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Old Horse Murphy

NB'sD: Music Man Stingray Special 5 Strings

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Just prior to lockdown I was invited to play bass and sax in a pretty successful and busy covers band specialising in a lot of 80's music which to me is a dream gig as firstly I love a lot of 80's music and secondly, getting a gig where I get a chance to play both instruments is pretty rare. 

It soon became apparent though that because of some key changes and because a lot of the bass lines involve a low D or C# that I was in all likelihood going to have to play a 5 String again (I know there are other options but hey, we all need an excuse, right?) I've played 5's before but in all my years of gigging, never actually gigged with one as I've always at the last minute reverted back to a 4 stringer (comfort blanket thing). In all honesty this has often caused me a few sweaty moments in trying to re-map songs on the neck often at very short notice, so I decided to use lockdown to really "learn" the 5 string. The first step was putting all the 4 strings away and just getting on with it....and wow, it worked a treat. I've had a few rehearsals so far and it's really gelled nicely: so nicely in fact, that I decided to move some of my 4 strings on and invest in a couple of really nice 5'ers. 

I've always loved Music Man basses and always found the SR5 to be a thing of beauty. The ones I've had though have been pretty heavy and sounded either too boomy of too thin, or a strange mixture of both. Having done some research on the new Specials though, I decided to take a visit to Bass Direct and came away with the one in Chopper Blue. They really are fantastic instruments with the usual Music Man build quality but with the Neodymium pickups, 18v electrics and incredibly light weight (both are under 8.5lbs) they're a no-brainer for me. 

Having bought one, I clearly need a backup (ahem) and so after selling a few basses I also bought the Aqua Sparkle one with ebony neck from Andertons. It really is very very sparkly in the flesh, but it is an incredible bass to play. 

Music Man really have upped their game here and I have been hugely impressed with the changes they've made. If anyone is half-thinking about trying these I'd recommend they do. Although they look pretty- much identical to the older models, they really are very different beasts and to my mind at least, a step up in terms of quality, comfort and sound. 
 

 

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28 minutes ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

Having bought one, I clearly need a backup (ahem) and so after...

🤣 My man! 😂 

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Both are nice, but the aqua sparkle is lush. 

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24 minutes ago, BassApprentice said:

Yeah that Aqua Sparkle is very nice! Was that custom spec or just off the hanger? 

It's an off the peg colour. Music Man seem to have gone all Earth Wind and Fire with their latest colour offerings

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Nice couple of basses there. Have to admit I’ve been considering a fiver.

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Great post @Old Horse Murphy. That’s basically what forced me to knuckle down with 5’ers some years ago. For me, it’s not something I could dabble with as I always found myself having an excuse to go back to the 4’s. With the 80’s band there was no way around it, well not one that I wanted to pursue anyway.

That said, there are a few 80’s songs I still like to play on a 4, but they’re few and far between.

Congrats on the basses, they look awesome. I have a Special 4. It had a few set up issues, but now I’ve sorted that out, it’s a real cracker. Sounds like you’ve really lucked out with the weight as well. I think that’s similar to my Special, albeit mine is a HH.

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Congratulations on your new basses. I would echo what you've said about the Specials - I've got two as well, a 4 and a 5 - both are very light, both HH configuration and have bright colours - the 4 being that same Aqua sparkle - it's a great colour - I've had them nearly two years now and am still very smitten - the aqua sparkle looks absolutely great (v nice under lights) - as Musicman colours go probably only second to the fuschia sparkle offered on Bongos (as well as Aqua sparkle) for in your face beauty!! 😬

I agree as well on 5 strings - whilst I got into them to play Stevie Wonder stuff I also couldn't be without a 4, so I've I have, and play both in rotation. I've recently been re-learning/practicing Stevie stuff (Boogie on Reggae Woman; Higher Ground and You Haven't Done Nothin') - I prefer playing all of them on 5 string owing to the keys or voicing. 

I don't quite agree on your comment about the pre Special MM SR5 being boomy or thin - my (quite weighty) natural ash SR5H sounds fat and punchy - I reckon the ceramic pick up, coil switching, 3 band EQ with high pass filter all contribute - the 2 band Classic Ray can be boomy (no high pass filter) dependent on location/ room dynamics and settings (and if the PA operator is too tuned in to sub frequencies rather than mid for bass guitar....). 

What songs will you be playing in the new 80s band - I must admit I really like 80s stuff as well. 

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Ye I fell so so in love with the special the moment I tried one and I've barely stopped thinking about them 6 months later! Aqua sparkle is definitely one of my favourite finishes, although charcoal sparkle is what I will go for. Also gonna get a 5er because although I prefer 4, I don't ever want to have to not play it once I get it and 5 is to important. 

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Stop it! I have terrible GAS for a SR5 HH in blue sparkle. Fortunately there’s no way I’d drop over £2K on a bass nowadays :)

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I played MM Basses in the ‘90s but as I got older and my back got more delicate, I moved to lighter basses.  I still have an ‘85 fretless 4 that is a reasonable weight but could never find a fretted one to match it. 
Finding out that the latest ones weigh 8.5lbs is fantastic news. Finding out they cost £2k + less so. Nevertheless, I am going to have to try some soon. Love the Chopper Blue one. 

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If there's a fair amount of them at 8.5lb that means it is likely somewhere there will be an 8lb one.

 

8 lb is my absolute max these days - and my main basses are all way under that. But if I can find an 8lb one then I think my wallet will be in trouble. Knowing my luck it will be bright yellow.

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On 20/07/2020 at 10:41, Old Horse Murphy said:

...Music Man really have upped their game here and I have been hugely impressed with the changes they've made. If anyone is half-thinking about trying these I'd recommend they do. Although they look pretty- much identical to the older models, they really are very different beasts and to my mind at least, a step up in terms of quality, comfort and sound. 

Great post ! I'm  3/4-thinking about buying one ! 😃

I definitely switched to the 5S a couple years ago after more of 3 decades on 4S. Now, even if I have to play a R'n'R vintage style gig I do prefer use one of my fives.

I have a mixed souvenir of my former SR5 regarding its weight but the Special Series no longer seems to have this defect. 

I hesitate between Aqua Sparkle & Charcoal Sparkle...

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I’d like to try one, 4 or 5, as they seem to address some of the things Im not so keen on with the older basses. I’ve never yet managed to get an MM to work for me, but you never know. 

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8 hours ago, fretmeister said:

If there's a fair amount of them at 8.5lb that means it is likely somewhere there will be an 8lb one.

 

8 lb is my absolute max these days - and my main basses are all way under that. But if I can find an 8lb one then I think my wallet will be in trouble. Knowing my luck it will be bright yellow.

Well you wouldn’t have trouble finding it...

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Posted (edited)

Just had a look on the website. The special has some really nice colour options! 

The aqua sparkle is nice, but maybe the silver would win as I think the white pickup cover looks ace 

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Edited by BassApprentice
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I’ll keep an eye out for it in the for sale threads in 3 months... and get saving 😀

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, krispn said:

I’ll keep an eye out for it in the for sale threads in 3 months... and get saving 😀

They're few and far between used 😏 

Anyone who thinks they can resist the sparkle - this is my 4HH - that colour has an ebony board and black hardware. It's just about 2 yrs old now - weighs around 8 lbs. That said, the silver's v nice @BassApprentice

How are you getting on with the SR5 Specials, @Old Horse Murphy ?

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Edited by drTStingray
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