Ernie Ball artist Tom Dumont has been playing guitar for influential Orange County rock/ska band No Doubt for more than two decades, providing a welcome unique guitar sound to much of the popular music ruling the airwaves during that time. He also recently joined his No Doubt bandmates Tony Kanal and Adrian Young, along with AFI frontman Davey Havok, in forming the band DREAMCAR.

Tom recently sat down with us to talk about his influences, what playing guitar means to him and more on an episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory. Here are the top six things we learned during the episode, along with a timestamp for each segment so you can follow along.

#1 – His first guitar wasn’t of the highest quality. (0:30)

When Tom was 12 years old, his father took him down to a local music shop and bought him a Les Paul knockoff that cost one hundred dollars. “It was really a horrible guitar. I ended up tearing that guitar apart years later, and it was made of plywood. But it looked killer.”

#2 – He started with the pink pack, then graduated to green. (1:02)

When Tom first began playing guitar, he bought Ernie Ball Super Slinky guitar strings, as the packaging was so engaging and he thinks his local guitar shop may have actually only sold Slinkys. “As the years went on and I got kind of out of like ‘weedily’ metal playing and wanted something more substantial, I play Regular Slinky 10s, and it’s kind of all I’ve played.”

#3 – He realized early on that he was never going to be a virtuoso player. (2:18)

Upon joining No Doubt in the 1990s, he quickly came to the realization that he wasn’t destined to be the next Eddie Van Halen. “When I was young, that was the thing in rock music, it was, you know, Yngwie came out. And that pyrotechnic amazing speed, I couldn’t do that. By the time I joined No Doubt I was about twenty, and musically my world opened up from classic rock, and all of a sudden I was listening to U2 and The Edge which was a completely different approach to guitar.”

#4 – He majored in music in college, and hated it. (3:26)

“The good thing was, I learned theory. I really enjoyed learning theory, and the mechanics behind music. But the bad part is that I had to be a classical guitar player, and I was like starting over, I was 18 years old and starting over. I wasn’t driven to be a classical guitar player, I wanted to rock.”

#5 – Gwen Stefani’s brother helped him break all the musical rules. (4:20)

Eric Stefani was the main songwriter in No Doubt when Tom joined the band (Eric left the band just before the release of the Tragic Kingdom album, and became an animator on The Simpsons). Eric had no theory training, but wrote incredible music that didn’t fit within the rules that Tom had learned in school. “I can learn the language and the framework and the structure, but I learned from Eric how to break all those rules, and how that could help you make great music as well.”

#6 – Taking over as co-songwriter for the band changed their overall sound. (5:35)

After Eric Stefani’s departure, Tom and bassist Tony Kanal took over as No Doubt’s chief songwriters. “I know Tragic Kingdom, in the press they called us a ska band and called it a ska album, but it’s not really. It’s pretty guitar-centric. It’s a rock album that has some ska and funk and reggae beats in it, but we were just fearless about trying something new.”

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Kirk Hammett, Paul Stanley, Jade Puget and more. You can also enjoy some of the most popular songs featuring Tom Dumont in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Tom Dumont plays Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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