Let’s start by saying, there are too many great female guitarists to mention in one article, but I’ve chosen 10 who made a massive difference in the world of guitar playing. These girls can certainly play a bit.
In no particular order, I’ve chosen some very influential female players. Without these girls, the state of music would be in a sorry state.
1-Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Let’s start with a bang, shall we? Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a known vaudeville artist who traveled the world playing guitar.
She became an ordained minister in 1939 and continued to play music until she died in 1973. In 1948, she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine along with Georgia Tann, Sam Phillips, and Richard Wright.
It was Richard Wright from The Beatles who discovered Rosetta in a club and signed her with the label Decca.
She became a huge influence to many players over the decades, including Little Richard who said “If it hadn’t been for Sister Rosetta Tharpe, I might have spent my whole life washing cars.”
Sister Rosetta was a true pioneer of Gospel and Rock’n’Roll music, she is the embodiment of Rockabilly.
Bonnie was a legend of the American Guitar scene. She started playing at a young age and hit it big in Nashville, TN with her husband alongside who played bass.
She toured all over the world and created an iconic sound that has been immortalized by many great musicians.
Bonnie is thought to be one of the greatest country guitarists ever. She influenced many players including Elvis Presley who said she was one of his favorite guitarists.
Bonnie is the embodiment of country music. Her sound is so smooth and cool, there’s nothing to dislike about it.
She played a hybrid guitar, a similar style to what you see in the modern-day. That didn’t stop her from being the greatest country guitarist of all time.
Jennifer Batten was best known for being the lead guitarist in Michael Jackson’s band. That’s possibly the best guitarist job on planet earth!
She started her journey into music by playing classical guitar, but when she joined the L.A Guitar Quartet she developed a new sound with electric guitar.
Before she joined with Michael Jackson, Jennifer toured with Jeff Beck and Steve Vai (not bad eh?).
She’s thought to be one of the most underrated guitarists, but her talent is unquestionable. She could shred her way through any guitar solo, and she created some very unique sounds.
Jennifer is the embodiment of Rock. She could play finger tapping solos, beautiful acoustic fingerpicking, and give slick electric sounds that would make most shredders cry.
She’s a brilliant guitarist who’s not mentioned enough in modern culture. If you want to hear some very special guitar playing then look up Jennifer Batten right now.
4- Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is a songwriter, not a guitarist. But she should be mentioned as one of the best female guitarists anyway.
Can you imagine a world without Joni? The first thing I thought about was Woodstock and her iconic performance.
She started her journey into music by writing poetry and short stories before she even owned a guitar. She started playing and was soon one of the best finger-picking musicians you could find.
Joni played a huge part in the development of country/folk music during the ’60s and ’70s.
Her songs like Big Yellow Taxi, Moon at The Mercy, and Circle Game were very influential to many other players such as Taylor Swift.
Joni is the embodiment of folk music. Her songs are very raw and acoustic, you can hear her story in every word she sings.
She was a huge influence to other famous guitarists including Steve Stills who said she was one of his favorite artists.
5- Annie Clarke (St Vincent)
Annie Clarke is a lot more experimental guitarist than the others on this list. Her guitar work is very unique, she doesn’t focus on one particular style of playing.
She’s best known for being in the band St Vincent that was founded by her then-boyfriend, now husband, who also played guitar in the band.
Before she was a touring musician she played bass in a few underground bands that weren’t very successful.
Annie is the embodiment of Indie music. Her guitar playing is not as influenced by any other guitarist, but her sound does pay homage to some blues players from the past.
She’s one of those musicians who just needs to be experienced to be understood. Her guitar playing is very subtle, but you can hear her influences in every note she plays.
She’s one of the most fascinating musicians out there, if you haven’t heard of her then I strongly recommend listening to some of her work before you make any snap judgments about female guitar players!
Pic by Midi Music Manager
Kaki King is a more melodic guitarist, she doesn’t shred on guitar like some of the other players on this list. She instead focuses more on melodies and harmonies.
She started her journey into music by picking up the cello at the age of five and learning classical music for ten years.
At college, she was given her first guitar and started learning to play that.
She’s one of the most famous acoustic players around, she’s played with Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Les Claypool, and The Ventures!
She has even written songs for some major movies which are pretty impressive.
Kaki is the embodiment of Acoustic guitar. Her style is very melodic and she uses her guitar as almost another voice in the band. She can play any genre, but her best work is showcased when she plays acoustic music.
She’s beautiful to watch! If you want to see someone who’s used their talent for good then check out some of Kaki King’s music.
Photo by Justin Higuchi
Orianthi is a very young guitarist, but already she’s done so many great things. She toured with Michael Jackson playing guitar in his band for three years before he died.
She was the first female guitarist to be signed by Guitar Center and she also sang on David Guetta’s Titanium which sold over 2 million copies becoming a platinum single.
She’s known for being a great stage performer and was even invited to perform at the President’s inauguration in 2009. Now that’s hitting the big time!
Orianthi is the embodiment of Rock n Roll. She plays very well with punk, rock, and metal bands which makes her stand out from other female guitarists that are more into pop music.
She’s a very cool guitarist. She reads the crowd well and knows how to get them going with her amazing stage presence.
If you want a girl who can play guitar like a god, but still has a good voice, Orianthi is your best bet!
8- Marnie Stern
Marnie Stern is possibly the best guitarist in the world. She’s technically perfect and can shred like no other.
She’s 100% Rock n Roll and lives and breathes it! If you’re a fan of punk or grunge, then Marnie is your girl!
Marnie is the embodiment of Punk/Grunge. She can shred so fast you’ll think your ears are playing tricks on you. And she doesn’t just do it, she does it with style!
She’s one of those guitarists that people just love to watch because they’re so unique. I mean how many other female guitar players do you see with a pink and blue stripe in their hair?!
Marnie is great for anyone who wants to see someone really play with a high level technical approach. She can keep up with any man and knows how to play fast when it’s called for!
9- Ana Popović
Ana Popovic is another young player, but she’s already played with some of the best in her field which shows how talented she is.
She’s won awards and performed at the White House! That alone should give you an idea of how cool she is.
If you want someone who knows how to kick ass on guitar then Ana is your best bet.
Ana is the embodiment of Blues and Soul.
She’s from Serbia but her music has been influenced by the blues from America which she studied for years. She can play anything from slow blues to fast rock n roll.
She’s a great guitarist because she has such an emotional style on guitar, when you listen to some of her music you can tell that she puts a lot of feeling into it!
Ana is great for anyone who wants to get into blues guitar. She can play so many different styles that she knows how to help other guitarists develop their own style!
10- Memphis Minnie
Memphis Minnie is the world’s most famous female blues guitarist. She’d been around for a while and was singing on street corners before she got discovered.
She toured with some of the biggest names in music like Louis Armstrong and went to play all over Europe!
If you want to learn about how Blues started then Memphis is the girl to go for! She’s got a great voice and incredible guitar-playing skills. Memphis is the embodiment of Blues.
She was born into poverty and spent her whole life living that way until she got discovered at an early age and started touring with big names.
She created some really cool blues techniques such as alternating bass lines and improvisation. She’s a great inspiration for all guitarists who want to learn blues guitar!
She can make a guitar sing in a way that no other female musician can achieve without a mic!
These ten female guitarists have some of the best techniques and original styles that a guitarist can hope for.
They’ve all been around for a while and some are still going strong today! If you want to be as cool as these ladies make sure you practice hard and listen to their music!
Using these women as your starting point is a very good idea.
I hope you enjoyed my list of 10 Girl Guitarists That Shook The World. If your favorite wasn’t included then please tell me about them in the comments!
Lee has been playing guitar for over 25 years. In the 1990s he made a few TV appearances in London and supported a few big bands at festivals. He’s recently sung on radio and worked as a full-time guitarist/singer on a holiday resort. Lee is the founder of Authority Guitar, a site where he wants readers to enjoy every aspect of learning the guitar.