Mike Dirnt


Mike Dirnt : biography

May 4, 1972 –


While at Pinole High School, Dirnt, Armstrong, and classmate Sean Hughes formed a band called Sweet Children. Dirnt’s mother struggled to provide for him and his sister as a single parent, and eventually had to leave Rodeo in 1987 to look for work. Unwilling to leave Sweet Children, Armstrong and Dirnt convinced each other’s parents to allow Dirnt to move into Armstrong’s garage.Spitz, 2006. p. 42 After drummer John Kiffmeyer, who was also known as Al Sobrante, joined the group, Sweet Children began performing at 924 Gilman Street. The band performed several well-received sets, which encouraged Armstrong to drop out of high school to focus his energy on music.Spitz, 2006. p. 46 Dirnt, however, worried that he needed a backup plan and continued his studies.Spitz, 2006. p. 47 Hughes, who was not as dedicated to the group as the other members, left Sweet Children, leaving Dirnt to play bass. Dirnt often brought his bass to school, and the plucking noise of the unamplified strings led classmates to jokingly call him by the onomatopoeia "Dirnt".Spitz, 2006. pp. 49-50 After changing its name to Green Day, the band recorded its debut album 39/Smooth over the 1989 Christmas holiday break and went on its first van tour in June 1990, leaving the day that Dirnt graduated from high school.Spitz, 2006. p. 67

Green Day’s Woodstock ’94 gig was one for the history books: a huge mud fight ensued between the band and the audience. So many mud-covered fans got up on stage by the end of the set that one of the security guards mistook Dirnt for a marauding fan, tackled him, and broke several of his teeth while attempting to haul him off the stage.

Dirnt used to play a Gibson G3 bass, but during Nimrod., Tré Cool accidentally broke it on stage trying to show fan Brendan Taylor how to spin a bass around his back. Armstrong then sent Dirnt’s bass tech out to get him a new bass. It resulted in a ’69 Fender Precision Bass. He later asked Fender to make him a custom P-Bass, and the result is modeled after the ’51 P-Bass with a ’59 Custom Shop "Hot Rod" Split-Coil Pickup, a BadAss II bridge and a thinner neck. It was released in early 2004. Although Dirnt primarily uses his custom P-Bass for modern songs, he has been seen recently reviving old Fender P-Basses used on Nimrod and Warning, as well as the Gibson G-3 for earlier songs.

While performing at the 1998 KROQ Weenie Roast in Irvine, California, Third Eye Blind bassist Arion Salazar ran onstage and "bear-hugged" Dirnt, who was caught off-guard.Meyer, 2006. pp. 153-154 The incident escalated into an on-stage scuffle before security took Salazar away. After the performance, Dirnt confronted Salazar backstage, and as the two argued, a beer bottle struck Dirnt in the head, causing a small fracture in his skull. Eyewitnesses later attributed the bottle throwing to a fan of Third Eye Blind. Salazar and the band’s management soon released a statement: "I am sorry that my attempt at doing something I thought would be funny escalated into Mike getting hurt. That was never my intention. I simply had too much to drink and made a very bad decision. If I had been in Mike’s place, I am sure I would have acted similarly. My heart goes out to him and I hope he recovers quickly."

In the live album, Bullet in a Bible, Armstrong calls Dirnt "The best bass player in the history of punk rock."



  • Fender Mike Dirnt Precision Bass (in several different colors including: black, white, two-tone sunburst and Antigua.)
  • Fender 1969 Vintage Precision Bass (w/ a BadAss II Bridge, Seymour Duncan Antiquity Pride II Pickups) aka "Stella" (It is likely that the reason Mike named his bass "Stella" was for his daughter, Estelle.)
  • Fender Standard Precision Bass
  • An unknown Jackson bass (seen in a few live videos)
  • Fender 1966 Vintage Precision Bass
  • Gibson G3 Bass (no longer uses live, but on soundchecks. Bridge pickup modified with a Jazz Bass pickup).
  • Kramer 250B (no longer used)
  • Peavey Patriot Bass (no longer used)
  • Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray IV (Seen on top of the pops performance on 1/26/1995)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq6Qwou9x9I


  • Mesa/Boogie M-2000 Head (x3)
  • Mesa/Boogie 6×10 Custom Cab (x2+)
  • Mesa/Boogie 1×18 Cab (x2+)
  • Mesa/Boogie 2×10 Cab (x2+)
  • Fender Pro 1200 Head (x2)
  • Fender Pro 800 Head (x1)
  • Fender Pro 810 Cab (x3+)


  • Ernie Ball Super Slinky Strings
  • Fender 7250M Strings
  • Shure ULX Wireless
  • Custom Audio Electronics Switcher
  • Custom Moody 2.5" Signature Leather Straps
  • Custom "Dirnt" Dunlop Tortex Picks .76 mm and .88 mm
  • Zinky Master Blaster Boost Pedal
  • Zinky True Grit Overdrive Pedal

Dirnt plays using a pick as opposed to plucking the strings with his fingers.