To the Arts Editor:

I am a female lead guitarist who has fronted Susan and the SurfTones, an all-instrumental surf band, for 10 years. Yeah, that's right, nobody in the band sings . . . not even the girl.

Much of the Aug. 22 article "No Girls Allowed? In the World of Guitar Boasts, Few Women Let Their Fingers Do the Talking" is unfortunately true. Girls are, in general, discouraged from playing lead guitar. I was lucky: Back in the mid-1960s my guitar teacher taught me Ventures tunes and encouraged me to get an electric guitar. Although I could play, the boys wouldn't allow me in their bands. I learned on my own and did not have the benefits that boys had of learning together in garage bands.

In playing now, I use no effects other than the amplifier's reverb and overdrive, which I use sparingly. If I played with the number of effects used by many of the male guitar "heroes" who made the Rolling Stone list you mentioned, I'm sure I'd hear comments about relying too much on effects. There are different standards for men and women.

My work goes unrecognized by the mainstream press. I play a subgenre, and I'm almost 50. Not at all marketable. My U.S. CD releases are all do-it-yourself. No U.S. label wanted a female surf guitarist unless I wore a miniskirt and go-go boots. I've toured Europe four times, but in the States my touring has been very limited.

So, with a sigh, I say your article is on point, and you never heard of me because a middle-aged, nonsinging female rock-and-roll lead guitarist will not be a topic for the mainstream -- not in this culture.


Portland, Ore.