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 Collective Soul to talk about their songwriting process and early musical inspirations.

1. Evolution Of Guitar Playing

Ed Rolland: “Guitar playing for me has changed over the years. It was very serious at the beginning. I used to be really good. I could shred and all that. Went to Berklee. I always wanted to be a songwriter, but you study your instrument, so guitar playing to me now is, I just want to write songs. So that, it’s evolved or devolved over the years, if that makes sense.” 1:02

2. Inspirations

Ed Rolland“Growing up I had so many idols. I mean, Elvis was really big and like I said my dad being a minister a lot of gospel A lot of gospel in the house a lot of him knows the first one that I discovered I would say on my own was Elton John and Bernie Toppen.” 1:53

3. Advice From A Mailman

Ed Rolland: “Berklee taught me a lot of things, taught me more about culture and myself, so I would just walk like a silly young man, a young southern boy and meet people and I met a mailman. Somehow we just started talking and he said, “He graduated from Berklee” And I said, “Wow, why are you a mailman?” He goes, “I didn’t wanna teach.” He said, “What do you wanna do?” I said, “I wanna be a songwriter.” He goes, “Then quit Berklee.” ‘Cause they didn’t teach that at the time. I mean, I don’t know who does. That was his point. You gotta go out and live life, see the landscape, do whatever. just you got to experience life. And so I was like, okay, so I went back home.” 3:52

4. First Pack Of Ernie Ball Strings

Ed Rolland & Will Turpin: “First time I bought Ernie Ball’s strings was in his pop store. He had a music store above the studio. It was his, your grandfather’s house, I believe. Big Fred would work the front counter. Oh, I don’t remember Big Fred working. I do. Terry Hamilton would work there. So, that’s the choice I had. Really, really never left.Pretty much the same here. I remember that Ernie Ball Eagle and that’s all, that’s all my dad played. Came straight from my dad’s Ernie Ball string. He loved Ernie Ball strings, and that’s the ones he liked. I didn’t know there were other strings, to be honest with you.” 4:43

5. Going On The Road

Ed Rolland: “It wasn’t until we went out on the road and then, I mean, every day, my mom actually found our itinerary, which was handwritten of our first tour. We did 25 shows in 23 days. Like, ’cause they were just throwing us out. there and we were naive and young andexcited.” 6:30

6. Feel Songwriting

Will Turpin: “There’s no logic to what I do. I’m not technical. I’m a feel-writer. When I feel like it’s going to happen, it happens. But it’s a part of the extension of me. I do it all the time. time. Ideas anyway. Just sit there and noodle and then I’ll go, “Oh, that chord progression is cool.” And kind of start chanting And hopefully within five minutes the idea is there and hopefully the thesis, the title or something I’ll write about.” 8:12 


Collective Soul gets their signature sound using Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings.

String Theory

Check out similar String Theory films from Ernie Ball like Hootie & the Blowfish, Jason Isbell, and Larkin Poe.

Share this Post