Why not just rate guitarists without gender specification?

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#1
I'm not a fan of subjective ratings anyway, but the answer is woman can't compete with males but not because they're not competitive. I've seen recent lists that rate the top 15-20 rock-pop guitarists without a single female. I could name at least a few. I can understand gender lists for most sports but not with string instruments. Recent lists of classical violinists included a number of women although there were more men. However almost all of the woman were active whereas a number of the men were inactive or dead. I include this list which considers more than skill; but only to show some pretty good musicians. The list is dated 2014 which is why I think Nita Strauss (a direct descendant of Johann) is not included.

 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,319
Dispargum
#2
Is it because audiences rarely distinguish between a female performer's talent and her attractiveness? Most of the women on that guitar list were fairly attractive. Female attraction has an impact on how audiences react to them, on whether the audience likes the performer or not, regardless of talent. Men don't get judged by that standard so its impossible to measure men and women by the same criteria. The only fair comparison would be a radio contest - have the guitar players perform but the judges could only hear them, not see them. The guitar players would have to perform pieces that they are not known for. Even then, some players' unique styles would come through and the judges would know who they were voting for. Ultimately, I think no one is really interested in determining the best guitar player. It's a really a list of who has the most fans.
 
Mar 2019
1,650
Kansas
#3
However almost all of the woman were active whereas a number of the men were inactive or dead. I include this list which considers more than skill; but only to show some pretty good musicians. The list is dated 2014 which is why I think Nita Strauss (a direct descendant of Johann) is not included.
And if you pay attention to the list you will notice just how many genres over a considerable time frame was needed to create the list.

Outside Nancy Wilson and Maybelle Carter, there was not a lot going on in that list. And whoever wrote the narrative is a bit clueless about guitar playing lol. For example making a big deal about Bonnie Raite using actual bottle necks for slide guitar. Thats kinda how slide guitars were invented.

Personally I thought Wendy Melvion from the old Prince and the Revolution days should have been on the list.

That aside women do have a natural disadvantage to men when it comes to guitar playing. The average women has less finger strength and smaller hands than males. They do make up for it with better dexterity. This obviously is not enough to stop women from becoming good guitarists, but it can be a barrier to being at the elite level

And before people start calling me sexist, the same issues happen for men. Most can not physically play the way Hendrix did because he hands like a lumberjack
 
Likes: Hoosierhiver
Jan 2019
99
Finland
#4
Why rate guitarists at all? Top-whatever Greatest Guitarists lists are just articles that are supposed to get people to buy magazines or click on articles and nothing more. A list of best female guitarists might get more readers and garner more interest by someone's estimation so they'll do that instead of the same top 100 with slight modification they did last year.

Edit: not to say I don't find these lists to be entertaining as I do, especially if it's in the format of a radio show, and it's fun to discuss and argue something like that with friends.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,454
Las Vegas, NV USA
#5
Is it because audiences rarely distinguish between a female performer's talent and her attractiveness?
If that were true I think there would be more, not less women on the lists. I have never seen a list of the top male guitarists labeled as such. But that's what they are. I guess we assume the best female guitarist is not as good as the last male on the list. This is not just some kind of political correctness. In the 1930s and 40s talented female singers such as Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were not only recognized but were icons. It's true there were few female instrumentalists but that has changed. For me, a very attractive woman is more likely to have to really show their talent and prove she is not just another pretty face. It's easy to fall into that trap. The same is true of male performers who garner large female audiences.

Regarding another post, I also don't accept that physical abilities for guitarists are gender based. If anything women are thought by many to have more manual dexterity for finer work. How much strength does it take to play an electric guitar anyway? So yes I can see women's leagues in contact sports but not on stage playing string instruments including piano,
 
Dec 2011
2,354
#6
You might well ask why there are separate shooting competitions for men and women in the Olympics. If anything, women tend to have better vision than men, yet it seems women cannot compete on an equal footing with men on this (or less women are interested in shooting and thus the pool of competitors is smaller, giving lower results).

But of course sport is institutionally sexist.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,319
Dispargum
#7
[QUOTE="stevev, post: 3194147, member: 47300] In the 1930s and 40s talented female singers such as Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were not only recognized but were icons. [/QUOTE]

It's true that during the war so many men were in the army that it created more opportunities for women. Find a list of the greatest American actresses of all time and see how many were working during the war - quite a few. It's not because that generation of women was more talented then previous or subsequent generations. It's just that generation had more opportunities than other women.
 
Aug 2013
169
Finland
#8
I remember watching this video earlier when a guy can blind tell the difference between male and female guitarists pretty well. If I remember correctly be says he can hear that females don't have the same power in their fingers so he can tell by the bends. He is not claiming either gender is better or worse, only that to him this difference is audible:

 
Jan 2014
2,577
Westmorland
#9
Ultimately, I think no one is really interested in determining the best guitar player. It's a really a list of who has the most fans.
I'm not sure it's even that. It's probably a list of the ten best guitar players as decided upon by someone who likes rock and grew up in the late 70s.

The Runaways were quite a fun pop-rock band, but anyone who could seriously claim that Lita Ford is a better guitar player than either Maybelle Carter or Sister Rosetta Tharpe needs a lie down in a darkened room. Maybelle Carter developed the Carter Scratch, a technique that is now a routine part of any guitar player's arsenal and a two minute watch of Sister Rosetta's famous performance at Chorlton railway station in the early 60s should leave one in no doubt as to the importance, skill and energy of this blues and gospel pioneer.

The problem with all of the 'greatest guitar' lists is that, despite an obligatory nod back to the pioneers, they are all basically from the rock and metal end of the spectrum. The antics of the shredders - 80s hair metal types like Eddie Van Halen who specialised in playing very fast bits of scales with lots of widdly widdly effects - are generally seen as exhibiting greater skill than the subtle playing of someone like Nic Jones. That's fine (especially if you like metal), but they are hardly the stuff of serious inquiry.
 
#10
Ana Vidovic's performance of "Asturias" has 28 million views on youtube.


By comparison, John Williams has 18 million for the same song.


I know Youtube views aren't a measure of quality, I just found it interesting.