Music HistoryOngoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 842: Modern Guitar Heroes 2–The Women

It’s been a rough decade for the electric guitar. Sales of new instruments have dropped by a third from 1.5 million globally to around just one million.

Why? Generations brought up on electronics and hip-hop are opting out of creating music with traditional instruments. Many young creators favour laptops, iPads, gear like Ableton Live and any number of programmable devices, from synths and samplers to drum machines.

The majority of new guitars are now being bought and sold by older players, of which there are fewer and fewer each year.

This has taken a big toll on manufacturers like Gibson, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018. It’s hurt music stores, both big and small. And it’s hurt music teachers, who have fewer students.

That all sounds pretty dire, right? Maybe. But there is one bright spot: a steady rise in the number of young women taking up the electric guitar.

According to Fender, Women now make up at least 50% of all beginner guitar players in North America and the UK. In Southeast Asia, that number is more like 70%.

Interesting, given that it wasn’t all that long ago that it was accepted fact that a girl could not play an electric guitar–not as good as a guy, anyway.

That attitude abounded through the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Today, though, that’s no longer the case. We’ve become more enlightened when it comes to this sort of silly sexism. The intimidation factor has been greatly reduced. Women can march into male-dominated music stores and buy a guitar with no fear. Some take traditional lessons while others use online tutorials to avoid any residual hassles and harassment.

And most importantly, we’re seeing more and more female guitar heroes. Dudes no only have exclusivity on this. Those are the people we’re going to explore on this episode on modern guitar heroes.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Pretenders, Middle of the Road
  • Cramps, Fever
  • Breeders, Cannonball
  • L7, Pretend We’re Dead
  • Sleater-Kinney, Bury Our Friends
  • Ani Difranco, Both Bands
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, Killing in the Name
  • Wolf Alice, Moaning Lisa Smile
  • St. Vincent, Los Ageless

Eric Wilhite has this playlist for us.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 842: Modern Guitar Heroes 2–The Women

  • Not alternative but a list of female guitar gods would not be complete without Lita Ford or Orianthi


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