Chris Uggen's Blog: playin' makeup, wearin' (daisy rock) guitars

Monday, August 22, 2005

playin' makeup, wearin' (daisy rock) guitars

When my daughter needed her first guitar, this model by Daisy Rock was exactly what she wanted (click the pics to enlarge). To my knowledge, this is the first line of electric guitars marketed expressly to girls. Is this a good thing? Or does equality imply that girls should be buying Strats, Les Paul Goldtops, and Martin acoustics? Frankly, I like the Daisy Rock idea and wish I had thought of it first. I don't remember seeing anything like this while misspending my youth in the smoke-filled boys club that was Torp's music on St. Paul's Rice Street. After seeing guitarists Mimi Schippers, Wayne Osgood, Rod Engen, Alex Piquero and some cool gender sessions last week, I thought about Daisy Rock and doing gender via guitar in adolescence.


Tish Caravolo, Daisy Rock's creator and designer, says "a guitar for girls is long overdue. Standard guitars are often too big and bulky for the female form. When I first started playing bass as a teenager, the instrument felt like a bat in my female-sized hands. At times, I wanted to quit because I felt like maybe the instrument just wasn't for me, or that I wasn't good enough ... many female musicians have experienced the same set of feelings and I truly believe this is why we have a lack of female guitar-playing .... As the mother of 2 girls ... I want to be able to provide them with opportunities ... to feel comfortable and capable."



As advertised, the Daisy is compact, it plays well, and it has some fun electronics (e.g., you can switch to what sounds like single coil pickups for a Fender-like sound or double coil for something closer to a Gibson). True to her story, my son's first (bass) guitar, in contrast, was long, dark, and tough-looking. He wanted an industrial-strength amplifier (power!) to stand up to any drummer, so we went with a simple and inexpensive Yamaha bass and a booming amp:
After a lot of playing, he fell under the influence of Flea and NOFX's Fat Mike. His second bass is thus a funky vintage Danelectro (whoa-- bassists' nicknames sure play with male body images: aside from wee Flea and "Fat" Mike, there's "the Ox" John Entwistle, "Bootsy" Collins, "Geezer" Butler...). I'm guessing his next stop is some high-end Music Man or Fender -- but I ain't paying for it, dude.

My guitars followed a similar progression from a $100 nerd-boy hollow-body at 12 that looked like this (thanks, Dad!)
... to a LOUD macho metalhead iceman that only accentuated my nerdishness at 15 ...
... soon supplemented by a pretty IBZ Gibson Dove copy during my high school "stop the draft" period, is the go-to guitar around the fireplace.I never really played very well and don't play much today, but I knew that the guitar I carried around was way more important than the ($175) car I drove. Today I have a pink 60s strat (well, Fender calls it rose mist or something, but it looks pink to me). I probably wouldn't have picked this at 15, but I'm glad the kids have more choices today.

In any case, I'm predicting that if Ms. Caravolo is successful with Daisy Rock, she will indeed get a few more girls into guitars, onto the stage, and ultimately on the radio. I'm also predicting that my sociology friends will admonish me for perpetuating the stereotyping, rather than reallocating the big ol' black bass to the girl and the cute lavender six-string to the lad. As a parent, however, I have a pretty limited range of action -- you can lead your kids to axes, but you can't make 'em shred.

13 Comments:

At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Atheia said...

After all, it's not her fault that the colors are stereotyped.

 
At 10:28 PM, Anonymous chris said...

Good point -- guess that's why I switched from black to pink. :)

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

Ok, so, I've been mulling over this post for several days now. Sad, I realize, but true. Nevermind feminism and felon disenfranchisement, let's get down to what really matters, right? So, what's been bothering me are my own tightly held values when it comes to the electric guitar. FIrst, there's just something about a man and an electric guitar. And that's all I'm going to say about that for fear of saying something either a) inappropriate or b) sexist, and God forbid I would say anything disparaging about my own sex. Second, as a female, I do feel tension when it comes to marketing products to explicity female audiences, especially when they are given names like "Daisy" and come primarily in shades of pink and lavender, or the shape of said flower. What I noticed on their website is that the guitars are handy for not only females, but individuals with small hands. Now that makese sense. It may so happen that it is primarily females who have small hands, but do we really have to make them all pink and market them specifically to girls? God help me if I ever have a girl who wants to play with Barbies and dress herself in flowery dresses! I always liked playing GI Joes and Matchbox cars with the boy next door myself...

Oh, and by the way, I think I like your Dove model the best!

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous chris said...

Sarah, You've hit on a real tension here. The politics of pink "Barbie" guitars may be bad, but the results seem good. Trying to raise a daughter who calls herself a "girly girl," I try to focus on the results. If "designing Barbie" software (or whatever) got her into CAD/CAM engineering, for example, I'd just hold my nose and support it. Glad you like the Dove! I still play it once in a while.

 
At 8:47 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

Very pragmatic of you, as I'm sure you have to be. I will add however, having once been a girl - albeit not a very "girly" one (though you wouldn't know it by looking at recently unearthed pictures from my adolescent figure skating career)- that my mother's example of smarts and success along with my father's explicit and implicit support of it went a lot farther for me than any Barbie, no matter what model, might have. My father's motto in raising two girls: "I'm a feminist in as much as it means that I think my girls should be able to do anything they want to do." If the Daisy Guitars further that purpose for you, well then, good thing!

 
At 11:25 AM, Anonymous chris said...

One of the things every boy figures out quickly when he joins a band is that he can get a lot of mileage by playing with gender expectations (e.g., makeup, scarves). I'm sure the lads will be discovering Daisy Rock too, if they haven't already. I know I would have been all over them by 17/18...

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Dan said...

I think daisy rock guitars are a load of bull!!!
They look crap, sound crap, and i doubt any guys will be bying them incase they get branded a homosexual!!!
I have asked many gals if they would consider playing dr guitars and they replied a very subtle "no" and y'know what i dont blame em'!! give me a les paul anyday ( and IM a GIRL!!!)cheers Dan - i would like to hear your opinions on this matter. thankyou

 
At 9:57 PM, Anonymous chris said...

i dunno, dan, i was playing the daisy rock today through a new vox valvetronix amp and it sounded pretty cool. the image is fine too -- i mean, i already play a pink strat. i'm old and happy with my sexuality and don't at all mind if someone thinks i'm gay or bi or straight or lesbian or transgender or...whatever. i'll just play what sounds cool to me and wear what looks cool to me. cool?

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Puppy 1000 said...

Nice collection of guitars! Personally I think I'd stay away from pink guitars. Call me homo-phobic.

 
At 12:42 AM, Blogger mjp said...

Funny to see a mention of Torp's. I recently wrote a post that involves them and the many guitars I bought from them - and one in particular: http://smog.net/index.php/158

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Gye Greene said...

Sorry -- coming late to the party...


-No guys playing DR guitars for fear of looking ''gay'': Kurt Cobain wore a dress. 'Nuff said. ;)

-There's been short-scale guitars and basses for quite a while: so DR is really just good marketing (aimed at the Riot Grrl/Hello Kitty crowd?). IMO. (But, more power to 'em.)

-I'd totally buy one that was heart-shaped, if it was green.

-Barbie gets a bad rap -- but, wasn't she being a news anchorwoman and a jungle explorer back in the '60s or '70s -- albeit while wearing short-shorts...?

-Similar to DR -- I recently bought a Hannah Montana electric guitar -- http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/2/0/1/549201.jpg -- on sale at Target. Weirdly, there's some sort of fret buzz that gives it a ring modulator sound. Need to take it in for a professional set-up... (The guitar has an actual truss rod!)


--GG

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger Gye Greene said...

Also: I see that this post is from nearly four years ago. Has your daughter continued to play? Or, have you resorbed her guitar back in to your collection.

(I have three kids -- 4yo, 1yo, 1yo -- am hoping at least one of them takes up the drums, and the others take up guitar or bass. I have all three lying about the house, so if there's ANY natural inclination, it'll fall on fertile soil...)


--GG

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

thanks, gye. esperanza is still playing, as is tor. like you, we've got guitars and basses all over the house. none of us spent any time on lessons, but we're all comfortable picking them up as the spirit moves us. here's hoping that your kids get the same sort of enjoyment out of them... it sounds like you're creating a fertile environment.

 

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