Rock \’n\’ roll Guitar String Pioneer Ernie Ball Dies at 74

Ernie Ball, a pioneer maker of rock ‘n’ roll guitar strings died on September 9. He was 74. He grew up in Santa Monica and learned to play the Hawaiian steel guitar from his father when he was 9 years old. In his teens and early 20s, he played at a bar in Los Angeles; toured the Southwest with the Tommy Duncan Band; and enlisted and played with the U.S. Air Force Band for three years. After his service, he played in Los Angeles clubs and landed a staff band job with “Western Varieties,” a popular weekly show on KTLA-TV.In 1958, Ball opened a shop in Tarzana that sold only guitars. In 1962 he
brought out his Slinky Strings, a lighter gauge set of guitar strings suiting
the needs of electric guitarists. The Slinky strings became popular with rock
and roll guitarists. Performers such as B.B. King, the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton,
Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Blink 182, and Metallica have all used Ernie Ball

Ball later branched out into instruments, including the Earthwood acoustic bass,
and accessories, buying the Music Man electric guitar company in 1985. “He
changed the way people thought of guitar accessories, and how they sold and
marketed them, and to this day the Ernie Ball way is the industry standard. My
dad understood how to make tools for musicians, and our family is deeply proud
of being part of this creative process
,“ said Sterling Ball, president of
the Ernie Ball Company and one of Ernie’s sons.

[Courtesy of the

Folk Alliance