Mac DeMarco: Five Things We Learned from His New Ernie Ball 'String Theory' Episode

Today we bring you the premiere of the latest episode of String Theory, starring guitarist-songwriter Mac DeMarco.

String Theory—brought to you by the folks at Ernie Ball—explores the sonic origins of some of music’s most influential and innovative guitar players.

Here are five surprising facts revealed by DeMarco in the episode, which you can watch below.

1. Even though he came from a family of musicians, he never thought he would pursue music until he eventually picked up the guitar (0:26): “I never thought I would do the music thing. Never wanted to play guitar when I was a kid. Got a family full of musicians, but it was very unappealing—I was like, ‘Screw that.’ I picked [a guitar] up one day—all my friends were playing. Turned out I could do it a little bit. It was interesting. Right around the same time, I got into all the classic rock stuff you get into as a young man. I got hooked.”

2. When it comes to songwriting, DeMarco is a fan of alternate tunings (1:53): “What I did initially was play in open tunings a lot. Which I guess is kind of like a Keith Richards or whoever else thing. But in a way it was like—if you change all the tunings and you have no idea where to grab chords anymore—it’s like you’re learning from scratch again. It’s easier to come up with something.”

3. He thinks of guitar as the “people’s instrument” (2:38): “Guitar is the people’s instrument, you know. Anybody can play guitar. It’s very welcoming. A couple chords, you’re ripping. You’re playing Neil Young, no problem.

4. Slinky packaging is what initially attracted him to using Ernie Ball strings (3:20): “I was probably 13, 14, but I remember being in Avenue Guitars—a guitar store in my hometown in Edmonton—looking over the counter, and you see the pack. It’s got, what is it, a hawk or an eagle on the front? Nice design, kind of psychedelic, you know. I was like, ‘Yeah, I guess I’ll get those ones.’

5. He’s got some great advice for kids that ask him how to find success in music (9:50): “Kids ask me a lot, ‘How do I get on a record label? How do I get on a blog?’ It’s kind of like, don’t worry about any of that. If you like doing it, just do it. And if it works out, that’s great. If not, at least you’re enjoying yourself.”

Of course, these are just five facts pulled from the clip. Be sure to watch the entire episode below.

For more information, visit

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.