It’s March, which means it’s Women’s History Month! We’re huge proponents of putting your money where your mouth is, which is why we put together a list of companies that build guitars, pedals, accessories, and more that are women-run or have value having women as prominent members of their team.
But really, we recommend supporting these folks all year!
Guitars & Stringed Instruments
TunaTone Instruments – It only makes sense that we’d start with one of our first podcast guests, our good friend Leila Sidi from TunaTone Instruments! Leila makes tremendous short-scale instruments with an eye toward sustainability. Read more about her in The Fretboard Journal.
Meredith Coloma – Meredith is not only a monster builder, she’s highly active in the luthier community in Vancouver, BC. She’s one of the founders of the Vancouver Guitar Festival, offers guitar building workshops, and isn’t even 30 years old yet.
Maegen Wells – Maegen Wells makes some of the highest quality carved guitars and mandolins on the market. She has truly beautiful work that boasts stunning details such as f-hole binding.
Eve Meister – Eve is based out of Montreal, and not only is she skilled at repairs, she also builds steel-stringed acoustics and lap steels!
Linda Manzer – Linda has been making guitars in Canada for over 43 years! She’s known for her archtops, flat-top acoustics, and harp guitars. Those who play her guitars includeCarlos Santana, Gordon Lightfood, and Pat Metheny, for whom Linda made an instrument with 42 strings and three necks.
Nicole Alosinac – Another incredible Canadian luthier? What’s in the water up there? Can I have some? But seriously, Nicole is a damned legend in her home of Vancouver and beyond. She’s skilled at repair as well as building, and offers set-up classes as well as a guitar building or repair mentor program.
Brooklyn Lutherie – Most of the builders listed above are one-person, but Brooklyn Lutherie is an exception. The women at its helm are working musicians Chloe Swantner and Mamie Minch.
Gwen Forrester – Based out of Middle Tennessee, Gwen builds her guitars out of a mix of locally harvested and salvaged materials. When she does buy new wood for projects, she uses local timber that are sawn and dried herself. What results are stunning one-of-a-kind guitars.
Rachel Rosenkrantz – Born and raised in Paris, France and currently based out of Rhode Island, Rachel is a master luthier with a stellar eye for design. But don’t take my word for it, see what Anthony Bourdain had to say about her.
Cindy Guitars – Cindy takes guitars as art to another level. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a bigger collection of custom wood-carvings and leather work.
Other women building awesome guitars:
- Kathy Wingert
- Lisa Hahn
- Shelley Park
- Joshia de Jonge
- Dagna Silesia
- Kathy Matsushita
- Erin Patterson
- Peggy White
- Noemi Scrembri
- Sharleen Simmons
- Jenny Warner – Phoenix Mandolins
- Pava Knezevic – Ellis Mandolins
- Christina Kobler
- Heidi Litke – Red Sands Ukuleles
- Aviva Steigmeyer
- Cat Fox
- Elizabeth Jayne Henderson
- Rebecca Urlacher
- Sophie Dockx – Dorian Guitars
PRS – I wasn’t aware of this until recently, but PRS does a fantastic job hiring talented women to move their business forward. For more on that, see the article about it in She Shreds Magazine.
Fender – You might have seen Fender’s great work including women in their ads, demos, promotions, and more. But we want to give a special shout to their longest-tenured employee, Abigail Ybarra. She worked at Fender winding pickups for 57 years, winding enough pickups to wrap wire around the Earth 16 times.
Pedals, Amps, & Synths
Dwarfcraft Devices – Again, we have to start this section with someone who was on our podcast! Dwarfcraft Devices is a partnership between Louise Hinz and her husband Ben. Though the circuit designs are his, she’s the one who keeps the day-to-day rolling, including soldering, managing the website, working with suppliers and dealers, and more.
Earthquaker Devices – Yes, Earthquaker also features a husband and wife duo, but they take it to another level. Julie Robbins is their CEO, and they have women working prominently throughout their company.
Red Panda – Red Panda is owned by a man, but according to an article in She Shreds Magazine, he’s the only man at the company (though we’re not sure if that’s still the case).
Heather Brown Electronics – Heather Brown isn’t quite a full-blown company yet, but she recently released her first pedal, the Blessed Mother Overdrive, to acclaim from the gear industry.
Frantone – Frantone is a legend in the pedal world. She’s been building fuzz pedals and more since the ’90s, and her effects have been used by the likes of Lou Reed and R.E.M. Oh, and if you’ve ever played the second version of the EHX Big Muff, that was her handiwork.
Rabbit Hole FX – Based out of Durham, NC, Safia Harrison is the self-proclaimed HBIC at Rabbit Hole FX. She’s the founder, designer, builder, and day-to-day manager of the company that’s known for their analog phaser, Chaosmatic fuzz, and A ‘Merkin fuzz.
Fuzzrocious Pedals – Shannon Ratajski, co owner of Fuzzrocious, has been painting since childhood and attended University of the Art in Philadelphia as a Fine Arts Major. In 2008, she began painting professionally for Fuzzrocious Pedals. Not only does Shannon paint professionally, but so does her daughter, Raeven, who has been painting professionally with Fuzzrocious since 2012. Shannon specializes in realistic recreations of animals and people as well as neo-traditional tattoo-style art. Raeven specializes in pigs with sunglasses.
3rd Power – Run by Nashvillian Dylana Nova Scott, 3rd Power has been building amps, drive pedals, and pickups for lovers of boutique gear since 2008. One of their most impressive offerings is the aptly named “The Kitchen Sink,” an amplifier which boasts three vintage amplifier voices with modern features.
Phantom Chips – We said pedals AND synths, okay??? Anyway, Phantom Chips is Tara Pattenden’s wearable synthesizer company. Because, ladies, don’t we all want to wear things that are fashionable AND make noise? I know I do!
Copperpeace – Based out of Seattle and run by a J. Lynn (a truly great person, Copperpeace makes stunning guitar straps that come with a sweet lil pick pocket! Her straps are used by Phoebe Bridgers, Sleater-Kinney, Warpaint, Alanis Morissette…basically it’s a list too long to name. I even have one on my Mad Cat copy — I just showed J. Lynn a picture of the guitar and she knew exactly what strap it needed.
Souldier – Souldier is based out of Chicago, and makes straps for all manner of stringed instruments (and cameras!). They have even have options to customize your fabric (from recycled seatbelts), your end tab material and color, and your hardware color.
Did we miss anyone awesome? Probably, and we want you to tell us who! Drop us a line in our Facebook group.