Daisy Rock Girl Guitars: Not Just Pretty, Not Just Pink
She’s inspiring others to follow, but Tish Ciravolo pushes forward making quality guitars for a long-ignored segment
For most of us, if we found ourselves suddenly looking at a plethora of competition, it would likely invoke a scowl. But if you saw Daisy Rock Girl Guitars president and founder Tish Ciravolo walking the show floor at the NAMM Show, youd see her wearing a big grin despite the fact that so many have jumped on the girl guitar bandwagon.
I have to say Im flattered, she laughs. You have to remember, in 2003 I was doing cheers in the hallway [at NAMM] trying to get people interested in the idea of a girl guitar. Four years later there are pink guitars everywhere! Ciravolo, however, is quick to distinguish what Daisy Rock builds from the others: A lot of companies are just throwing pink on guitars, or just painting a dragonfly on the front its kind of taking advantage of the concept and thats a little annoying. Theres a thought process involved with Daisy Rock. The necks are thinner and the bodies are smaller and lighter. Some of the biggest guitar companies involved are doing it now, but of course, no one does it like Daisy Rock. Weve really defined it.
I saw the Daisy Rock guitars for the first time at the NAMM Show two years ago, and at the time, we were skeptical, says Chris Quarrell, buyer for Kennelly Keys, the Lynnwood, Wash.-based chain. I didnt know what the market for them would be, so we tried an off-brand girl guitar of lower quality before going with Daisy Rock. We were so impressed with the quality of Daisy Rock. It wasnt just a girl guitar just because it was pink. Its an instrument you can be proud to give a kid and have them grow with it.
Quarrell actually came into contact with the Daisy Rock concept a few years earlier when he picked up the Daisy Rock Guitar Method, published by Alfred Publishing for his niece. Today the dealer carries a broad selection of the guitars and the method.
I remember when we got our first batch of Daisy Rocks at our mall store in Bellevue, Quarrell continues. It was one of the rainbow candy ones. We put it right in the window and it literally sold within an hour. A parent walking by saw it and had to get it. And thats the reaction to this day. It really catches the eye. They do a great job with the colors and finishes, and theres never any set-up issues. Its a good thing to add to our mix.
It breaks down boundaries to learning for girls, and its always a positive when you can break down boundaries.
In what is practically industry folklore at this point, the Daisy Rock story started simply enough, a mother goofing around with her daughter. One day in 2000, Ciravolo watched her 18-month old daughter, Nicole, draw a daisy. A longtime bassist herself, she instinctively drew a guitar neck on it. Inspired to make her drawing a reality, she merely had to turn to her husband, Michael Ciravolo, president of Schecter Guitar Research. Wanting to encourage girls to play, she launched Daisy Rock in November of that year, and took some samples to a Rockrgrl Conference, an event promoting women in the arts.
The response was overwhelming, she recalls. People were excited about it. Then I did my first NAMM Show in January of 2001, and had a small 3×3 section of the Schecter booth. This most recent NAMM, we had a 20 x 40 booth!
In between those two NAMM experiences entered Alfreds Ron Manus. One April evening in 2002, he happened to be surfing the Internet when he stumbled onto Daisy Rock.com. Intrigued, he contacted Ciravolo and proposed doing a girl guitar method.
We really hit it off, she says. Weve been close friends since. And business partners. Alfred, publishing music since 1926, did a detour into the guitar- making business in 2003. Today, its the best of all worlds, she says. Daisy Rock, still a relatively small company, has seven people dedicated exclusively to the company, and access to another 11 on Alfreds team to call on for support.
Its been great to do business with Alfred, she says. Its allowed me to grow substantially without hiring a bunch of people. A publishing/guitar company doesnt sound like it would work, but for us, it has worked really well. An alt-rock guitarist himself, Ron Manus has certainly enjoyed the partnership as well hes had a hand in designing some of Daisy Rocks guitars and even plays in a band with Ciravolo and Alfreds Rich Lackowski.
But mostly Manus has had a hand in the explosive growth of Daisy Rock. Since its humble beginnings, a mere five years ago, Daisy Rock:
Has a catalog of 84 models;
Unveiled another five new models this past NAMM, adding up to a total of 12 individual new guitars;
Introduced a special hand-crafted U.S.-made limited-run guitar made by noted Venice, California, luthier John Carruthers that retails for $2,999;
A growing artist roster that includes Nancy Wilson, Lisa Loeb, Susanna Hoffs, Louise Post (Veruca Salt), Hillary Duff, Joan Osbourne and dozens more;
And a growing accessory line of merchandise and apparel for easy add-on sales that features guitar straps, hats, pins, and T-shirts.
Girl Guitars Not Just For Girls
Ciravolo says she had few role models growing up in the 1970s. Her first was Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero on the Happy Days sitcom. Then she saw the Go Gos and the Bangles on Saturday Night Live. Today, the mother of two daughters in addition to heading the first guitar company for girls is especially appreciative of the progress made.
There werent a lot of girls playing guitar when I turned on TV has a teenager, she says. Suddenly today, there are all these imprints. Nickelodeon and Disney have a combined seven shows involving girls playing in a rock band. Were seeing shows of girls going to school, coming home, and playing guitar. Were seeing girls with guitars featured in ads from the Gap, American Express thats the first shift from the powers that be, she laughs.
Ciravolo has her feet firmly on the ground, and despite an admitted healthy ego, understands all too well the challenges that linger to this day. She recalls when Alfred first published her girls guitar method, many dealers asked her what the point was dont girls learn guitar same as boys?
Yes. But when you show a girl a book with girls sitting cross-legged with a guitar made especially for them in a book, she identifies with it. Its empowering.
For the all the girl power, there are some decidedly non-fairer-sex people performing with her guitars. Daisy Rock players include ZZ Top Legend Billy Gibson (who bought six guitars), Pal Leary of the Butthole Surfers, Adam Levy of Norah Jones, and Robert Smith of The Cure. She says she was as surprised as anyone when Smith gushed about how much he loves her guitars, how the light weight and slimmer neck fits him well. Also she had an encounter with Robert Plant a few years back where he declared to Daisy Rock was the single, biggest, greatest thing that happened to the guitar market in his lifetime.
Then he asked her to give him five guitars.
When Robert Plant asks you for something, anything, you just say, Where do I deliver it! she laughs.
But it wasnt always so funny with dealers in the beginning.
I got everything from, this idea sucks to this idea is brilliant. A woman who owned a music store said that Daisy Rock was the greatest thing and asked why it wasnt done before. People had talked about it at other companies, thought about it, but no one had actually addressed the issue of creating guitars and basses made especially for girls.
Today there are over 500 dealers in 25 countries carrying Daisy Rock guitars.
Ciravolo and company are busy coming up with new marketing ideas for their dealers to help them be successful, including encouraging events like mother/daughter night, where a dealer sponsors events where moms and their daughters can come in and take guitar lessons together.
Another issue close to Ciravolo as a parent is safety. She encourages dealers to allow for kids to arrange band auditions at their store as opposed to the traditional garage or basement. Being from L.A., she talks about how many auditions she went to in storage units in some wayward industrial court. Some customers might be getting good at their instrument, taking lessons at your store, and then hear about a band looking for a player over the Internet, but be uncomfortable or unsure of how to meet up with them. I like it when music stores open their doors and provide a safe environment.
She freely admits shes trying to change the world one girl guitarist at a time.
In 2000, 5% of guitar buyers were women. Today its 10%, so weve basically doubled the market. Were selling around 25,000 instruments a year now, but those arent Fender or Gibson numbers. I want it to be 10 million!
She her company is not after a sliver of a larger pie.
As the first girl guitar company, dealers dont buy our instruments to replace some other line. We say Daisy Rock is going to improve business, because were actually found business, new business. Were helping businesses grow, creating new customers, and thats very exciting to me.