St. Vincent shreds gender roles with woman-friendly guitar

By Managing Editor

Many might think of the colors pink or purple, flowers or maybe even some glitter when envisioning “female versions” of products. But a new guitar designed for women’s bodies by Annie Clark, also known as St. Vincent, says otherwise.

In March, Clark will join the ranks of famed guitarists Albert Lee, John Petrucci and Steve Morse by releasing her own signature guitar with Ernie Ball Music Man, an American manufacturer of guitars and bass guitars.

The St. Vincent signature guitar will come in two colors: black or “St. Vincent blue,” a shade of the color handmixed by Clark, according to a Feb. 14 Q&A with the musician by Guitar World.

The guitar is lighter than most, making it easier for people of smaller builds to play and, as Clark explained in a recent Instagram post, has room for “a breast. Or two.”

In creating a guitar that can be described as comfortable for the female body, Clark is deconstructing gender roles in more ways than one.

The St. Vincent guitar challenges the notion of attaching genders to inanimate objects, such as labeling toys like Legos or Matchbox cars as “boy’s toys” and toys like Barbie dolls or kitchen sets as “girl toys.”

The guitar seems to be geared more toward women than men, but that does not mean it is exclusively a women’s guitar. In fact, the guitar has not even been marketed as a “woman’s guitar.”

Clark’s signature guitar comes in the colors blue and black, straying from colors like pink, purple and yellow that have traditionally been associated with women’s products.

Though some may argue that the guitar is gendered, it serves a function and solves a common problem faced by many women guitar players by conforming to their anatomy. The gendering is functional rather than a marketing gimmick that reinforces stereotypes.

St. Vincent’s signature guitar also challenges traditional gender roles by asserting women’s place alongside men in the music industry.

The music industry is heavily male-dominated, so it is important to see how innovations like Clark’s guitar welcome more women musicians.

Young girls are not always encouraged or taught that they can participate in bands as boys are.

In high school, I always noticed that most of my boy friends were in bands while my girl friends would just watch.

Even in high school band classes, girls are often pushed into playing lighter and softer-sounding instruments like the flute or clarinet, while boys often compose the percussion or brass sections.

Clark’s St. Vincent signature guitar is an innovation that I hope will encourage young girls to feel less intimidated about pursuing their passions in music.

An innovation like the St. Vincent guitar is long overdue, and it is even shocking that it has taken this long for such a guitar to come about.