Is Taylor Swift the New Eddie Van Halen?

October 19th, 2016

PHOTOS: C. Flanigan (Van Halen) and Christie Goodwin/TAS (Swift) | Getty Images

By Christopher Scapelliti

There’s an emerging trend in the world of guitar, and according to one man, signs of its origin seem to point to Taylor Swift.

If you’ve watched Phillip McKnight’s videos here previously, you know that he usually talks about gear on his YouTube channel. For his latest videos, he’s decided to talk about something more topical—specifically, why so many women have begun taking up the guitar.

Phillip comes to the topic from an advantageous point of view. As the founder of the McKnight Music Academy for guitarists, he’s attuned to the trends and changes taking place among guitarists and their interests, and he’s noticed a significant change in the number of women signing up for classes.

In 2006, one year after the academy’s launch, less than four percent of its students were women. That number grew slightly over the next few years, to eight percent in 2009. Then, suddenly, the number of female applicants began accelerating. Today, Phil says, roughly 60 percent of his students are female.

So what’s been causing so many women to take up guitar?

“We started asking the students, and eight out of 10 of the students attributed Taylor Swift to the reason why they’re playing the music,” Phillip says. “Really, she’s doing the same thing Eddie Van Halen did in the early Eighties—she’s causing all the young players to want to take up an instrument and play.”

Take a look at the video below to get the full story from Phillip. In it, he also addresses the need for guitar companies to abandon its “shrink it and pink it” philosophy when it comes to making guitars for women and begin designing instruments that meet the needs of this growing sector of the guitar population.

For more of Phillip’s videos, visit his YouTube channel.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

  • Mr. Jack

    A company that has been around a long time and was started as a guitar company who made guitars primarily for women is LUNA. They have amazing products at a great price point and I just thought I’d mention them.
    Also, I am a guitar instructor and I would have to say I have more females than male students today. in my case 9 out of 10 were inspired by Taylor Swift who’s I think is well deserving of the credit you gave her as an influence to many female guitar players today.

    • cscapelliti

      Thank you for that information, Mr. Jack!

  • Tyrone Shoelaces

    Call me when Taylor Swift becomes the next Eddie Van Halen. There’s a difference between a guitar as an instrument and a guitar as a prop.

  • Doug

    “A prop is a strong term”. She writes a tremendous amount of her own stuff and the guitar is her tool in doing so. She sits down and writes songs that resonate with millions of fans. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea but who really is? Pretty insulting and narrow minded to say she uses it as a prop.