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Stingray confusion


Oomo

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I used to love the classic Stingray sound from back when I used to play, but never owned one.

 

I've come back to bass after a bit of a break, and keeping half an eye out for a 2nd hand one if it comes up at the right price.

 

I'm totally confused about all the changes to models though... Seems there's now a Sub4, Ray34, Sterling, Stingray USA etc.

 

I didn't pay enough attention at the time, but guessing an old USA model would be the classic Stingray sound I loved. Are the others just updated versions? Or cheaply made models that should be avoided at all costs?

 

If they're anywhere near the classic Stingray sound then I'd consider a new model too of course...

 

 

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Classic Stingray sound means different things to different people. A 2-band EQ version of any of them will get you as close as you need to classic Stingray territory. You don't need to go old, the rest will be achieved with your fingers, EQ settings and choice of strings.

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If you can swing it I'd advice getting an older one (pre EB), simply because they retain their value really well. Frankly they sound pretty consistent, much more so than their Fender ancestors, but you know what people are like! They were also less confusing in those days. Wasn't everything?

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Having played a few and not knowing what your budget is, I'd recommend finding a store that has a variety of these models available to try out and see what you think in person and hands on. 

 

I understand people like to have "the original McCoy" and pay top dollar, nothing wrong with that but not always to everyone's affordability and some of these cheaper models are pretty damn good for the money and a fraction of the cost of their American sibling. I'd be tempted to give them a go and even report back what you thought 😁

 

As much as I liked the ones I played (whilst working in a guitar store) I'm not one for active basses, or I'd have one 👍🏻

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3 minutes ago, bigsmokebass said:

 

 

I understand people like to have "the original McCoy" and pay top dollar, nothing wrong with that but not always to everyone's affordability and some of these cheaper models are pretty damn good for the money and a fraction of the cost of their American sibling. I'd be tempted to give them a go and even report back what you thought 😁

 

Absolutely - one of my fave rays was an OLP with a Status neck, it sounded amazing but I'm not really a 5 string player. However if you have the money and buy a pre EB ray you could probably play it and sell it years later for the same or more, making the bass free!! (That's my philosophy anyway)

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Oh this is easy*

 

Musicman

Musicman Stingray: The original

Musicman Sterling: The smaller bodied version of the above

Musicman SUB: US made budget Stingray

 

Sterling by Musicman

SUB: Cheapest version, now known as the Sterling Ray4/5

Ray 34/35: Top spec non-US model

Ray 24/25: Middle spec none cutaway 2 band EQ

Subway: Freshly made sandwiches

Rayman: a franchise of platform video games, created by video game designer Michel Ancel for Ubisoft

 

*List may or may not be complete as they change these bloody things every other week

 

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The US SUB offers great value for money. They are a kind of a no-thrills Stingray (built in the same factory in Cal with the same electronics and hardware). I got one yesterday for £600. These basses are built like a tank. Super solid but also super heavy. Admittedly, the chunky slap body is not everybody's cup of tea either. Finally, the pickguard has an industrial "chic" but that can easily be fixed as seen in the photo below.  

 

1902476806_EBMMStingraySUBBlack.thumb.jpg.e9f4557d381d7457eab713ce2689b981.jpg

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8 hours ago, bigsmokebass said:

...some of these cheaper models are pretty damn good for the money and a fraction of the cost of their American sibling.

I picked up a very cheap (£125.00) secondhand Sterling SUB 4 a few months ago out of curiosity more than anything else & was really surprised by how good it was.

Very good quality, lovely neck & sounded really good too.

I honestly thought it was a better bass than the "proper" Musicman Stingray 5 I owned a while ago.

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3 hours ago, Bassmingo said:

Define "Classic Stingray"

 

Pre Ernie Ball?

Post Ernie Ball 2EQ?

3 EQ with no string mutes?

 

Probably late 90s early 00s were when I was active playing and saw/heard a bunch of Stingrays the first time round.

 

No idea when the Ernie Ball takeover happened or whether they were 2/3 band eq though... (ah, simpler times!)

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12 minutes ago, Oomo said:

 

Probably late 90s early 00s were when I was active playing and saw/heard a bunch of Stingrays the first time round.

 

No idea when the Ernie Ball takeover happened or whether they were 2/3 band eq though... (ah, simpler times!)


1984 was the beginning of the Ernie Ball era. Not much changed initially. Everything you need to know is here

http://www.musicmanbass.global

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Most people will tell you "Just buy a Musicman!"

However, plenty will tell you the Sterling Ray 34 will get you close enough to the Stingray sound, and for only $900, I'd be more than happy with this.

Best bass Sterling has to offer, by far.

 

61prai3FuNS._AC_SL1500_.jpg

Edited by jd56hawk
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Yep, a few years back I had an EBMM Stingray and a Sterling by Musicman Ray34 as backup. Not that much difference between the two, maybe the EBMM was slightly (very slightly) warmer sounding but there was so little in it. Both of the basses played and felt great, aside from the ageing on the neck of the EBMM again both felt pretty much the same. 

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I have swapped and changed basses so many times over the years and am currently on my third Stingray which I have had for 5 years now.

 

I bought all three of them secondhand and have been very lucky to get them at very low prices by being patient and hunting around. I would highly recommend buying a used USA model which could cost you less than a new Far East made Sterling by MusicMan model.

 

The Sterling range are very good but I don’t think the necks are a patch on the USA models. Saying that I would never fork out the kind of money they want for the new current models, I am sure they are great but they are serious money now.

Edited by NJE
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I’m one of the resident ‘Ray geeks, and would concur with the USA and 2 band EQ route.  I worked my way up from a USA Sub, got *very* lucky with a poorly photographed ‘88 2EQ on eBay and eventually traded up to a USA Stingray Classic (now discontinued) which I got on here.  Still kicking myself 6 years later for selling a 2EQ ‘Pino homage’ fretless.

 

Fabulous basses all.

 

2EF22801-AD13-4088-BDC9-01D275F8B9B9.jpeg

675EB4F0-FE8F-46C9-846B-8F35814D92B9.jpeg

Edited by MattM
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On 01/12/2021 at 12:56, Machines said:

Oh this is easy*

 

Musicman

Musicman Stingray: The original

Musicman Sterling: The smaller bodied version of the above

Musicman SUB: US made budget Stingray

 

Sterling by Musicman

SUB: Cheapest version, now known as the Sterling Ray4/5

Ray 34/35: Top spec non-US model

Ray 24/25: Middle spec none cutaway 2 band EQ

Subway: Freshly made sandwiches

Rayman: a franchise of platform video games, created by video game designer Michel Ancel for Ubisoft

 

*List may or may not be complete as they change these bloody things every other week

 

Cool list. I am still enjoying my new SUB bass. It sounds killer. Great rock machine. 

I did some digging and it looks like the SUB was only in production between 03 and 06 (mine is from 06) and SUB apparently stood for "Sports Utility Bass". Not really sure what that's supposed to mean though. 

Further, it first said "S.U.B." on the headstocks, then they changed it to "SUB" and finally "SUB bass" (like on mine), which also makes not much sense - "Sports Utility Bass Bass"? 🥴

Anyway, great bass and impressive value for money, esp. if you consider what the new Stingray Specials cost nowadays (£3k!)

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Nobody's mentioned those assembled in Japan using MIA parts. I had one of the very few that made their way to the UK - for some reason I never gelled with it. It may not have been any different from many of those built in the US.

 

If you come across one give it a go...

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I've played and worked on a few rays. 

Sterling SUB'S various 

USA Sub

USA STINGRAY various

PRE Ernie Ball stingray.

 

I think there all pretty good. Only gripe I had with the cheapest subs was the hardware was cheap, but it's a budget instrument and they had issues with having overly hot output. Now fixed with the newer Sterling headstock models. 

 

I prefer the 2 band models.

Not long ago, i upgraded the electrics on a bc members USA Ray. Pickup to an aguilar and a John East 3 band pre amp. Sounded really good! Perhaps some might think, it had lost some looseness and character. 

 

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Can attest the Stingray Specials are really nice instruments, but at the same time they feel sleeker and more refined than older Stingrays i've played, so may not be what you're looking for.  They've stopped making the Classics, so next option is a Sterling.

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