Ernie Ball String Theory is a web series that explores the sonic origins of some of music’s most innovative guitar players. In this episode of String Theory, Ernie Ball sits down with FIDLAR‘s Zac Carper to talk about how writing music, playing guitar, and performing live is the ultimate expression of who he is.

1. The Guitar is the Tool

Zac Carper: “Guitar playing is really a way to write a song. The goal for me is to write songs, and guitar playing is my tool. It’s like a hammer. It’s also the most basic form of expression for me. I think when I play guitar, it shuts off a side of my brain that helps me be able to sing and be who I am.” 0:20

2. 80’s & Neon = Ernie Ball

Zac Carper: “I remember buying Ernie Ball strings, and I just loved it because it was neon. I love neon. It was the color for me because my dad’s surf shop, his brand is very eighties looking, you know what I mean? And Hawaii in the nineties is basically the eighties.” 2:46

3. DIY Came From Wanting to Play Music No Matter What

Zac Carper: “I always say the shitty part about DIY is you got to do it yourself. So I think, in reality, when I look back on it, nobody would do it for us, so you just made it happen and do it ourselves. We would set up in parking lots, and we would set up under overpasses and skate parks, and all the gear would be plugged into an outlet that’s 50 feet away next to the public bathroom that you find. So the approach of just figuring out how to do it no matter what is brought in, not only to playing music, but it also comes into the writing. I only know a couple chords, but I know how to play them well, and we’ll figure out how to make music no matter what.” 5:09

4. Playing Live is Everything

Zac Carper: I will say this about starting a band now, I think your biggest asset right now, in 2023, is playing live. I think it all boils down to performing your music live right now. The only way you get better at something is by doing it over and over and over and over and over and over again. So play as many shows. 10:43

5. The R-I-F-F System

Zac Carper: And it doesn’t matter if there’s one person up there or there’s a thousand people out there. I enjoy it when it’s less people. We call it the RIFF system. The R-I-F-F, remember, it’s for fun. Every time there’s like ten people out there, you’re like, all right, man. The RIFF system’s in effect, and you play like you’re in a fucking stadium. You just go even harder. 11:45

6. Live in the Moment

Zac Carper: You are right here, right now. You’re not anywhere else. I think for myself included and for a lot of artists is that they want to be big right now. And I’m sorry to say that I’ve had everybody in my entire career say, what I’m about to say, is that you’ll never be as happy as you are right now. 12:32


Zac Carper gets his signature sound using Ernie Ball Regular Slinky electric guitar strings.

String Theory

Check out similar String Theory films from Ernie Ball like Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance, Daron Malakian from System of a Down, and Mac DeMarco.

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