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are early 90s Ernie Ball Stingrays better than new?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ajb, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. ajb


    Mar 20, 2005
    I had a chance to play a 1993 Ernie Ball Stingray 5 at Guitar Center a few days ago and was absolutely blown away by the quality of construction (especially the crazy birdseye maple neck). I A/B'd it against a brand new Stingray 5 and I don't think it was even close. The 1993 was deeper sounding, had better sustain, and was much warmer. Not to say that the new one was a bad instrument -- it wasn't at all. It just wasn't nearly as resonant or growly.

    Is it just me or are early Ernie Ball Stingrays superior to the new ones? I'm seriously thinking of buying a Stingray 5 and am wondering if maybe the new one I played was a lemon.
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    The new ones are just as good. I have a 97 sterling and while i love the birdseye, i love new ones too.

    Trust me, theyre just as good. If not bettter ebcause of the new nut.
  3. Maybe the older felt and sounded better cause it was "broken in" ?

  4. I've sort of noticed that. Some older basses Ive played have felt way better than their newer counter parts. I played an older red Stingray with a maple board with the peizo and then played a tobacco burst peizo and a maple board and the older, idunno, I felt more "at home" on.
  5. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I'm sure about the "broken in" thing, my Kubicki was made in 1989, although it has been kept in beautiful condition, it's certainly been played! But it feels amazing, it fits the hand like a glove!
  6. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Same strings, same setup?

    Also rember Rays can be made out of a few different woods: ash, alder, and I think basswood on some.
  7. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    No basswood, but, i think its mostly a matter of 'broken in' feel. Ernie ball necks get better with time due to the finish.
  8. ArwinH

    ArwinH run rabbit run

    Dec 1, 2005
    Southern California
    On Todd Vanselus' webpage I remember him saying that he tried a new stingray5 and commented taht the preamp had different frequency centers and was a more "modern" sound than older stingrays. Not sure how much that bears on tonal differences, take it with a grain of salt.
  9. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I like my '93 more than I like the new ones, but it's close enough that I would have no problem getting a new one if I had to replace mine. I don't think the old ones are necessarily built better. They're just slightly different beasts.

    I will say that when I A/B'd my old Modulus Flea with the Nordstrand MM5.2 installed, it was no contest. The Modulus put the SR5 to shame (to my ears). But that's not really germane.
  10. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    My bad, the "other" wood is Poplar, not Basswood.

    From http://www.ernieball.com/site/faq_bass.php :

    Q: Your specifications tell us that you use selected hardwoods for your bass bodies. What woods do you use?
    A: We used even amounts of poplar and ash and sometimes alder, we are currently using ash these days. We always use ash on translucent finishes.
  11. I played a new MM today at a local shop and was disappointed.
    It was a white/off white "special edition" MM.
    The action was way too high, even for a floor model.
    I've played a model in 1999 that was way better.
    I've played one in San Diego at a Guit Cen that was bad too!
    I've stayed away from the MM because of my different test drives. The best was in a shop in Hawaii on a 99-97 MM birds eye mapel honey burst, it was great! But that has been my only good experience.
    I'm sticking with my Hamer USA cruise bass (jazz style).
  12. For got to say, I really dig the MM sound!
    Many pros use it, and I wanted to like it, but have been not impressed in my experience.
  13. I bought mine from a GC, this year. And it fit me like a glove. Perfect action (for me at least) i just finished playing thru my mesa 400+ and eden 2x10 XST and it was Yummy!
  14. the early stingray 5's had a different pickup (alnico magnets) and was wired different. the three position switch wasnt series/bridge/parallel like it is today. the early 5's did sound pretty different. not a quality issue, just the change in electronics.
  15. klorence


    Nov 21, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA

    sorry, you're misinformed...

    the pickup on early ones *is* wired series/bridge/parallel.

    (mine's an '89)
  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Action is solely a set up thing. I can take any musicman and make it play amazingly simply by a setup.
  17. i emailed ernie ball when i had my early 90's ray 5 and that was what they told me. :confused:
  18. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1... I've owned an original Stingray from that I bought new in the late 70's, and Ernie Ball Stingray 5 string that I bought new in the 90's, and I've played a few brand new one's in stores. Amazingly consistent sound and quality through the years. If it wasn't for that very tight string spacing on the 5 strings I'd still be playing one.
  19. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    There are some serious studies of the effects of (string) vibration on the aging of wood. They seem to point out that the more something is "vibrated" (such as playing a bass or a guitar) the more the cellular structure of that wood is changed and can be measured in flexibility and stiffness. In other words, simply put, the more you play it, the more the wood will change and give a better sound. This might explain the mojo found in those old Fenders! :D

    Someone here can probably post a link. IIRC, luthiers like Michael Tobias and others used some sort of machine to "vibrate" the raw wood for an hour or so that mimicked several years of playing.

    Interesting stuff.
  20. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Yeah, although this empirically-observed phenomenon is not claimed to apply to solid-body instruments.

    In a solid-body guitar, you don't WANT the body to vibrate much, if at all. If it does, it is sapping the kinetic energy from the strings.

    The top of a hollow-bodied guitar, on the other hand, is what MAKES the bulk of the sound, and it SHOULD vibrate.