Bernth recreates everybody’s childhood music experiment by using rubber bands as guitar strings – but somehow manages to make them sound decent

Bernth playing a rubber band-stringed acoustic guitar
(Image credit: Bernth/YouTube)

Bernth Brodträger is on something of a creative kick at the moment. Never one to shy away from physical instrumental investigation, Bernth – and his poor acoustic guitars – have been particularly busy in recent times, with the YouTube-turned-mad six-string scientist conducting all sorts of wild experiments.

Since October, Bernth has flooded an Ibanez acoustic, drilled holes in the body of another and literally set off fireworks within a third’s soundhole. Safe to say, Bernth’s experiments are not for the faint of heart.

That said, the faint of heart will be pleased to hear his latest test is far more tame, and doesn’t involve the dismemberment or maiming of the fourth acoustic to go under Bernth’s musical microscope. If anything, the video carries an air of nostalgia about it.

Why? Well, for his latest video, Bernth has swapped acoustic guitar strings for rubber bands, which he’s used to craft his latest aptly titled track, Elasticity.

For many guitarists, our first exposure to the world of playing guitar may have involved cutting a hole in a shoebox, wrapping it with six elastic bands and strumming nonsense until someone informed us that the noise we’re making was just that: noise.

What Bernth does is basically recreate this in a far more sophisticated manner, but somehow he manages to go one step further and make it sound actually-pretty-decent.

For Elasticity, he replaced the bottom three strings with rubber bands – we imagine a consistent string gauge is used for each – and worked to manipulate them in a number of ways to concoct wild and wacky tones.

There’s just enough tension in each string to depict different notes – as Bernth demonstrates in the opening’s open-string riff – but it’s the string stretching that does the track’s heavy lifting, from otherworldly muted soundscapes to jarring behind-the-nut bends.

Bernth even manages to get the regular top strings involved, either through harmonic accompaniments to the rumbling rubber riffs or chime-y upper-register melodies that contrast the unique lower-register soundscapes.

While we’re admittedly impressed that Bernth has managed to recreate what we were all trying to do when we were youngsters, we can’t imagine Ernie Ball or D’Addario will be hopping on the hype train to bring out a set of rubber guitar strings any time soon.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.