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  • The singer-songwriter St. Vincent has toured with Sufjan Stevens,

  • made an album with David Byrne,

  • and won a Grammy as a solo artist.

  • And now, she's the first woman to design her own line of signature guitars.

  • Mary H.K. Choi went to Los Angeles

  • to see what it's like to build an instrument from the ground up.

  • For an instrument that's been around since before the 15th century,

  • you'd think the modern guitar would have seen a lot of changes.

  • Precious few innovations have been made available outside of custom models.

  • Left-handed players, like Jimi Hendrix,

  • restrung right-handed guitars to accommodate his style.

  • And when Kurt Cobain was asked why he seemed to favor inexpensive guitars,

  • he says that was what he could afford

  • before offers of personalized guitars came in.

  • Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent,

  • is the first woman ever to create her own electric guitar for the mass market.

  • It's a big step in changing expectations

  • of the traditionalist canon of guitar:

  • a bunch of dudes arguing the merits of a Strat versus a Les Paul.

  • When we say that this is, like, the first guitar of its kind,

  • that's been created by a woman,

  • we're not saying expressly that it's only for women, right?

  • No, it's not.

  • I think I'm partly responsible for the press story that became,

  • that I made a guitar only for women,

  • because I was joking on Instagram,

  • "Check out my new guitar," you know, "there's room for a breast, or two!"

  • You know, like, I thought I was making an absurdist joke.

  • But this guitar went out to people like Dave Grohl,

  • and Beck and, like, Omar from the Mars Volta.

  • Yeah, he's ripping it.

  • After the initial drawings and a lot of talk,

  • about pickups, and wood, and color, and ergonomics,

  • pretty much every week,

  • there would be a new prototype for me to check out.

  • So, we kept making adjustments,

  • and making sure that the balance felt right,

  • and making sure that it was as comfortable to play sitting

  • as it was standing up.

  • Yeah, get you a guitar that can do both.

  • Yeah, exactly!

  • Coming of age during a kind of guitar heyday,

  • St. Vincent cites grunge, metal, and classic rock, like Led Zeppelin, as influences,

  • but felt marginalized as a young female player.

  • There was that kind of explosion of, quote, enquote, "women in music."

  • There were a couple guitar brands that purported to

  • cater specifically to women,

  • and they were, like, pink, or flower-shaped.

  • As a kid, like, trying to work out Pantera riffs, I was so offended.

  • Where do you hope this guitar will live in the sort of pantheon of guitars?

  • — I wanted people to actually play it,

  • and not have it be like, "Well, it's this totem of this guitar player I like,"

  • but actually, like, make their own things with it.

  • It's reallyit's a great player guitar.

  • I mean, I play it.

  • It's the only thing I play now.

  • And not for any other reason than I just

  • Purely for vanity reasons!

  • Yeah, exactly!

  • Ernie Ball Music Man is the company behind the St. Vincent model.

  • They've been crafting guitars in California since 1984,

  • and collaborated directly with St. Vincent.

  • This isn't like a white label situation, where someone was like,

  • "Hey! Would you put your name on this thing?"

  • Right, yeah.

  • So, soup-to-nuts, you created this thing.

  • Yeah, no. It's not a celebrity endorsement deal.

  • Like, stand next to this thing, hold it.

  • It's like... tabula rasa, you know?

  • Carte blanche.

  • Go for it.

The singer-songwriter St. Vincent has toured with Sufjan Stevens,

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    Cornershop posted on 2020/06/06
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