Guitar heroines


Prince’s halftime show notwithstanding, I don’t think guitars are necessarily phallic. Men have dominated the guitar world (especially when it comes to smashing things and jumping off amp towers), but who says it has to stay that way?

Here are some axe-wielding women who sound as good as they look.

1. Pioneers: Without them, this blog post wouldn’t exist.

Wanda Jackson [pictured]

Bonnie Raitt

Nancy Wilson (Heart)

2. Acoustic experts: Their strings really sing.

Joan Armatrading [pictured]

Joni Mitchell

Emily Saliers

3. Rhythm methods: This is how you rock. Three chords sound bigger when you strum really hard.

Chrissie Hynde [pictured]

Joan Jett [also pictured!]

Amy Ray

4. Innovators: 12 strings? Sure. And crazy finger-picking? No problem. Yeah, and we’re queer, too.

Ani DiFranco [pictured]

Melissa Etheridge

5. Shredders: Proof that female hands are just as fast.

The Great Kat (Katherine Thomas)

Morgan Lander (Kittie)

6. Edge players: They don’t always do things the way they should — and that’s good.

Tracy Bonham

Tegan and Sara [pictured]

7. Boomers: While everyone else on this list is searching for a chord or hitting the whammy bar, these bassists keep the song in the groove.

Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde)

Meshell Ndegeocello

Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads)

8. Troubadours: They don’t just sing songs: They tell stories.

Neko Case [pictured]

Tracy Chapman


9. LPers: Their initials are LP. That seems profound, so I gave them their own category.

Linda Perry (Four Non-Blondes)

Liz Phair

10. Riot grrrls: ‘Nuff said.

Kat Bjelland (Babes in Toyland)

Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney)

This is just a sampling, of course — not intended to be a complete list. Who rocks your world?