Way back in 2007 the LA Times ran a story about the surge in sales to female guitarists and how retailers were responding. Nearly a decade later, the trend of guitar and bass becoming more gender-neutral hobbies has picked up a lot more steam. In fact, all-female bands are seen by some to be a sort of "revival" in an otherwise unimpressive electric guitar industry.
Natalia Bus of NewStatesman seems to think so.
The relationship between young girls and fretted instruments has been improving in the past decade, and with it we've seen a ton of female guitarists and musicians that are doing a lot for the instrument, even as many of them remain on the fringes of music's mainstream.
We're not so much referring to women like Lita Ford, Bonnie Raitt, Orianthi or even Nita Strauss.
They've been on the map for awhile and have been pioneering the influx of other young girls into the world of fretted instruments.
In this writeup, we're looking to highlight some of those names in guitar and bass that you might have missed, as changes in the music industry have made these instruments far more neutral in terms of how they appeal to the two genders.
Crediting the Photography
We've made the photography of these artists a major feature of this piece, and want to be up front about crediting the parties that are most responsible for providing it. Many of the photos have been furnished by Derek Brad who specializes in concert photography. You can checkout more of his work here.
Other photographs have been used under the creative commons license from a number of different Flickr accounts, all of which have been cited under their respective photos.
If you have any questions, concerns or disputes about the photos used, please get in touch with us here and we'll be happy to resolve the issue.
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Carina Round of Puscifer & Tears for Fears
English native Carina Round has a resume that includes collaborations with Ryan Adams, Justin Rutledge, Glenn Ballard and Black Light Burns, all of which came during the earlier portion of her career, before she became a regular touring member of Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan's side project.
Since 2009, Round has been a regular feature of Puscifer's projects, both in and out of the studio.
While her vocals are most frequently the feature of her music, Round also routinely utilizes both an acoustic and electric guitar.
Laura-Mary Carter of Blood Red Shoes
Flickr Commons images courtesy of Kmeron
Blood Red Shoes was formed by Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell who are the only two touring members of the band. Their alternative, indie rock style relies heavily on Carter's guitar playing and vocals which is distinctly punk in its origins.
Since their inception in 2004, the duo has released four full-length studio albums that together spawned 16 singles.
Carter has since embarked on her own solo project.
Flickr Commons images courtesy of Kmeron
Though guitar isn't always the focus of her performances, Giedre Barauskaite is a musically-gifted Lithuanian-born performer who utilizes a unique mix of songwriting, folksy style (namely clothing) and comedy in her shows.
To call her material politically-incorrect is putting it fairly mild.
Her guitar playing is primarily used to facilitate the rest of her act, which has become quite popular in western Europe over the past decade.
Marnie Stern's guitar playing is extremely technical and draws heavily on hammer on/pull off tapping techniques, easily noticed on the tracks "Transformer" and "You Don't Turn Down."
She's a member of the 8G Band which is Seth Myers' Late Show house band where she was originally a fill-in before becoming a permanent fixture. In addition to her work on Myers' show, she's released four of her own studio albums.
Stylistically she's a bit hard to pin down, perhaps most at home in the indie rock space. Though, her style is certainly experimental and not necessarily limited to genre-specific parameters.
Elizabeth "Lzzy" Hale of Halestorm
Lzzy Hale barely makes it on this list, in lieu of the "under the radar" qualifier.
It's fair to say she's not quite as mainstream as the likes of Ford or Orianthi, possibly because she's a bit more on the metal side of the style spectrum and doesn't frequently associate with the pop scene.
Hale has made her rounds in the rock and metal industries as one of the most loved and popular women of hard rock, appearing with the likes of Evanescence, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, David Draiman of Disturbed and a slew of others.
Though it takes a back seat to her powerful vocal abilities, Hale's guitar playing is heavily rhythmic, punchy and a hallmark of Halestorm's three studio albums.
Korey Cooper of Skillet
For nearly two decades Korey Cooper has served as one of the most consistent and recognizable faces of Skillet, alongside husband John Cooper, as the band's rhythm guitarist, keyboard player and backup vocalist.
Cooper's guitar style is all heavy rock as she's almost always handling the band's power riffs and drop-tuned chord progressions which saturate their studio albums.
Despite Skillet being active since 1996, it wasn't until their release of singles "Monster" and "Hero," off the Awake album in 2009, that Skillet started to make a larger name for themselves in rock's mainstream primarily riding the popularity of those two tracks.
Despite the band's reputation continuing to expand, the recognition Cooper receives is still relatively low.
In addition to the guitar, Charlene Kaye also plays keyboard and the keytar, which together make up bigger parts of her largely electronic sound.
Though, while subtle, her guitar playing is rhythmically solid and a noticeable feature on many of her tracks.
She focuses more on the electric guitar in an all-female Guns 'n Roses tribute band.
Emily Kinney is most easily recognized for playing the role of Beth on AMC's The Walking Dead. However, many don't realize that before, during and after her role on the hit TV show, Kinney is an avid musician and performer, having released four studio albums between 2011 and 2016.
Kinney is a strong vocalist and piano player, though her guitar playing is also featured in a lot of her performances.
Though she has continued to pursue a career in acting, her accomplishments as a musician deserve some recognition as well.
Gaby Moreno is a Guatemalan-born singer and songwriter who dabbles in a variety of styles including blues, jazz and R&B, while routinely performing in both English and Spanish.
Aside from vocals, guitar is her primary instrument and is featured prominently on most of her studio work.
While her playing style is mostly subtle and complimentary, it's also twangy and does a good job of melding the stylistic differences of Spanish and jazz guitar.
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Like Stern, Joanne Shaw Taylor is one of the more distinctly electric female guitarists on this list. Influenced as a young girl by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, her style is very tilted towards blues and heavy funk. Some good modern-day comparisons would be Jonny Lang and Joe Bonamassa.
Taylor usually plays a Fender Esquire or a Gibson Les Paul through Marshall and Fender amplifiers.
Premier Guitar did an interview of Taylor in which she gives more detail about her gear and playing style.
Though Kate Davis has been making music as far back as 2008, she didn't get her big break until she performed a cover version of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" on Postmodern Jukebox's YouTube channel.
This jazz adaptation of the hit song, on which Davis sang lead vocals and played an upright bass, went on to grab over eight million views after only three months.
While Davis is most technically proficient as a bass player, she considers herself primarily a singer-songwriter and is also a formally educated musician, having studied bass and jazz disciplines at the Manhattan School of Music.
Since her stint with Postmodern Jukebox, Davis has continued to perform with a number of New York's most reputable musicians.
While Kate Nash at one point had a taste of record label-driven success, mostly during the pre-2012 portion of her career, she has recently relied on crowdfunding and self-released content to support her music.
Nash plays several instruments, primarily focusing on bass, electric guitar and acoustic guitar per the stylistic leanings of punk and indie rock.
Her most recent release is a four-track EP which has coincided with her acting role in the Netflix series Glow.
While recent years might mark a shift in Nash's career to acting, she has made a lasting impression on the British punk rock scene despite being primarily a solo artist without much help in the way of collaboration.
Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies
Emma Anzai plays bass for the rock band Sick Puppies.
After the departure of lead singer Shimon Moore, who was eventually replaced by Bryan Scott, Emma remained the single most recognizable personality of the band and their longest-tenured member.
Anzai plays Warwick basses through Ampeq amplifiers which are split off into two heads (one for high EQ and one for low). She also mentions in several interviews that she got her start on guitar before moving to bass.
Between both of the band's lead vocalists, Emma has contributed to five total studio albums between 2001 and 2016.
Emily Armstrong & Siouxsie Medley of Dead Sara
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Derek Raugh
Emily and Siouxsie started Dead Sara back in the early 2000s at only 16 and 15 years old in Los Angeles. Originally their band was called Epiphany, though the pair changed the name to Dead Sara in 2005 per a Fleetwood Mac reference.
Since 2012 the band has released four studio albums, one of which is a remastered version of an EP they released in 2008, The Airport Sessions.
Their most popular track, by far, is "Weatherman" which peaked at number 26 on the US mainstream rock charts and 35 on the US alternative rock charts.
As a whole, the band is still largely unknown and signed under their own record label Pocket Kid Records.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of Stuart L. Chambers
Gretchen Menn is a well-studied musician who's knowledge of Jimmy Page's technique has earned her a spot in the Led Zeppelin tribute band Zepparella. Additionally, she's released two of her own solo albums, Abandon All Hope and Hale Souls.
Like Taylor and Stern, her style fits more comfortably into the technical side of the electric guitar with distinct flavors of jazz and blues worked into her playing.
Menn's gear is typically modeled after Jimmy Page's rig as she is usually seen playing Gibson Les Pauls through Marshall amplifiers.
She even uses a violin bow on occasion.
Paz Lenchantin of the Pixies
Paz Lenchantin is most easily recognized as the one-time bassist of A Perfect Circle, appearing in their music video for "Judith," which was arguably the bands most popular track.
During her short tenure with APC she was also credited as the band's violinist and backup singer.
Her contributions made it onto two APC records, Mer De Noms and Thirteenth Step.
Between violin and bass she's collaborated with a slew of other groups, including Trust Company, Queens of the Stone Age and Ashes Divide. Since leaving APC, she was a member of Zwan (Billy Corgan's short-winded side project) and now plays bass full-time for The Pixies.
Sarah Jarosz's style is a mix of folk, bluegrass and country, which has her playing a variety of fretted instruments, primarily focusing on banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar. At only 26 she has seen a remarkable amount of success, not only with her own band, I'm With Her, but also with a number of collaborations, including Ben Folds and Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins.
In 2017 she won two Grammy Awards for best folk album and best american roots performance.
Since 2009 Jarosz has released four studio albums, three of which have cracked the top two in US bluegrass charts.
Being as young as she is, her best musical days are likely still ahead.
Este Haim of HAIM
Haim's core members are made up of three sisters, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, all of which are extremely gifted performers and musicians with a multi-instrument background.
Este is perhaps the most recognizable member of the band, partly because of the bizarre faces and contortions she makes during the group's live performances.
Yet it's her musicianship and bass playing that is truly underappreciated and underrated. Este's timing and technical ability on the bass are both remarkably good as she's able to stay in seemingly perfect rhythm with her sisters who are equally competent in terms of keeping time.
Their live performances just sound really tight and well-rehearsed.
While their live sound is more rock focused, their studio albums have a distinctly pop feel and lean to them. In both cases, all three Haim sisters deserve a ton of credit and recognition as they're, in our opinion, some of the better active bands out there, from a purely musicianship standpoint.
Catherine Popper of Ryan Adams & the Cardinals
Flickr Commons image courtesy of Gozamos
For Catherine Popper the bass guitar has been a nearly exclusive area of study, with formal education in both classical and jazz bass, dating back to her high school years.
Since then she has collaborated with several big names, including Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Jack White and Norah Jones. Though Grace Potter was perhaps her most consistent and notable gig, she has been routinely sought out for collaborations and studio work for nearly two decades now.
She is quite possibly one of the best examples of what a successful session career can look like for a bass player, regardless of gender.
Unlike many of the artists in this list, Ana Popovic has been almost entirely bolstered by her own material, agnostic of collaborations. Not that there's anything wrong with collaborating, but it takes a unique skill to drive a music career completely from scratch, which is essentially what Popovic has accomplished.
Since 1995, the Serbian-born guitarist has released a staggering 11 studio albums, featuring her own unique blend of soul, heavy funk and bluesy guitar playing.
In additional to doing most of the heavy guitar lifting, Popovic handles almost all of her own lead vocals as well.
On her most recent album, Trilogy, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph and Al Kapone all made guest appearances.
Lindsay Ell has made a name for herself as a country singer and songwriter who is particularly gifted on the electric guitar, bringing elements of blues and hard rock into her country albums. Many consider her music to be more guitar-driven than what you would expect from the typical country artist.
As of August 2017 the Canadian-born musician has released three studio records with limited success on the United States and Canadian charts.
However, with her most recent album, The Project, she's trending up in the world of country music, particularly via a summer touring gig with Brad Paisley.
Who did we miss?
It's certainly true that there are women who are worthy of inclusion in this list that just aren't on our radar.
If you know of a name we didn't mention that you believe is deserving, please feel free to drop it in the comments section below. We'll take a look and consider adding them to this article.
Any other questions, thoughts and comments are fair game as well.
Just be reasonable and keep it classy.
References and Works Cited
Solvej Schou | The Associated Press, Solvej Schou. “Making a Play for Girls.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2007, articles.latimes.com/2007/mar/13/business/fi-girlguitars13.
Buss, Natalia. “Guitar Music Is in the Doldrums, but All-Female Bands Are Spearheading Its Revival.” Guitar Music Is in the Doldrums, but All-Female Bands Are Spearheading Its Revival, NewStatesman, 9 Aug. 2017, www.newstatesman.com/culture/music-theatre/2017/08/guitar-music-doldrums-all-female-bands-revival-big-moon.
“Skillet's Massive Hit ‘Monster’ Goes Gold.” Jesusfreakhideout.com
“Guns 'n Hoses.” Guns N' Hoses, gunsnhosesband.com/.
Andy Ellis December 10, 2012. “Interview: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Voodoo Grooves and Guitarmageddon Tones.” Premier Guitar, 10 Dec. 2012, www.premierguitar.com/articles/Interview_Joanne_Shaw_Taylor_Voodoo_Grooves_and_Guitarmageddon_Tones?page=2.
Min, Ariel. “YouTube Crooner All about That Upright Bass and Then Some.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 16 Dec. 2014, www.pbs.org/newshour/art/youtube-crooner-all-about-that-upright-bass-and-then-some/.
“Guitar Girl'd: Connecting with Emma Anzai of Sick Puppies.” Guitar World, 19 June 2013, www.guitarworld.com/guitar-girld-connecting-emma-anzai-sick-puppies.
“Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies.” NPR, NPR, www.npr.org/buckets/music/women/artist.php?artistId=151.
Watts, Cindy. “Country Music's Lindsay Ell Looks Inward for Her Voice - and She Can Shred.” The Tennessean, The Tennessean, 13 Aug. 2017, www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/08/11/country-musics-lindsay-ell-looks-inward-her-voice-and-she-can-shred/500970001/.
Person. “Brad Paisley Plots 2017 Weekend Warrior Tour.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 8 May 2017, www.rollingstone.com/country/news/brad-paisley-plots-2017-weekend-warrior-tour-w481338.
Banner image courtesy of Flickr Commons via Kmeron