Guitar manufacturers have long used women to hawk their wares--but often as bosomy ad models clutching Flying V's in manicured hands. Now there's a slow change afoot, even though female buyers still account for only about 5% of guitar sales. Last year Tish Ciravalo, a bass guitar-playing mother of two girls, founded DAISY ROCK GIRL GUITARS, a company that designs instruments for the female player. The Daisy Rock axes have thinner necks and smaller, easy-to-hold bodies in such unapologetically girlie shapes as hearts and daisies--see left. Starting at $239 (including purple gig bag), the guitars are selling at a pace of several hundred a month. Traditional guitar companies, meanwhile, have begun to market signature lines for female artists. Whether the chance to rock like Melissa or Sheryl will inspire more girls to play isn't clear yet. But selling guitars today is no longer about manicures. It's about hard-earned calluses.
--By Rebecca Winters
SHAWN COLVIN Grammy-winning folkie Colvin first picked up a guitar at age 10 and has played a vintage Martin acoustic throughout her career. Her signature model, introduced this spring, is a smaller Martin M3SC, with a three-piece back of mahogany and Indian rosewood. Cost: $3,199.
MELISSA ETHERIDGE Her $2,600 Ovation is modeled on the white-pearl six-string she played on the Live and Alone tour, just finished in Europe. It's her second model. The first was a 12-string acoustic/electric.
EMMYLOU HARRIS A smaller version of the Gibson she brings on tour, Harris' $3,300 L-200 is out this spring. "It's great to grab when you have an idea and want to work something out," she says.
SHERYL CROW Her new CD, C'mon C'mon, bowed at No. 2 last week--the highest Billboard chart position of her career. Crow's $2,699 signature instrument is a replica of a popular Gibson model--a 1962 Country And Western she uses often onstage. It has a distinctive square-shoulder body.