18 Best Female Guitarists Of All Time – Slaying The Strings Like Queens

Guitar shredding, wailing solos, and face-melting riffs aren’t the sole domain of male rockers. Female guitarists have been absolutely tearing it up for decades. Whether it’s on the acoustic scene, jazz, blues, or face-melting heavy metal, these women have made their mark in a largely male-dominated world.

Let’s dive into this list of legends, breaking down some myths and stereotypes, and giving these amazing women the spotlight they deserve.

1. Joan Jett

Known for: “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and being the leader of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

Why she’s awesome: Before she formed The Blackhearts, Joan was a founding member of The Runaways in the 1970s. With a raw sound, punk attitude, and undeniable stage presence, Jett has influenced countless musicians over the years. And let’s not forget her iconic riffs. Rock on, Joan!

2. Nancy Wilson

Known for: Being one-half of the rock duo, Heart.

Why she’s awesome: Have you heard the acoustic intro to “Crazy On You”? That’s Nancy, proving that female guitarists can produce some of the most iconic intros in rock history. Blending rock and folk, she’s crafted a unique style that’s instantly recognizable.

3. Bonnie Raitt

Known for: Her bluesy sound and slide guitar skills.

Why she’s awesome: Bonnie effortlessly blends pop, rock, and blues into her own signature sound. With 10 Grammy Awards under her belt, she’s proof that talent and hard work really pay off.

4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Known for: Essentially pioneering rock & roll.

Why she’s awesome: An unsung hero, Sister Rosetta was blending gospel with electric guitar way before Elvis came onto the scene. Dubbed the “Original Soul Sister,” she’s been cited as a major influence by legends like Chuck Berry.

5. Orianthi

Known for: Playing lead guitar for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour.

Why she’s awesome: Hailing from Australia, this virtuoso caught the attention of greats like Carlos Santana and Steve Vai. With her skills, she could’ve just shredded non-stop, but Orianthi combines her technical prowess with pop sensibilities, making her stand out.

6. Jennifer Batten

Known for: Touring with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck.

Why she’s awesome: Jennifer is not just a session guitarist; she’s a force of nature. Playing alongside MJ on three world tours, she’s been on some of the world’s biggest stages and has never missed a note.

7. Emily Remler

Known for: Being a jazz mastermind.

Why she’s awesome: In a world dominated by men, Emily carved out a name for herself in the jazz scene of the 80s. Her intricate playing and unique interpretations of standards made her a standout.

8. Yvette Young

Known for: Her band Covet and a unique finger-tapping style.

Why she’s awesome: Bringing a mix of post-rock, math rock, and even a touch of classical, Yvette’s compositions are nothing short of mesmerizing. Her guitar work is often intricate and melodic, making listeners wonder if she has a few extra fingers.

9. Kaki King

Known for: Percussive fingerstyle technique and unique tunings.

Why she’s awesome: Kaki goes beyond just playing the guitar; she makes it sing, talk, and sometimes even scream. With her experimental style, she’s expanded what’s possible on the guitar.

10. Ana Popovic

Known for: Blues, jazz, and soul-infused guitar skills.

Why she’s awesome: Born in Serbia and now rocking stages worldwide, Ana’s blend of blues, soul, and rock is enthralling. Her stage presence and guitar skills have earned her spots alongside legends like B.B. King.

11. Lita Ford

Known for: Being a former member of The Runaways and her solo hits like “Kiss Me Deadly.”

Why she’s awesome: Lita has been rocking since the ’70s, and her influence can’t be understated. She took the hard rock scene by storm with her killer solos and powerful stage presence, inspiring countless future female guitarists.

12. Marnie Stern

Known for: Her finger-tapping techniques and experimental rock sound.

Why she’s awesome: Marnie is an avant-garde rocker. Her distinctive style of playing, combined with her eclectic songwriting, has made her a standout in the indie and experimental rock scenes.

13. Elizabeth Cotten

Known for: The classic song “Freight Train.”

Why she’s awesome: A self-taught left-handed guitarist, Cotten developed a unique picking style and had a profound influence on American folk music. Her compositions have been covered by various artists and remain timeless.

14. Poison Ivy (Kristy Marlana Wallace)

Known for: Being the lead guitarist for The Cramps.

Why she’s awesome: Poison Ivy’s psychobilly punk riffs gave The Cramps their signature sound. Her influence on punk rock and her fierce stage presence makes her one of the defining female guitarists of her time.

15. Memphis Minnie (Lizzie Douglas)

Known for: Her blues classics like “When the Levee Breaks.”

Why she’s awesome: With a career spanning over four decades, Memphis Minnie was a trailblazer for female blues guitarists. Her songs have been covered by many, including the mighty Led Zeppelin.

16. Courtney Barnett

Known for: Her witty songwriting and indie rock guitar sound.

Why she’s awesome: Hailing from Australia, Courtney combines clever lyrics with a laid-back guitar style. She brings a fresh voice to the indie rock scene, blending elements of folk and grunge.

17. Charo

Known for: Flamenco guitar virtuosity and her signature phrase “Cuchi-Cuchi.”

Why she’s awesome: While many remember Charo for her comedic appearances on TV, she’s a classically trained guitarist. Under the tutelage of greats like Andrés Segovia, she’s mastered the art of flamenco guitar.

18. Gabriela Quintero

Known for: Being half of the guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Why she’s awesome: Gabriela’s rapid-fire strumming technique is nothing short of mesmerizing. Together with Rodrigo, they blend metal, jazz, and flamenco into a globally recognized sound.

Final Thoughts:

The world of guitar playing is vast, with many incredibly talented female guitarists across genres and generations. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does spotlight some of the women who’ve made a significant mark. They serve as inspirations to countless young guitarists out there who are picking up their axes, ready to rock the world.

These women have not just broken the mold; they’ve reshaped it. They’ve shown the world that talent doesn’t discriminate based on gender. It’s all about passion, practice, and the drive to push boundaries.

So, the next time you think of guitar gods, remember these goddesses who’ve made strings sing like no other!