5 Great Signature Guitars Designed for — and Inspired by — Female Rock Guitarists

Not too long ago, rock guitarist St. Vincent — also known as Annie Clark — unveiled an edgy new guitar specifically designed to fit a woman’s body and accommodate her smaller hands.

Although pioneers like Daisy Rock have been churning out female-friendly instruments for a while, the news was pretty groundbreaking for a few reasons. Until now, most of the signature guitars bearing a woman’s name are actually designed by men at big-name guitar purveyors like Fender and Gibson. Also, while St. Vincent did get a little help from engineers at Ernie Ball’s California headquarters, she was very much involved in the design and development process for her signature instrument.

So will this set the precedent for more professional shredders to do the same?

We can only hope.

For now, here are five great signature guitars that some of the best female rock guitarists have helped bring to market:

  1. St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man electric guitar

A cool-looking, $1899 guitar was crafted to perfectly fit St. Vincent’s lithe, womanly form, playing technique and personal style in Ernie Ball Music Man’s San Luis Obispo, California factory. Features include an African mahogany body, Ernie Ball Music Man tremolo, gunstock oil and hand-rubbed rosewood neck and fingerboard, St. Vincent inlays, Schaller locking tuners, 5-way pick up selector with custom configuration and three mini humbuckers.

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St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man electric guitar

2. Lzzy Hale Explorer

Halestorm front woman Lzzy Hale is one of the heavy metal’s few chick singers who also shreds — and has achieved major mainstream success. Her sharp-looking, signature $2,299 Gibson axe is super badass, with Alpine White finish and gold appointments, Gibson’s popular 57 Classic and 57 Classic Plus pickups, select tonewoods, and high-quality locking hardware.

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Gibson’s Lzzy Hale Explorer

3. Nancy Wilson Nighthawk Standard

Legendary Heart guitarist-singer Nancy Wilson — and rockmommy of two — tears it up onstage (side note: I’ve tried playing “Crazy on You” for years and still can’t do it right!) and in the studio. So it is only fitting that Gibson unveiled the robust signature Nighthawk in her honor. The $1,499 guitar features a comfortable ribcage body contour, rosewood fingerboard, a Nighthawk mini-humbucker and Nighthawk Lead humbucker, with five-way switching. It’s visually stunning, too, with Grade-AAA maple top dressed in a high-gloss nitrocellulose Fireburst finish with Cherry back and neck, and a commemorative “Fanatic” truss-rod cover.

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Gibson’s Nancy Wilson Nighthawk Standard

4. PRS Orianthi
Aussie guitarist Orianthi, who has strummed for Carrie Underwood, Alice Cooper, and so many other big names, was on the brink of taking her career to the next level as Michael Jackson’s guitarist for his 2009 world tour, when, sadly, he passed away in June of that year. Her signature guitar features:

  • Beveled maple top with flame maple veneer and Korina back;
  • PRS-designed tuners, SE HFS treble pickup, SE vintage bass pickup, and tremolo Bridge; and
  • volume and tone control with 3-way toggle pickup selector.
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PRS Orianthi

5. Bangles Signature Model

Daisy Rock is one of the most innovative, pro-female companies out there, with its huge array of electric and acoustic instruments designed for girls and women of all ages. The Bangles Signature Model, inspired by the quintessential all-girl 1980s band, is a particularly beautiful piece, with its piercingly pure tone, slim and narrow neck suited for smaller hands, and vintage look.

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Daisy Rock’s Bangles Signature model

In writing this blog, I’ve learned that while there are plenty of lists for “best female guitarists” and “best rocker moms,” finding a signature guitar that possesses the name of a female guitarist and is tailored to a female’s physical features is a near impossible feat.

Therefore, rock mamas — or heck, even dudes — who are looking for something that is designed with a woman in mind ought to take a closer look at these electric works of wonder.

Preparing for a Show Post Baby: What it’s Really Like for a Non-Celebrity Rocker Mom

You hear them on the radio, and see them gracing the covers of the most exclusive women’s magazines: Rocker moms. Articles about them are usually written in the vein of, “how P!nk is balancing diaper duty with recording” or “How mom-of-three Gwen Stefani makes time for cooking and going on tour!”

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties, 2015 version

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties, 2015 version

The article you don’t read is the one offering advice on how to get back into fighting rocker shape (physically and musically) when you’ve got one or two little ones in tow — even though you’re not famous. Most of the moms in bands I know fall into this category: We may have made some money at one time, but we don’t have lucrative recording contracts. We don’t have songs featured on SiriusXM Hits 1.

If you don’t have Gwen Stefani’s salary or fan base, you have to think about the financial aspects of playing a show, such as rehearsal costs AS WELL AS babysitting tabs. Since my band is my baby (I am the writer for all songs as well as the band leader), I foot the bill for $30-an-hour rehearsals, plus gas and transportation fees.

Then, you have to think about the time commitment. Rehearsing in New York City — an hour and a half from my home base of Fairfield, CT — is a seven- to eight-hour excursion. To accommodate this time suck, I had to take on fewer assignments (rock and roll doesn’t pay my bills, Ms. Stefani!), slack on cleaning duties (the floor still has caked banana on it from Monday), and curb my workouts (my kids still have to eat, and the extra practice time has to come from somewhere).

Also, if you’ve been out of the game for a while, as I have, there’s also the promotional and equipment headaches of planning a show. For example: After spending eight hours with my two toddlers, one of whom is potty training, I barely have energy to post anything on Facebook except a selfie of my kids, let alone try to put together some cleverly worded invite to my show. I’ve had to bribe my graphic designer friends and beg my bandmates to pick up some slack in the promotional department!

Oh yeah, and I gave away my big guitar amp a long time ago (you would too, if you needed to squeeze into a Prospect Heights apartment), so I’ll have to borrow two of them (for me and my lead guitarist) for the show. This means I’ll have to leave my house earlier.

The worst part? My mommy friends in Connecticut won’t be able to come (traveling to the Big Apple might as well be traveling to Russia as far as they’re concerned), and most of my city friends I haven’t seen since I became a mom so … I’m not on anyone’s radar anymore. Maybe an ex or two will show up, maybe not. But that’s about all the audience I’m getting.

So after all this bitching about how much effort and money is required to do this show, is it all worth it?

As of now, my answer is yes, absolutely!

One week ago I rehearsed with three amazing musician friends who I hadn’t seen for at least a year each — Morgan, Nora, and Michele. I love each of them for different reasons. Morgan is my bestie and longtime bassist, Nora is my former guitar student turned friend, and Michele is my tour buddy with a shared affection for NYC hardcore. Just being in the same room with these girls made me giddy. And when we plugged in our instruments, magic happened (though Michele wouldn’t necessarily call it magic after being on a two-year drumming hiatus)! Afterwards, I felt a buzz I hadn’t felt in a long time as I savored the long, summer night walk between 251 30th Street and Grand Central. Singing is cathartic, and playing guitar is my passion. I’m feeling inspired and creative and amazing.

I’m definitely bummed that my husband won’t make the show. When we were dating and it was just us, he made the trek to Brooklyn all the time to see me. I’m sure if it were super important I could wrangle him there, but … I need a babysitter for my kids. He is their dad. Problem solved!

I do hope that after this show, I’ll get to do another one soon, and that it won’t be so damn expensive to play. For one thing, I refuse to do more than one rehearsal in Manhattan. I live in Connecticut, and have for five years, and I have two children. I have to make it work here.

In the meantime, I hope whoever reads this post can make it to Friday’s show at The Branded Saloon in Brooklyn. Here’s the address and info:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties (w/ Milf & Dilf and The Rewd Onez)

The Branded Saloon 

603 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11238

8 p.m. doors

Hope to see you there!

Swapping One Kind of Sunday for Another

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For three years after I moved to Connecticut I continued to teach guitar every Sunday in Brooklyn.

I’d wake up at 8 or 9, fueled by three to eight hours of sleep, and head for either the Metronorth station in Stamford or the highway (at first, the Metronorth; when I got a Ford Fiesta, the highway). A couple of hours later, I found myself in or near the Atlantic Avenue station in Brooklyn, traipsing around town, teaching one student after another, and sometimes taking a lesson.

I loved being in Brooklyn once a week. It felt cool when everything about Connecticut was very Stepford Wife-like. I taught guitar, and between lessons, ran around Prospect Park, shopped for secondhand clothes in Park Slope, ate huge, leafy-green salads, wrote songs in Room A at the Brooklyn Guitar School, and enjoyed paling around with the other teachers.

On my last day in Brooklyn as a guitar teacher, I was 32 or 33 weeks pregnant. Traipsing around town felt more like waddling, and my growing appetite meant big leafy salads no longer made me full. My students, too, started dropping when they heard I was taking a three-month maternity leave. And even though I swore I would be back.

Alas, I never did. return, except for a visit.

Today, I teach in Connecticut.  Mostly Weston and Wilton, but I’m hoping to expand my roster. The kids are great, as kids always are – some are curious, some are spastic, some are quiet and a little brooding.

The biggest difference: My Sundays are free.

Of course, by “free” I mean I don’t have to teach. But I still have to get up super early –7:30 or 8-ish – so I can feed my son. If he falls back asleep till 9, great. But if he’s ready to play, mommy has to play too!

It’s totally fine and fun. I love watching Nathan go nuts in his little exersaucer while I do a few dishes and make his breakfast. And I love feeding him his breakfast (yesterday it was apples and barley) while we wait for daddy to wake up. And I love playing him a few songs on my guitar while it’s just me and him. I’m grateful that it is: My husband loves sleeping in, and I cherish that private time in the morning with my little boy.

I’m also grateful that I have some time to focus on my own music when my son wants to listen and the mood is right – though I do long for more time to work on techniques. Then again, many Sundays in Brooklyn I was so busy with lessons that I didn’t really get good, quality guitar-playing time. And while I miss my old Sundays a bit, it’s much less than I expected. Today I can look back at my past Sundays in Brooklyn and smile at the memories.

There is a time in life for everything, and now is my time to be a mom. Brooklyn will always have a small part of my heart, but today, my family has all of it.