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Anybody own/tried a MM Big Al H?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ngnt, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. ngnt


    Apr 22, 2012
    I feel like I've searched to the ends of the internet searching for sound samples of the Big Al H. The SSS is great n al (see what I did there? :rollno:) but its not what I'm looking for. The stingray is one of my favorite tones of all time, seconded by the j, and the big al may be my favorite look next to the j, or dingwall super j, so I'm hoping that the Big Al H might be my dream combination. I'm pretty sure that the magnets in one are ceramic and the other is alnico and that series/parallel wiring is a factor here but the BA H has a series parallel switch so at least I might get close??? Somebody help me here, anything you can tell me would be immensely helpful.

    I did find one youtube video but the sound quality was so poor I can't make a decision. Does this thing sounds like a stingray in the least?!?!
  2. My input here will barely hold any merit, but ill go ahead anyway.

    One year ago, probably almost to the day, I visited a guitar center.

    They had a whole gaggle of big al's. I played them all.

    Most of them felt kind of awkward. They didn't have that real nice, balanced, well executed fit and finish feel that most stingrays have. The necks all felt chunky, and they all needed set ups in a bad way.

    One of them was the H model, you're asking about.

    I plugged them all in, and gave em all a fair chance. I really wanted to like big al's, coz I had the opportunity to buy an expensive bass last year, and I really thought a big al would be cool to have.

    Some of them sounded ok. I didn't like the single coil models. The humbucker model sounded good. I specifically remember it sounding somewhat like a stingray, although not exactly identical.
  3. BIGEJ2

    BIGEJ2 Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2009
    Happy Valley, PA
    The H model as the same pickups as the Sterling (ceramic) and same 4-band pre-amp as the Bongo.

    I have a Big Al 5 SSS. With the pickup configuration and 4-band EQ, the tonal variety is almost endless. The bass is just as impressive in passive mode as active. I also own a Stingray because well, a Stingray is a Stingray. EBMM makes a very high quality product - fit and finish should be top notch regardless of the model you choose.

    If you like the tone of a Ray and look of an Al, I would at least consider the SSS model.
  4. ngnt


    Apr 22, 2012
    Any input is much appreciated. I figured my thought process was too good to be true anyway, gotta dream though.
  5. ngnt


    Apr 22, 2012
    I think the tone of the SSS is great but it isn't what I'm going for at the moment. It is super versatile for sure though, I'm just a sucker for the stingray tone and I don't have that in my arsenal. It'd probably help if I stopped buying j's. Currently have 3 and I'm about to order the FSR antigua j :cool:
  6. I don't want to be the guy that turns you off of the big al. I still want to own one. Heaven forbid I ever pick one up someday that feels right, my fiance will be super pissed at me for awhile...........
  7. I have played a Big Al quite a bit. Beautiful, well made bass with great fit and finish. Personally, I don't care for the complexity of the controls. Just too many buttons, knobs, etc. to adjust. The tone ranges are great but I don't really care for any of the tones. I have played it with the original round wounds, La Bella flats and TI Jazz flats. I prefer the the TI's but still don't like the complexity of the bass.
  8. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Then, opt for Sterlings...
    I'm not that into MMs, but what I can tell is that, electronic dpt apart, a BigAl is hardly comparable to a StingRay
    They can come from same facility, but, if you do, reach for a second hand MM StingRay or a brand new Sterling Ray

  9. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    New Jersey
    The neck on a Big Al is basically your average skinny Jazz neck (same as a sterling). I know you mentioned that your input will "barely hold any merit", but unless your main bass is one of those Ibanez's with the super skinny neck, I can't imagine how one could refer to a Big Al's neck as chunky.

    Also, while balance and feel are an individual taste, there is no difference in fit and finish between the Big Al and the current Stingray...or any other MM bass for that matter. They go through the same exact assembly line/process. Any issues you may have had in that regard probably had more to do with them being used and abused by the GC masses.

    To answer the OP's question, I have owned a Single H Big Al. I really did like it. After using a Big Al for my main bass since they first came out (I ordered one the first day you could), I find the Big Al to be the most comfortable bass I've ever owned. I bought the single H as change of pace to my SSS because I like how the basses feel so much. My thoughts are, if you like the sound of the single humbucker Stingray/Sterling, then you should more or less like the sound of the Big Al single H. The Big Al is made of Mahogany, so its a little darker sounding than the Stingray, but its in the same basic tonal family.

    I don't have the Big Al single H anymore because I just wasn't playing it over my SSS, but so far no bass over the last three years has caused me to drop my Big Al SSS for more than a couple of weeks before I return to it.
  10. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    I would think it would sound more like a Sterling than a Stingray.

    I also think lots of the appeal is in the SSS design--really flexible, tonally, and even goes with the look of the bass better.

    I agree with comments that basses at GC are often suspect... especially Big Als for some reason, because the ones at the Denver location are in the worst shape of any basses I've ever tried. I have even alerted both GC and EBMM and nothing gets done. On the other hand their Stingray Classic is actually in really good shape.
  11. I prefaced my statement by acknowledging my lack of credibility, I made it clear I was at a guitar center (who are notorious for hanging instruments on the wall that have major setup issues), and then I specially pointed out that all of the big al's I tried need set up badly.

    I figured that was enough to let anyone reading know that I had encountered a batch of them that didn't feel right.

    I'm used to skinny jazz necks, and guitars, so anything bigger than that is chunky. I'm also not a very big person, and that sometimes makes a difference. The big al's that I played had satin finish necks. The only time I've encountered a stingray with a satin finish neck was when it was made in Indonesia. That's not to say that EBMM has never put a satin finish on a ray, but I've yet to see one. All the EBMM rays I've seen/played have had a nice gloss finish on the neck. To me, a bass that cost over a grand shouldn't have a satin neck. That seems cheap to me.
  12. Bass_Thumper


    Oct 20, 2009
    Madison, MS
    If it's anything like my Sterling HS, it's not a satin finish, it's actually a combination of gunstock oil and wax. I love the way it feels personally and certainly don't think it makes it appear cheap.
  13. cassius987

    cassius987 Banned

    Apr 20, 2007
    Denver, CO
    +1 on gunstock oil/wax, not satin. But I definitely don't like how it feels over the gloss on the Classics. On the other hand, a lot of people seem to be the other way about it, like Bass Thumper, and I think EBMM has been listening to them.
  14. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2004
    New Jersey
    And that's how I prefaced it myself, my apologies if it came off as accusatory or something. Just FYI, all Stingray's for basically the last 20 years have had the same neck finish as what is on the Big Al. Until the recent introduction of the Classic series, there hadn't been any Stingrays available with a gloss finish for a long time.
  15. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    PM Joe Nerve. He plays a Big Al.
  16. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999
    I've had my Big Al 5-H for just under 20 mths. When the 5 string versions were introduced I spoke to Sterling Ball about the pickups in the SSS and the H. He indicated that the H version was "HOT", which was what I was looking for in my next bass. I took sometime to read SSS owners feedback and ultimately decided to order be BA5 with the H. Now, i'm a longtime EBMM 5 string owner and in my opinion this it their most aggressive sounding 5 string that they make.

    I love the neck (it's the same as the Sterling 5) great profile, very fast and comfortable to play. And Bass_Thumper is correct it doesn't have a satin finish, but rather only a combination of gunstock oil and wax. I chose a year ago to have the neck of my BA5-H refinished in high gloss lacquer, because that's the feel that I prefer and it also locks out dirt and moisture. I only wish that EBMM would offer a gloss lacqured neck as an option for their basses.

    The 4 band EQ is awesome. I can quickly dial in any tone that i'm in need of. The fact that the electronics gives me the option to choose either passive or active along with Series and Parallel settings only extends the variety of tone combinations available.

    As for the African Mahogany body, I find the contours very comfortable whether standing or sitting while playing and the bass also balances perfectly for me partially because I use a Neotech strap.

    All in all the Big Al 5-H is a serious keeper. I would suggest that if you're in the market for a versatile 5 string, you owe it to yourself to check one out.

    Here's my boy Elroy,


  17. Your bass is exactly what I was wanting in a big al, except I was after a four string. That's a really nice bass!
  18. Its all good, I know there's a lot of EBMM love around here, and trust me Im in the same boat. I'm dying from gas for a bongo 4 HH, a big al 4 H, a fretless roasted neck 4 string EBMM ray, and a light blue sterling ray with roasted maple neck, and tort guard.

    I don't know how I'm going to afford all those basses, but they're high on the short list.
  19. ngnt


    Apr 22, 2012
    Both pickup configurations are super appealing. Though, if the H has a stingray or sterling sound to it that would pull in me a lot harder. I guess I'm starting to debate which configuration I want more after everyones input, or if I would rather just buy a ray. I guess what I need to do is buy a ray and an al sss haha. Just need to decide whats going to be my first ebmm bass!

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