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“My strings leave the bass when they break”: George Porter Jr. says he prefers old strings on his bass

“I like strings that are old and dull.”

George Porter Jr. on stage playing bass. He has one hand on the neck of his guitar and one in the air. He is calling out into the audience and wears a multi-coloured sweater.

Image: Erika Goldring / Getty

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Many of us are guilty of leaving our strings on for a little too long, but one artist in particular who purposefully uses old strings is funk legend George Porter Jr. of The Meters. According to the bass player, he will simply never play a guitar with all new strings on it.

As Porter Jr. is recognised as “one of the progenitors of funk bass”, it seems this method works just great for him. Maybe your bandmate who has been holding on to those tired strings claiming they contribute to better tone might not be too crazy after all.

The Meters became well known for their track, Cissy Strut, which featured in Quentin Tarantino’s 1998 movie, Jackie Brown. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011 due to its historical significance in the funk genre.

In an interview with Bass Player, Porter Jr. recalls which guitar he used to record the famous track: “I recorded Cissy Strut with a Gibson EB-2, but when we were in the studio recording Look-Ka Py Py, I saw an old Telecaster Bass sitting in the corner. It had cobwebs all over it, but when I played it – man, it had such a ballsy tone. I used that bass to record a great deal of music.”

In keeping with his love for instruments with older character, Porter Jr. later shares he prefers old strings too: “My strings leave the bass when they break,” he declares. “I would never, ever play a bass that has all brand-new strings on it; if I have to change all four of my strings, the bass is gonna sit around a while before I play on it. I like strings that are old and dull.”

George Porter Jr. is set to play a range of live shows commencing January 2024. Find out more via his official website.

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