Boyd, who was born in London, England in 1949, grew up during the height of the counterculture revolution that swept most of the world at the time. She’s performed in both underground bars and famous venues around the United Kingdom, British Columbia, Yukon, Paris, and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
She’s at the top of our list for one simple reason: Many regard Liona to be the “First Lady of the Guitar.” And for good reason too. As everyone knows, you can’t place the First Lady anywhere but at the top of a list honoring female guitarists.
This New Yorker has been jamming out for the past 40 years, with a vocation that began in 1980 and a guitar skill that she’s been honing since she was 8 years old. Can you imagine being that young and already finding the thing that you’ll do for the rest of your life?
Jennifer has played both as a solo performer and as part of a group since first taking the stage. She was the guitarist on all three of Michael Jackson’s global tours between 1987 and 1997, and her record was produced by Stevie Wonder.
Orianthi’s full name is Orianthi Penny Panagaris, and she ascended through the ranks from Adelaide, South Australia to become perhaps one of the greatest names and best female guitarists of all time.
Her big moment came in 2009 when she volunteered to be Carrie Underwood’s lead guitarist at the 51st Grammy Awards. Underwood supposedly liked Orianthi so much that she invited her to join the band. That same year, she published her debut album.
Courtney Cox studied at the Paul Green School of Rock Music at the age of 15, and her destiny appeared set. She was already playing alongside renowned bands like Jon Anderson and Adrian Belew as a youngster.
She even joined Queen Diamond, an all-female tribute band that sang songs by the legendary band, King Diamond. Her big breakthrough came in 2008 when she was invited to play for The Iron Maidens, a gig she’s still doing today.
Debbie Davies has been rocking on the guitar for decades, and her blues approach is well-known among admirers of the genre. Since the 1980s, Davies has performed with some of the world’s most famous musicians, including Jimmy Buffet and Albert Collins, as well as Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton in their combo, Double Trouble.
More than that, Davies’ work in mostly all-female blues bands has helped to break women into the once men-only genre, adding even more great talent. We’d like to thank her on behalf of the other women she’s helped in the industry; as fans, we definitely appreciate it.
Sue Foley, like Debbie Davies, was an early arrival into the realm of blues music who has made an indelible influence on it. Sue Foley believed she was meant to be a blues singer from her first solo engagement at the age of 16, and after graduating from high school, she promptly established a band and started touring Canada.
Her debut album was published in 1992, and she got her first Blues Music Award 28 years later, in May 2020. And check out her guitar in that picture above. Shiny and pink with swirling patterns is just our style.
Muriel Anderson was born into a musical household. Anderson was taught piano and guitar as a kid by her grandpa, who was a saxophone musician in the John Philip Sousa Band.
The guitar, which she received as a present from a family friend when she was eight years old, ended up bringing her to her destiny. She’s a harpist as well as a fingerstyle guitarist, and she’s the first woman to win the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship.
Heavy metal guitar appeared to run in the Brosh family’s blood, despite their origins in Israel. Clearly, her family knew what kind of career Nili would have long before she did. They knew to instill a deep love of music in their child.
Nili has not only performed in several bands (Cirque du Soleil, Guthrie Govan/The Aristocrats, and The Iron Maidens) and alongside fantastic musicians like Paul Gilber, Andy Timmons, and Stu Hamm, but her brother, Eithan, is also a heavy metal guitarist in the band Burning Heat. Despite this, Brosh began playing classical guitar at the age of seven and electric guitar at the age of twelve.
Badi Assad is a global lady. Badi Assad, who was born in Brazil to Lebanese parents, has since become well-known around the world. She began performing professionally in 1980 and, just seven years later, she was crowned Best Brazilian Guitarist at the International Villa Lobos Festival.
Since then, she has performed throughout both North and South America, the Middle East, and Europe, and the Brazilian Embassy even invited her to India.
Maybelle Carter, who was born years before rock & roll became a widespread sound, made the list for being one of the best-known country performers and one of the most brilliant guitarists of her age. You may be wondering when that era was.
Carter was born in 1909, although she didn’t begin playing professionally until 1927. Keep in mind though, that she was only 18 when she turned pro with her music. She was a multi-instrumentalist who excelled in autoharp, guitaro, and banjo in addition to guitar.
Nori Bucci is an enthusiastic guitar player, as seen by the way she bends over her instrument, almost as if she’s emptying her heart and soul into every note she plays. Which is exactly the way the greatest musicians play.
She is most recognized for her work with the band Gamalon, where she took over as lead guitarist when the band’s previous guitarist, Tony Scozzaro, quit. Nori has been a member of the band since the mid-1980s and has even performed in reunion gigs as late as 2012.
Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza (huzzah, we made it!) is a Spanish actress and guitarist known as Charo, who has earned the title “Queen of Flamenco.” Her initial recordings were disco albums produced during the disco period of the 1970s.
By 1994, Charo had received the Billboard International Latin Music Conference’s Female Pop Album of the Year award, as well as the same title from Billboard. And it’s no wonder considering her immense skill with the stringed instrument.
Laura Chavez, a five-foot-three-inch-tall guitarist, has stood tall above many other musicians due to her proficiency and enthusiasm for her craft. After hearing Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin rip their way through songs, Chavez resolved to follow in their footsteps and share their passion for the guitar.
Her stage name is Triviana although she has been known by a few titles over the years. She’s now acquired a ferocious guitar playing technique akin to Hendrix’s, claiming she likes playing a guitar, especially when it fights back.
You might not have observed Felicia Michele Collins if you were watching the Late Show with David Letterman, but she was there every evening, strumming her guitar as part of the CBS Orchestra, which opened and closed the show every night.
Collins traveled to New York with her family from Jackson, Tennessee, a state noted for producing some of the greatest guitarists in the United States. Collins has worked with a slew of celebrities after the show’s demise.
Deborah Coleman, an American blues artist, was reared in a musical household. Not only is she a successful and award-winning blues artist, but her family is also full of great musicians. Seems like it runs in the blood or the genes.
Her father played the piano, while her two brothers and sister all played guitar, with her sister also playing keyboard. Coleman has received multiple honors since the release of her debut album in 1997, including the Orville Gibson Award for Best Female Blue Guitarist.
Malina Moye, 36, is a model, actress, singer-songwriter, and left-handed guitarist who combines rock and soul. Moye’s prominence has only grown since he founded WCE Records in 2004, and we can’t say we’re shocked. It was the perfect opportunity for her to show off her impressive skills.
Not only did her third studio album, Bad as I Wanna Be, debut at number one on the Billboard Blues chart for two weeks in a row, but she also developed a reputation as “an über skilled, electric guitar powerhouse,” according to Parade.
Marnie Stern is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and guitarist known for her technical prowess and tapping style of guitar playing. It’s an unusual way to play guitar, but Marnie totally owns it. And her popularity is only due in part to her interesting playstyle.
During her 2007 tour, she earned such a name for herself that she was chosen one of Venus Zine’s “Greatest Female Guitarists of All Time” in their Spring 2008 issue. Stern’s solo career is supplemented by her participation in The 8G Band for Late Night With Seth Meyers.
Ruyter Lara was born. Johanna Pakon Suys, guitarist Ruyter Suys, grew up in a musical household in Vancouver. She began playing the piano at the age of three and moved on to the guitar at the age of eight or nine.
Suys was influenced by musicians such as Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, and even Simon & Garfunkel. Suys grew up listening to bands like Motörhead, Metallica, KISS, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, and others. Nancy Wilson of Heart and Wendy O. Williams are two of her key feminine influences.
Joanna Connor, who was born in New York and reared in Massachusetts, is a blues singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist who has been making waves in the music business since the 1980s. With the best guitars in her hands, she has been able to make some of the most awesome music.
Connor was lured to the city’s blues culture after moving to Chicago in 1984, and she went on to share the stage alongside James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and A.C. Reed. It didn’t take long for Connor to form her own band and release her debut album on Blind Pig Records. Connor, who is now 58 years old, is still making music.
Arianna Powell, who is from Pennsylvania, rose to notoriety in 2017 when she was named one of Guitar Player magazine’s “50 Sensational Female Guitarists.” And they weren’t exaggerating. She’s got the chops to easily hold her own, even with the greats.
With a B.S. in Music Education and a jazz guitar focus, it’s no wonder that Powell has shared the stage with some of the greatest names in music, including Chris Brown, Black Eyed Peas, and even Will.i.am. She’s also appeared on American Idol and toured with Drake Bell (the Drake Bell from Drake & Josh).
Yvette Young, a California native, made her debut in 2009 by posting videos of herself performing music after graduating from the University of California with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Young, currently 29, is the lead singer of the rock band Covet.
Young, in addition to her musical ability, crafts one-of-a-kind artwork and art pieces, including several of her own guitars! Her picture will also serve as the cover for her band’s Technicolor album, which will be published in June 2020. And it’s reasonable to conclude that Young is a great creative genius.
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor is a blues-rock guitarist and singer from England who was found by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics when she was just 16 years old! It wasn’t long before Blues Matters!, a British music newspaper, dubbed Taylor “the new face of the blues.”
Taylor was invited to join Stewart’s supergroup, D.U.P., on tour in Europe around this time. Taylor released her debut record a few years later. Unsurprisingly, the 35-year-old British singer-songwriter has only grown in popularity, with her Reckless Blues mini-album set to be released in March 2020.
Beauty with brown eyes Desireé Bassett was born in the Connecticut town of New Haven. Bassett had a remarkable musical skill by the time she was two years old, which her parents only encouraged after hearing her sing herself to sleep.
Bassett started playing a half-size Lotus guitar a year later, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bassett has performed with Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, Living Colour, Barry Goudreau, the Marshall Tucker Band, and members of the Allman Brothers Band as of today. She has also released two studio albums!
Joyce Cooling, a jazz guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, was born into a musical family, as were several of the others on this list. In fact, Cooling was so drawn to music that she trained herself to play guitar by ear, combining the polyrhythms of West African music with her love of melody and harmony.
Cooling, now 51, has six studio albums to her credit and has shared the stage with Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, Mark Murphy, Al Jarreau, and Charlie Byrd. Though these may be titans in the music world, Cooling has certainly held her own on stage with them due to her immense skills.
The Great Kat
The Great Kat, born Katherine Thomas, is an English musician best renowned for her thrash metal adaptations of well-known classical works. While Kat’s electric guitar is featured in the majority of her songs, she has also used a violin, which isn’t surprising given that she is a classically educated violinist who graduated from the Juilliard School of Music.
Kat, now 54, has created quite a name for herself over the years, with Guitar One magazine even naming her one of the “Fastest Shredders of All Time.” She’s certainly got the fastest fingers onstage, but she can keep all eyes on her during a performance too.
Susan Tedeschi, a native of Massachusetts, is a singer, guitarist, and multiple Grammy Award nominee. Tedeschi made her public debut as a six-year-old understudy in a Broadway musical in 1995, despite the fact that she had just recently entered the music profession.
Tedeschi began listening in on blues jams at local clubs and immersed herself in the Boston music scene after receiving her Bachelor of Music degree in musical composition and performing. Tedeschi, at 50, is a member of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a collaboration of her band, Derek Trucks’ Derek Trucks Band, and other artists.
Xuefei Yang, regarded as one of the world’s best classical guitarists, made her public debut at the age of 10 and gained such praise that the Spanish Ambassador in China gave her with a concert guitar. Can you imagine wowing a public figure like that as a young child?
She was the first Chinese guitarist to attend music school and went on to become the world’s first globally famous Chinese guitarist. Yang has had a lot of worldwide success and has released a lot of studio albums throughout the years.
Carmen Vandenberg, a London native, is the lead guitarist for the Grammy-nominated rock band Bones UK. She and the band’s vocalist, Rosie Bones, met at a blues bar in their hometown and were members of the all-girl band Fake Club from 2012 to 2014.
It wasn’t long before they created Bones UK and drew the notice of artist Jeff Beck, who requested them to co-write his 2016 album and tour with him. Carmen has resided in Los Angeles, California, since that time.
Nita Strauss, born in 1986, is an American rock guitarist who began her career as a youngster, dropping out of high school in her junior year to pursue music full-time.
She not only has a thriving solo career, but she is also the current touring guitarist for Alice Cooper. Strauss, who has been on the covers of several print publications throughout the world, is named first on Guitar World’s list of “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.”
Peggy Jones was an American musician who rose to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s after being born in Harlem, New York City. Jones studied tap and ballet dancing as well as opera at the High School of Performing Arts.
Jones, in other words, was entirely involved in music from a very young age. Jones, known on stage as Lady Bo, was a rhythm guitarist in Bo Diddley’s band and was dubbed the “Queen Mother of Guitar” by some. With a career like hers, it’s no wonder that Jones is considered as a rock and roll pioneer.
Ani DiFranco, born Angela Maria DiFranco, has been extremely active since the early 1990s, when she launched her professional career. She’s released over 20 albums, the most of which have been labeled as folk-rock or alternative rock, while many of them also incorporate elements of punk, funk, hip-hop, and jazz.
Ani DiFranco has been able to experience a level of creative freedom that many guitarists and musicians only dream of since launching her own record label, Righteous Babe. Many musicians choose to create their own labels, if they can, in order to pursue their preferred types of music.
Elizabeth, who was born into a musical family near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, found her brother’s guitar and, she says, “from that day on, nobody had no peace in that house.” We think she may have been exaggerating slightly since we all know how amazing she became.
She was obliged to drop out of school at the age of nine in order to work and support her family financially. Despite this, she was able to accumulate enough money to get her own instrument. In 1989, she was wealthy and received her first Grammy Award.
“Patience, perseverance, and determination.” If you have those three elements in whatever you chose – whether it’s music or anything else – it’ll take an act of God to stop you!” Kat Dyson claims she lives by these words, and it appears to have paid off.
Her approach combines tremendous face-melting solos with complicated chord changes that few can grasp. But Dyson has been in the game since the 1990s, and it shows. She has a combination of maturity and experience to ensure that her fans receive an amazing performance.
Lita Ford moved to the United States from England, and her guitar abilities have been ringing in our ears ever since. This British babe has been rocking everyone’s socks off for years and we don’t expect her to stop any time in the near future.
She came up in Long Beach, California, in Los Angeles, and her proximity to big record labels eventually led to her meeting with Ozzy Osbourne when she left her band, The Runaways, to start her own solo career. “Close My Eyes Forever,” her duet with Osbourne, peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
Vicki Genfan, like many other musicians on this list, began playing the guitar at an early age and grew up in a musical household, which instilled in her a love and enthusiasm for music. Vicki is a multi-instrumentalist who can play the guitar, piano, banjo, hand percussion, and even the trombone.
By 1994, she had released her debut cassette album and was dubbed the “Queen of Open Tunings” by major journals. Considering all of the instruments she can play, we believe she could easily establish her own one-woman band.
Sharon Isbin did not come from a musical family, but she does appear to have come from a family of geniuses. Her parents were both nuclear experts who co-authored the book Introductory Nuclear Reactor Theory. Sounds like a couple of very smart people!
Isbin didn’t fail to live up to her parents’ standard of intellectual accomplishment. She graduated cum laude from Yale and with a master’s in music from the Yale School of Music. Since then, she has gone on to play in over 200 professional orchestras.
We’re not talking about the Batman-fighting comic book villain here. Poison Ivy is a real person who is the guitarist, composer, arranger, producer, and vocalist for The Cramps, a punk rock band. She goes by her real name: Kristy Wallace when she steps off stage.
The band was founded in 1976 and remained active for nearly 30 years before disbanding in 2009. What was her bandmate’s name? It was her husband, Lux Interior, who tragically died, bringing the band to an end.
Rolling Stone magazine published a list of “The New Guitar Gods” in 2006. Despite the fact that Kaki King had only been playing professionally for 5 years, she was featured on the list, and she was also the only woman on the list.
She has released six LPs and two EP records with her pals and bandmates, Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook, since she first picked up a guitar. She has also been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
Sarah Longfield is using the worlds of social media and streaming to establish a large audience for herself and her original music, including a YouTube channel that has been seen over 17 million times. Obviously, people want to hear what she’s playing.
She’s just 25 years old, according to her YouTube channel’s about section, but she’s been playing guitar for the past 12 years. She’s also adept on a variety of other instruments, which appears to have earned her a 200,000-strong internet fanbase.
Bibi McGill is most recognized for being the main guitarist and musical director of Beyonce’s backing band, the Suga Mamas. And, considering the absolute bangers she’s been a part of, we’re honestly jealous. However, Beyonce isn’t the only artist McGill has been acquainted with.
She has also collaborated professionally with P!nk, Paulina Rubio, and the iconic Chilean band La Ley. Her most memorable on-screen performance was her halftime guitar solo during Madonna’s Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, which drew 110.8 million people.
Gretchen Menn’s career has earned her a high level of notoriety and acclaim for her abilities on both electric and acoustic guitar. Many of the magazines that have recognized her are rock magazines, such as Vintage Guitar Magazine’s Artist of the Year and Guitar Player Magazine’s 50 Sensational Female Guitarists.
She was also one of only 11 women included on the She Rocks, Vol. 1 CD. She is the founding member of Zepparella. We love a woman who enjoys her rock n’ roll!
June Millington, who has been active in women’s music since 1965, has been termed the “godmother of women’s music.” The reason for this is because her band, Fanny, was created to represent the feminine spirit. And we think it’s amazing that she’s out there supporting other girls.
June was the lead guitarist and singer for this successful 1970s band, while her sister Jean played bass. The band resided in a gorgeous Spanish-style villa overlooking Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Many people consider the band to be pioneers and highly regarded.
Memphis Minnie was a blues vocalist and guitarist who released over 200 songs throughout his nearly 50-year career. “Me and My Chauffeur Blues,” “Nothing in Rambling,” and “Bumble Bee” are among the most popular. Offstage, her name is Lizzie Douglas, though.
Minnie began playing the guitar when she was 13 years old and ran away from home to live on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. To make ends meet, she began playing the guitar on street corners, which eventually led to full-time professional job.
Many media have lauded Joni Mitchell as one of the best female guitarists and artists of all time. Rolling Stone dubbed her “one of the greatest composers of all time,” while AllMusic said, “When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female music artist of the late twentieth century.”
Despite all of her achievements, Mitchell views herself as a “painter sidetracked by circumstance.” Well, whatever the circumstances may be, we’re glad that it brought us music from Joni Mitchell.
Noveller began in 2009 as composer and filmmaker Sarah Lipstate’s solo electric guitar project. “The guitar as her muse, Lipstate conjures a sound palette so rich as to challenge the listener to think of how it’s stored in a single instrument handled by a lone performer,” she writes on her website, sarahlipstate.com.
She has traveled the United States and worldwide as both an opening and a headliner for her adoring fans. Obviously, she’s doing something right, considering the number of those fans who fervently follow her career. We hope that she will continue to share her music with the world.
Ana Popovic was born in Belgrade and was introduced to blues at the age of 15, a style she fell in love with despite the fact that it is largely an American musical style. Despite this, by 1996, she was touring Serbia, Greece, and Hungary.
Ana and her band, Hush, had done over 100 shows around Europe in just two years. By the year 2000, she began singing with American music icons and quickly gained recognition in the United States.
Gabriela Quintero’s performance alongside her bandmate Rodrigo Sanchez may be her most well-known. They met when they were fifteen, both in Mexico City, and supposedly connected through their common love of music.
After becoming dissatisfied with the lack of possibilities for guitar players in Mexico, the two relocated to Dublin, Ireland. In the years thereafter, they’ve worked in Hollywood blockbusters and even performed at the White House.
Bonnie Raitt is more than simply a blues-loving award-winning guitarist. She’s also an outspoken activist who utilizes her platform to advocate for topics that are important to her. We always love when stars use their fame to promote good causes.
The majority of her CDs contain a wide range of musical styles, including blues, rock, folk, and country. She has been dubbed one of the “best vocalists of all time” as well as one of the “greatest guitarists of all time,” establishing her as a major star.
Remler, who was born in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, was a guitarist by the age of ten. At the age of 24, she was already dubbed “the next guitar sensation.” She began touring as the leader of her band, Firefly, in 1982, barely a year after her 24th birthday, and was hailed with nearly immediate international acclaim.
When asked how she want to be remembered, she stated that she wished to be known for her contributions to women’s music, in addition to her musical skill. We think that’s a pretty admirable goal and one that she accomplished quite well over the years.
Allison Robertson, who is originally from North Hollywood, California, was up in a family that had previously been creating music for big feature pictures, which motivated her to pick up a guitar at an early age.
By 2006, she had persuaded her sister Emily to join her in forming a band named Elle Rae, a combination of both of their middle names. She’s been in several bands, but her favorite is the Chelsea Girls. We hope her sister isn’t offended!
When we think about the most renowned or “greatest” guitarists, our minds tend to go to the male guitarists who have dominated pop culture throughout the years. Well, we think it’s past time for the females to take center stage and receive the recognition they’ve been denied for far too long. So turn on your favorite album and join us as we explore the finest female guitarists.