Female Electric Guitarists in Country Music

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Country music has long been known for its strong storytelling, rich melodies, and twangy guitars. However, for many years, the genre has been predominantly male-dominated, with male artists and guitarists at the forefront. In recent years, though, the tide has shifted, and female electric guitarists are making their mark on country music in a big way. From pioneers like Rosie Flores, Jody Payne, and Bobbie Cryner to contemporary artists like Maren Morris, Jennifer Nettles, and Kacey Musgraves, female electric guitarists are carving out their own space in the genre and making significant contributions along the way. In this article, we’ll explore the impact of female electric guitarists on country music, their techniques and equipment, and what this means for the genre moving forward.

The Pioneers

The Pioneers
Imagine a time in country music when electric guitars were largely dominated by men. However, a few brave and talented women dared to step on the stage, plug in, and prove that gender shouldn’t be a barrier to playing the guitar. These pioneers paved the way for future generations of female electric guitarists to make their mark on the industry. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some of the incredible women who broke down those barriers and transformed the world of country music forever. If you want to learn more about the evolution of female guitarists in country music, check out our detailed article on the subject.

Rosie Flores

Rosie Flores is often credited as one of the pioneers of female electric guitarists in country music. Born in San Antonio, Texas, Flores began playing guitar at a young age and quickly gained attention for her unique blend of rockabilly, country, and blues music. Her style is known for blending old-school country with a hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll beat, making her one of the most innovative and influential artists of her time.

In the 1980s, Flores moved to Los Angeles, where she became a key player in the city’s burgeoning roots music scene. She released her first album, “Rosie Flores,” in 1987, which was followed by a string of critically acclaimed records over the next few years. One of her most popular songs, “Working Girl’s Guitar,” is a tribute to all the female guitarists who have struggled in a male-dominated industry.

Flores has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Wanda Jackson and Ray Campi. She’s also toured with punk rock icons X and The Cramps, further showcasing her versatility and willingness to push boundaries. Flores continues to record and perform today, inspiring a new generation of female guitarists to follow in her footsteps.

If you want to read about other female electric guitarists in country music history, check out our Top 10 Female Electric Guitarists in Country Music History article. You might also be interested in our article on 10 Female Country Guitarists to Watch Out for or our piece on Breaking Down Barriers: Women and Electric Guitar in Country Music.

Jody Payne

Jody Payne was a highly influential female electric guitarist in country music. She began her career playing acoustic guitar and singing backup vocals for her husband, Willie Nelson. But in the 1970s, she began playing electric guitar and quickly gained recognition for her unique style.

One of the techniques that Payne was known for was her use of fingerstyle playing. Instead of using a pick, she used her fingers to pluck the strings, creating a softer and more nuanced sound. This technique allowed her to create intricate melodies and harmonies that set her apart from other guitarists of the time.

Payne was also known for her use of vintage equipment. She favored Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul guitars, which gave her a classic sound that was reminiscent of early country music. She also used a variety of effects pedals to create her signature sound, including distortion, reverb, and delay.

In addition to her technical skills and gear choices, Payne’s impact on country music was also due to her perseverance in the face of adversity. As a woman playing guitar in a male-dominated industry, she faced discrimination and skepticism from some of her peers. But she continued to play and innovate, paving the way for future generations of female guitarists.

Jody Payne was a pioneer in the world of female electric guitarists in country music. Her fingerstyle playing, vintage equipment, and perseverance in the face of discrimination all contributed to her unique and lasting impact on the genre.

Technique Fingerstyle playing
Equipment Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, distortion, reverb, delay pedals
Impact Pioneer in female electric guitarists, unique style, perseverance in the face of discrimination

Bobbie Cryner

One of the influential female electric guitarists in country music history is Bobbie Cryner. Cryner was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in a family of musicians. She began playing the guitar at an early age and eventually started writing and recording her own songs. Cryner’s style of playing was characterized by her use of intricate fingerpicking patterns and her ability to incorporate various genres into her music, such as rock and blues.

Throughout her career, Bobbie Cryner worked with some of the biggest names in country music, including George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Rodney Crowell. She also released several successful albums, including her debut, “Girl of Your Dreams,” which featured some of her most well-known songs, such as “You’d Think He’d Know Me Better” and “I Just Can’t Stand to Be Unhappy.”

Cryner’s impact on country music goes beyond her impressive guitar skills and songwriting abilities. She was one of the first female artists to showcase a unique, alternative sound that broke away from traditional country music. Her music explored themes of heartbreak, love, and personal introspection, which resonated with audiences across various demographics.

In addition to her work as a musician, Cryner was also a trailblazer for women in the industry. She worked tirelessly to promote gender equality in music and helped pave the way for future female artists. Cryner’s contributions to the industry have earned her a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Table: Bobbie Cryner’s Discography

Album Title Release Year Top Hits
Girl of Your Dreams 1993 “You’d Think He’d Know Me Better,” “I Just Can’t Stand to Be Unhappy”
Bobby Cryner 1995 “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Daddy Laid the Blues on Me”
It’s Not About the Whiskey 1998 “It’s Not About the Whiskey,” “Too Many Tears Too Late”
All Night Long 2004 “All Night Long”

Bobbie Cryner’s legacy as a female electric guitarist and country music icon continues to inspire artists today. Her unique sound and innovative approach to music continue to make an impact on the industry, proving that women have a vital place in country music history.

The Contemporary Artists

The Contemporary Artists
As country music continues to evolve, a new wave of female electric guitarists is making its mark in the industry. From Maren Morris‘ powerful anthems to Jennifer Nettles‘ soulful ballads and Kacey Musgraves‘ dreamy melodies, these artists are proving that the electric guitar is not just a man’s instrument. In this section, we’ll explore how these contemporary artists are changing the game and what sets them apart from their predecessors.

Maren Morris

Maren Morris is one of the most successful female electric guitarists in the country music industry today. She has achieved massive success with hits like “My Church” and “GIRL,” both of which showcase her talents as both a songwriter and a guitarist.

One of Morris’s signature guitar techniques is chordal thumb picking, which she uses to create a unique sound that sets her apart from other guitarists in the industry. She also frequently employs a capo to change the key of her songs and to achieve the desired tonality.

Morris often switches between fingerstyle and pick playing, depending on the song and the sound that she is trying to achieve. She uses her guitar as a tool to communicate the emotions and messages behind her lyrics, creating a powerful and cohesive listening experience for her fans.

In addition to her skills as a guitarist, Morris also takes pride in her equipment. She has been known to play a Fender Telecaster and a Gretsch White Falcon, both of which are renowned for their versatility and tonal range. Morris’s attention to detail in her equipment choices helps to create a distinctive sound that is uniquely her own.

Maren Morris’s success as a female electric guitarist in country music has paved the way for future generations of women to break into a traditionally male-dominated industry. Her unique sound and masterful technique serve as an inspiration to musicians around the world, and we can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Signature techniques: Chordal thumb picking, capo usage, fingerstyle and pick playing
Equipment: Fender Telecaster, Gretsch White Falcon
Achievements: Multiple Grammy awards, number one hits on the country charts, sold-out tours
Influence: Paved the way for female electric guitarists in the country music industry, serves as an inspiration to musicians around the world

Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles is a force to be reckoned with in the world of country music. Born in Georgia, Nettles rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the duo Sugarland, before making a name for herself as a solo artist.

With her powerful voice and bold stage presence, Nettles has become known for pushing boundaries and challenging traditional gender roles in country music. She has spoken out about the lack of diversity and representation in the industry, and has used her influence to amplify underrepresented voices.

In addition to her advocacy work, Nettles is also an accomplished musician and songwriter. She has won numerous awards for her songwriting, and has collaborated with a wide range of artists across genres.

Full Name Jennifer Odessa Nettles
Birthdate September 12, 1974
Hometown Douglas, Georgia
Notable Achievements – Lead vocalist of the duo Sugarland
– Winner of multiple Grammy Awards
– Advocate for diversity and representation in country music
– Collaborated with Bon Jovi, Beyoncé, and more
Discography – “That Girl” (2014)
– “Playing with Fire” (2016)
– “Always Like New” (2021)

Nettles’ impact on country music extends far beyond her own career. She has inspired countless fans and aspiring musicians to pursue their dreams and speak out for what they believe in. With her talent, dedication, and fearless spirit, Jennifer Nettles is a true icon of country music.

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves is undoubtedly one of the most influential female electric guitarists in country music today. She has won numerous Grammy awards and resonated with fans worldwide with her unique blend of traditional country and contemporary pop music. Musgraves has broken down walls in the genre, challenging traditional conservative themes in her music while also showcasing her impressive guitar skills.

Here are some highlights of Musgraves’ impact on country music:

Impact Description
Diversity in Sound Musgraves has infused her traditional country sound with elements of psychedelic rock, pop, and disco, creating a unique blend that appeals to a wide range of listeners. She has opened up new possibilities for experimentation in the genre, inspiring other artists to take risks and explore new sounds.
Bridging the Gender Gap Musgraves has become an advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights, using her platform to speak out against discrimination and intolerance. Her empowerment anthems like “Follow Your Arrow” and “High Horse” encourage listeners to be true to themselves and challenge societal norms. As a female electric guitarist and songwriter, Musgraves is helping to bridge the gender gap in a male-dominated industry.
Inspiring Future Generations Musgraves has inspired countless young women to pursue careers in music and to break down barriers in their communities. Her success as a songwriter, performer, and electric guitarist has proven that anything is possible with hard work and determination. She is an inspiration to future generations of female musicians, and her impact will continue to be felt for years to come.

In addition to her impact on the genre, Musgraves’ guitar skills are not to be overlooked. She is known for her fingerpicking technique and uses a variety of unique chord progressions in her music. Musgraves also favors vintage instruments, including her trusty Fender Telecaster and Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar.

Kacey Musgraves is a force to be reckoned with in country music. Her unique sound, powerful lyrics, and impressive guitar skills have made her a trailblazer for female electric guitarists in the genre.

The Impact on Country Music

The Impact On Country Music
The influence of female electric guitarists on country music cannot be denied. Their unique sound and perspective have reshaped the genre and opened up new avenues of expression. But their impact goes beyond just changing the music itself. It reaches deeper, influencing the culture of this timeless genre and inspiring a new generation of musicians and fans. Let’s take a closer look at how these women have changed country music forever.

Diversity in Sound

Female electric guitarists have brought a sense of diversity and uniqueness in sound to country music. These artists have explored sounds beyond the typical twangy and traditional country guitar licks. They have taken the genre to newer heights with their experimental sounds.

One such artist is Maren Morris, who seamlessly blends country, pop, and R&B sounds. Her hit single “My Church” features an upbeat melody with pop-infused guitar riffs. Jennifer Nettles, known as the lead vocalist of Sugarland, is also recognized for her unique sound. Her performances feature complex guitar riffs ranging from heavy distortion to melodic notes. Kacey Musgraves, known for her whimsical and poetic lyrics, uses her guitar to create a dreamy and ethereal sound.

Artist Sound
Maren Morris Blends country, pop, and R&B
Jennifer Nettles Heavy distortion to melodic notes
Kacey Musgraves Dreamy and ethereal

Female electric guitarists have brought a fresh perspective to country music. They have proven that country music is not just for traditionalists but can be experiential and eclectic. Their diverse sound has made them standout from the typical male-dominated genre, and they continue to influence and inspire the next generation of female musicians.

Bridging the Gender Gap

The impact of female electric guitarists on country music is undeniable. Female artists like Rosie Flores, Jody Payne, Bobbie Cryner, Maren Morris, Jennifer Nettles, and Kacey Musgraves have made significant contributions to the genre. One of the most significant impacts is “Bridging the Gender Gap.”

Historically, country music has been a male-dominated genre where female artists have struggled to gain recognition and respect. Female electric guitarists are now changing this narrative and creating opportunities for themselves and other female musicians. These artists are breaking down barriers and opening doors for all women in country music.

In the past, female artists were often relegated to playing traditional instruments like the fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, which were considered more “feminine.” Electric guitar playing, on the other hand, was primarily viewed as a “male” pursuit. However, female electric guitarists have been proving this stereotype wrong and inspiring girls to follow in their footsteps.

Today, electric guitarists like Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves are stepping into the spotlight and demonstrating that women can rock just as hard as any male guitarist. They are showing all aspiring musicians, regardless of gender, that anyone can play the electric guitar if they work hard at it.

To illustrate the progress made in bridging the gender gap in country music, we can look at the following table:

Female Electric Guitarists Year Notable Achievements
Rosie Flores 1980s Became one of the first female electric guitarists in country music
Jody Payne 1970s-1990s Played lead guitar for Willie Nelson for over three decades
Bobbie Cryner 1990s Produced her own albums and wrote songs for other artists
Maren Morris 2010s-present Won multiple awards, including a Grammy, for her electric guitar playing and songwriting
Jennifer Nettles 2000s-present Played electric guitar in her band Sugarland and won multiple awards for her music
Kacey Musgraves 2010s-present Won multiple Grammy awards, including Best Country Album, for her electric guitar playing and songwriting

Through their achievements and talent, these female electric guitarists are paving the way for future generations of musicians. They are inspiring young women to pick up the electric guitar and follow their dreams, regardless of gender stereotypes. This gradual shift is occurring thanks to the hard work and undeniable talent of female electric guitarists. Ultimately, they are bridging the gender gap and proving that music is for all.

Inspiring Future Generations

The female electric guitarists of country music have left a significant impact on future generations. By breaking barriers and fighting for recognition in a male-dominated industry, these women have inspired a new wave of musicians to pick up the guitar and pursue their dreams.

Table: Female Electric Guitarists Who Inspired Future Generations

Artist Impact
Patty Griffin Her introspective songwriting and intricate guitar playing has influenced a generation of singer-songwriters.
Miranda Lambert Lambert’s high-energy performances and guitar skills have inspired young women to pursue music careers.
Carrie Brownstein As a guitarist for Sleater-Kinney and creator of the television show Portlandia, Brownstein has shown young girls that they can be rock stars too.
Brittany Howard The lead guitarist and vocalist of Alabama Shakes, Howard’s soulful playing and powerful voice has inspired a new generation of blues and rock musicians.

These women have become role models for aspiring musicians who may have once thought their gender could hold them back in the music industry. They have proven that gender doesn’t determine a person’s talent or ability to succeed.

The impact of female electric guitarists on country music has also inspired a new generation of fans. As the audience sees more diverse representation on stage, it opens up the genre to a wider audience, and exposes new fans to the power and beauty of country music.

As young girls see female electric guitarists breaking down barriers and succeeding in their chosen field, it empowers them to believe in their own abilities and pursue their passions. The impact of these pioneering women will continue to inspire future generations of musicians and fans.

Techniques and Equipment

Aspiring electric guitarists in country music often wonder about the techniques and equipment used by their favorite female guitarists. From fingerstyle to pick playing, different techniques can produce vastly different sounds. And let’s not forget about the importance of tone and gear selection, which can make or break a performance. In this section, we’ll dive into the world of electric guitar techniques and equipment and explore what makes these female country artists stand out from the crowd. So, grab your guitar and let’s get started!

Fingerstyle vs Pick Playing

Playing the electric guitar entails more than just strumming a pre-written chord progression. It requires the skill and mastery of various techniques such as fingerstyle and pick playing. Both styles of playing have their own unique benefits and drawbacks that can significantly impact the sound of the guitar.

Fingerstyle Playing:

  • Fingerstyle playing allows for more flexibility in playing and can create a wider range of sounds and textures.
  • It allows the guitarist to play multiple parts simultaneously, such as rhythm and melody, which can add depth to the overall sound.
  • However, it can be more difficult to execute intricate fingerstyle playing, as it requires nimble fingers and good coordination between hands.

Pick Playing:

  • Pick playing is generally simpler and easier to execute, requiring less technical skill than fingerstyle playing.
  • Picks provide a consistent sound and attack, making it easier to create a specific tone or sound.
  • However, pick playing can be limiting in terms of sound textures and may not provide the same level of versatility as fingerstyle playing.

Choosing between Fingerstyle and Pick Playing:
Ultimately, the choice between fingerstyle and pick playing depends on the sound and style a guitarist is aiming to achieve. Some guitarists may prefer the versatility and range of sounds that fingerstyle playing provides, while others may prefer the simplicity and consistency of pick playing.

Learning both styles can be beneficial, as it allows for greater flexibility and diversity in playing. Whether a guitarist chooses to play with their fingers or a pick, the tone and sound they produce can greatly affect the overall impact of their music.

The Importance of Tone

One of the key aspects of a great guitar performance in country music is having the right tone. The tone of the guitar refers to the overall sound quality produced by the instrument, and it can be influenced by a variety of factors. Here are some of the most important things to consider when it comes to achieving the perfect tone for your country music guitar playing:

Factor Importance
Choice of Guitar One of the biggest factors that influences tone is the type of guitar you choose to play. Many country electric guitarists prefer models like the Telecaster or the Stratocaster for their bright, twangy tones.
Amplifier Settings The settings you use on your guitar amplifier can have a big impact on the tone you produce. For country music, many players opt for a clean, bright sound with just a touch of reverb to add depth.
Effects Pedals Effects pedals, such as distortion, chorus, and delay, can add new dimensions to your guitar sound. However, it’s important to use them in moderation and with care to avoid overpowering the natural tone of the guitar.
Playing Technique Finally, your playing technique also plays a role in the tone you produce. The way you hold the pick, the pressure you use when fretting notes, and your hand positioning on the strings can all contribute to shaping your overall sound.

Achieving the perfect tone for your country electric guitar playing takes time and experimentation. However, by considering these factors and honing your skills as a player, you can create a tone that perfectly complements the style of music and makes your performance stand out.

Essential Gear for Electric Guitarists

Being an electric guitarist requires certain equipment to achieve the right tone and create the desired sound. Here are some essential pieces of gear for female electric guitarists:

  • Electric Guitar: The foundation of an electric guitarist’s gear is, of course, the electric guitar itself. Choose a guitar that feels comfortable, sounds great, and fits your personal style. Some popular options for country music include the Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, and Gretsch Country Gentleman.
  • Amp: Without an amplifier, your electric guitar is just a silent piece of wood. Choosing the right amplifier is essential for getting the sound you want. Look for an amp with a warm, balanced tone that matches your playing style. Some popular options include the Fender Blues Junior, Vox AC15, and Marshall DSL40C.
  • Effects Pedals: Effects pedals give guitarists the ability to shape their sound and create a unique tone. Some popular pedals for country music include the wah pedal, overdrive/distortion pedal, reverb pedal, and delay pedal. Experiment with different pedals to find the ones that work best for your playing style.
  • Guitar Strap: A guitar strap is essential for playing electric guitar while standing up. Choose a comfortable and sturdy strap that will keep your guitar secure during performances.
  • Picks: Whether you prefer fingerstyle playing or using a pick, having a variety of picks on hand is always helpful for experimenting with different sounds and techniques. Some popular picks for country music include the Dunlop Tortex, Fender Medium Celluloid, and Ernie Ball Nylon picks.
  • Tuner: Keeping your guitar in tune is crucial for sounding great during performances. There are many options for tuners, including clip-on tuners, tuner pedals, and smartphone apps.

Investing in quality equipment can make a significant impact on the sound and performance of female electric guitarists. By experimenting with different gear, playing techniques, and tone settings, female electric guitarists can carve out their unique sound and make their mark on the country music industry.


After exploring the impact of female electric guitarists on country music, it is clear that these women have made a significant contribution to the genre. Through their innovative techniques, diverse sound, and impeccable tone, female guitarists have helped reshape the landscape of country music.

From the pioneers like Rosie Flores, Jody Payne, and Bobbie Cryner to the contemporary artists like Maren Morris, Jennifer Nettles, and Kacey Musgraves, these women have defied gender stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of female musicians.

The impact of female electric guitarists on country music goes beyond just their music. They have also inspired a sense of diversity, bridged the gender gap in the industry, and inspired future generations of female guitarists to take up the instrument and pursue their passions.

For aspiring female guitarists, understanding the techniques and equipment used by these artists is crucial. From fingerstyle vs. pick playing to the importance of tone and the essential gear needed, a mastery of these elements will allow for a greater level of skill and creativity.

In conclusion, the impact of female electric guitarists on country music is undeniable. Their contributions have been instrumental in shaping the genre and their influence will continue to be felt for years to come. It is time to celebrate these women and give them the recognition they deserve for their contributions to country music.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is considered the first female electric guitarist in country music?

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is often credited as the first female guitarist in country music. Her unique blend of blues and gospel music contributed to the development of the genre in the 1940s.

2. How has the sound of country music changed since the introduction of female electric guitarists?

The sound of country music has become more diverse with the inclusion of female electric guitarists. This has allowed for new sounds and styles to emerge, creating a more dynamic and inclusive genre.

3. What impact have contemporary female electric guitarists had on country music?

Contemporary female electric guitarists have helped to bridge the gender gap in country music and inspire future generations of young women to pick up the instrument.

4. What techniques are commonly used by female electric guitarists in country music?

Some common techniques used by female electric guitarists in country music include fingerstyle playing, slide guitar, and hybrid picking. These techniques help to create unique sounds and styles in the genre.

5. What is the importance of tone in country music?

Tone is essential in creating the signature sound of country music. It helps to convey emotion and adds depth to the melodies and lyrics. Female electric guitarists often experiment with different tones and effects to create their own distinctive sound.

6. Who are some of the most influential female electric guitarists in country music?

Some of the most influential female electric guitarists in country music include Rosanne Cash, Bonnie Raitt, and Sheryl Crow. These women have not only made an impact on the genre, but have also inspired countless others to pick up the guitar.

7. What kind of gear is essential for electric guitarists in country music?

Essential gear for electric guitarists in country music includes a quality guitar, amplifier, pedals, and cables. These tools help to create different sounds and styles, allowing for versatility in the genre.

8. How do female electric guitarists contribute to the diversity of country music?

Female electric guitarists contribute to the diversity of country music by bringing in new sounds and styles. Their unique perspectives and experiences add depth and dimension to the genre.

9. Who are some up-and-coming female electric guitarists in country music?

Some up-and-coming female electric guitarists in country music include Lindsay Ell, Tenille Townes, and Gwen Guthrie. These women are paving the way for the next generation of female guitarists in country music.

10. How do female electric guitarists in country music inspire future generations?

Female electric guitarists in country music inspire future generations by breaking down barriers and defying gender norms in a male-dominated industry. They encourage young women to pursue their passions and strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives.


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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