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Bongo Vs. Sterling vs. Stingray...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SanDiegoHarry, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I've owned a few stingrays, a very nice sterling (that I wish I still had) and I've been seeing that some folks really like the Bongo...

    I went to the MM web site and did my reading - seems to me that the Bongo is just a cheap stingray with a funny shape - Basswood body, only opaque paint...

    Am I missing something here? Are there folks who think the Bongo is more desirable instrument than either the Sterling or the SR?

    And yes, I've played one at a GC - it seemed okay, but you can never tell with the abused axes at GC...
  2. Iroquoi


    Sep 18, 2008
    i prefer the ray, it's better built in my opnion and has better sound than the bongo and the sterling... also i don't like sterling neck...
  3. lposavad

    lposavad Supporting Member

    I briefly owned a Bongo HH 4. Great sounds, but the ergonomics got to me. That small body and 24 frets throws the neck waaay out to the left (and I have long arms!)...
    Wasn't fussy about the string spacing either, I'm more of a 19mm guy.
  4. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Sterling Ball's original plan was to make the Bongo out of synthetic materials, but decided wood had the best sound. Basswood was used to keep the weight down, I don't think it's meant to be an "inferior" wood. The Bongo also has a different neck from either the Sterling or the Stingray. EBMM uses Neo magnets for the Bongo's pickups, and an 18v preamp instead of the 9v. Depending on the model, the preamp is a 4 band EQ instead of 3.

    I'm not trying to endorse the Bongo, as I love my SR5, but it's a nice bass and happens to be Sterling's favorite model. If it wasn't so friggin' ugly, I would probably own one.
  5. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yeah, I'd say so...

    Whether it's more desirable or not depends upon your needs and your preferences. But it is undeniably different. Main difference I'd say boils down to the electronics - which are more advanced and more versatile than the Stingray.

    IMO, nothing quite compares with a Stingray. But the Bongo is a more cutting-edge type of instrument with a more contemporary vibe.

  6. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    I'd say the Bongo, 4 band EQ and an 18v pre. Lots of tonal variety.
    Bassmunnky likes this.
  7. santucci218


    Jan 26, 2007
    Yes. Not everybody has your taste in basses.
  8. MrMe


    Aug 26, 2007
    Oslo, Norway
    The Bongo is a great bass!
    I just love mine!
    Driven Crane likes this.
  9. easy


    Mar 16, 2005
    You can make sounds on the Bongo that would be really tough to produce on a StingRay. I love the Bongo. I don't think I would ever love it more than my StingRay, but I for sure don't think of the Bongo as a second rate SR. Play one at GC, make them set it up a little bit, or do it yourself. Get the action to where you like it, and then give it another try.

    Just make sure to set the EQ all flat first. I hate it when I pick up a MM bass at a GC and find that the Bass, Treble, and Mid are cranked all the way up. That's no way to get to know a bass.
    Geri O likes this.
  10. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    The Bongo (and this is only my opinion -- coming from personal experience with it) is more versatile than the StingRay and Sterling. I love the Sterling, but the Bongo has an amazing range of tones. It's definitely not a "cheap StingRay." Don't let the Basswood body fool you. The Bongo was designed from the ground up to be a comfortable, easy to play tone monster. And that's exactly what it is.

    There's nothing wrong with a StingRay or a Sterling. But if you're looking for the most versatility, go with a Bongo.
  11. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I was not trying to start a flame war here - I just was hoping to understand - and I'm being educated here! Sounds like the main thing is the p'ups/electronics. Good to know!
  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    You will find people are very passionate - borderline fanatical - regarding the looks of the Bongo bass. Both ways. I'm relatively new to TB and I haven't seen any thread spark more heated debates than that one. So, sorry... but you kind of stepped into it with this one. :eek:

    If it sounds great, plays great and you're cool with the looks, go for it.
  13. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    Yeah, different pickups w/ neodymium magnets, 4-band 18 volt pre, and 24 frets are the main differences between and other basses. I think it was designed for versatility. The Ray and Sterling have a more inherent signature tone that you can use the pre to adjust, but in the end they still sound like a Ray or a Sterling. The Bongo, as I hear it, still has a voice of its own, but is much more flexible than the other two. I didn't feel it was inferior when I had mine, its a very high quality bass that does some things that Rays and Sterlings don't do quite as well.

    Start a thread, either positive or negative, regarding QC at Fender and hold on to your hats. But, you're right, the Bongo's looks are controversial. I think it was meant to evoke a strong reaction, and owners should not be so surprised that some folks hate it as much as they love it.
  14. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    I own one of each. In order of my favorite: Sterling, Bongo, Stingray. They're all exceptional instruments, but for me the Sterling wins out for my needs. I haven't had the opportunity to compare 2 PUP 'Rays/Sterlings to a Bongo, but even without the benefit of a 2nd PUP I never find my Sterling lacking in versatility.
  15. Rano Bass

    Rano Bass

    Sep 9, 2006
    Tijuana Mex.
    Different basses for different tastes, that's all.
  16. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    I have a Sterling, but I quite like Bongos as well. The EBMM people (possibly Sterling himself) have said that they experimented with woods other than basswood for the Bongo but ended up concluding that basswood sounded the best with the electronics etc.
  17. Ive only played a Stingray. Im dying to try a Bongo and a Sterling.
  18. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I prefer the looks of the Stingray, the feel of the Sterling and the sound of the Bongo.
    Abdidharma likes this.
  19. MingusBass

    MingusBass Commercial User

    Sep 27, 2004
    Fort Wayne,Indiana
    Sweetwater Sound-Sales
    I own two Bongos, a fretted and a fretless. They are great basses.

    Before I bought a Bongo in Early 2004, I liked the other EBMM basses, but never owned one. After getting a Bongo, it made me more interested in what the Ray and Sterling had to offer. I now use a dual humbucker StingRay 5 as my main bass with my cover band.
  20. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005

    Bongo @ MF $1435.00

    Stingray @ MF $ 1330 - $1452.50

    Sterling @ MF $1365

    They all seem to sell new for an equal value.

    Bongo having a basswood body limits it to solid colors as basswood looks like poop with a natural or translucent finish IMO.

    The 18V pre , 24 fret neck with super upper fret access, light weight , appears to be the same tuners and bridge as the other EBMM basses and finally the monster tone make it ideal for ME.

    The basswood does turn me off as mine has a couple of battle scars because it will not handle abuse very well.

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