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Difference between Sterling Ray5, Ray25 and Ray35?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pete Langford, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. Can anyone tell what the differences are between these models? They are all made in Asia, I believe. Does any one have experience with all of them? Significant price differences. appreciate your input.
    Jnes likes this.
  2. twc1313

    twc1313 Practice is the cure for GAS...or so I've heard.

    Oct 28, 2013
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    Some basics:

    Ray5 - Basswood body, ceramic pickup, less sturdy bridge, narrower neck, 2band preamp
    Ray25 - Mahogany or ash body, supposedly alnico pickup, MM style bridge, narrow neck also, 2band pre (same as Ray5 I think)
    Ray35 - Mahogany body (older ones ash), alnico EBMM copy pickup, MM style bridge, big azz neck, 3 band pre (also a copy of the EBMM

    Ray35 is higher quality and also much brighter sounding, 25 and 5 are more mellow and vintage sounding.

    IMHO I don't think the Ray25 is worth the $200 up-charge for basically a bridge and maybe a better pickup.

    Get the Ray5 and love the value and quality, or go hog and get the 35 and have a near as you can get EBMM Stingray

    I've had a few Ray4s and a Ray34, I prefer the less clanky tone of the inexpensive Ray4 and dig the value for a bar beater bass. I also like the slimmer neck and color options more as well.
    Gabriel51, ac100X, ed morgan and 3 others like this.
  3. Thanks, appreciate the input.
  4. Bassist Jay

    Bassist Jay

    Dec 28, 2009
    Sterling, CO.
    Endorsed by K.B. Guitars, Nordstrand Audio Pickups, Von York Strings and Gallien-Krueger Amps.
    The Ray 5 is the Sterling by Music Man entry level 5 string bass. It is made in China and was built to be the entry level version of an Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 5. Same with the Ray 4 for a Stingray 4.

    The Ray 25 is also built in China but has a better bridge pickups and I believe tuners. The Ray 24 and Ray 25 are based off of the Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray Classic 4 and 5 string.

    The Ray 35 was built in Korea but now may be starting to be manufactured in Indonesia for all 2018 models and going forward. The Ray 34 and Ray 35 basses are almost identical to their American made counterparts, the Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 4 and Stingray 5. I just got a Ray 34 koa a few weeks back and when comparing it side by side to my Stingray 4’s and 5’s, it would be very difficult to tell which bass was what if I was blind folded and given either the Ray 34 or my Stingray 4. With EBMM also raising their prices across the board and every bass costing a minimum of $2,000.00 or more now, I have a feeling a majority of buyers will now be looking either used or at the Ray 34’s and Ray 35’s. I know with the knew price increases, I don’t see myself ever buying a new Music Man again. They priced me out of the market. Especially when the used stuff is less than half the cost.
  5. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
    Just had the local GC order a Ray25 in to check out. Curious what it will be like!
  6. krovx

    krovx Thump or Bust Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    Michigan, USA
  7. Jnes


    Dec 30, 2018
    Kent uk
    I just bought RAY 35 and its amazing I love it, more than my EBMM stingray (I sold it recently/ too heavy and bolshy aggressive tone was a one trick pony in my opinion, but the wood was of course nice) Ray 35 much lighter too as the wood is swamp ash. I just love it. Now looking at KOA 35 also :)
    bottomzone likes this.
  8. Ray 35 is lighter?
  9. bassmike2010


    May 28, 2010
  10. Jnes


    Dec 30, 2018
    Kent uk
    I have a sterling ray 5 and have also had the sterling 4- both rock play much better in my opinion than the MM. The build quality is not as nice of course but the lighter wood is pleasing.

    I also owned a MM stingray. Played for many years and sold it and now only use the sterling. I will probably upgrade it and have some smoothing done in the neck

    My other bass is a sandberg Cali 5. I don’t mind paying over 2k if it’s worth it but so far MM is not (get it used ) and I got my sandberg used ... dreamy
  11. bottomzone

    bottomzone Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2005
    I made the stupid mistake and sold my Ray 35. After swimming in regret for a year, I snagged another one. This bass is amazing and negates the necessity to spend the extra dollars on a USA StingRay 5. I will never repeat my mistake!
  12. stuntbass77


    Nov 6, 2007
    I owned a Ray34 and only sold it as the stingray tone is not for me. The tone in my opinion is 85 percent of the US model. The bass was heavy but a lot of ray’s are. The frets were really well dressed for a bass in that price range and the action was very good. I have an SB14 and it’s much the same with even better action and I prefer the tone to a ray, the old sterling vs ray story and I prefer a sterling.
  13. stuntbass77


    Nov 6, 2007
    Buy the Ray35 and you will t look back, it’s worth the extra bucks ! Mine was an ash body but my SB14 is a basswood and has helped up just fine with no dings and tone is not dead or mid scooped like some would say and I’m a tone wood believer. So basswood or ash, either should serve your just fine.
  14. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Good breakdown, just a slight correction though. The Ray25 is a ceramic pickup. That's how they kept the price lower than the Ray34 which is indeed alnico.
    twc1313 likes this.
  15. twc1313

    twc1313 Practice is the cure for GAS...or so I've heard.

    Oct 28, 2013
    Pittsburgh, Pa
    Point noted. Which then means overall that:

    The Ray24 gives you less color options, the same neck, same preamp, same pickup, same tuners, a better bridge, and POSSIBLY better body wood.

    Is a bridge upgrade and different colors really worth $200? Some might say yes, I say heck no.
  16. The upgrade from the Ray5 to Ray25 gets you better electronics and pickup, MM-style bridge with 17.5mm string spacing while the Ray5 bridge has 15.25mm string spacing. Plus a Mahogany body.
    The pickup between the two basses is NOT the same.
    In my opinion, yes, it is worth the $200.
  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Apr 18, 2021

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