For guitar players, the name Ernie Ball is very important and synonymous with their instrument and accessories. You can’t walk into a music store without seeing those flashy, florescent packages of strings that tempt you to just one more pack, just in case.
The man behind this iconic company is Roland Sherwood ball. Ball was born in 1930 in California and grew up around a family of musicians. He became a semi-professional musician as a young teenager before becoming a member of the US Air Force band during the Korean War. After the war, he went to LA where he found various gigs including teaching jobs and studio/session work.
Not only was Ball a talented and successful musician, but he also had an innate sense for business and an entrepreneurial spirit. In a small area of California, he opened “what was arguably the first music store in the US to sell guitars exclusively.”
By 1960, with rock music reaching a new height of popularity, Ball realized the need for different equipment for the average guitarist. The strings that people were playing on were much too thick and did not warrant easy bending or fast solo work. So, he came up with the idea for “Slinky” strings, so lighter gauge strings. He tried to pitch his idea to Fender but they did not seem interested. Instead, he began receiving many individual orders, and by 1967 the business was booming. Interestingly, Ernie Ball did not create a brand-new product. Instead, he noticed a demand that no one recognized or paid attention to.
These days, countless guitarists use Ernie Ball string. Some include: Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, and many more! Over the years, the company grew to carry other various accessories as well as guitars and amps.
Ernie Ball passed away on September 9, 2004.