Ernie Ball is one of the world’s longest-running guitar string manufacturers, and one of the most popular string brands ever.
Founded by Roland Sherwood “Ernie” Ball, an early Fender guitars endorsee, Ball opened one of the first guitar-exclusive music stores in the United States in the late 50s, with another two stores following shortly. Noticing that students and younger players had difficulty fretting and bending the wound .028" third ("G") string that was common at the time, Ernie started selling custom guitar string sets with a plain .024" third string in his shops.
This became very popular in the area, with local professional musicians such as the Beach Boys often showing up at his stores. Ever the innovator, Ernie also noticed a lot of players would use a banjo first string in place of the normal guitar string, so he soon added this to his custom string sets, and in 1962 the infamous “Slinky” was born!
These first Slinky sets took the country by storm as popular California bands toured the USA, singing the praises of Ball’s custom sets, and soon mail orders started pouring in from around the country, and then the world. Ernie Ball Slinky sets quickly became the choice strings for the major popular acts of the 60s, and by the 70s, distributors in Europe and Asia were supplying Ernie Ball strings to internationally recognised touring acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and The Who.
Ball had already proven himself a brave and headstrong businessman, taking on board feedback, design ideas, and innovations from the people out there playing the guitars, not the suits offering market surveys, and his unorthodox and instinctual business style drove the company to great success. Ernie Ball expanded massively during the 80s, acquiring the Music Man Company and starting production on some of the most iconic amplifiers and guitars in rock and roll history, and to this day, Ernie Ball remains one of the most distinguished and recognisable string and instrument manufacturers in the world.
Boasting a massive range of strings and a set to suit every player, some of the biggest names in the guitar world proudly use Ernie Ball strings, and guitar heroes such as Jimmy Page, Slash, Angus Young, and Keith Richards still use them to this day.