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Don Felder

"The guitar has been a part of my daily life since I was ten years old." In this episode, Ernie Ball artist Don Felder discusses acquiring his first guitar, being influenced by Elvis Presley at a very young age, and his Ernie Ball strings.

Transcript

Don Felder:
I was a kid, I think we were the last people on the block to actually get a television in our home because we were just dirt poor at the time. One of the first things I saw was Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show and I saw him playing and shaking his hips and singing rock and roll and James Burton and those guys that were all playing with him, was just phenomenal, and I saw these beautiful young girls screaming at him and I went, "I think that's something I want to do."

Don Felder:
Guitar playing to me started when I was 10 years old. I found one across the street in a kid's attic and it was all busted up and missing strings, and I traded in my hand full of cherry bombs for this beat up acoustic guitar, and I didn't have the money to actually restring it but you used to be able to buy individual strings at the drugstore. And so I'd go down when I'd mowed lawns or washed somebody's car and I had an extra 50 cents and I'd buy an E string and then a B string until I replaced the strings that were missing on it and someone taught me how to tune it, a few basic chords and I was just hooked. That guitar has been a part of my daily life since I was 10 years old.

Don Felder:
When I joined The Eagles, Glenn and Bernie had already been using Ernie Ball strings as they were a sponsor of The Eagles, so naturally I got a trunk full of Ernie Ball strings and fell in love with them. Started using them on everything, this is probably 1974. When I first started using Ernie Ball strings, I was particularly delighted with the tone, the sound, the feel, the quality of the product that Ernie Ball manages to deliver in the consistency in it.

Don Felder:
It doesn't matter if I use a set of Ernie Ball strings that I put on six months ago, I know when I change those strings on that guitar that's been in storage, it's going to sound exactly like it did six months ago when I had brand new strings on it.

Don Felder:
I like to go into the studio when I'm working on ideas and try all sorts of stuff that I would never had ever played. Not only the style, but the instrument and the sound and the texture and just approaching it from a new fresh way, because you never know what you're going to find until you go digging around in there, you may find something that's really fun. It's not the end result as much as it is the exploring and going through the process, trying to find out what comes out of it.

Don Felder:
I think the energy comes in the initial inspiration, that initial shot or a vision or concept that you have when it first hits you, whether it's a guitar lick that just rolls out by itself and you get invigorated by that, and then you go through the technical process of putting flesh on the bones of that idea. And hopefully by doing that and going all the way through the end of the writing and singing and production and details and studios and all that stuff, the whole process to where you finish your song and a record and then you go play it live on stage and see what the reaction is, is a complete fascinating journey for me.

Don Felder:
The music is an evolution, especially rock and pop music because it's only been around probably 60 years or something, since the fifties. I think a lot of the reason that I'm still in the music business wasn't about the money, it wasn't about the fame or the adulation of fans or the women or whatever it is, it's about being obsessed with the music.

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