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Stingrays - ok, I give up.


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I'm another one who cannot get on with Stingrays, I've tried several over the years but none of them have ever done anything for me in terms of feel, playability or sound. Overall I'm ambivalent to them, they tend to sit really well in the mix, often being quite prominent but there's something in their inherent tone that really irritates me, I find that trademark weird nasal mid range thing they have really jarring. Definitely not for me. Looking at the comments above they seem to be the Marmite of the bass world! 

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Hold up - it's probably helpful to separate "I can't get on with the ergonomics cos I don't have anywhere nice to put my thumb" from "I have one, don't like the sound" 

 

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2 hours ago, Osiris said:

Looking at the comments above they seem to be the Marmite of the bass world! 

Not while John Halls' company is still in business... 😀

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3 hours ago, LukeFRC said:

Hold up - it's probably helpful to separate "I can't get on with the ergonomics cos I don't have anywhere nice to put my thumb" from "I have one, don't like the sound" 

 

To be clear it just ergonomics for me, love the sound

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I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Stingray's. It was always a dream bass for me that I promised myself I would buy if I ever got signed. A lot of my bass hero's from the 80's played them so it was something I aspired to getting. Got signed, got an advance and went down to The Bass Centre in Wapping and ordered a gorgeous Teal 3EQ Stingray with maple neck. I was so excited to finally get one but it arrived at rehearsals and it sounded absolutely terrible. Clanky, thin and simply diabolical. It wouldn't stay in tune either and after speaking to Strings and Things, they agreed the wood on the neck was too soft and they replaced it free of charge. It still didn't fix the horrible sound and I ended up sticking with a lovely '77 Precision. I eventually sold the Stingray and gave up the idea.

 

About 10 years later, I decided to give it another go and got myself a natural 3EQ Stingray with maple neck. It was a lovely bass but super heavy and again, as much as I tried, I just couldn't get it to work for me tonally and I sold it. I then tried again a few years later and this time I got a lovely 2EQ Teal Stingray with maple neck from Tom1946 and for the first time ever, I actually got it to work a little more for me tonally. It still wasn't perfect but it was acceptable but as I was playing in a 50's rock n roll band, it was redundant to my Precision and I sold it back to Tom.

 

Now move forward a few years and a new band which is a sort of stripped back acoustic thing and I am now playing fretless. I got myself a beautiful natural 3EQ Stingray with Pau Ferro board and this for me is where its really working. I'm playing little melodies and bass runs and it works fantastic. I don't have the clank or the thin tone but that nasal Stingray sound is still there and really adds to the tonal dynamics. If fact its a really warm sounding bass. It doesn't have as much mwah as my fretless Jazz or Precision but it plays beautifully and does have its own personality. 

 

One thing I have found is I tend to play all along the areas where you pluck and perhaps more so nearer the neck. When I play my Jazz, I tend to rest my thumb on the neck pickup. When I play my Precision I rest my thumb on the pickups or rest my thumb on the E string close to the neck and when I play the Stingray, I'm flicking between resting my thumb on the E string by the neck or at the other end on the pickup. So I'm really happy that I have finally settled with a Stingray and made it work, even if its for fretless.

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1 hour ago, Muzz said:

Not while John Halls' company is still in business... 😀

 

Can't argue with that :laugh1:

 

I'd take a Ric' over a 'Ray any day of the week, at least I would do if they ever made one with a playable neck!

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Ohhh, audience, schmaudience...99% of the time the bass could be a bucket with a stick in it*, despite what we like to tell ourselves... 😁

 

* A maple stick and a galvanised bucket, obv, before anyone comes at me with any Tonestick schtick...

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My main bass was a 2 band Ray for about 15 years.  I'd be the first to admit that sometimes I really didn't gel with the on stage sound but as soon as I went FOH the sound was spot on in the mix.  I moved on to a 3 band after a while and unlike some I preferred it as I could adjust the mids to give a more balanced sound to my ears on stage.

 

Soundwise I don't think the Ray is a bass for all seasons, I guess it can get close with judicious eq-ing but for something where I want a more mellow passive thump I use a JMJ Mustang and wouldn't see the point of trying the get the Ray to sound like that (anymore than I could get my JMJ to sound like a Ray).  These days I don't currently own a Ray and have moved over to a US Sterling which is, to my ears, a Ray on steroids if run series; I prefer the smaller body and the jazz style neck profile. 

 

Regarding the pickup and thumb placement, I never gave it much thought but resting my thumb on the pup ended up feeling fairly natural to me.

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I've dabbled over the years. Rays, Jazzes, Rics and others are essentially means by which people avoid the inevitable truth of bass playing which is that all you need is a Precision (or two Precisions if you play fretless). Big lesson for me was that even playing RHCP tracks back in the day a Precision setup, played and EQ'd nicely did the job just as well as my Modulus Flea and Stingrays. YMMV 👍 

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Nearly bought one when I was 15, ended up buying a Gibson EB3 instead. I really should have bought the Stingray!

Funnily enough, I have never come close to buying one in the 21 years since. Iconic basses though. 

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1 hour ago, Beedster said:

I've dabbled over the years. Rays, Jazzes, Rics and others are essentially means by which people avoid the inevitable truth of bass playing which is that all you need is a Precision (or two Precisions if you play fretless). Big lesson for me was that even playing RHCP tracks back in the day a Precision setup, played and EQ'd nicely did the job just as well as my Modulus Flea and Stingrays. YMMV 👍 

Wow that's quite the claim :)

fair play, horses for courses and all that.

I do love a good P bass too.

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2 hours ago, Beedster said:

I've dabbled over the years. Rays, Jazzes, Rics and others are essentially means by which people avoid the inevitable truth of bass playing which is that all you need is a Precision (or two Precisions if you play fretless). Big lesson for me was that even playing RHCP tracks back in the day a Precision setup, played and EQ'd nicely did the job just as well as my Modulus Flea and Stingrays. YMMV 👍 


Im surprised you haven’t gone the whole hog and reverted to upright bass - there were plenty of people (especially in jazz) in the 60s who took that view.

 

The real issue with Precision basses for many people is their lack of range - so if you’re going anywhere near fusion, for instance, it’s highly unlikely you’d consider one acceptable - Jaco moaned about their sound (which is why he used a Jazz) and could you imagine Level 42 with one?? 😂😂

 

They’re fine for C and W and 8th root note rock (although arguably there are often equally good or better choices) particularly if you don’t want to alter the sound with effects/EQ remote from playing the instrument - even Jamerson played via a specially designed studio interface. I view them as being adequate for many things but personally, to get the best out of them, I have to play them harder than I’d like (and no, turning up doesn’t do it - it’s the plucking of the bass which does). I find a Stingray can do much the same with less effort - and the advantage of a broader range of tones and styles available in an excellent way. 
 

My favourite P is when I reach the service area on the motorway after being stuck in traffic for ages 😀😂

Edited by drTStingray
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18 minutes ago, drTStingray said:


Im surprised you haven’t gone the whole hog and reverted to upright bass - there were plenty of people (especially in jazz) in the 60s who took that view.

 

The real issue with Precision basses for many people is their lack of range - so if you’re going anywhere near fusion, for instance, it’s highly unlikely you’d consider one acceptable - Jaco moaned about their sound (which is why he used a Jazz) and could you imagine Level 42 with one?? 😂😂

 

They’re fine for C and W and 8th root note rock (although arguably there are often equally good or better choices) particularly if you don’t want to alter the sound with effects/EQ remote from playing the instrument - even Jamerson played via a specially designed studio interface. I view them as being adequate for many things but personally, to get the best out of them, I have to play them harder than I’d like (and no, turning up doesn’t do it - it’s the plucking of the bass which does). I find a Stingray can do much the same with less effort - and the advantage of a broader range of tones and styles available in an excellent way. 
 

My favourite P is when I reach the service area on the motorway after being stuck in traffic for ages 😀😂


‘Fine for C&W’, you’re a funny guy 🤔

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2 hours ago, Beedster said:

Rays, Jazzes, Rics and others are essentially means by which people avoid the inevitable truth of bass playing which is that all you need is a Precision

 

It may be all I need, but it isn't all I want...

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28 minutes ago, Beedster said:


‘Fine for C&W’, you’re a funny guy 🤔


It was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek 😀 apparently Nashville had been known to be a zone where they must be played (although even that has changed from time to time) - for all I know the bass de rigeur may now be a fan fret Dingwall - I think the Stingray 5 has been at times (where 5 strings are required). 

Edited by drTStingray
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I have to admit I’m very tempted by the black Sterling Ray34 which has mahogany as the body wood rather than ash, plus rosewood fretboard, think one of these strung with nickel rounds might just be far enough away from the traditional active ice-pick sound which I associate with a ‘Ray when it’s in my hands.

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39 minutes ago, drTStingray said:


It was meant to be a bit tongue in cheek 😀 apparently Nashville had been known to be a zone where they must be played (although even that has changed from time to time) - for all I know the bass de rigeur may now be a fan fret Dingwall - I think the Stingray 5 has been at times (where 5 strings are required). 


Fair enough, missed the tongue in cheek element, and there’s of course a whole lot of truth in the Nashville thing, although it was as much about ‘that’ C&W Precision tone and the ease of achieving it without messing about as the instrument itself.
 

The Precision I was referring was a pretty outstanding and modified instrument by comparison with some, but I stand by my original comment; setup, strings, EQ, amplification and technique account for a substantial if not definitive percentage of how a bass sounds in a noisy band mix, the SR was too brittle even when tamed and the Flea just a bit too prominent and unforgiving, I just think the Precision was the best bass for the job - maple board, lively rounds, Badass, very low action, P-Retro and IIRC a Nordy PUP all helped for sure. 
 

Like the O/P I always wanted a Stingray to do the job and I certainly tried more than a few, the one I loved the most was a Pre EB with a rosewood board, very mellow and toneful but capable of really monstrous tone when needed. 
 

And don’t even ask about the Sonic Hammer 🤔

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I bought an MM Stingray when I was in New York in September 1996. The serial dated it to September 10 1996. So about as new as you can get. Lovely looking instrument, sounded awful and clanky to me most of the time despite a professional setup.  Probably me but I could never get it to sound the way I wanted. I played it on and off, mostly off, for about 3 years before selling it and reverting to my Jazz full time. 
I have considered getting another one from time to time for a wall decoration. Cheaper than a Rick. 

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First time I played a Stingray V it was a wow moment, and still is. 

Every time I try out a load of basses, I end up preferring a Stingray V - neck-thru , 30th anniversary model, new version … and then my sensible brain kicks in and reminds me there’s no point spending all that money on a bass that I already own (when I could spend it on something sensible , like gas and electric for 3-4 months 😭😭). 

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My first owned stingray was a defret  with flats. 
I saw them on you tube still sounding like stingrays, still able to be slapped, mine sounded like crap. 
I was going to sell it but gave it one last chance with a refret and rounds. 
When it came back it was all there that lovely tone. 
My advice,  stick flats on your stingray for a few months then go back to a new set of rounds and see what happens. 

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49 minutes ago, garyt said:

First time I played a Stingray V it was a wow moment, and still is. 

Definitely agree with this. I don't have one these days but I'm often tempted to go back to playing a five string just to play an SR5 again. Way different to the four string imo, just slots in with anything, nice fat even tone that never takes over, just compliments everything in just about any genre. I likely prefer the tone of the SR5s with ceramic magnets as they were on the ones I owned and prefer the Sterling to the Stingray 4 for the same reason (amongst other things). 

I play a pair of Classic Sabres now which as a bonus have a fairly convincing P bass sound on one of the settings too🙂

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