Deftones’ Stephen Carpenter explains why he’s always preferred being a rhythm guitarist rather than a lead player

Ernie Ball String Theory ft. Stephen Carpenter of Deftones
(Image credit: Ernie Ball)

With his wrecking ball eight-string guitar refrains, Stephen Carpenter established himself as one of the leading riff merchants in metal – a tenure he’s held for more than a quarter of a century. And in a new episode of Ernie Ball’s String Theory video series, the guitarist explains why he’s long preferred handling the lower frequencies as opposed to the upper reaches of the fretboard.

“I’ve always gravitated [towards] and been focused on rhythms, specifically the power chord, because that was my immediate connection – that’s what actually impacted me the most,” he explains.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.