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J.D. Considine

J.D. Considine is a writer and musician who has written for a number of musical instrument magazines, including Musician, Guitar World, Bass Player, and Guitar for the Practicing Musician. In 2006, he reviewed a Daisy Rock Stardust bass for Bass Guitar magazine.

"Do Guitars Have Gender? Daisy Rock and the Evolution of the 'Girl Guitar'"
Through much of the rock era, when a woman appeared in an electric guitar ad, she was usually bikini-clad eye candy. Meanwhile, music stores were mostly male domains, with sales staff that treated women interested in electric guitar condescendingly before suggesting that maybe they consider an acoustic, or perhaps bass.

When Tish Ciravolo founded Daisy Rock Girl Guitars, in 2000, she hoped for a day when her daughter, Nicole, “could walk into a music store and feel like she was welcome to be part of this community, this ‘club,’ this culture….”

Daisy Rock guitars are unabashedly “girly.” Where the B.C. Rich Skull Guitar line offers instruments in the shape of death’s heads and battle axes, Daisy Rock sells guitars shaped like hearts, butterflies and ladybugs.

But Daisy Rock doesn’t see femininity simply as fashion. Recognizing that women are not built like men, the company makes guitars that are lighter than most Fenders or Gibsons, offering thinner necks and short-scale fingerboards so that women and girls with smaller hands don’t have to struggle to play power chords.

Still, does that really make a Daisy Rock axe a “girl guitar”? If so, why would a short-scale Telecaster be a boy guitar? Is Daisy Rock reacting against gender role expectations, or the specifics of instrument design? And what of Steve Waksman’s notion, in Instruments of Desire, of the electric guitar as “technophallus”? Does its thrusting neck signify the same thing when wielded by a woman?

The “gendering” of instruments has a long history, stretching from the question of who may touch a drum to the issue of who gets to play lead guitar. The reportage in this paper will use that to examine the ways rock culture used instrument choice to silo women, and how successfully things like “girl guitars” work against that.