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New study finds that fewer than 6 per cent of signature electric guitars are made for female and non-binary players

Ernie Ball Music Man Goldie
(Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man )

According to a new study conducted by the internet guitar database Find My Guitar, only 5.7 per cent of all signature electric guitars are made for female or non-binary guitar players.

Find My Guitar’s methodology excluded acoustic guitars and limited edition instruments. The study polled 21 leading guitar brands and reported that out of 214 signature guitars only 13 were not designed for male players. 

Referencing Fender’s 2018 survey (opens in new tab) in which its research concluded that half of all all beginner and aspirational players were women, Find My Guitar (opens in new tab)’s Rachel Aguirre argued that designing signature guitars with and for women both “recognised and validated” female guitar players, helping to boost their profile and in turn provide role models for a new generation of players.

“There are also practical benefits to having women co-create signature guitars with companies,” wrote Aguirre. “Lari Basilio designed her signature guitar with a fretboard that gets flatter going up ‘which is the easiest for the size of my hands.’ Women generally have smaller hands than men.”

Emily Wolfe

Emily Wolfe with her signature Epiphone Sheraton (Image credit: Barbara FG)

Out of the 21 brands surveyed, some 13 did not have an artist collaboration with a female player, including Gretsch, PRS, Jackson and Charvel. PRS runs the Orianthi signature model but that is a Private Stock limited edition Custom 24 which is only available to order until 31 December 2022.

Epiphone’s artist roster was the most diverse with two out of its seven signature models for Emily Wolfe and Nancy Wilson. In the present lineup it also has a Joan Jett Olympic Special modelled after the rock icon’s number one stage guitar, but as this is a limited-edition instrument it was not included.

Of Fender’s 31 signature electrics, all except the the Chrissie Hynde Telecaster, and signature Stratocasters for H.E.R. and Tash Sultana, who identifies as gender fluid, were for male players.

When Fender launched the H.E.R. Strat – which, incidentally, is one of the coolest signature models it has on the roster – it said it supported a commitment to supporting more female players with artist collaborations, with CMO Evan Jones noting that it was ”an important next step toward expanding the cultural relevance of guitar and the Fender brand.”

Fender H.E.R. Signature Stratocaster

(Image credit: Fender)

H.E.R. said that she hoped the guitar would inspire more young women from all backgrounds to take up the instrument.

”By designing a Stratocaster with a colour, shape and sound that is 100 percent my own, my hope is that other young women and players from all backgrounds feel inspired to pick up this guitar, tap into their thoughts and create amazing music,” she said.

There are many things to be taken from Find My Guitar's data, not least that the market for signature models has some way to go before it reflects the demographics of the guitar-playing public.

To see a breakdown of the data, which updates dynamically as the database is refreshed, head over to Find My Guitar (opens in new tab).

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.