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Ten Guitar Goddesses

Hayley McLean.

By Pauline France and Jeff Owens

It’s no secret that female guitar players usually don’t make the cut in the “Greatest Guitarists of All Time” lists published in many major music magazines. You’ll see maybe one or two (Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Joan Jett usually get the nods), and that’s about it.

That’s why we compiled a list of 10 instrumental guitar videos spotlighting 10 righteously talented female guitarists who can tap, fingerpick, shred, and wield their instruments with the best of them.

And it’s worth stressing that all the clips presented here are instrumental in order to highlight each lady’s remarkable guitar chops rather than vocal prowess (which is also considerable).

Putting this list together was no easy feat! There’s no shortage of female talent out there, so keep an eye out for future articles showcasing the ladies.

1. Hayley McLean

Better known sans surname simply as Hayley, this Telecaster-wielding Canadian beauty is positively bursting with talent. But don’t be fooled by her looks – McLean’s serious chops have propelled her to great heights, including performances with greats such as Buddy Guy and Los Lobos. Fall 2012 single “That’s When You Know” is a fine example of her exemplary guitar work, as is the clip seen here. Take a look at her mean chicken pickin’ here.

2. Gretchen Menn

 Gretchen Menn can play rock, jazz, classical and pretty much any other kind of guitar style in truly jaw-dropping fashion; a veritable Jill-of-all-trades, you could say. She’s currently juggling four different projects including her eponymous trio and an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band called Zepparella. Oh, and she’s also an airplane pilot. Watch her bust into the explosive call-and-response action of “Oleo Strut,” seen here.

3. Nita Strauss
Just hand metal prodigy Nita Strauss a high-performance axe, and she’ll proceed to shred your face off like some kind of musical madwoman. As a member of all-female Iron Maiden tribute band Iron Maidens, Strauss mirrors Maiden guitarist Dave Murray’s dexterous legato fret work to perfection, and she also plays in L.A. speed metal band Consume the Fire. Watch her tear through Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper.”

4. Nili Brosh

Israeli-born guitarist Nili Brosh graduated from the Berklee College of Music, where she fashioned herself into a formidable prog-rock goddess while still in her early twenties. She subsequently performed with instrumental giants including bassist Stu Hamm and guitarist Guthrie Govan, and has toured with Tony MacAlpine. Brosh released debut album Through the Looking Glass in 2010 and is working on her second album. Experience this prog-goddess in action here.

5. Kaki King

Kaki King’s impressive career has already spanned a decade, during which she has released six albums, including her most recent release, 2012’s Glow; shared the stage with the Foo Fighters; and supplied music for the fall 2012 ad campaign by massive clothing retailer the Gap. With striking command of the instrument featuring a percussive and highly melodic approach, she delivers explosive live performances, as you can see here in her fiery performance of “Playing With Pink Noise.”

6. Gabriela Quintero

 Holy smokes—with such light-speed and incendiary right-hand technique, we’re surprised Mexican guitarist Gabriela Quintero hasn’t set her guitar alight. As powerful acoustic folk/Latin duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, Quintero and sidekick Rodrigo Sanchez have mesmerized audiences worldwide with their fiery acoustic performances and five albums, including 2012’s Cuban-flavored Area 52. Marvel at her here in Rodrigo y Gabriela’s U.S. television debut on Late Show with David Letterman in 2006.

7. Malina Moye

Malina Moye is a left-handed Fender-wielding goddess with remarkable accomplishments. She’s opened shows for Boys II Men, Journey, Robin Thicke, among others, and has shared the stage with huge acts like Buddy Guy, Eric Johnson and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. She also owns her own recording label, writes her own songs, and has been called the “female Jimi Hendrix” by Guitar World magazine. See why here!

8. Jennifer Batten

Jennifer Batten needs no introduction. In the late 1980s, this enchantress of two-handed tapping was selected from more than 100 guitarists to play in Michael Jackson’s touring band, in which she showcased her screaming solos and wicked dexterity. Batten played a three-year stint with Jeff Beck when the famed U.K. guitar royal invited her to join his band in 1998. Her latest efforts include performing Michael Jackson songs in dance clubs, at which she projects self-made films in synch with her playing. Watch a stellar performance by Batten and Beck here.

9. Ana Vidovic

We wanted to make sure we covered all styles, including classical. And when thinking of female classical guitarists, the lovely Ana Vidovic invariably leaps to mind. From a small town in Croatia, she started playing guitar at the tender age of 5. Much more recently, she has graced stages all over the world with her staggering classical guitar talent and has released six albums. Here’s her remarkable rendition of a Bach violin sonata.

10. Orianthi

 Orianthi began playing guitar at age six and has since come a very long way. Now 27, she has shared stages with artists such as Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, and ZZ Top, among many others. Michael Jackson recruited her for the This Is It tour, and she now plays full-time with Alice Cooper. Watch her play a face-melting solo here.

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