Female guitarists

Why are there so few, if any, great female guitar players? And why do women look so clumsy playing them? My theory, as a guitar player of some 25 years, is this: As far as I know, women have a longer index finger than ring finger, whereas for men the opposite is true. This may effect the ease/style with which they can form chords, consequently inhibiting/deterring a natural playing style on an instrument that was (probably) invented by men.

Women have differently proportioned finger lengths than men? I’ve never noticed that – it sounds like nonsense to me. Of course, I could be wrong.

My opinion is that fewer women dream of being rock & rollers than men. Women are more likely to be steered toward different instruments than men.

Of course, I have no facts about this. And it’s also my opinion that this should be in the IMHO forum, because I seriously doubt there’s a “factual” answer to this.

Well, I think that there is a factiual answer to the finger theory/issue. Maybe some female posters could confirm?

I can shift my fingers around so that one reaches out farther than the other, and I don’t seem to change sexes when I do.

In the most comfortable position, my index finger is longer than my ring finger. I’m a man.

What chords do you think would be hard for a woman, or somebody with a longer index than ring finger? What about a guitar’s design favors the longer ring finger?

Anyway, one of the greatest classical guitarists in the world is Lynn Harting-Ware.

I think yojimboguy is right that fewer women are drawn to the Eric Clapton/Eddie Van Halen school of guitar where the harder a solo sounds, the better it sounds.

Anyone can confirm–just check the folks around you. Men typically have ring fingers longer than their index fingers, women typically have index fingers longer than their ring fingers.

While there may, possibly, be a factual answer to this …

This is a question based on an opinion, and hence is immune to factual answers. The first question is also based on an opinion (the underlying question is, “What makes a great guitar player?”), but I’ve seen far less objective questions get pretty good answers in GQ.

IMHO, there are fewer great female guitar players because guitars are rather phallic and simply don’t appeal to young women looking to take up a musical instrument on the same psychosexual level as they do to young men looking to take up a musical instrument.

“I think yojimboguy is right that fewer women are drawn to the Eric Clapton/Eddie Van Halen school of guitar where the harder a solo sounds, the better it sounds.”

I’m not just talking about heavy rock here…but jazz and most other styles.

Maybe women are more concerned about messing up their nails? :smiley:

Bonnie Raitt is an exception to the rule, but she plays mostly slide from what I have seen of her, thereby negating the finger-length issue.

My wife plays the guitar and claims that Shawn Colvin is pretty amazing when it comes to skill, and “sound”. She went to see her live a few months ago and she did the entire concert alone with nothing more than an acoustic guitar.

“she did the entire concert alone with nothing more than an acoustic guitar.”

What more should she have used as a solo player? Just a general, friendly query. And I’m not saying there are none, just that there seem to be rather few.

I dont think women look clumsy at all when playing the guitar. The women folk singers and women country singers all looked very graceful when playing guitars. Shania Twain, Patsy Cline, and Lorretta lynn do not look clumsy playing guitars.

I would not say “clumsy” is the word, but, on the other hand, it is harder for a woman to look graceful and feminine playing hard rock on a guitar and knocking down speakers with her foot. Imagine that dance scene from “Back to the Future”, with a woman(instead of Marty McFly) running and sliding back and forth accross the stage and banging on the guitar and kicking everything in site.

The reason why there are no great female guitar players, plain and simple, is that not enough men buy their records.

Replace “clumsy” with the less-loaded “odd”. I think most of the issue is that you don’t usually see woman guitarists fronting straight-ahead rock bands, and you just aren’t used to looking at them playing that style. There are enough examples to dispell the notion that there is any serious physical impediment to it, should they wish to - Chrissie Hynde springs to mind, as does Joan Jett.

“The reason why there are no great female guitar players, plain and simple, is that not enough men buy their records.”

This sounds unlikely…what about all the men who buy the records of female singers? Or are you joking?

Having been lucky enough to have a cool job for some time which, among other things, enabled me to meet and hang out with Joan Jett a few times, I defy you too tell her to her face she looks clumsy, or can’t play.


I said “why are there so few”…not “why are there none”.

Though I doubt this relates to the OP, some women with large breasts find it difficult to hold an acoustic guitar in a proper playing position.

Charo is an accomplished classical guitarist.

I am female. My ring finger is longer than my index finger. I am shite at the guitar. There goes your theory :rolleyes:

And to the list already begun of great female guitarists, I submit the name Joni Mitchell.

WAG, it’s because it’s rock and roll. It’s not just guitarists, but when was the last time you saw a female version of Neil Peart (drums) or a female version of Billy Joel?

But they are all over the place in classical music (see previous poster about classical guitar or here http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/2002-10-24/review2.html about Evelyn Glennie, who is not only a master classical percussionist, but also deaf.)

There’s an up and coming class of female rock and roll types who play guitar (Jewel, to stretch the definition of rock, or the aforementioned Shawn Colvin.) If you’re talking the “old time” greats out there, Clapton or Van Halen* - look when they got started. 25 - 35 years ago, when the industry was a completely different, totally male dominated place.

From personal experience talking to some of the very few old time female rock and roll types, they will tell you it was twice as hard, and they had to be twice as good just to get noticed.

In short, though things are changing, it was a man’s game for a very long time except for a few all female bands or a few women good enough and persistant enough to buck the trend. I doubt anatomy has much to do with it.

*leaving out my personal opinion of EVH, so as to keep this thread here and out of CS