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Damn...why doesn't my Stingray sound like this?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jbiscuti, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. jbiscuti


    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    I got one of the first Classic Stingrays off the line back in early 2010, a Powder Blue model. It was a dream come true. Finally, a Stingray in my favorite bass color (Sonic Blue) and with a finished ambered neck! Plus that vintage bridge with the mutes is too cool.

    I've begun to favor it less and less over time due to its weight, which is probably around 10 lbs., but still really dig it. It's got the lowest action of any of my basses. It practically plays itself.

    Today I took a walk over to GC in Union Square on lunch and picked up a white sparkle Sterling just to thump away on for a bit. Plugged into a very similar Markbass rig to my own, I noticed a marked increase in punch and thump, even with roundwounds (I always play flatwounds and have LaBellas on my Stingray) and a typically awful GC setup (action was quite high). The tone flat out blew me away.

    I'm starting to wonder now if I should try a Sterling for two reasons - one, the tone obviously, and two, the weight! I miss playing my Musicman out with my band, and maybe the lighter, smaller Sterling would be the ticket.

    My question is, what can the tonal difference be chalked up to? Is it the pickup? Is it the 3-band EQ (my Classic has a 2)?

    Your thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks!
  2. stingray96191


    Jul 27, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Unofficially Endorsing Ernie Ball Music Man Guitars
    its the pickup, its the wiring, its the strings. its a completely different bass. they are both great. but more different than you would think based on aesthetics alone.
  3. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Cedar Knolls, NJ
    Could be a combination of both! I've never played a 2 band, so maybe someone else will chime in for you.
  4. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    The Stingray has an alnico pickup and the Sterling has a ceramic. That would be the biggest difference.

    I almost walked up to the same GC on lunch today.
  5. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    The Sterling isn't much lighter. I had the same thought when I go one recently. My Ray is 10lbs, the Sterling was 9.5.
  6. that awful setup might have something to do with it. as much as i love low action, ive had the best tonal results from musicmans with higher action. they seem to fart and growl more.
    dwade likes this.
  7. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
  8. gt96g

    gt96g Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Philly Area
    different pickup and electronics, especially since you have a classic, I believe the classic pres are voiced differently than the modern ones.
  9. bjabass


    Jan 10, 2011
    Mountain South
    Uhhhhh....say it ain't so Joe.....

    Could it be that dead flatwounds ain't all they are cracked up to be unless you happen to be Jamerson?
    dwade likes this.
  10. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Another main contributor is the series wiring in the Sterling vs the (only) parallel wiring in the StingRay.
    You can easily rewire your Ray as an experiment.
  11. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    I agree that high action gives you punchier sound.
  12. They are two different beast... I like them both, but IMHO the Sterling has a little more "edge" to it than the SR. The preamps are different and the pickup material is different. The pick up selector doesn't hurt either, and they come in Blue.
  13. senp5f


    Jan 27, 2008
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Sterling uses a totally different pre-amp than the Music Man, and that it's pickup uses a phantom coil design to achieve hum-cancelling in single-coil modes.

    In other words, it's not just a scaled down Music Man with a Jazz-width neck and a couple of wires flipped. It's a whole different bass.

    I had a Sterling HH for a while and I sold it. To be honest, I miss it more than any other bass I've parted ways with. It fit my small hands well, and with two humbuckers and the flexibility of the premap, there was no sound I couldn't cover.
  14. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    ...and at 13+ pounds! ;)
  15. Rano Bass

    Rano Bass

    Sep 9, 2006
    Tijuana Mex.
    I used to have a 1990 Ray with mutes and a 2 band preamp, i liked the sound of that bass
    but one day the original pickup stopped working and i ordered a new one from Seymour Duncan (smb4d).
    When i got the new pickup i realized it was ceramic instead of alnico but i installed it anyway. The bass sounded much better to my ears and was a little punchier overall.
    Since that day i'm a ceramic fan on Musicman basses.
  16. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Strings will make a HUGE difference.
    Try a set of rounds (cheap experiment), and try raising the action a bit (free experiment!).
  17. claytitan


    Mar 12, 2008
    Ding, Ding, Ding!!! This is the answer. I liked the flats I put on my 4 string Jazz so I bought a set of flats for my OLP 5er. I had them on for a couple days thinking they would grow on me. The low E and B just sounded weak and there wasn't much grunt to the other 3 strings either. I grabbed a set of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Bass 5 strings (45 65 80 100 130). Wow I loved the sound I was getting.

    I usually back the treble off a tad and no tweeter. Bump up the low mids a little. I don't like a lot of highs but the roundwounds just work with this bass guitar. Maybe some other flats would work but these didn't.

    Rest of the gear - GK 1001rb and two Avatar B212 Neo.
  18. Phantasm

    Phantasm I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

    Sep 16, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    You're wondering why a bass with new roundwounds sounds more punchy and thumpy than a bass with old flatwounds?

    It sounds like you need new strings, not a new bass.
    dwade likes this.
  19. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Yes indeed!
  20. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
    I have a Sterling 4H and a Ray34. If I am playing the Sterling and switch to the Ray34, I always find the Ray34 doesn't have the same chutzpah.

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