Mike Herrera, bassist and singer for influential punk rockers MxPx, has been holding down the low end for his band for the last 25 years. His setup, consisting of an Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay bass strung with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky bass strings, has remained unchanged since the band’s formation.

Herrera sat down with 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 – Herrera’s first introduction to punk rock was through a childhood friend. (0:38)

They would listen to albums by The Ramones and Social Distortion. He didn’t play an instrument at that point, but knew that he had to join a band soon after. His first time attending a basement punk show sealed the deal for him.

#2 – Sting is a big influence for him. (1:32)

“I was listening to The Police. Sting, I thought that was really interesting how he sang and played, and they could make all this noise as a three-piece. And that sort of made me go, bass guitar – that’s my instrument.”

#3 – He bought his first bass on layaway. (1:54)

He couldn’t initially afford the first bass he ever purchased, an Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay which of course came with Ernie Ball Regular Slinky bass strings, so he saved up for it using a layaway program. “I got that bass, and right along with it, I got that green pack. Regular Slinkys, 105 through 50 gauge, and I’ve never changed. Literally, never changed.”

#4 – His favorite part of recording is playing bass. (2:17)

“Oh this is like the freefall of my day. This is like when you get up the roller coaster and then ‘whoooooooo!’ It’s a challenge sometimes to come up with a riff, and then actually nail it, and then keep nailing it. I love that part of writing bass lines along with the chord structures.”

#5 – When writing songs, he typically writes chord structures and vocal melodies first. (2:56)

Herrera’s approach to bass lines is reminiscent of how many players look at the guitar. He can use it to add depth, texture, harmonies, etc. “And then sometimes you just hit the root note and call it a day!”

#6 – He gets to play a lot more than punk songs thanks to his studio. (3:34)

“It’s cool because I’m not just doing my own stuff. Artists come in, and they’re making a record or an EP or a couple songs, and a lot of times I get the chance to sit in and play bass for them. So it really gets me out there not just doing straight punk stuff, not just doing rock. I do folk and country, it’s the best.”

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Don Felder, Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett and more. You can also enjoy some of the most popular MxPx songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings and Basses

Mike Herrera plays Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay basses and Ernie Ball Regular Slinky bass strings. Do you? Try a set.

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