"My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am."
-Joan Jett

Based on a recent study conducted by guitar manufacturing company Fender, of new guitar learners, 50% are women. More and more women are desiring to play the guitar as a hobby that they can practice on their own time. Female musicians are no longer a rarity but rather the norm.

In the next few years, we can expect more female guitarists in rock bands or solo performers who craft their own songs and release albums. However, as for famous female guitarists from the past or present, you may struggle to name more than three or four; if any at all. Why's that? Because the music industry has been male-dominated for years.

While we all know and love famous male guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, or Santana, but, are you familiar with the talent of female guitarists such as Kaki King, Jennifer Batten, Joan Jett, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, or Nita Strauss?

Without further delay, in today's article, with the purpose of improving everyone's musical culture, let's take a look at the most recognisable and talented female guitarists of all time along with some of their classic sound styles and their unique musical work.

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Jennifer Batten

Talented and passionate, Jennifer Batten made a name for herself by becoming the official guitarist for Mickael Jackson World Tours in the 1990s. Batten only worked for Jackson throughout the 90s but this was enough to create a name for herself and established a lucrative career.

As we know, Michael Jackson was known for his energetic dance solos that were accompanied by loud tunes and legendary guitar solos such as the one from the song Beat It. Jennifer Batten mastered the Beat It solo among others and became a noteworthy person in the world of music.

History will know Batten as a pioneer in the world of rock'n'roll. In a male-dominated field, Jennifer Batten was able to break through and find success. She is a great example for female guitarists today since she is seen as a trailblazer.

In 1998, she was also found on Jeff Beck's tours and during his studio sessions. At age 64, Batten continues to play the guitar.

Orianthi Panagaris

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Both men and women can become excellent guitarists if they fully dedicate themselves to practising and learning from the beginning. (Source: Unsplash)

Talent and passion for the guitar at a young age are necessary if you are to be successful and that is the case with Orianthi Panagaris. She joined the Alice Cooper group for three years at a very young age. Because of her impressive resume of jamming with well-known guitar players and her great playing abilities, she was selected by Michael Jackson for the This Is It World Tour. Unfortunately, the King of Pop died before the world tour started.

Panagaris, from Australia, is only 37 years old and still continues to perform songs in front of large audiences today. Experts appreciate Orianthi's talent because she knows how to do everything from playing other bands' music to composing and collaborating with other virtuoso guitarists such as Steve Vai.

Orianthi is a talent to be reckoned with and her career will continue to blossom in the years to come.

Kaori Muraji

While the two previously mentioned artists specialise in the genre of rock n roll, Kaori Muraji is a Japanese classical guitarist. She has gained worldwide recognition and has produced multiple albums that showcase her impressive talent.

Kaori Muraji signed with British record label Decca Records (the notorious recording label that turned down The Beatles when they first auditioned). She started the guitar at the age of three and took regular classes. She was supported to pursue her talent by her father and she made her professional debut at the age of 15 by releasing her first album that showcased her work.

She retired from the world of recording music in 2010. Nonetheless, she is still very open to making appearances at venues, lectures, and concerts. Kaori Muraji has left an important legacy for classical guitarists, but also for women who are considering the option of following their dreams to become professional guitarists in jazz, blues, rock, or classical music.

Joni Mitchell

While not solely known as a guitarist but rather as one of the best female acoustic singers of all time, Joni Mitchell's songs were often accompanied by her playing the guitar. Her talent for singing, songwriting, and playing the acoustic guitar is noteworthy.

Many musical experts have commented that Joni Mitchell's sound was truly unique and that she created her own style of music while composing and jamming out on her guitar. 

Mitchell is in her late 70s now but she still continues to be one of music's biggest stars and best female guitarists. Mitchell's guitar melodies are learned by thousands of new guitar players every year.

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Despina
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Robbie
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Simon
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Kieran
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Andy
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Gabriela Quintero

Widely known and loved in Mexico, you may have heard of Gabriela Quintero from the famous duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. They both came from within a Mexican metal band and have made a place for themselves on the international scene thanks to their talents as guitarists.

Gabriela mainly provides rhythm when she plays the guitar and accompanies Rodrigo's solo performances, but her technical arsenal as a female guitarist is quite impressive.

She also led three female groups with whom she trained several hours a day on the six-string to obtain guitar pieces with sounds that have influences from both rock and flamenco music. Gabriela is recognized for her perseverance, her high standards, her fluidity, and her precision with both the right and left hands. Truly a talented woman with a guitar who is continuing to hone her skills.

Bonnie Raitt

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Bonnie Raitt reached acclaim and fame in the 1970s and 1980s for her outstanding musicality and talent. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Legendary. Just, legendary!

Let's start off by saying that if you don't know Bonnie Raitt, you don't know music! An integral figure of worldwide music, in the 1970s, Bonnie Raitt made a name for herself by participating in blues-rock concerts that would raise awareness for environmental causes.

Raitt performed music but also composed songs and released a popular tune known as I'm in the Mood that was recorded and co-written with John Lee Hooker; this song earned her a Grammy Award. Raitt has won many competitive Grammys in her lifetime and is recognised by some media outlets as the greatest female guitarist of all time.

Bonnie Raitt is well along in years now; however, she continues to perform and make public appearances whenever she can. It's worth stating that in 2000, she was inducted into the Rock'n'roll Hall of Fame alongside other amazing artists such as Elvis Presley, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, and BB King. That's quite the company!

Not only is Bonnie Raitt one of the best female guitarists of all time, but she is consistently on lists of the best guitarists of all time, both male and female. 

While she will always be known for her musical abilities, Bonnie Raitt still fights today for the environment, against social inequalities, and for human rights.

St. Vincent

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Since the 2000s, St. Vincent has developed a stellar reputation for playing the guitar like a boss! (Source: Visual Hunt)

Better known under the pseudonym St.Vincent, Annie Clark is a multi-instrumentalist artist since she plays the guitar, the bass guitar, and the keyboard, and other instruments.

St. Vincent is talented because she composes, sings, and plays the guitar as if the instrument were an extension of her body.

Her career has spanned nearly two decades and St. Vincent's alternative rock style makes her a mainstay at outdoor music festivals around the world.

Nita Strauss

Nita Strauss is an outstanding American guitarist who first made herself known by covering the titles of Iron Maiden in an all-female group The Iron Maidens.

In June 2014, she replaced another talented female guitarist Orianthi Panagarise, in the hard rock band Alice Cooper and went on tour with them.

Nita Strauss is a brilliant guitarist that comes from a long line of talented artists in her family.

Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson rose to fame with her sister Ann Wilson as the primary musician of the band Heart. Nancy was the guitarist and her sister, Ann, took care of the singing.

Nancy Wilson is a supremely talented woman with a guitar and was named the 8th greatest guitarist of all time by guitar manufacturing company Gibson.

Wilson's guitar playing is a mixture of classical, Hispanic, and obviously, hard rock. The band Heart is known by many as the first female hard rock band in history. Girl power!

While the previously mentioned female guitarists in this article are excellent examples of fantastic playing ability, musicality, and passion, there are many more female guitarists that are worth getting to know. Such as? You might want to continue your research by taking a look at any of the following female guitar players:

  • Paulette Wright,
  • Joan Jett, 
  • Poison Ivy, 
  • Ana Vidovic,
  • Kelley Deal,
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 
  • Sarah Lipstate,
  • Melissa Auf Der Maur,
  • Laura Cox,
  • Susan Tedeschi,
  • Vicki Peterson, 
  • Anna Sentina,
  • Arielle Bellvalaire,
  • Jess Greenberg,
  • Theresa Wayman,
  • Gretchen Menn,
  • Donna Grantis,
  • Xuefei Yang,
  • Lita Ford,
  • Flora Molton,
  • Peggy Jones.

Most of the amazing women from the previously mentioned list produced an album or multiple albums throughout their careers. Also, the greatest female guitarists are a huge inspiration of hard work and determination since not only did they produce fantastic albums but they used their career to shatter the glass ceiling in music. We highly recommend looking at the sheet music of famous female guitarists as you learn the guitar.

In conclusion, by having female guitarists from the past or present day that inspire you, you'll know what excellent songs and great guitar work sound like and you'll do your best to imitate their musical abilities whether you're playing the blues, jazz, or rock guitar.

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Brentyn

Avid movie-goer, reader, skier and language learner. Passionate about life, food and travelling.