Daisy Rock Aims to Put a Guitar in Every (Girl’s) Hand
When I first went looking for an electric guitar I could use for jazz, the weight of the guitar – and not just the sound – was a factor in my buying decision. I ended up with a semi-hollow body guitar, rather than a hollow body, simply because the guitar was lighter. Although few men likely buy a guitar based on its weight, most women probably do.
That’s what Tish Ciravalo, president of Daisy Rock Girl Guitars, did when she bought her first bass guitar in high school. She returned it the next day because it was too heavy, and shopped for something lighter.
Fast-forward to Tish the adult woman in 2000 - and the mother of a little girl. When Tish saw a picture her then one-and-a-half year old daughter drew of a daisy, Tish, who had played in rock bands throughout the ’80s, instinctively drew a neck and headstock onto the daisy. She then took the concept of a feminine looking, lighter-weight guitar to her husband Michael Ciravolo, president of Schecter Guitars, and suggested that Schecter put out a line of guitars designed specifically for girls and women.
It took some time for the guitars to gain acceptance. But now, 10 years later, Daisy Rock Girl Guitars, distributed by Alfred Music Publishing, has sold 150,000 guitars in 26 countries and Ciravolo hopes to put a guitar (which is often pink and sparkly) into the hands of every girl who wants one.
But are marketing pink, sparkly guitars just to girls and women a form of reverse sexism? Tish thinks absolutely not. The company’s goal is to get girls, many of whom have felt left out of rock music, playing music, says Tish. The company sponsors guitar camps for girls and serves as a cheerleader of sorts for girls in bands. Tish talked to Music After 50 about how she got her start playing guitar, and how the designs of her guitars differ from what’s out there…
LRG: When did you start playing guitar?
TC: I was 15, and my best friend Barbara Haughey taught me how to play the guitar. Soon after that, I found myself in love with music, and I was touring with a band called Plateau and dating the guitar player. I hopped from band to band in the ’80s in L.A., including Rag Dolls, The Velvets (a female Psychedelic Furs-type outfit), They Eat Their Own (new wave pop), and eventually, my own group, Shiksa and the Sluts. I even had a “big hair metal phase,” with a band called Lypstik. We had a billboard on the side of the Roxy and everything. It was fun! My first bass was a competitor’s bass, which I immediately took back to the store I bought it at the next day. I ended up with the smallest bass on the market, a Yamaha BX-1. Now I play the Daisy Rock Diamond Sparkle Rock Candy Bass.
LRG: Did you have any competitors (guitar companies aimed at women) when you started in 2000 and do you have any now?
TC: It’s shocking to me that before I founded Daisy Rock in 2000 that there were no other girl guitar manufacturers. Once I came into the marketplace other companies tried to compete, but they eventually dropped off. Daisy Rock is still the only girl guitar company on the market today. We’re proudly heading the girl rock revolution!
LRG: Is yours a word-of-mouth business or did you invest substantially in advertising?
TC: It’s a little bit of everything. We’ve never done big advertising, just guerilla marketing. I have done interviews with USA Today, CNN, and some other big media outlets, but our passion lies with sponsoring girl rock camps throughout the world by donating guitars and letting the instruments speak for themselves. Word-of-mouth is very important and we’ve even added a component on our website that allows a customer to log into the site and post their thoughts on the guitar model they play.
LRG: How much are your guitars?
TC: Daisy Rock Girl Guitars is trying to be the solution to every girl guitarist. Keeping that goal in mind, our catalog ranges from beginner models priced at $99 USD to a professional model that can go upwards of $3,000.
LRG: What colors sell best?
TC: Pink. Sparkly.
LRG: What percent of your customers are girls and teenagers and what percent adult women?
TC: Since we do not sell directly to the consumer since we are a manufacturer, it is really hard for us to know what the ages are. We think our largest growing customer is between 11 and 25 years old.
LRG: What is your best-selling guitar among adult women?
TC: Most of the older women love the Retro-H-Deluxe Ruby Sparkle and the Bangles Signature Model.
LRG: Do you provide any training to the retailers in how to sell your guitars?
TC: We had to in the beginning… it seems like things have gotten a lot better at the store level since the company started. And we still go into retail stores and make sure to connect with the managers to see if they have any damaged guitars they need to swap out for new guitars and to see that our models can be seen and accessed by the store’s customers.
LRG: What retailers carry your guitars?
TC: We are available in 26 countries and retailers small and large. Everything from your local music store to the bigger chains. You can visit our dealer locator online.
LRG: What about your guitars makes them most suitable for girls and women? Are they smaller? Designed differently?
TC: Yes. When we decided to make a girl guitar, I thought about all the things that frustrated me with my own instruments. So Daisy Rock Guitars feature a lighter weight design, and a ‘Slim & Narrow’ neck profile, so guitarists with smaller hands can easily wrap their hands around the neck to play. We also put a lot of emphasis on the aesthetics. Our guitars are available in every color from pink sparkles to black.
LRG: Do you sell only electric guitars or acoustics as well?
TC: We sell acoustic guitars, acoustic/electric guitars, electric guitars, and electric basses.
LRG: Do you still play guitar?
TC: Hell yeah! I actually just played with my band sASSafrASS on the 18th, while we were shooting a spot for Beta Records TV and we had a gig at the Joint on Feb. 28. It’s a fun group of people I work with at Daisy Rock, and we play a genre we like to refer to as “Cowboy Punk”. You can check us out on myspace.
LRG: How old are your daughters? Do they play?
TC: Yes, they both love to play. Nicole is turning 12 and plays bass, and Sophia is almost 10 and loves guitar.
LRG: What’s in Daisy Rock Guitars’ future?
TC: Daisy Rock’s mission is to help every girl enjoy playing guitar and making music, so that’s what we intend to do. Guitars for the singer/songwriter, the metal rocker, the pop star. If there’s something missing from our line today, our goal is to make that type of guitar in the future. We are in charge of the Girl Guitar Revolution!