Half of all new guitar players are women, finds study

Survey suggests phenomenon previously linked to Taylor Swift has continued even after the pop star moved away from her guitar-based sound

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Thursday 18 October 2018 10:28 BST
Artists such as St Vincent could be encouraging more women to pick up the guitar
Artists such as St Vincent could be encouraging more women to pick up the guitar

Half of guitar beginners are women, according to a new study, suggesting a hopeful future for an industry currently still dominated by men.

A survey by guitar manufacturer Fender shows that in the US and the UK, a phenomenon previously dubbed the "Taylor Swift factor" due to the then-country singer's performance with acoustic and electric guitars, has continued even as she moved across to more of a pop and electronic-driven sound.

Fender's UK team said it was surprised that half of its sales were to girls and women in an earlier 2016 study, but "it's identical to what's happening in the US".

The previous findings prompted Fender to seek relationships with more female artists, such as female-fronted indie bands Warpaint and Bully, for its marketing campaigns.

Other prominent artists such as St Vincent could also be responsible for encouraging women to pick up the guitar. Last year the MASSEDUCTION artist designed the first ever electronic guitar for women, in a collaboration with Ernie Ball Music Man.

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Many of the beginners said they simply wanted to learn songs to perform socially or by themselves, suggesting not all of them harboured rock star ambitions.

All this comes in spite of rock music slipping below the popularity of genres such as hip hop, suggesting its prevalence has more to do with how the guitar is valued by individuals for its educational and social benefits.

Fender CEO Andy Mooney told Rolling Stone: "The fact that 50 per cent of new guitar buyers in the UK were women was a surprise to the UK team, but it's identical to what's happening in the US."

He added: "There was also belief about what people referred to as the 'Taylor Swift factor' maybe making the 50 per cent number short-term... In fact, it's not. Taylor has moved on, I think playing less guitar on stage than she has in the past. But young women are still driving 50 per cent of new guitar sales. So the phenomenon seems like it's got legs, and it's happening in worldwide."

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