Josh Carter, music producer and guitarist for Phantogram, is doing exciting and unconventional things with the guitar. Much of Phantogram’s electro-pop music sounds synthesizer-laden, but much of those sounds are actually Josh and his guitar.

Carter recently joined us for 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 – Though he grew up in a musical family, he didn’t initially gravitate toward playing music (0:15)

His mother and sister both played piano, and his father and brother both played guitar. He stayed away from instruments during his childhood, spending his time skateboarding. It wasn’t until his late teens that he got into playing the drums, which eventually led him to playing guitar.

#2 – He started playing guitar to write songs (0:52)

He was recording directly to a 4-track cassette recorder, and began to write vignettes of songs with a guitar, piano, and synthesizers.

#3 – He doesn’t like to play flashy (1:30)

“I’m not a shredmaster, I’m not a super gearhead, or anything like that. I just try to complement what’s going on.”

#4 – He’s evolved his approach to playing guitar over the years (2:39)

He now views the guitar as more of an accessory than a main player. “A lot of people will ask me ‘how did you get that synth sound?’ That’s just guitar.”

#5 – His atmospheric guitar sounds have specific influences (3:07)

“I make a lot of atmospheric sounds on the guitar. A lot of the influence behind that is like Radiohead and Pink Floyd. I don’t look at the guitar simply as ‘you’re hearing a guitar right now.’ It could be anything, you know?”

#6 – He values being an artist and a songwriter over being a great guitar player (3:27)

“Anybody can play the guitar, and you can go to an open mic night and watch some turkey shred for a half hour, but does that make him an artist? Does that make him a good songwriter? Does that make him clever? And I’m not trying to say that I’m clever, I’m just saying that my approach to playing the guitar is that I’m just trying to do new things and interesting things, it’s a tool for me.”

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Steve Vai, Jade Puget, Shavo Odadjian and more. You can also enjoy some of Phantogram’s most popular songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Josh Carter plays Ernie Ball Regular Slinky guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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