In a sea of collectors items and custom boutique mods, the lowest common denominator for all guitarists: the string. They are the true life force of the instrument. While not all of us have experience switching out our pickups or customizing a speaker cab, a rite of passage for every new guitarist is choosing his first set of strings. It’s the first external factor a guitarist confronts about her tone and style, and she’ll do it over and over until the last time she ever plays. Conveniently, it’s also really easy to make puns on the word “string”. Ernie Ball’s marketing team has seized this golden opportunity to flaunt their star power as they always have, but in a much more relatable way. Welcome to “String Theory“.
The “String Theory” web series highlights respected guitarists with beautiful videography and a hypnotizing back-and-forth between guitar solo and interview, a six-stringed hedonist duet for guitar and anecdote. By exploiting the accessibility of guitar strings with total reverence, Ernie Ball strikes a very delicate balance that gives the interviews real technical substance without pretension. The artists enter with autobiographical, humanizing clips, and eventually narrow their focus to Ernie Ball and their favorite types of strings. It may seem dry to listen to Kenny Wayne Shepherd discuss the difference between 10, 11, 12, and 13 gauge strings (seriously, it’s not), but the series is so well executed that if nothing else, it’s like a lovely electric form of meditation.
The series doesn’t need to be overanalyzed. It’s an elegant gallery of Ernie Ball testimonials in a tremendously watchable style that’s best enjoyed by binge watching the entire series with a slightly slack jaw. To me, what makes the campaign remarkable is its harnessing the endlessly nuanced power of the humble string to humanize musical legends simply by acknowledging and respecting it. This is not just a testimonial to Ernie Ball strings, it’s a testimonial that musicians can always be relied on for their awe for all things musical, right down to the string.
If you’d like to learn more about the history and lingo of guitar strings, plus, a guide to choosing the perfect ones for you, please head over to Moniker Gutiars’ blog where I authored a post titled Lord of the Strings (I wasn’t kidding about the puns). The blog contains everything from gauge and tension to materials and winding techniques. Quite literally, everything you could need to know about electric guitar strings.