The CEO of American guitar maker Fender, Andy Mooney, speaks about the rise of female guitar players and states that ‘thediversity of the guitar is beyond the advent of punk’.
According to a survey carried out in October, these days females make up for 50% of beginner guitar players in the UK and US –although with “a different cultural context and popular music landscape”, along with an increase in the number of young guitarists, hence “changing the way guitar is being used”.
Mr. Mooney has said that what ‘was once considered to be the Taylor Swift Syndrome’, that is, just a temporary trend, has turned out to be something far more long-lasting.
“Women’s interest in the guitar has sustained and has actually grown”, Mooney stated. “A lot of those women who first picked up the acoustic guitar and mastered it then went ‘OK, now I want an electric guitar… The first couple of years I was here, the acoustic guitar was growing quicker but now it’s flipped.”
It seems that the ‘intimidation factor’ of women facing male-dominated guitar shops has decreased thanks to more females buying and learning the instrument online.
“It’s like the kind of club that you need to be in it to join,”Mooney continued. “Anybody who’s a new player gets pretty intimidated, but it can be more intimidating for women. I’ve witnessed it first-hand. I went into a store with a very accomplished female guitarist and the clerk came up to her and said ‘Are you looking for your husband or boyfriend?’ If you ask that question then you’ve already lost a customer for life.”
Moreover, the very idea of the guitar hero is changing because there is more visibility of female musicians as role models. The Fender boss adds: ‘I was reading a great article earlier this year where they interviewed Liz Phair (the iconic indie rock Americansinger and guitarist). Back in the day, her label was telling her to wear less clothes, look cute, and it was more about the female form than the music. There were very few female artists that she could share a stage with. Now she says that she can go to so many more major festivals and see female artists headlining, and in some cases showcases of all female artists… It’s even more in South East Asia. We haven’t conducted the research but anecdotally we think that as many as 70% of all new guitar-buyers are women. That’s because of things like K-Pop and J-Pop. When you listen to bands like Scandal, they’re not unaccomplished musicians and they’re playing a really broad range of genres to a really high standard.”
The instrument has long appealed to men, due to the post-warexplosion of rock ‘n’ roll and its mainly manly iconic stars like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Nowadays, the leading guitar brands need to face the fact that the younger generation is not too willing to play the fretted instrument because they have grown up with hip-hop and music programming software on their laptops. Therefore, giants like Fender and Gibson needed to focus on a new market. And that market is women.
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