Paul Stanley: Five Things We Learned from His New Ernie Ball 'String Theory' Episode

We’re thrilled to premiere the latest episode of Ernie Ball’s String Theory, a web series exploring the sonic origins of some of music’s most influential and innovative guitar players.

Featured in this new episode is Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley—and here are five surprising facts revealed in the video:

1. He grew up around really diverse music, but the acoustic guitar stands out to him (0:45): “I was blessed that I grew up around very diverse music. My parents are European, and music is much more important to people in Europe. It really started more on the acoustic guitar. Not coincidentally, you know, when you saw Elvis playing those early shows, he was playing a Martin.”

2. Stanley holds rhythm guitar playing in high regard (1:27): “For me, being a rhythm player was never a stepping stone to being a lead player. Too often, people either forgo spending time learning and understanding rhythm playing, and think that it’s more important to know how to solo. Surprisingly—or not so much so—I can remember guys who were very flashy on lead guitar, but as soon as you asked them, ‘Now back me up,’ they were lost. I think you can spend a lifetime working on your rhythm.”

3. He was first drawn to Ernie Ball strings because of the bright packaging—and his first sets were flatwounds (2:27): “One thing about Ernie Ball I could always remember was the packages that your eye immediately went to because of the colors. Funny enough, when I first started playing electric guitar, I got flatwound strings, because they didn’t squeak. It took a while to realize that the squeaking is part of what makes it cool.”

4. Stanley is a big fan of higher-gauge strings (3:00): “To me, to play great rhythm, you need stiff strings. Whatever your fingers can handle is the way to go. When you have those wobbly strings, to me that’s not rock ’n’ roll. Rock ’n’ roll is about the glory of the arm swing, the down push. I want the glory of those big chords. Think of a piano—there’s that great authority when you hit a chord. The strings aren’t undulating. There’s a definitive quality to it. Those thicker strings make for a much more emphatic chord.”

5. He doesn’t play as much guitar as he used to, but the instrument is still a huge part of him (5:52): “The guitar is something I can always go to. It’s always there for me. And, honestly, I don’t play it as often as I did, but it’s so much part of the foundation of who I am and what’s made me who I am.”

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

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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.