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Do all SBMM Ray 34's have that magic Musicman sound ? Question for Ray 34 owners

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Pimmsley, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. Hi Guys,

    Proud new owner of a Sterling Ray 34 Natural (so damn pretty) and new member!!! :hyper: posted this first in a poll (silly) but thought it may deserve a new thread...

    Bought my Sterling Ray 34 from a Bass player 2nd hand here in Aus as they upgrading to an MMSR5 and gave me a great deal ($600) as they retail here for $1295AU.
    It's flawless and I saw many pics to confirm it's condition but as it was in another state I couldn't play it... First Bass I've bought without playing it for an hour btw... I got it yesterday and it's amazing to play, I love it, but...

    It seems to be missing the upper mid growl I have heard in the Ray 34's on seen on Youtube etc.. example:

    it just doesn't sound like that :( It sounds very nice, really nice but it's missing the magic MM sound (confused)

    Do all Ray 34's have that magic MM sound ?

    to my ears, my Ray 34 is 70-80% there... Did I get a dud ? Do they vary that much in sound between instruments ? AM I going insane ? Has anyone else come across weird or less than MM sounding SBMM Ray 34's in their travels ?

    I haven't found anything online regarding this
    I changed the strings for a new set of EB 45-100... adjusted the neck, pup height and action as per the SBMM site...
    It is totally legit and I checked that the electronics wern't changed or the pup, all stock and serial is correct and all the accessories inc. SBMM luxury gig bag...
    Why could it not sound like the others online ?
    I will take it in to a music store to do an A-B comparison as soon as permits to really make sure it's not my DI or amp/cab (unlikely)

    Please offer your thoughts ? I'd really appreciate comments from you guys that own or have tried out the Ray 34, or can offer some insight :)
    Thank you
  2. Aznslappadabass


    Nov 27, 2012
    It's kind of hard to make a judgement based on the description. I personally don't have that much issue with that classic stingray sound, I just need to get better to sound like that video.
  3. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    In my experience a Sterling is EXACTLY the same as a MusicMan bass, just made overseas. And that's what MM says, anyway.

    There might be a slight quality difference (as slight as it can get), but the main and actual difference is the "Made in USA" thingy in the headstock, the customizable options such as color and coils, etc...

    It's like if you pickup a Music Man you can personalize it way more and have way more options, but Sterlings are more stock.

    I wouldn't pay for a Music Man Stingray since SBMM came out. I would only buy Music Man for a Bongo.
  4. LoTone

    LoTone Leonardo please... behave yourself! Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2010
    Quebec, Canada
    I have tried a couple in different stores that were pretty average. So, based on my experience, I would say NO. As with anything, you always have to try before you buy.

  5. I was afraid that may be the case, it's the first time I've thrown caution to the wind... after playing for 20 years you'd think I'd know better... It is annoying though, as I have only seen people writing of feel diffences in the Rays and not sound between instruments... granted there will be minor changes due to timbe used etc... but my Ray 34 is way off what I've heard... and I'm really bummed out because it was that Musicman sound I was after, as I have other nice sounding instruments...

    After hours of searching forums and reviews I seem to be the first one to actually say... Hey, my ray34 doesn't sound like a Musicman !
    gosh... But yeah... I should have played it first... damn these Australian prices !!!

    Thanks guys for your comments..
  6. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Did you try a new set of strings?
  7. Hi KB !
    yeah... the very same day the bass arrived, 2 sets of EB slinky 45-100's also arrived from Amazon (cheapest for me in Aus). So within an hour of having the bass it got new strings...

    I was hoping that was the problem, but only made things worse... I would describe my Ray 34 as HIFI sounding without the mid growl common to Stingrays... My Ray34 sounds almost exactly like my 1985 Ibanez RB960 Roadstar II (which has been my poor mans Stingray for slap... plus I like the thin neck) alas, I digress...
    but I'm kinda in shock over this new beast... :meh:
  8. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    I just watched that youtube video you linked in your first post. The tone in that video is pretty compressed -- whether by an effect or because of the video -- so I wouldn't expect a bass plugged into an amp in your bedroom to sound exactly like that. Can you post a video of you playing yours so we have a reference?
  9. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    You should go to a store and try a couple more so you can compare them. Not saying this is the case, it could be my faulty ears, but you could have bad electronics or something? Perhaps your particular instrument isn't quite what it's supposed to be.
  10. I'm embarrassed to say i don't have an easy way to make a video to post, however I can record some audio of the bass DI'd and also cab miked examples, later today or within a day or two (right in the thick of a job).

    I understand it must be frustrating to try to help without hearing an example...

    Thanks Mikio, really good idea... the shops are a bit funny around here, but screw em... I must compare before I go nuts over this...
  11. but you know... just thinking.. IMHO compression will bring out the growl more... but it's gotta be there to begin with... i work with compressors and audio a fair bit and i could never make a J or P bass sound like a Stingray with any tools I have...
  12. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I don,t see the point of making a cheaper version of your instrument if it play the same, looks the same, sound the same ...

    if it is the case it makes the high cost version over-expensive you can make the same thing half the price ...

    So to me, of course it will miss something, but it will be very close.

    But for the sake of the tread i would try a combination of flat amp, new strings and boosting you treble and bass and leaving the mid flat on your bass.
  13. I might have to swallow my pride and admit you were right King B...

    Still haven't had a chance to record anything yet, but after putting the Ray 34 through a compressor I'll damned if it didn't start sounding a lot more like the Ray in the video...
    so that led me to start playing around more with the bass, as I was all set on flat and the trace amp I use is pretty clean into Hartke cabs... (I just thought EBMM sounded more like that flat and without comp... but I think I was wrong...) so maybe more experimentation and a real a-b comparisson to another Ray 34 in a store will shut me up !
    ooh and maybe a Nordstrand seeing that I'm not letting go off this bass now...:bassist: It really does play incredibly well and I'm usually bent towards a 'jazz' neck... what's that NRA saying... cold.. dead.. hands... :D
  14. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Listen to it direct and not through a amp to see if it might be OK. Most amps suck! Out of about a dozen I might find one that has a descent sound, meaning it reproduces the instrument correctly or mostly correct anyway.
    I have sold many instruments because I had crappy (name brand) amps until I bought a small cheap Peavey combo Max 112, it didn't have any volume to speak of but the tone was right on. By the way I never use it because I play through a Crown amp with a tube pre and a Avatar neo 2X12 that sits in my living room all the time.
    So just because you have a name brand amp your whatever sounds good through; don't trust it!

    BTW; one of the basses I dumped was a Ray35 but I will get another because it did not get a fair shake.
  15. All good points. Actually the longer I've had it and the more I've played it the more it sounds Ray like... I think it was the super bright slinky's that needed to settle a bit before the natural mids had a chance to shine through... never occured to me that I was used to the sound of slightly older or worn in strings... it's a fantastic bass, very happy with it.
  16. I've not owned a Ray35 (or 24), but I did own an EBMM SR5 for over 20 years. To my hands and ears (and eyes!), I really couldn't distinguish between the SR5 and the Ray35 when I've tried them out in stores. Maybe if I had one to play for a longer stretch at home I'd notice some differences, but maybe not. Either way, its pretty darn close. If I was going to get another Stingray, I'd be getting a SBMM Ray and using the saved money to buy other fun things like pedals or amps. :D
  17. Gabriel51


    Sep 30, 2008
    Having bought this EBMM SR5 and having a ray35 here also, I can say without a doubt there is a definite difference between the two.
    After all, would you think EB would produce a bass that is half the price of his flagship series and that mimics it's performance? that would be financial suicide.
    The main difference I find is in the sound, both weigh 10 Lbs. the necks are slightly different and the hardware is not the same but the sound is very different to me and it's not because I own an SR5. If they were the same I would sell the SR5 and buy two Ray35's because I don't care what name is on the headstock.
    The Ray35 is a very nice bass in it's price range and when compared to the EBMM SR5 there's no free ride but if you can only afford the Ray35 it is an excellent choice.
    I have had two Ray35's and one SR5 and now I know why there is such and attraction to the EBMM, it's the sound!

  18. Tommy33


    Dec 11, 2015
    Mine sound dame close to my stingray close enough and in the mix no way I can here the diferance
  19. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    It's been about 1 year since the last post. So I'll add my thoughts on what happened here. If you've never owned or played a Stingray, it's a lot different than other bases. The preamp, pickups, and pickup placement is very different than most basses. The Ray 34 has a 3 band active preamp, and it's pretty powerful using a weak passive humbucker pickup. Factor in the type of amp and amp settings, and you'll need to spend some time tweaking it out to get the optimal tone you seek. But once you get use to the Ray 34's electronics, and how the 3 band affects your tone, you'll be able to easily get that "Stingray tone you seek" as well as dial in any other tone you seek.
  20. mattattack187

    mattattack187 Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Bangor, ME
    I like mine and while my EBMM 2 band EQ is a different style than my Ray34, the sound is similiar. The EBMM is much better construction quality. I have so much money into my SBBM Ray 34 right now between custom pickguards, new tuning machines, new paint job, etc. that It's at the point where I can't get rid of it. It works very well as my detuned Bass.