Jump to content

Musicman question


Recommended Posts

I've recently had a wee notion for a Stingray bass but i have no idea what the different models are like.

Obviously the £2-£3k versions are top of the range but what about the others like the MM Sterling, Ray34, etc

Have a mate that had a MM Sterling bass and he said it had a Jazz like neck and great bass to play. Is that the same as the Sterling Stingray bass or completely different version.

Also i've noticed that the 3 way switch is missing on them now. 

I look on MM site and they have a Sterling bass 

I check on bass shops and it s says Sterling Ray34 under the Musicman heading so its all a bit confusing.

Can anyone offer some clarification. I do prefer a narrow slim neck like my Sandberg or Jazz basses

Mates Sterling was circa £900 maybe 4 yrs ago.

Dave

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a Sterling by Musicman Ray34 and a “real” Stingray at the same time about 10 years ago. The quality and playability of the Ray34 was so near to the real one, the only difference being that it was slightly toppier/treblier/sizzlier but that old “in the mix who would notice” thing would apply, it was that slight. And given I bought the Ray34 new and the ‘Ray was about 10 years old it could have been any number of factors accounting for that.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your mates bass was most likely a US EBMM Sterling. Smaller body than the Ray; the single H is equipped with ceramic pup rather than alnico and can be switched single, parallel or series. The neck is jazz width and the headstock is shorter than a Ray. I still have mine after my recent culling and prefer them to Rays - love the neck and aggressive tone in series.

Sterling by Musicman are non US produced Ray clones, good quality, think MIM Fender or better.
 

Sterling SUB are lower ended Far East produced Ray clones.

 

Edited by martthebass
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, martthebass said:

Your mates bass was most likely a US EBMM Sterling. Smaller body than the Ray; the single H is equipped with ceramic pup rather than alnico and can be switched single, parallel or series. The neck is jazz width and the headstock is shorter than a Ray. I still have mine after my recent culling and prefer them to Rays - love the neck and aggressive tone in series.

Sterling by Musicman are non US produced Ray clones, good quality, think MIM Fender or better.
 

Sterling SUB are lower ended Far East produced Ray clones.

 

Yes that sounds like it. So a US EBMM Sterling bass rather than a MM Sterling Ray34 if i picked that up correctly.

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, dmccombe7 said:

Yes that sounds like it. So a US EBMM Sterling bass rather than a MM Sterling Ray34 if i picked that up correctly.

Dave

Yeah that is it basically - I think they’re still available new but they do pop up occasionally used.

They did a version in the ‘Classic’ series of basses (Classic Sterling) for a year or two from 2010 - these are very rare and apart from all the deluxe bits like figured maple neck etc, they didn’t have the series/parallel/single coil switch - I think the pick up was also alnico. A similar US Sub Sterling was also produced in the early 2000s - done at the time the US Sub Stingrays were done. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, dmccombe7 said:

Yes that sounds like it. So a US EBMM Sterling bass rather than a MM Sterling Ray34 if i picked that up correctly.

Dave

In spite of everything suggesting that I would probably prefer the US Sterling to the US Stingray, I don’t. But if you liked your mate’s, that what matters. I happily defer to DrT above in matters Musicman, but of course only you can decide which you like best. 

FWIW, Sterling by Musicman are all Indonesian, as opposed to Musicman basses, which are built in the USA. Also FWIW, I haven’t liked the ones I’ve played any less than the majority of the full fat US MusicMan basses I’ve played. In fact I like the US Classics I’ve played quite a bit less. Of course YMMV. If you want a Jazz nut width, just make sure that’s what you get. 

I think most of the necessary info is actually on the individual sites, it just takes a bit of wading through. 

https://intl.sterlingbymusicman.com/pages/about

Maybe somebody should do a potted Musicman history/primer for MM newbies. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a Sterling ray 34ca (I should add that I’ve owned many real stingrays) and it was damn near the real thing, but with a jazz-width neck. Sadly though, the neck was really wavy and unstable, it reminded me of the Geddy Lee jazz I owned. I later owned the cheap sterling ‘sub’ ray and, once I’d fixed the over-hot preamp, it was a fantastic bass and one I’d own again in a shot. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another layer of confusion: one or two of the Sterling by Music Man Stingrays have the same Jazz-like thin nut as the Ernie Ball Music Man Sterlings. But the Music Man websites don't list nut width 🤦‍♂️

The LowEndLobster YouTube bass channel has done masses of videos on the SBMM Ray24 and the SBMM Ray4, stripping them down and modding them and says that they have more in common than you might expect from the price difference. Eg

 

Screenshot_20210721-072525_YouTube.jpg

Edited by Ricky Rioli
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have had a couple of US MusicMan Stingrays over the years (had to sell them at various times when money was tight). As other have said, these have the bigger necks and bodies and the US Sterling basses are downsized a little and have the pickup switching options (although so do the multiple pickup US Stingrays)

I have played the Indonesian Sterling Basses, they are good, but I would always suggest getting a secondhand USA over a new Sterling by MusicMan if you have the money as the US made stuff seems to hold value a little better.

I don’t think you would be disappointed with either, but there is just something about the neck on the US basses that tips it for me.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can’t comment on the current Sterling series basses and neck widths but I have a Sterling SB14 which I think would have been a forerunner of them. If you can find one they’re an absolute bargain but you don’t see them often. It’s an Indonesian built Sterling with the smaller body, headstock, pickup switching options and jazz neck from a few years back which I believe were sent to the USA factory for final set up and QC control. Having previously owned and sold a ‘proper’ USA Sterling  (amongst various other USA Stingrays) I much prefer my little SB14. Sound wise and quality wise I can’t tell the difference between it and it’s expensive USA big brother but I much prefer the neck. It’s still jazz width but it’s less full in the hand and has a satin finish rather than the waxed MM one. I used to cramp up on the old one but I don’t with this. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, Mudpup said:

I can’t comment on the current Sterling series basses and neck widths but I have a Sterling SB14 which I think would have been a forerunner of them. If you can find one they’re an absolute bargain but you don’t see them often. It’s an Indonesian built Sterling with the smaller body, headstock, pickup switching options and jazz neck from a few years back which I believe were sent to the USA factory for final set up and QC control. Having previously owned and sold a ‘proper’ USA Sterling  (amongst various other USA Stingrays) I much prefer my little SB14. Sound wise and quality wise I can’t tell the difference between it and it’s expensive USA big brother but I much prefer the neck. It’s still jazz width but it’s less full in the hand and has a satin finish rather than the waxed MM one. I used to cramp up on the old one but I don’t with this. 

Not heard of that version. Cheers for that. Its good that there seems to be a few folks that have had the expensive Stingrays but prefer the feel of the cheaper versions with little difference in tone from them.

Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

Did your proper USA sterling have the same slim neck too 🙂

The only neck type on the US Sterling is the narrow version. As that bass also has a 5 bolt neck joint and one extra fret (goes to high F - 22 frets), it was completely different from the Stingray with 21 frets, 6 bolt neck joint and wider profile. There was a narrower SLO Special neck available on a Stingray but also 6 bolt and 21 frets (as opposed to the version on the US Sub). 

The Stingray Special has 22 frets, a 5 bolt neck joint and the wider profile. 

All that said, I don’t know how Musicman achieve what they do with their necks but they are simply incredibly playable, slick and have a profile which is, IMO, a combination of a flat curve (11 in radius except the Classic series at 7.5 in) with (on the Stingray 4), a 43 mm width at the nut and rolled edges - the latest Specials have the added roasted maple and the slickest finish you could imagine - a lot of this is down to the level of hand finishing applied in the build. 

The main differences with the SBMM models is standard of hardware (which is different for the higher priced ones compared with the Subs).

In terms of sound, because they’re all covering the same design concept, there are similarities, but like with a comparison of P or J basses across a vast range of price, there are differences. I think some of the SBMMs have ceramic pick ups (but I’m not up on the differences). The SBMM models provide great basses at the price points. 

The US basses these days are into the exquisite sort of playing experience. It’s also worth bearing in mind the US Sterling is essentially a 4 string version of the 1992-2008 SR5 - my 2003 SR5 remains my favourite 5 string - part of that is to do with the sound available, which is influenced by the ceramic pick up and series/parallel /single coil switchability. 

@dmccombe7 the SBMM SB14 is, as has been indicated, an offshore version of the US Sterling - been out of production for some time but do pop up used occasionally. The main difference (apart from hardware) is the body is, IIRC basswood (it is normally ash on the US Sterling). However that’s no bad thing, the Bongo bass normally has a basswood body and sounds great. These are worth looking at if you find one. That said, US Sterlings pop up used quite regularly. 
 

 

Edited by drTStingray
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

Thanks for that @drTStingray lot of good info to think about. Might head into Glasgow Guitar Guitar for a wee test run on some of theirs.

Dave

Those are some tasty basses in your signature, wonder if that ‘high end appreciation’ will have you drawn to the US ones? Unfortunately always happens to me 😂

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Twigman said:

I have a 2017 USA EBMM Sterling 4HH

 

 

It has the slim neck and smaller body and a 5 way switching of the HH ceramic pickups.

 

It totally killed my GAS

IMG_3460.jpg

 

That’s well nice ☝️

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 minutes ago, Chiliwailer said:

Those are some tasty basses in your signature, wonder if that ‘high end appreciation’ will have you drawn to the US ones? Unfortunately always happens to me 😂

In recent years i limit to circa £1k for gigging basses. My Warwick ive had since 89 and Overwater was for my 50th 11yrs ago. Those 2 never leave the house these days. Warwick was my only bass back in 89 and gigged a few times until work got in the way. I started playing again circa 2009 and never been busier.

Dave

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, dmccombe7 said:

Thanks for that @drTStingray lot of good info to think about. Might head into Glasgow Guitar Guitar for a wee test run on some of theirs.

Dave

For info Dave, this is the one that escaped my cull. It’s been modded with a Jon Shuker neck gloss makeover and stainless frets. Plays very nice and not stupidly heavy.

CD77C281-AA3C-47B7-9007-94224945E149.jpeg

A20008D4-2CB5-4F16-B803-CAD45A026554.jpeg

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

Did your proper USA sterling have the same slim neck too 🙂

It did. It was oiled/waxed as per most USA Sterlings rather than a satin finish like the SB14 has. I found the USA one to be slightly deeper though and more of a rounded profile and my hand would cramp up a bit on some gigs. The SB14 is less deep and a bit flatter at the back although the same 38mm nut width. Its only a minor thing but for some reason my hand is fine on the cheaper bass. And I swear I cannot hear any difference in the sound at all - it's pretty much identical.

I see you have a Sandberg VM4 in your collection - i had an old one of those and the SB14 neck is very close to that. The fingerboard radius is a bit rounder on the SB14 - my Sandy was noticeably flatter.

Edited by Mudpup
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Mudpup said:

It did. It was oiled/waxed as per most USA Sterlings rather than a satin finish like the SB14 has. I found the USA one to be slightly deeper though and more of a rounded profile and my hand would cramp up a bit on some gigs. The SB14 is less deep and a bit flatter at the back although the same 38mm nut width. Its only a minor thing but for some reason my hand is fine on the cheaper bass. And I swear I cannot hear any difference in the sound at all - it's pretty much identical.

I see you have a Sandberg VM4 in your collection - i had an old one of those and the SB14 neck is very close to that. The fingerboard radius is a bit rounder on the SB14 - my Sandy was noticeably flatter.

Great info Mudpup thank you 👍,  I know everyone has different priorities on basses, but for me it’s how the neck feels , I’ve moved on many just because they didn’t feel right 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...