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NBD: Sterling Stingray Short Scale


ezbass
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How did I end up with this bass? Wasn’t I looking at P basses (yes, I was)? Well, whatever occurred to alter the search this drastically, I’m pleased with the result.

 

I acquired my first short scale about 12 months ago, a JMJ Mustang, which really opened my eyes to the delights of short scale basses. Having watched and listened carefully to some YT demos and reviews, I pulled the trigger on this Daphne Blue, all maple necked beast. It’s all passive, but with some interesting little wiring shenanigans, namely: a series/parallel/single coil selector and a volume boost built into the volume pot. The boost seems a bit of a misnomer as, in reality, it’s a volume cut, the ‘normal’ setting being fairly quiet compared to my Mustang. So I’ll be keeping on boost permanently. The coil splitting is very good, without any really noticeable volume changes between the 3 settings and, unusually for me, I’ll be leaving that set to parallel (I normally opt for series). It comes with a nut width of 38mm, which I normally find too narrow, but combined with the extra girth that all maple necks from MM seem to have, it’s very comfortable and suits the diminished size well. The nut slots were cut a bit high, so I’ve taken them down about 1mm and the fret tang finishing on the sides is a bit untidy with inconsistent filler (some small pin holes and a lighter colour filler used). The tuners aren’t the best, with a little slop in them, they do the job though, they’re just not premium (some lightweight, Hipshot lollipops would be a great upgrade). It could possibly do with a bit more foam under the pickup to achieve more height as there is more adjustment available in the screws. However, those are the only shortcomings, the rest of the bass is pukka. It’s really nice to play and is super comfortable to wear, weighing in at a mere 3.4kg - happy days. Tonally, it does the ‘Ray thing really well for a passive bass, but adding my Sadowsky SBP2 into the chain and it’s a proper ‘Ray and really sounds great when slapped, which is weird as I don’t slap that often, but I couldn’t resist a bit of Higher Ground, Lessons in Love and School Days. At £599 it seems well priced, although no gigbag or adjustment tools seems a bit mean. Next to my Mustang it adds a really good tonal contrast, whilst still maintaining the short scale vibe and feel. OK, it’s early days, but I think I may have this one a good while (I daren’t tempt fate and call it a keeper just yet).

 

:useless:

 

Oh yeah…

 

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Edited by ezbass
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1 hour ago, Merton said:

I keep considering these and then pontificating too long when they come up for sale on here! The daphne blue is my favourite - enjoy :)

Bass Direct have a used one with some damaged finish at the moment, popped up just after I’d ordered mine from GG.

https://www.bassdirect.co.uk/bass_guitar_specialists/Ray_34_Shorty_SH.html

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12 minutes ago, Merton said:

I know. I keep looking at it, and wondering if Mrs Mert will notice it appearing 😅

It’s so small, it could be easily overlooked. However, the continual checking for the courier delivery might be a giveaway.

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Am I expecting too much to think that you shouldn’t need to dress the frets on a bass that costs the best part of £700 new? I would be less bothered by the nut being a touch high. Personal preference comes in there and it is better to have it high and need to take it down a bit, than too low and have to replace it. 
 

Edited by Obrienp
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4 hours ago, Obrienp said:

Am I expecting too much to think that you shouldn’t need to dress the frets on a bass that costs the best part of £700 new? I would be less bothered by the nut being a touch high. Personal preference comes in there and it is better to have it high and need to take it down a bit, than too low and have to replace it. 
 

I think that’s reasonable and the frets on my new baby are fine. Could the ends be smoother? Possibly, but they’re not sharp by any measure.

 

I replaced the strings yesterday with a spare set of EB cobalt flatwounds (my preferred string for all my basses, except the Rob Allen). This morning the action had settled down from all the adjustments I made and a small tweak on the truss Rod was required. It now has a nice lowish, unbuzzy action. Speaking of buzz, this bass is nice and quiet, which is more than I can say for JMJ Mustang when I first got it. No need for any extra shielding on this one.

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Thanks for this NBD, I am still trying to decide what should be my 2nd bass... this one, or the Chowny Retrovibe Evo (once they start manufacturing it in Bristol as they're coming out with a short and a medium scale). They're both so beautiful, I'm a sucker for blue & green basses.

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Small update. I’ve noticed that a couple of the upper frets are a bit bit discoloured where they haven’t been polished as nicely as the lower ones. Plainly, finishing is where the corners have been cut in order to keep,the price down. However, I’ve had cheaper Squiers where none of this attention to detail is missing. MM don’t seem to have quite the handle on their offshore production as Fender do, especially given @BassAdder27’s comment above. All that said, the more I play it, the more I like it. Paired with my JMJ Mustang, I can cover pretty much any genre in a neat, little, short scale form, which is very pleasing. If MM did this bass in a fretless, I’d be all over it.

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I have one of these and - so far - I've had none of the issues you mention.  However, I bought it second-hand from @tom1946 of this parish, so if there were any problems on delivery from new, I guess he dealt with them!  (thanks, Tom - still loving the bass!)

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23 minutes ago, petecarlton said:

I have one of these and - so far - I've had none of the issues you mention.  However, I bought it second-hand from @tom1946 of this parish, so if there were any problems on delivery from new, I guess he dealt with them!  (thanks, Tom - still loving the bass!)

To be fair, I’m mostly nitpicking as I’m more than happy with it. I can pretty much find fault with instruments at any price point if I’m honest, none of my basses are perfect in every way (for me). I’d certainly consider buying another ‘Ray SS and having it made fretless if I couldn’t find an already bumpless shorty. I think it’d make a great fretless.

Edited by ezbass
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  • 2 months later...

It having been almost 3 months, I feel an update is in order, now that I've used it a fair bit, although only at home.

 

First up, shortcomings. In addition to the slightly poor filling finish on the fret ends, mentioned above, I have been feeling the fret ends/shoulders a fair bit. They're not sharp at all, but with the reduced width and a fairly chunky fret being employed, I've felt the need to dress them off a bit more on the treble side (I also did a light dress on the bass side too). Sorted. The pickup height is almost at its highest, with the screws just biting enough, but this leads to an easily depressed pickup with only just enough resistance for my liking. Added some denser foam under the pickup and added some cocktail stick filler for better screw purchase. Again, sorted. The bulk the nut was far too big really (I've had this on other, way more expensive basses too. Yes, I'm looking at your bunch, Mr Hall), so in addition to lowering the slots for a lower overall action, I filed off a good chunk of the bulk and rounded the shoulders. Sorted. The slop in the tuners, whilst holding pitch perfectly adequately, has had me looking at some lightweight replacements (let's see if we can't shave something of that already pleasant 3.4kg). However, the tuner hole is wider than Hipshot's 1/2" replacement dimensions by at least 1mm :(. I have an enquiry in with them as to the best way forward (I could fit Schaller M4s, but they only do a Y tuner and that doesn't look right somehow). 

 

Now to the good stuff. Although a little more off to left than I like when playing seated (my Mustang is perfect in this respect, offsets FTW), on the strap it's just right and that 3.4kg is very pleasant to bear. I'm really loving the 1.5" nut width, which I've avoided for years due to finding Fender basses with this width like playing broom handles, I certainly now wouldn't rule out this width in the future. Right then, super comfortable and easy to play, what about the other most important thing, tone? Winner, winner, etc. The series/single coil/parallel selector, in conjunction with the volume choke (it's so not a boost) and tone control, gives me a selection of tones that fit in with everything that I play, quickly and efficiently. A bit too mid centric? Select the single coil option (neck coil) and take the volume choke off. Want that humbucker snarl, but with a bit more clarity? Choke off, parallel mode, done. The pickup and circuity have been well thought out and is the crowning glory of this bass (although the choke/volume control described as a push/pull, isn't, it's the much better, IMO, push/push). I'd happily take this on a gig and not worry about not having the tonal flexibility of having 2 basses with different pickup configurations, not bad for a single pickup, all passive bass, not bad at all.

 

To conclude, overall, very happy. I'd certainly get another if something happened to this one, especially with the new black and maple finish they have coming along (hmm, I feel a potential defret coming on :D). 

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The word from Hipshot is that the US versions will fit. However, that does double the cost, which they were keen to point out. They also suggested packing the shafts/holes with tape too, in order to use the cheaper, licensed versions. I must say how, once again, I’m impressed by Hipshot’s customer service.

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1 hour ago, whave said:

Everything you say is keeping this bass on the very top of my "next to buy" list. :) 

The thing with it is, there were a whole list of things that would normally make me avoid it. Even when it arrived, as pleased as I was with having a new bass, I was constantly comparing it to my JMJ Mustang, which I have grown rather close to. However, it has proved to be the ultimate grower, the more I play it, the more I find things to like and thus I’m  keen to sort the small detractions. The fact that I bought it for £100 less than the norm really ups the bonus factor.

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On 27/04/2022 at 19:32, ezbass said:

The word from Hipshot is that the US versions will fit. However, that does double the cost, which they were keen to point out. They also suggested packing the shafts/holes with tape too, in order to use the cheaper, licensed versions. I must say how, once again, I’m impressed by Hipshot’s customer service.


plumbers tape is the answer. I’ve done that several times.

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8 minutes ago, fretmeister said:


plumbers tape is the answer. I’ve done that several times.

Hipshot recommended HVAC tape but the good news is that US made Ultralights are bigger and fit the holes in the Sterling. Normally this would mean double the cost, which, given the mid price bracket of the Sterling, would be a bit prohibitive, but the BC marketplace has come to a very timely rescue :D.

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Hipshot Ultralights arrived and were fitted tout suite. It turns out that the original tuners were surprisingly light and the difference was just 130g lighter. However, it was for the better action in the tuners that they were purchased and that end of the bass is now a slop free zone. I still had to pack the ferrules a bit, but it was all pretty easy. Interestingly enough, although it's now only just over 4ozs lighter (a whole 7.2lbs altogether), because of where the weight has been saved, the feel on the strap is quite markedly different. All smiles at Castle MacEz.

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Ordered one finally as I found stock in one single shop, Project Music in Exeter, every other place it's a rolling "will be in stock in 1 months" status for quite a few months now :) . Doublechecked with them if they REALLY have it in stock and apparently they do, so hoping for a fast delivery now :) 

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