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Women Of The Guitar, Some Of The Best Female Guitarist On The Planet

Updated on August 2, 2017
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Female Guitarist

There's no way around it, playing the guitar has always been an overly male dominated field. There is absolutely no reason that this must always be so, as the women listed here and millions of others not listed prove that women can play the guitar quite well. I don't know exactly why it is that guitar playing has always highlighted and glamorized testosterone via the mainstream media, but I think we can all agree here that this is the case: Women are often overlooked in favour of men.

Yes, all the women I'll discuss here are what I think of as attractive women. No, I didn't pick these for that reason. Male guitarist have typically been more successful should they be deemed attractive too, there's nothing much that you or I can do about the paradigms of human biology, but music is almost entirely a cerebral sport, so the sex and attractiveness of the musician should never ever be an issue to begin with in music appreciation.

So far as this page and it's contents are concerned, I'd like to say that it's going to be incomplete, as my purpose here was merely to draw some attention to some of the great female guitarist. While I'd prefer to also include here a music video from Youtube for each artist, I know for a fact that were I to do so, then the page would load too slowly for some users to be able to view it, and I want the page seen by anyone interested in learning some names and information about the great female guitarist that I intend to discuss, and regardless of what their computer and internet service make possible.

What I hope to provide here for my reader is a comprehensive trans genre list of female musicians that chose the guitar with which to make a musical canvas for their art form of choice. Please feel free to give comments and links within the comments for additional information concerning female guitarist, I might well choose to include your feedback in my article, and would also be glad to provide at least one link to another domain concerning this topic should it fit cosmetically, and be appropriate.

Also, I'm not attempting to "rank" any of these women so far as my perception of their level of skill or relevance, Ladies listed closer to the top here might not fit your concept of what is "best," but please do not feel that anyone is being praised or slighted in favour of someone else.

Memphis Minnie - The Queen Of The Delta Blues


Memphis Minnie

Born Lizzie Douglas in june of 1897, Memphis Minnie was the only female to ever be considered the equal of the male bluesmen that were her contemporaries. Not only were her vocals considered the equal of the greats, but her guitar playing and song writing too.

Kid Lizzie, as she was also sometimes known, learned to play guitar and banjo at home as a child, and then she ran away from home as an early teenage girl, made her way to Memphis, Tennessee, and started performing in night clubs. She spent forty years as a recording artist, and created her own damned style of the blues by fusing her Louisiana home's country blues to Memphis blues. Supposedly Minnie was married three times, and each time to another bluesman guitarist, but this isn't verifiable, but what is is that she was one of the first to embrace the electric guitar, and that during her lifetime, one of her songs was made famous the world over by Led Zeppelin.

Memphis Minnie died of a stroke in a nursing home in 1973. Bonnie Raitt paid for her headstone, and it's inscribed as follows:

"The hundreds of sides Minnie recorded are the perfect material to teach us about the blues. For the blues are at once general, and particular, speaking for millions, but in a highly singular, individual voice. Listening to Minnie's songs we hear her fantasies, her dreams, her desires, but we will hear them as if they were our own."

Memphis Minnie - "When The Levee Breaks"

Bonnie Lynn Raitt


Bonnie Raitt

Nine times so far Bonnie Raitt has won Grammy Awards for her country, folk, and blues infused music, and there's going to be more awards for this female guitarist whether she records again, or not. Bonnie comes from a very musical family, and began performing for her family at a young age. In 1967 she enrolled in Harvard's Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at a radio interview with blues promoter Dick Waterman, her life changed forever, and she became the first successful Anglo woman of the blues.

By the time the decade of the 1970s rolled around, Bonnie Raitt was performing in clubs around New York, and she was being stalked by scouts from record companies that wanted to sign her to their record label. She signed with Warner Bros, and in 1971 released her first record titled Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie's interpretation of traditional blues and skill with playing bottleneck slide guitar received loads of critical acclaim and admiration, as there were precious few women at the time who were known for their guitar playing. Throughout the decade Bonnie Raitt would record highly acclaimed music that never much made her money, America wasn't into it so much, and she eventually dipped into a drug and alcohol problem for a while.

Bonnie Raitt credits the late Stevie Ray Vaughan with helping her to bust free of addiction, and twenty years after she started recording professionally, she was finally a hit with audiences everywhere, and we're all still forever waiting on her next album now.

Bonnie Raitt

Emily Remler


Emily Remler

"I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavyset black man with a big thumb, like Wes Montgomery." Emily Remler, in her own words.

The life of Emily Remler, who was probably the single greatest female jazz guitarist to ever live, ended far too soon due to her heroin addiction. While every artist must have a muse, there's been quite the lot of gifts and loses that have come and gone from the world of art via drugs, and especially opiate drugs, the worst drugs on the planet. Born in New York City in 1957, Emily started playing the guitar just ten years later, and played constantly until she died. Extremely educated in the forms and styles of complex jazz, she gained the admiration of virtually everyone within the genre,

"When the rhythm section is floating, I'll float too, and I'll get a wonderful feeling in my stomach. If the rhythm section is really swinging, it's such a great feeling, you just want to laugh "—Emily Remler

Once when asked how she'd liked to be remembered, Emily had the following to say:

"Good compositions, memorable guitar playing and my contributions as a woman in music…. but the music is everything, and it has nothing to do with politics or the women’s liberation movement."

Emily Remler - "How Insensitive"

Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten has been around a while, and though you've maybe not seen her so much, you've probably heard her work as a sessions guitarist. If you don't know, a sessions guitarist is the person that gets hired to do some work in a recording studio, and typically because whoever the band's guitarist is, isn't up to snuff, and so they call in Jennifer to make the "song perfect."

Jennifer Batten also has three solo records, and has recorded with jazz and rock fusion luminaries such as Jeff Beck, and Carmine Appice. You might have seen Jennifer and not known it whist she'd performed with the late Michael Jackson, who clearly had the money to afford the best available guitarist for his shows!

Jennifer Batten and a Les Paul Tribute

Sharon Isbin

Sharon Isbin

I've known of Sharon Isbin for many years due to former subscriptions to Acoustic Guitar Magazine, where she'd always been visible in various full page adverts, and interviews and instructional segments. Sharon has played with the best of the best in classical musical circles, and has performed with over one hundred and sixty orchestras. Sharon Isbin has received quite a lot of accolades over the years, and won many a contest never before her won by a female guitarist.

Orianthi Panagaris

Orianthi Panagaris

Most often known as just Orianthi, Miss O. Panagaris is a guitarist of Greek and Australian decent that is likely to be seen and heard more and more as the years go by, but make no mistake, she's already made her name well known both far and wide. She's played with people like Carlos Santana, Prince, Michael Jackson,Eric Clapton, Steve Vai, and recorded her own solo albums in which she does all the vocals, guitar, and most of the drums too.

The rather attractive Orianthi started her professional career at the very young age of fourteen years opening for electric guitar wizard Steve Vai, and since then, she's recorded and performed with acts as diverse as Carrie Underwood to Alice Cooper.

Rory Block

Aurora "Rory" Block

Rory Block is a country blues guitarist and vocalist that started her career very young, retired to raise a family, and then restarted her career, and even tours with her son on drums. Rory Block has studied with the blues giants that were still living when she was younger and recorded songs written by many of them on albums mixed with her own compositions, she's won numerous awards, and still occasionally tours and records.

Her autobiography is available on in pdf format. And there are enough Youtube videos available to keep you in the blues zone for months. She's got her cult following, but should have been given a lot more exposure by mainstream radio and mass media.

Liona Boyd


Liona Boyd

Having taken guitar lessons at a young age from none other than the great classical guitar master Andrés Segovia, Liona Boyd is a female classical guitar master, but being a consummate musician, she never stopped, and went on to study with the French classical guitar master Alexandre Lagoya too. Known as "The First Lady Of The Guitar," Liona Boyd has lived up to that name.

"Through your beauty and talent you will conquer the public, philharmonic or not." - Andres Segovia.

Despite Liona's classical training and style, she's toured the entire globe opening for fellow Canadian Country Folk guitarist and singer/songwriter, Gordon Lightfoot, and recorded with persons like blues rockers Eric Clapton and David Gilmore. According to Wikipedia, Liona Boyd is in the studio now working on vocals for a new album.

Young Lita Ford

Ani DiFranco


Nancy Wilson of "Heart"

Susan Tedeschi

Charro, One Of The World's Most Skilled Flamenco Guitarist



There is absolutely no reason why any woman can't take up and learn the guitar, and then play it every bit as well, or better, than any man. There's nothing in the male mind or physical form that predispositions him to being a superior musician, and if there were, then such superiority wouldn't be found in the realm of guitar playing.

Women can play the guitar every bit as well as can any given man, but guitar playing is simply a difficult thing to do on the level of any of the female musicians listed here, so if men are more famous for playing the guitar, then I humbly submit to you that there are simply more men taking up the instrument and dedicating their time to mastering it. I will also submit that it is possible that women are sometimes over shadowed by men in the mass media and public opinion that is largely derived from it. I think the women listed in this article prove, however, that they are as technically skilled and dedicated to their musical art as many a more famous living or dead male guitarist.

Lita Ford is a woman that most men my age and demographic would know about - she was a major rock and roller during the hair band 80's, and recorded with the infamous and ubiquitous Ozzy Osbourne, and Ozzy has always had exclusive privilege to pick nothing but the best musicians to perform with him.

Ani DiFranco is another Lady that I've come to know of from publications such as Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and it's because she is just damned good at the more difficult endeavour of playing the acoustic guitar; and she does so in a very unique and innovative folk rock style.

Nancy Wilson is another highly notable name, she only fronted the band Heart all through the 70's and 80's with her sister Nancy - bringing women into the heavy blues metal crunch introduced to the world by bands such as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

Susan Tedeschi is an amazing blues rocking guitarist and vocalist; and besides all of that, she's just extremely attractive in my book, and in the Southern Woman style that I've grown up around.

Sheryl Crow is another, and by God, isn't SHE PRETTY! The answer is YES, btw, and she is yet another female guitarist that the late Michael Jackson helped to bring to the fore of musical notoriety.

Charro is a woman that is really a big time personality that has appeared all over the place in films and on television, but the facts of the matter are, she's one of the world's most skilled Flamenco guitarist, and Flamenco is one of the most complicated musical genres of all! She's probably a tie for first place here, I didn't even think of her until someone brought up her name in the comments here, as I've stopped watching television altogether, and haven't seen her in years.

Please note that I've made no sort of effort to "rank" any of these women as their styles are often vastly different, and also because my primary purpose was to draw attention to the subject and theme - Women Can Play Guitar Every Bit As Good As Men!

There are sure to be glaring omissions on this page, but please do not hold that against me, as I can only include so much in the way of pictures, videos, and text before the page becomes too big to be viable for search engines. Feel free to leave all the link and video links in the comments that you so desire, so long as they are to somewhere involving female guitarist.

Ten great female guitarists


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    • profile image

      wagh 6 weeks ago

      nice to hear the guittarist

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 2 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've discovered several newer women who are guitar playing phenoms recently, cmoneyspinner, but I don't think I'll add them to this page, maybe think of another similar title to document them on.

    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      If I didn't see Charro and Bonnie Raitt on the list on your list, I would have been so disappointed. Gonna share this collection of leading ladies on Pinterest. Major players!! Yeah!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thank You! Charro is amazing! I wish more women would pick up guitars ALWAYS!

    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 4 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      I have got to reopen this hub to the eyes of many who haven't seen it. And to say once again Charro rocks and was the original Shakira. Latin music would never have broken doors throughout the world without her influence. Great musicians never grow old...they just become stars that forever shine in the cosmos. Women of the world grab your guitars and keep on hubbing. Blake4d

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 6 years ago from LA

      Hi again. Thanks for THIS great hub!!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Kitty I think Orianthi and and Charro are both the super hotness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The only thing is ....age, but women as beautiful as yourself are always beautiful - but a man's eyes might not have the total perspective if they are too young. :-/

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from Summerland

      Orianthi is amazing. I literally thought that she wasn't real when I first saw her play the guitar. Absolutely talented. Also, don't tell anyone but I have a secret crush on...Charro! LOL. Another great hub.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Vinaya Ghimire - Thank you very much, Sir!

      Of course there are many many more - but I try to not exceed a certain text limit on hubs any the really big hubs I've made don't do so well.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Thanks for enlightening us. I did not know about some of these guitarists.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Hi Flora!!!!!!!!

      Yeah, Bonnie is who I'm most familiar with out of the bunch too!

      I knew her parents were pros in performing arts...and successful too. Bonnie wasn't going to no cheap college, you know!

      My favourite song of hers is "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance?" which is on the classic soundtrack from the film "Urban Cowboy."

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Mom was one of the first female bass guitarists to play in a mixed band. Of the women you discuss here, I am most familiar with Bonnie Raitt. Although her father never played guitar, she does get her singing and love of performing from her father. John Raitt was a Broadway star who occasionally appeared in movies. Anyone who wants to check him out can see him opposite Doris Day in The Pajama Game singing the classic song "Hey There."

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Hey Sir!!! I'll have to look into Carolyn, and I don't know about the other at all.

      I don't know what is wrong with me...but I don't seem to be getting into new music so much any more. I must be getting old.

      Charro...she's gotta be old now! I'll bet that she can still play well though, I think the really good musicians can compensate for their slower fingers as they age with maybe more taste.

      Someone like Doc Watson...he is in his 90's. He can still play some, but he was still playing very well around 2003. He just used more economy and ..."blue notes" etc.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Charro ha ha, bit of a Dino these days but she sure was cute back in the day. Man, the You Tube is gonna be heatin' up from here. Any thoughts on your Carolyn Wonderland? How 'bout that teenager that plays like Stevie Ray.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      winbo - Thanks Very Much!!! I enjoyed creating this one quite a lot too! :-D

    • winbo profile image

      winbo 6 years ago

      AWEsome hub!!!!! I enjoyed it...

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Denise Handlon -ABSOLUTELY!

      Performing in public with a difficult musical instrument like the guitar, and doing it well - is a huge rush!!! Just think of having thousands of persons watching your every move, and enjoying it, and it being something that you created that they all enjoy!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Wes, just reviewing this hub one more time (bookmarked it) and looking at the photos of these beautiful women I was wondering what it was that was so similar in all of them. Then, it hit me: the pure joy that radiates from their smiles and their whole being. Passion! What bliss...

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      dmop - Thanks Very Much!!!!!!! Very Glad To Have You!!!!!!

    • dmop profile image

      dmop 6 years ago from Cambridge City, IN

      This is an impressive Hub, I am proud to be a follower. Voted up and awesome.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Denise Handlon - GO GET YER GUITAR RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      That's a Major win if you've messed with it since seeing this - that's a total score!

      Thank You!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      blake4d - it was a pretty serious oversight on my part.

      I'd have probably had Charro with a short bio, video, and the whole nine yards had I thought of her on my own. I just haven't seen or thought of her in a couple years.

      I knew she was a great Flamenco guitarist - I'd just forgot!!!

      I remember years ago that I didn't know that she had that skill, but I knew who she was, and then when I first saw her playing, I was amazed!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      A M Werner - THANKS!!!!

      I'm "cursed" in that I can play well enough for it to be maddening that I never seemed able to get to the next level!!!!!!!!

      LOL! One has to find a way to be comfortable with what they've got...and I need to play more, and try to be as good as possible - but at the same time accept that I shouldn't think of myself as likely to become professional!

      Tough Gig!

      Orianthi sure got it right, she obviously dedicated herself totally at a young age!

      That's not necessary, really, as Doc Watson wasn't a professional musician until he was 40 years old...but it sure helps to know what you can do early on in life.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Heck Yeah, Sunshine - she's cute enough to be my first ex wife too! LOL!

      CMerritt - THANKS VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!! I'd like to add another video or two for the people already listed, but people sometimes tell me "I tried to look at your hub, but the page would never load," and that only happens on music hubs where I have several that bothers me.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      What a fabulous hub! I've followed Bonnie R for years and have seen her numerous times in concert. I'm not familiar with the other guitarists but loved the video material. I'm looking forward to checking them out further.

      I played guitar in the past and haven't picked it up for years but as of late the urge has returned. I think this hub pushed me over the edge, LOL

      Voted up and interesting; shared it.

    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 6 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      Hooray WTS, that is so good of you to have added Charro at the last minute, and because of my little olde comment to boot. I had the privilage of seeing her live about fifteen years ago, and she is everything big an boisterous but also the most incredible Flamenco player I have ever had the chance to see. Good work and thanx for taking my suggestion seriously. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

    • A M Werner profile image

      Allen Werner 6 years ago from West Allis

      Awesome. I tried to learn guitar when I was in my teens and just didn't have a talent for it. These women surely do. I didn't know about that Zeppelin connection with Memphis Minnie. I'll have to go put on the headphones and blast some Orianthi tonight. Peace

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      Wesman, this was a very fun and interesting hub....I never heard of some of these gals...but after doing some youtubing on some of them...WOW!

      Very girl I would mention is Alanis Morrisette who is very good and can flat oout sing.

      Up and awesome...


    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      YAY for Sheryl ... she kicks ass on guitar and singing and just about everything else!!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      blake4d - THanks!!! The glaring Charro omission has been rectified!!!!!!!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Michael J Rapp THANKS! That's an awfully cute one, ain't it!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thanks Tex Shelters! Is Lita really your favourite from that list, or doya have a thang for blondes!?

    • blake4d profile image

      Blake Ford Hall 6 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

      I was glad to see that you included Liona Boyd, kudos. But don't you think that you really should have included Dolly Parton and Charro? They certainly deserve it if Lita Ford does, no offense to the runaway herself. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

    • Michael J Rapp profile image

      Michael J Rapp 6 years ago from United States

      Very interesting Hub. I have to admit I don't know a lot about most of them. Love the pic of Lita with the old Carvin!

    • profile image

      Tex Shelters 6 years ago

      Great list!

      Lita Ford!


    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Sunshine625 - Thank You!!!!!!!

      How stupid was it to have left off Sheryl? IT'S BEEN TAKEN CARE OF!!!!

      Dang she's a hottie!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Theeyeballkid - Thank You! Yeah that SRV clip is pretty kick ass!!!!

      Sadly, I didn't even know about Memphis Minnie until asking the question that you saw in the HP Q & A!!! I got educated!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Daisy Mariposa - no, THANK YOU!!!!

      I did some data mining from the Q & A to come up with all the names, as I'd have missed several without asking the question, and some of the omissions would have been glaring!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Wesman! Rockin' choices! I was hoping to see Bonnie Raitt on the list, yeah!!

      I'm just going to give a shout-out to Sheryl Crow, she can rock it also.

      Smokin' hub tribute!

    • Theeyeballkid profile image

      Theeyeballkid 6 years ago

      Great hub Wes, I enjoyed that Memphis Minnie clip, I hadn't heard of her before. Bonnie Raitt is great, she rocked the house in that SRV tribute concert, I remember watching it back in the day and was floored by that performance of "Pride and Joy". That is a great story about paying for Memphis Minnie's Headstone.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      Thanks for publishing this article. This Hub has it all...great research, writing, formatting, photographs, music, women.


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