Next month, multiple-Grammy nominee St. Vincent is bringing the war for gender equality to a new battlefront: the guitar. Annie Clark, who is surely far better known by her band’s name, is getting her own signature series Ernie Ball guitar. She joins such notables like Albert Lee and Steve Morse, but with one important difference…she plays like a girl. That’s not a knock on her technique or abilities, it’s simply a matter of anatomy.
Clark is closing in on a decade of performing as St. Vincent, showing a fiercely independent spirit lyrical sensibility with a nuanced playing style that has attracted fans and big name collaborators like David Byrne and the surviving members of Nirvana. From her beginning stages with The Polyphonic Spree through her steadily rising solo career, Clark has had a truly personal performance style that has set her apart from the norm. She’s had numerous high profile opening gigs for a wide variety of bands, from The Black Keys, Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie to pop superstar Taylor Swift. She’s released four solo records, recorded with Byrne, and been featured on many compilation and soundtrack albums. A song featured on Girls last season was released as a single to meet the clamoring demand of her fans.
When she was approached by Ernie Ball, she was intrigued at the prospect of creating a guitar from the ground up. Remembering the basic design of a toy guitar that had started her love affair with the instrument, she bought a rough design to the Ernie Ball team. Favoring a sleek design, she worked with them to craft something not just intuitive and immediately playable, but also female friendly. St. Vincent discusses her involvement in all stages of the instruments creation in the video below:
Mixing form and function, the guitar made its debut recently at a Taylor Swift show, which saw St. Vincent in front of a largely-female, 35,000 person crowd. She also credited some of the design aesthetic to the personal style of Klaus Nomi, whose who avant garde music and often plastic wardrobe are the stuff of legend. “I wanted to make something that looked good and not just on a woman, but any person. And again, I consulted Klaus Nomi and some of my favorite Eighties designs to accommodate that.”
Check out David Bowie looking sharp in one of Nomi’s creations, with Klaus on backing vocals as well (Nomi is in black):
Doing publicity for the upcoming release, St.Vincent has spoken of how her lighter, narrower guitar would work well with a person of her size and body build as opposed to some of the fuller body instruments her peers favor. “They’re prohibitive, so this is a very light guitar and the weight is redistributed so that it has a thin waist. I was always finding when I was playing onstage and wearing various stage outfits the guitar would cut across one of the best features of the female body, which is your waist.”
Mixing form and function, the guitar made it’s debut at a Taylor Swift show, which saw St.Vincent in front of a largely female 35,000 person crowd. Check out a clip of St. Vincent joining Swift onstage with other special guest Beck from the Staples Center below:
The new guitar stayed in her hands ever since, the surest sign of an artist happy with her tool. The three mini-humbucker, African mahogany guitar comes in black, as well as a shade of blue that Clark herself helped mix. The neck features rosewood fret boards, as well as custom St.Vincent logo inlays. The St.Vincent Signature Series guitar goes on sale in just a few short weeks and will be available for a base price of nineteen hundred dollars. (For the record, we checked the fine print and it clearly says “Talent NOT included.”) Check for dealer availability here.
(With Thanks to Esquire and Guitar World Magazine)