To spread the word about its new Paradigm guitar strings, manufacturer Ernie Ball — which introduced its Slinky strings in 1962 — has invited rockers like Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue to attempt to sever the “break-resistant” strings while playing their instruments. According to a press release, Ernie Ball will replace for free any Paradigm strings that rust or break within 90 days of purchase, a guarantee that the company calls “virtually unheard of” in the industry. In videos posted online of their attempts, all of them fail, despite pulling and throttling the strings. (Mr. Big’s Paul Gilbert’s particularly enthusiastic effort includes a drill, but he winds up breaking his whammy bar instead.)
Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a longtime user of Ernie Ball strings. In a video shot for the company’s “String Theory” series, he recalled how he’s been using them since he was 18. He tells Billboard, “Since 1981, I’ve been saying under my breath. ‘Ernie Ball Super Slinky’ because I always like the way it rolls off my tongue. Ernie Balls hold up to my heavy-handed right-hand technique and also sound good however much I sweat on them during live shows. But most importantly, they were always the strings that didn’t snap from underneath my fingertips!”
This means that many Metallica songs originated via Ernie Ball strings. “Pretty much most of my riffs start on an electric guitar, and those guitars have always been strung up with yours truly,” says Hammett.
It’s a piece of metal history that delights Ernie Ball president Brian Ball. “To have an artist like Kirk Hammett trust our strings [for] over 35 years is something we’re incredibly thankful and proud of,” says Ball. “It also means our strings have been along for the epic ride of ‘Seek & Destroy,’ ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ ‘Sad But True’ and many other countless hits.”
Watch the exclusive video below as Hammett takes the challenge prior to a recent Metallica show in Mexico City:
“Luckily, I haven’t had any really bad experiences with strings breaking,” Hammett says. “When I used to break one live, I would just switch out the guitar with my tech, Justin Crew.
However, when I would break a string on the dropped-D tunings, it would always send Justin’s head into a tailspin trying to get the D guitar prepped up for the next D-tuned song.”
Metallica has been nominated for two Billboard Music Awards: top rock artist and top rock album, for Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. (The event will air May 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC.) The band will launch its WorldWired North American tour on May 10 in Baltimore.