by Peter Herndon
2007-02-18 22:30:51

The link to the Caparison website is broken. Well, at least very incomplete.

[Thanks, Peter. Fixed it! LL]

 
+ Comment by Rob
2007-02-18 22:36:46

Hi Metal Diva,

I definitely hope you’re once able to find and buy a gorgeous looking guitar, special designed for ladies (at least for people with smaller hands — some guys might have the same problem, I guess…)

Btw, those guitars-designed-for-girls, are they really different from a normal electric guitar? Somehere I guess it’s only the look which make them having the ‘designed-for-girls’ name…

And just the thought, a Metal Goddess with a Pink Hello Kitty guitar — ROTFL ;-)

Huggs,
Robbo

(on a little sidenote: my schoolmate/friend is gonna buy his first electric guitar next week. He showed me a photo with him and such a Hello Kitty-guitar, which he took while searching in his local music shop — so at least you can buy one here ;-) )

 
+ Comment by Oscar
2007-02-18 22:39:52

Dear Godess of all things Metal:

Yeah! That’s really a true problem among manufacturers trying to approach to female guitar players.

I think there are some things you could try:

a)Get a special paint job for your favorite shredding guitar(s).

b)Make some phone calls and explore the possibility to get your own signature guitar model

c)Order a custom made guitar for you and your kind of playing. Yeah, it would be expensive, but I think it would pay off in the end.

I hope any of my suggestions are useful. :)

xoxo…Take Care Lori!!!

 
+ Comment by Sylvain
2007-02-19 01:43:39

What about a French LAG Guitar like the Stephan Forte model(from Adagio), asking it in pink ?
http://www.laboitenoire.net/guitare/revue/news/LAG/StephanForte1%20LR.jpg
Some details here : http://www.laboitenoire.net/guitare/revue/news/LAG/Stephan-Japan-B.jpg
The site : http://www.lag.fr

 
+ Comment by Stephen H
2007-02-19 02:18:56

Jennifer WHO ??? – (Only kidding Miss L…!)

By the way…
Is it me, or is (ahem !) “The Great Kat” actually quite SCARY ?!

Love y’ Lori !

 
+ Comment by JoeJoe
2007-02-19 02:23:45

Not sure if you have ever played then, But Carvin guitars Naturally have shorter scales I do belive.
I used to have the DC 135, and I actually found it difficult on higher frets to fit my fingers in =\.

Plus, they do come in pink….

The downside is that they are a custom shop, so you wouldn’t be able to play one unless your ordered it.

 
+ Comment by JC
 
+ Comment by altruizine
2007-02-19 10:31:52

Being an Ibanez guy, the first thing (along with a Caparison when I saw your wish for extra frets) that popped to mind was a shocking pink Jem (Jem777SK). Of course those aren’t produced anymore, but a “wet rose” RGT is: http://www.ibanez.co.jp/eg_page_2007.php?AREA_ID=3&PAGE_ID=471&COLOR=CL01&MODEL_NO=RGT320Q – it’s also a neck through, which would help upper fret access.

I’ve tried both of the above guitars, and they are nice, but since your needs seem to be very specific, I’d probably go custom.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to try fishing for an endorsement – it’s one area where it might not hurt to be a female guitarist, an accomplished and attractive one at that. At least Bo-El – http://www.huubboel.nl/ – springs to mind.

 
+ Comment by Taz
2007-02-19 11:30:13

I am totally lost in this guitar-techno-babbel but I must say that the girlie guitars do look like Poo! ;-)

Greetz Taz

 
+ Comment by Mike
2007-02-19 12:14:32

Hrmmm well only thing i can say is either pay mad cash for a custom guitar, buy a gibson les paul (they’re prolly the smallest and easiest frets to hit), or reach teh status of guitar god and get your guitar custom made by the mad pro guit builders just for you, just like randy rhoad’s jackson… and that last one that was being handmade for him that got finished after he died… omfg that was a beaut.

 
+ Comment by Bignicko
2007-02-19 15:06:52

Hm, the Caparison seems to be quite OK

-> http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Guitar/product/Caparison/Horus/10/1

and it has a 628mm scale, which should accomodate players with smaller hands =)

But I already have trouble fitting my fingers between everything above the 16th fret on my Ibanez RG550, so maybe I better just shut up xD

I thought about Framus, they build really nice guitars with lean enough neck joints, but not really the shredding-tool you seem to search …

 
+ Comment by Kristof
2007-02-19 18:12:05

1. I know a guy who, for a measly 50 bucks, will paint your guitar any colour – and that includes the colours candy pink, bright pink, fuchsia pink, homosensually pink, girlie pink, a different shade of pink and, well, plain pink.
2. I’ve actually had one of those Hello Kitty guitars in my hands. I wouldn’t buy that if it was the last guitar on earth. Well, I would, but that’s not the point. It’s being sold as a Fender, but it’s a Squier. I won’t go into the whole Fender/Squier discussion, but suffice to say this is the lowest of the low-end Squiers you can get your hands on. And it has one pick-up. Prolly because they think girls aren’t going to figure out what it is there for anyway.
3. I had this link lying around of a Japanese axeshop that actually had a motherload of different guitars, some of which actually looked playable and some of which actually looked girly and some of which actually looked girly AND playable. I’ll try to dig it up.

Good to see you on the tech talk again!

 
+ Comment by Joe
2007-02-19 19:19:19

Have you seen Luna guitars? http://lunaguitars.com/electric.php Still waiting for more girly guitar videos. Or maybe you can find some girly videos by others.

 
+ Comment by Martin
2007-02-19 19:36:06

I was just about to mention Luna Guitars too :)

 
+ Comment by Bignicko
2007-02-19 20:18:31

keep in mind that Lori is also looking for a smaller scale than 25½” … the more i look the more the solution seems to be “custom shop”

ran guitars let you choose 24,75″ when inquiring for a custom model … but they also let you choose “other”, so everything should be possible, even a “pinkie scale” ;)

 
+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-02-20 00:18:01

Joe and Martin, you beat me to the punch on the Luna guitars. That company seems to be on the right track.

Thanks to everyone else for your suggestions to solve my guitar dilemma. Actually, my HMs are 25″ scale, which is not too bad. They also have fairly slim necks. But they don’t make those anymore, and the parts are hard to get. And to be honest, I don’t like the sharp contours of the body — it digs into my ribs. The old style, curvy strat bodies are much more comfortable.

But my hissy-fit rant wasn’t because I’m frustrated about not finding a guitar for myself. As many of you have suggested (thanks!), I could always just save my money and get something custom built. And there are other less well-known guitar makers for me to check out. What was so upsetting was realizing that the lack of “serious” guitars specially for girls and women reflects totally lame-ass stereotypes and assumptions about female players’ musical aspirations and capabilities. THAT is what got me going. It was a big relief to find that Luna site, I can tell you. It really made my day.

 
+ Comment by Bill K
2007-02-20 06:07:41

My wife has just decided that she wants to learn to play guitar. We spent hours online looking, and even more hours in stores looking and feeling and trying them out. Thankfully the stores around us have staff who don’t pre-judge customers, and listened when she said “I don’t want a pink glittery Kello Kitty guitar.”

We ended up coming home with a Tele that she is in love with. To the point that sometimes I have to fight for bed space ;o)

She may never shred, but she’s ready to rock out.

 
+ Comment by Joop B
2007-02-20 19:13:43

Great piece, Lori! Must indeed be hella frustrating to see all these male-testosterone type specially custom-made axe’s and then look what there is for (grrll) girls/ladies…I can’t believe there’s no one who hasn’t thought of filling this particular gap in the market!

(I’m thinking of those crazy custom-made bike-builders on Discovery Channel)

Joop

 
+ Comment by Dave
2007-02-20 19:38:52

Lori – have you talked to Tish at Daisy Rock? or even hubby Mike at Schecter? THey are awesome at working with artists so if there is something you want just let them know and see what they can make for you. Tish has really made a dent in the guitars for girls market and they do have some nice guitars even if the stock ones may not appeal to you. it is funny in a way that you bring this all up because I had emailed you a year ago seeing if you would be interested in trying out some Daisy Rock stuff but you never got back to me. I would say giver Tish a call/emaiul and tell her your specs, CC it off to Mike as well. I am sure they will work with you, maybe endorse you even. Give me a holar if you need details.

 
+ Comment by Stephen H
2007-02-20 22:10:14

Miss L…

Why not try “Dean” for a “signature” model/guitar ?!

They seem to be very obliging !

 
+ Comment by Lorinator
2007-02-21 01:40:34

Bill K: Congrats to your wife! I hope that tele serves her well.

Joop: The only thing I’m frustrated by is the SUBTEXT. I’m sure I’ll find a guitar for myself eventually, that’s not the issue.

Dave: I want to give Daisy Rock the benefit of the doubt, I really do. But based on their current product line, I highly doubt they’d be interested in listening to me (even though I *do* like pink). I’m sure their guitars are super for some women, but unfortunately they don’t come close to what I’m looking for.

Stephen:Thanks, I’m sure the Dean people are quite service-minded, but their Dean Girls advertising spiel has lost me as a potential customer. Fine if a company wants to use hot chicks to sell their guitars, but they should at least be hot chicks who can PLAY. And anyway, I’m nowhere near established enough as a player to warrant a signature model from ANYONE, but thanks for the vote of confidence! :)

 
+ Comment by John
2007-02-21 05:32:20

RKS Guitars are your answer.

Honest.

 
+ Comment by John
2007-02-22 03:45:19

I sent JB the link to this blog. Hopefully she’s had a chance to check it out. Oh, there’s another John now. I’ll use my interweb name of ‘sculpey’ from now on.

 
+ Comment by Chris
2007-02-23 13:12:58

Although i’m not a girl (honest), i do have fairly small hands (for a bloke at least…) … i found the perfect neck for me and my small hands a few years ago – a Patrick Eggle Berlin (i think the older, ~1994 model (like mine) had a thinner neck than the newer ones, but i’m not sure…)(www.patrickeggleguitars.com) They’re not really “Shred” guitars (although i think they did release a strat-style, maybe even a super-strat style guitar at some point… and i think there’s a tommi iomi model available that’s sort of SG-like) They’re more like a british-made version of a PRS, but with, when compared to the few PRS’s i’ve played, a much nicer neck profile… anyway, i’ve just realised how many brackets i’ve just used! but you should check them out, nicest guitars i’ve ever seen :)

 
+ Comment by Laurie
2007-02-23 18:44:41

oops…I found people who like these guitars ;o)

http://www.myspace.com/moriahmartin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz-_QW-cb0c

 
 
+ Comment by David
2007-03-04 21:55:14

You need a Peavey G-90! They don’t make them any longer, but they can be found occasionally, for way cheap! Bolt-on, gibson scale neck (24 3/4), big frets, HSS, floyd, reverse headstock, and the neck is tiny! I picked mine up for $215! And it’s even pink. I would try to post a picture if I knew how.

 
+ Comment by David
2007-03-04 21:57:16

I forgot to mention, 24 frets as well.

 
+ Comment by Sebas Honing
2007-03-09 21:49:19

(I don’t know if he already told you, but…)

Joost D recently bought a Caparison Venus which is actually a 15-fret (SERIOUS!) Horus with an extra pickup configuration (both pickups combined, sounds extremely much like a strat!) and a different body.

It plays, sounds and feels great (though not really versatile). This guitar really makes me want to build a custom Horus which is extremely versatile!

 
+ Comment by Sebas Honing
2007-03-13 14:57:02

BTW, Caparisons can always be custom build, so if you wanted to have a pink Horus, and your wallet’s big enough….
;-)

 
+ Comment by Rockers
2007-03-22 19:12:45

Hi Lori

Just came across your website, your a great player.
I can understand, your frustration, there seems nothing suitable for girl guitarists who do more than just strum. In your case liking superstrats is even more difficult now that there are not so fashionable.
The Hamer Californian you mentioned is a great guitar, I have several Hamers and there superstrats of the 80s/90s are well underrated. Thats does mean though that some silly bargains do appear on ebay. The USA BC Riches of the 80′s like the Gunslinger/Assassin/ST3 etc would be great for players with smaller hands, they have great slim necks and come in some wild colours.

All the best

 
+ Comment by Ishanator
2007-05-13 00:20:10

Ibanez do a kickass girly shreddy guitar : http://www.ibanez.co.jp/eg_page_2007.php?AREA_ID=3&PAGE_ID=471&COLOR=CL01&MODEL_NO=RGT320Q
But it isn’t cheap ;)

 
+ Trackback by Kat Von D
2007-07-07 07:40:29

Kat Von D…

I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read….

 
+ Comment by Eric Dohner
2007-07-07 15:55:28

There’s always http://www.warmoth.com/ . ;)

 
+ Comment by Mercy
2009-12-13 08:40:17

Hate to say it, but I have a Daisy Rock. And I honestly hate saying that it’s a Daisy Rock.
(it’s the Stardust Elite Isis. The only one from Daisy Rock that I like. It’s really not a horrible guitar: it works pretty well for me. I’m building on speed and am learning phrasing, and my Isis hold up pretty will with that. only flaws are that it’s a very round guitar and kinda gets bulky, and I need to get a fret fixed, but I do like the slender neck, it’s what actually helps me.)

But I hate saying that it is a Daisy Rock, cause their other lines suck so horribly.

I really like my Isis though. :
http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/t234/m3rcy616/100_6151.jpg

(no, it’s not glittery. It’s like a gold flake finish. which is nice cause finger prints don’t show up on it.)

They need to look at their target market though, that’s one damn thing for sure.
Girls who pick up guitars and are serious about it aren’t going to want glittery pink that make them look like they’re not serious about it.
And that fact should be obvious to people.

 

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