Dustin Kensrue, singer and guitarist for Orange County post-hardcore band Thrice in addition to being an accomplished solo performer, has evolved significantly in his guitar technique over the years. Thrice’s first several records were exquisitely fast and heavy, whereas their most recent releases feature much more dynamic, melodic playing (though they still retain plenty of heaviness).

Dustin 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 – Dustin doesn’t consider himself a technical guitar player (0:25)

“I like the rhythmic and dynamic aspects of it, especially like playing acoustic or something where I have complete control over the dynamic, whether it comes down really small or gets loud.”

#2 – He needs his gear to allow him to be expressive (1:17)

He doesn’t need the most high-output pickup, or a super powerful amp.

 “The joy of being able to play dynamically and having it translate through your gear is great.”

#3 – He values playing with feel over technical proficiency (2:18)

“It’s great if you can do both, but guitar specifically as an instrument, if you’re playing rock and roll music, it’s just the way guitar wants to be played is dynamically. You’re physically, viscerally transferring energy into these strings, and that’s really at the core, I think, of what we love about rock music.”

#4 – He’s only recently begun to consider himself a “guitar player” at all (3:43)

He started thinking of himself as a “singer who played guitar,” and only now considers himself pretty good at what he does from a guitar standpoint. He looks to guitarists like Peter Green and George Harrison for inspiration, as he feels that they had a knack for always playing “the right thing.”

#5 – He’s not musically trained, and learned theory as the band progressed (5:42)

“I think there’s something very cool about discovering that stuff, and having a very visceral grasp of it as opposed to just a mental one.”

#6 – Punk rock music influences everything they do musically (6:38)

“I think growing up playing punk rock music has always influenced the way that we’re doing whatever we’re doing, and will continue to even if it doesn’t sound like anything we were playing fifteen years ago. I think there’s an element of the urgency and the raw qualities that we still really want to keep in our music.”

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Kirk Hammett, Chris Broderick, Kurt Vile and more. You can also enjoy some of Thrice’s most popular songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Dustin Kensrue plays Ernie Ball Cobalt Beefy Slinky guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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