Chantel’s struggle with guitars made for men

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Chantel McGregor is pleased that an electric guitar has finally been designed by a woman for women – because she’s struggled with traditional instruments for years.

Art-rock musician St Vincent has partnered with Ernie Ball Music Man to create her signature STV six-string, describing it as “ergonomic, lightweight and sleek” – and adding: “There is room for a breast or two.”

McGregor tells the Telegraph: “There are certain brands I can’t use. They sound amazing but they have thick necks, and I have small hands. Not all girls have petite fingers, but many do, and it can make it a lot harder to play.

“Then there’s the strap issue. I like to wear vest-tops, but the fabric of the strap can cut into you. I have mine specially made in corduroy – but I really shouldn’t have to.

“Breasts are a problem too. When you’re sitting down you have to put your boobs on top of the instrument or they get squashed. Most of the time you don’t even need to wear a bra, as you spend so much time with your breasts propped on the guitar.”

She adds: “I don’t think guitar makers have thought about any of this. The music industry is still male dominated – women’s bodies just don’t come into the equation.”

Award-winning guitarist McGregor in action

Award-winning guitarist McGregor in action

McGregor says that, while there have been previous attempts to create guitars for women, they’ve all been “pretty patronising” such as “pink, flowery ones.”

She continues: “Women do need guitars designed with them in mind. But that doesn’t mean they should be sexist. We want to be inspired. We want to be able to walk into a guitar shop and say, ‘I want to play that one.’”

She’s looking forward to the day when the combined issues of “male perception” and “women believing they’re not good enough” are both in the past.

“A lot of men still don’t think women can actually play,” says McGregor. “A major record company once heard me play Jimi Hendrix material. They told me, ‘Men won’t buy into that – or if they do, it will break their egos.’

“You have to be really strong as a woman in this business. Actually, you have to be twice as strong as any man because you have to deal with twice as much – and that includes playing guitars that are too heavy, too thick and designed with men in mind.

“Hopefully, thanks to St Vincent, that could be about to change. We girl guitar players deserve more.”

McGregor, whose awards include Guitarist Of The Year at the 2013 British Blues Awards, released second album Lose Control in October. She launches a UK tour next month.

Chantel McGregor 2016 UK tour dates

Mar 16: London Nell’s Jazz And Blues
Mar 17: Southampton Talking Heads
Mar 19: Clitheroe The Grand
Mar 26: Hessle Town Hall
May 13: St Helens Citadel
May 27: Sutton Boom Boom
Jun 04: Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
Jun 17: York Fibbers
Jun 18: Goole The Junction Theatre
Jun 29: Bilston Robin 2