5 Female Electric Guitarists Who Have Made a Big Impact in Country Music

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Country music has always been known for its unique sound and style, distinguished by the twang of a steel guitar and the powerful lyrics that tell a story. However, one instrument that often goes unnoticed in this genre is the electric guitar. Over the years, there have been many musicians who have incorporated this instrument into their country music, and some of the most influential players have been women. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at five female electric guitarists who have made a significant impact on the country music scene. From Maybelle Carter to Maren Morris, these women have pushed boundaries, broken barriers, and left a lasting mark on country music history.

Why Electric Guitar is Important in Country Music

The electric guitar is a vital instrument in country music, providing a distinct and powerful sound that helps to define the genre. Its use in country music has evolved over time, from its earliest beginnings when it was primarily used as a rhythm instrument to its current role as a lead instrument in many country songs.

The roots of electric guitar in country music can be traced back to the 1930s and 1940s, when western swing bands like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys started incorporating amplified guitars into their sound. As the electric guitar continued to gain popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, it became a staple of country music, with artists like Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy leading the way.

Today, the electric guitar is used in a wide range of country music styles, from traditional country to modern country-pop. Its versatility allows it to be used in a variety of ways, from providing a subtle background to a more aggressive and powerful lead sound.

One of the reasons why the electric guitar is so important in country music is its ability to evoke a range of emotions and moods. From the twangy riffs of classic country songs to the soaring solos of modern country rock, the electric guitar can convey joy, sadness, longing, and a host of other feelings.

In addition to its emotional power, the electric guitar has also played an important role in shaping the sound of country music. The use of pedal effects, such as distortion, reverb, and delay, has allowed electric guitarists to create unique sounds and experiment with different styles and genres. The electric guitar has also been used to help push country music in new directions, from the fusion of rock and roll with country in the 1970s to the incorporation of pop and hip hop influences in modern country music.

The electric guitar is a vital component of country music, providing a distinct sound and helping to shape the genre over the years. Its ability to convey a range of emotions and styles, combined with its versatility and ever-evolving use of effects, makes it an essential instrument in any country music performance. To learn more about the impact of electric guitar in country music, check out this article on the evolution of country music and electric guitar.

Maybelle Carter

Maybelle Carter
The electric guitar has been a staple of country music since the 1930s when it was first introduced into the genre by Maybelle Carter. As a member of the Carter Family band, Maybelle revolutionized the way the guitar was played in country music, developing a style that came to be known as the “Carter Scratch.” Her innovative approach to the instrument has influenced generations of electric guitarists in country music and beyond. Today, we delve into Maybelle’s legacy, her impact on the genre, and how her style continues to be studied and emulated by guitarists to this day. To learn more about how electric guitar has been used in the country music genre over the years, check out our article on unique electric guitar styles in country music.

Her Legacy and Innovative Style

Maybelle Carter, often referred to as the “Mother of Country Music,” had a significant impact on the music industry with her innovative style and unique approach to playing the electric guitar. She is best known for her signature playing style where she used her thumb to play melody line, while her index finger played the rhythm. This technique, known as the “Carter Scratch,” has become a staple of country music guitar playing.

Her Legacy: Maybelle Carter’s legacy extends far beyond her own music career. She was a founding member of The Carter Family, a group that is regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of country music. Together with her cousin Sara and her brother-in-law A.P., they recorded hundreds of songs that would go on to be classics in the country music canon.

Innovative Style: Maybelle Carter’s innovative style of playing the electric guitar has had a lasting impact on the instrument in country music. By combining a fingerpicking style with a flat pick, she created a sound that had not been heard before. Her approach to playing the electric guitar was not just innovative, it was also incredibly influential, inspiring generations of guitarists who followed in her footsteps.

Maybelle Carter’s legacy and innovative style have paved the way for many female electric guitarists in country music today. She is a true pioneer and icon of the genre, inspiring countless others to pursue their dreams of playing electric guitar in country music.

Read more about electric guitar in country music

Influence on Country Music and Electric Guitarists

Maybelle Carter’s pioneering electric guitar technique influenced not only country music but also other genres. Her signature style of picking melody and rhythm simultaneously, known as the “Carter scratch,” became a staple in country music guitar playing. Her innovative use of the thumb pick also contributed to the development of a more complex and nuanced sound.

Maybelle’s technique was widely adopted by other country musicians, including the likes of Chet Atkins and Elvis Presley. In fact, many guitarists consider Maybelle Carter to be the “mother” of modern country guitar playing. Her influence can be heard in countless recordings, and her style has become a hallmark of the country genre.

Maybelle’s influence on electric guitarists extends far beyond country music. Her contributions to the development of the instrument as a solo instrument in a band context is hard to overstate. She helped pave the way for the integration of the electric guitar into other genres such as rock and roll.

Maybelle Carter’s impact on the electric guitar and country music was so significant that she was among the first inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Today, country guitarists continue to draw inspiration from her style and technique. Her legacy lives on through the work of those she inspired.

Maybelle Carter’s influence on country music and electric guitar playing is immeasurable. Her technique revolutionized the way the instrument was played and paved the way for future generations of guitarists to make their mark.

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Barbara Mandrell

Barbara Mandrell
When it comes to trailblazing female electric guitarists in country music, Barbara Mandrell is a name that cannot be ignored. A true multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, Mandrell’s innovative techniques and musical legacy have left an indelible mark on the country music scene. Born to a musical family, Mandrell began playing the accordion at just five years old before moving on to the steel guitar and eventually the electric guitar. Her prowess as an instrumentalist helped to break down gender barriers in the male-dominated country music industry. Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance, talent, and passion.

Trailblazer and Instrumentalist Extraordinaire

Barbara Mandrell is a name that has become synonymous with country music. Her exceptional musical talent, captivating stage presence, and charming personality have made her an icon in the industry. As a trailblazer and instrument extraordinaire, Mandrell has left an indelible mark on the country music scene.

Her mastery of the electric guitar is something that has set her apart from the rest. With a flamboyant style and technical excellence, she was able to express herself through the instrument in a way that was truly unique. She was one of the few female guitarists in the male-dominated country music industry at the time and she inspired many young girls to pick up the guitar and follow their dreams.

Mandrell’s musical style was groundbreaking at the time, blending traditional country music with elements of rock and roll. This was a time when traditional country music was being challenged by the influence of rock and roll, and Mandrell was at the forefront of this change. Her innovative style paved the way for the integration of the electric guitar in country music, and she opened up new avenues of self-expression for musicians in the genre.

Throughout her career, Mandrell continued to evolve her musical style. She experimented with different electric guitar styles, blending in elements from other genres like pop and funk. She also explored the use of various pedal effects, which became a hallmark of her sound. Her openness to new styles and changes helped her remain relevant and progressive in an industry that can be notoriously resistant to change.

Aside from her musical talent, Barbara Mandrell was also an accomplished songwriter and vocalist. Her songs had a certain emotional depth that connected with people across generations. Her ability to tell stories through her music helped create a sense of community among her listeners.

Barbara Mandrell’s contribution to country music cannot be overstated. As a trailblazer and instrumental extraordinaire, she helped shape the sound of country music for generations to come. Her innovative style, willingness to experiment, and ground-breaking work with the electric guitar make her one of the most important figures in the history of country music.

Innovative Techniques and Legacy

Barbara Mandrell, a country music pioneer, made significant contributions to the history of the electric guitar. She experimented with various techniques and changed the way people approached playing the instrument. She was known for her flashy lead guitar playing, often incorporating double stops and wild bends into her solos. Mandrell also popularized the use of the pedal steel guitar, which became a staple in country music.

One of Mandrell’s most innovative techniques was using the electric guitar to play both lead and rhythm parts at the same time. This technique opened up new possibilities for guitarists and added a unique layer of complexity to their performances. She was also one of the first to experiment with the use of effects pedals, incorporating distortion and reverb into her playing to create a more dynamic sound.

Mandrell’s legacy lives on today, as many modern country guitarists continue to draw inspiration from her style. Her contributions to electric guitar techniques, particularly in the realm of country music, cannot be overstated. She paved the way for future generations of female guitarists in the industry and continues to inspire musicians worldwide.

Barbara Mandrell’s innovative techniques and contributions to the electric guitar have left a lasting legacy in the history of country music. To learn more about the electric guitar and its impact on country music, check out some of our other articles such as “Rock and Roll: The Electric Guitar in Country Music” or “Electric Country Guitar: Styles and Changes.” Additionally, take a look at our article on the “Best Pedals for Country Music” and the “Top 10 Famous Electric Guitar Players in Country Music” for more information.

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt
When it comes to iconic female guitarists, no discussion is complete without mentioning one of America’s foremost blues and roots rock performers Bonnie Raitt. Hailed as a pioneer and unparalleled guitar virtuoso, her soulful sound and impassioned playing style have been captivating audiences worldwide for over four decades. But what sets her apart from other female guitarists in country music is not just her immense talent, but her outstanding contributions to the women’s rights movement and advocacy for environmental and social justice issues. Let’s dive into the unique and profound influence Bonnie Raitt has had on music and beyond.

A Bluesy and Soulful Country Sound

Bonnie Raitt is a versatile musician who is equally adept at blending country, blues, and rock into her signature sound. Her bluesy and soulful style has made her one of the most influential female electric guitarists in country music history. Raitt’s ability to infuse different genres into her music has attracted a wide audience and earned her several accolades throughout her career.

One of Raitt’s distinguishing qualities is her slide guitar technique, which brings a unique element to her sound. She learned the technique from the legendary blues musician, Mississippi Fred McDowell. Raitt often uses an open tuning on her guitar to create a fuller sound that blends seamlessly with her soulful voice. Her lyrics are poignant and tell stories that resonate with her audience while showcasing her guitar skills.

Raitt has won multiple Grammy Awards over the years, and her music continues to have a significant impact on country and other genres. Her blues-inspired sound has influenced many female electric guitarists who followed in her footsteps, and her songs like “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Love Letter” have become classic staples in the country music landscape.

Raitt has been a fervent advocate for social and political causes, and uses her platform to raise awareness and promote change. She’s been involved in issues such as environmentalism, feminism, and Native American rights. Her activism has inspired many people over the years, and her message of using music to make a difference is felt in her soulful music.

Bonnie Raitt’s contribution to country music has been paramount. Her bluesy and soulful sound infuses unique flavor into the genre and has inspired a new wave of female electric guitarists. Her music has touched millions of souls, and her legacy as a musician and activist will continue to impact the landscape of country music for generations to come.

Some of Raitt’s most popular songs include:

  • I Can’t Make You Love Me
  • Something to Talk About
  • Thing Called Love

Impact on Women in Music and Country Music Scene

Barbara Mandrell is not only a trailblazer in country music, but also an influential figure for women in music. Mandrell’s impact on the country music scene cannot be overstated. She was the first artist to win “Entertainer of the Year” twice and was one of the first female country artists to take on the role of multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire.

Mandrell’s musical style and commanding presence on stage inspired many female artists in the music industry. She was a role model for young musicians who looked up to her as an example of what they could achieve. Through her success, she demonstrated to young women everywhere that it was possible to break into the male-dominated country music industry.

Her impact on women in country music lives on to this day. Many female artists cite Mandrell as their inspiration, and her influence can be heard in their music. She paved the way for female artists to take risks and push the limits of what was expected of them. Mandrell showed that women could be both talented musicians and charismatic performers, and proved that gender should never be a barrier to success in the music industry.

Here is a table showcasing some of Barbara Mandrell’s accomplishments and awards:

Accomplishments Awards
First female artist to win “Entertainer of the Year” twice Country Music Association Awards (1979, 1981)
Multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, saxophone, and accordion) Academy of Country Music Awards (1978 – 1980)
Hosted her own television shows, “Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters” and “Barbara Mandrell’s Christmas Special” Emmy Awards (1981, 1983)
Sold over 25 million records worldwide

Barbara Mandrell broke barriers and inspired generations of female musicians. She showed that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. Her legacy lives on in the country music scene, where female artists continue to draw inspiration from her music and her pioneering spirit.

Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein
When one thinks of groundbreaking rock bands in the ’90s, Sleater-Kinney is often at the top of the list. What many might not know is that one of the group’s members, Carrie Brownstein, has gone on to make a big impact in the country music world. It might seem like an unlikely transition, but Brownstein’s passion for music and her talent on the electric guitar have made her a force to be reckoned with. Let’s dive into her fascinating journey.

From Sleater-Kinney to Nashville

Carrie Brownstein, known as a multi-talented musician, writer, actress, and comedian, is perhaps one of the most versatile and boundary-pushing female electric guitarists to emerge from the punk scene. Brownstein first gained popularity as part of the feminist punk rock band, Sleater-Kinney, known for their loud, gritty, and politically charged sound.

However, her move to Nashville in pursuit of a career in country music marked a turning point in her musical career. Brownstein’s ability to adapt and evolve her sound is a testament to her creativity and versatility as a musician.

In Sleater-Kinney , Brownstein’s style was raw and unapologetic. She played a number of different guitars over the years, sometimes even playing with two necks at once. Her approach to the electric guitar was unconventional, often experimentally exploring the tonal possibilities of the instrument.

But in Nashville , Brownstein immersed herself into the traditional country music scene, taking inspiration from some of the most revered legends in the genre. She refined her electric guitar playing to emulate the string-bending and sliding techniques of country music pioneers like Chet Atkins and Merle Haggard.

This transition wasn’t without challenge. Brownstein had to overcome existing stereotypes and preconceived notions about what women in country music were supposed to look and sound like. However, her perseverance paid off. Brownstein’s mastery of the electric guitar and her uncanny ability to fuse different genres paved the way for other female musicians to follow in her footsteps.

In Sleater-Kinney In Nashville
Raw and unapologetic Traditional country music scene
Exploratory approach to electric guitar Emulates string-bending and sliding techniques of Chet Atkins and Merle Haggard
Challenged existing stereotypes Refined electric guitar playing

Brownstein’s evolution from a punk rock musician to a successful country artist is a testament to her musical prowess and her relentless dedication to her craft. Her contributions to both the punk and country music genres have undoubtedly had a lasting impact on the music industry as a whole.

Pushing Boundaries and Breaking Stereotypes

Carrie Brownstein is a multi-talented musician, actress, writer, and director, who is known for pushing boundaries and breaking stereotypes in the music industry. As a member of the punk rock band Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein made her mark as a powerful electric guitarist with a unique, raw sound.

Here are a few key ways in which Brownstein has pushed boundaries:

  • Challenging Gender Norms: Brownstein has been open about her battle with gender identity and has even stated that she struggled to find her place among male-dominated guitar bands. By standing up for herself and continuing to play, she has become an icon for women in the music industry, proving that women can be just as powerful on the electric guitar as men.
  • Blurring Genre Lines: Brownstein has always been a boundary-pusher when it comes to genre, both with Sleater-Kinney and with her later ventures in television and film. She has shown that a musician can be successful without adhering to a particular genre, and that guitarists can influence and contribute to various genres in their own unique way.
  • Advocating for Queer and Marginalized Communities: Brownstein has used her public platform to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups. She has spoken out against hate and discrimination, using her music and other creative ventures to promote inclusivity and acceptance.

Brownstein’s impact on country music may initially seem limited given her roots in punk rock, but her willingness to challenge norms and push boundaries has undoubtedly paved the way for women and electric guitarists in all genres, including country.

Maren Morris

When it comes to modern country music, Maren Morris is a name that simply cannot be ignored. This fierce and talented artist has made waves in the industry ever since her debut album “Hero” was released in 2016, earning her numerous awards and accolades. What’s particularly impressive about Morris is her powerful voice and her ability to incorporate electric guitar into her music in fresh and exciting ways, elevating the genre to new heights. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at Morris’s approach to country music and electric guitar, as well as her impact on the industry as a whole.

Her Approach to Country Music and Electric Guitar

Maren Morris is a dynamic singer and songwriter who has paved her way in the country music scene with her unique approach to both country music and electric guitar. Morris’ style reflects her love for various genres, ranging from pop and rock to soul and R&B – making her a standout in the country music community.

When it comes to electric guitar, Morris skillfully incorporates her own brand of guitar riffs that are both catchy and complex. Morris’ recently released album “Girl” features a range of electric guitar-heavy tracks, including the hit song “The Bones”. In this song, Morris blends elements of country and rock, creating a sound that is both familiar and fresh.

In addition to her impressive guitar skills, Morris is also known for her meaningful and relatable lyrics. As a songwriter, Morris draws from her own personal experiences, sharing her journey through life’s ups and downs with her fans.

Morris’ overall approach to country music and electric guitar is one that brings together a range of influences and styles, resulting in a sound that is unique and captivating. Her willingness to push boundaries and explore new sounds has helped shape the current country music landscape, making her a trailblazer in the genre.

Maren Morris’ Approach to Country Music and Electric Guitar:

  • Blends elements of pop, rock, soul, and R&B into her country sound
  • Incorporates unique and complex guitar riffs in her music
  • Writes meaningful and relatable lyrics
  • Explores a range of influences and styles to create a unique sound
  • Pushes boundaries and helps shape the current country music landscape

Maren Morris’ approach to country music and electric guitar has made a significant impact on the genre. Her willingness to blend different styles and experiment with new sounds has inspired other artists to do the same, resulting in a more diverse and dynamic country music scene. Morris is a testament to the fact that there is no one “right way” to approach music, and that true innovation often comes from pushing boundaries and exploring new territory.

Breaking Barriers and Setting Trends

Maren Morris is not just a talented singer-songwriter, but also a skilled electric guitarist who has made a significant impact on the genre of country music. She has broken barriers and set trends with her unique style and approach to playing the electric guitar.

Mixing Genres
One of the ways that Maren Morris has broken through barriers is by mixing genres. She has combined elements of traditional country, pop, and even hip hop to create a sound that is fresh and innovative. Her electric guitar playing is no exception to this rule, and she has incorporated a variety of techniques and sounds into her playing.

Pushing Boundaries with Her Playing
Maren Morris has pushed boundaries with her playing by experimenting with different sounds and techniques. She is not afraid to try new things and take risks, which has made her stand out as an electric guitarist in the country music scene.

Expanding the Role of Women in Country Music
Maren Morris has also been instrumental in expanding the role of women in country music. She has broken through the male-dominated industry and paved the way for other female artists to do the same. Her success has opened doors for other women to become electric guitarists and take on other instrumental roles in country music.

Inspiring the Next Generation
Maren Morris has set trends by inspiring the next generation of country music fans and artists. Young girls have been inspired by her playing and her success, and many are picking up electric guitars and developing their own unique styles. She has also inspired other musicians to experiment with their own sound and push boundaries in the genre.

Maren Morris is a remarkable talent who has made a big impact on the country music scene. She has broken through barriers and set trends with her unique style and approach to playing the electric guitar, and she continues to inspire future generations of musicians with her passion and dedication to the craft.


As we come to the end of our journey through the world of female electric guitarists in country music, it’s impossible not to feel awed and inspired by the incredible talent, passion, and innovation displayed by these groundbreaking musicians. From Maybelle Carter’s trailblazing techniques to Maren Morris’ modern approach, each of these women has left an indelible mark on the genre and helped to reshape our perception of what country music can be. Through their hard work, dedication, and fearless creativity, they have shown us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and that the power of music knows no boundaries. So let’s take a moment to celebrate these amazing artists and reflect on the profound impact they have had on the world of country music and beyond.

Why These Female Electric Guitarists Matter in Country Music Today

Country music has evolved over the decades, and so has the role of electric guitar in this genre. Female electric guitarists have struggled to achieve recognition in the male-dominated music industry, but their contributions have been significant. From Maybelle Carter’s pioneering use of the thumb-picking technique, to Maren Morris’s modern approach to country music, these women have made a lasting impact on the genre.

These female electric guitarists have contributed to a more diverse and inclusive country music scene, bringing their unique creative expressions and perspectives to the forefront. Their music showcases innovation, pushing boundaries, and breaking stereotypes, and this is why they matter in country music today.

Here’s a table that highlights some of the specific reasons why each of these five female electric guitarists matter in country music:

Electric Guitarist Reason for Importance
Maybelle Carter Her thumb-picking technique introduced a new style of guitar playing to country music and served as an inspiration to generations of guitarists to come.
Barbara Mandrell As a trailblazer and instrumentalist extraordinaire, Barbara Mandrell broke barriers for female artists in country music and paved the way for future generations of women guitarists.
Bonnie Raitt Bonnie Raitt’s bluesy and soulful country sound influenced not only country music but also other genres. She has also played a key role in empowering and supporting women in music.
Carrie Brownstein As an accomplished musician and actress, Carrie Brownstein’s unconventional approach to country music and guitar playing breaks down gender and genre stereotypes.
Maren Morris Her modern approach to country music, blending traditional and contemporary styles, has set new trends in the genre. She has also been a powerful voice for women in music.

These female electric guitarists have made a big impact in country music by bringing their distinct styles and pushing boundaries. They serve as role models for future generations of musicians and help to create a more inclusive and dynamic music scene. Their contributions have helped to shape country music into the exciting and diverse genre it is today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who were the first female electric guitarists in country music?

The first female electric guitarists in country music were pioneers like Maybelle Carter and Barbara Mandrell, who helped pave the way for future female musicians.

Why hasn’t there been more recognition for female electric guitarists in country music?

There is often a lack of recognition for female musicians in any genre, but particularly in country music. However, with the rise of artists like Maren Morris and Carrie Brownstein, this is beginning to change.

What was Maybelle Carter’s unique style of playing?

Maybelle Carter was known for her innovative “Carter Scratch” style of playing, which involved using her thumb to play the melody while her fingers played the rhythm. This unique style helped to give the Carter Family their distinct sound.

What influence did Barbara Mandrell have on country music?

Barbara Mandrell was a trailblazer for women in country music. Not only did she become one of the most successful female performers of her time, she also played multiple instruments, including the electric guitar, and paved the way for other women to do the same.

How did Bonnie Raitt change the country music scene?

Bonnie Raitt’s bluesy and soulful sound brought a different approach to country music, making it more accessible to a wider audience. She also helped to break down barriers for women in the music industry and inspired countless female musicians to pick up an electric guitar and start playing.

What is Carrie Brownstein’s background in music?

Carrie Brownstein is best known for her role in the indie rock band, Sleater-Kinney. However, she has also become an accomplished musician in the country genre, displaying her versatility as a guitarist and songwriter.

What is the significance of Maren Morris in country music?

Maren Morris has been instrumental in breaking down stereotypes in country music. Not only does she have a unique sound and style, she also plays the electric guitar and writes her own songs, proving that women can have a significant impact in the genre.

How do these female electric guitarists influence young women in music?

These female electric guitarists serve as role models for young women who dream of becoming musicians. By seeing successful women who play the electric guitar in a traditionally male-dominated genre like country music, young women are encouraged to pursue their passions and break down barriers.

What can we learn from the legacy of Maybelle Carter?

Maybelle Carter’s legacy teaches us that innovation and creativity are key in any genre of music. By taking risks and developing a unique style, Maybelle Carter was able to leave a lasting impact on country music that continues to inspire musicians today.

Why is it important to celebrate women in music?

Celebrating the achievements of women in music is an important step towards gender equality in the industry. By highlighting the contributions of female musicians, we can break down barriers and inspire future generations to pursue their dreams in music, regardless of gender.


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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