EBMM MIA STERLING 4H (USA) VS STERLING (made in Indonesia)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BK bassist, Oct 13, 2017.


  1. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey all,

    I'm considering getting a used 4 string MIA EBMM Sterling 4H ...

    There is a substantial price difference between an American Sterling and the Indonesian made Sterling and I can't find an online comparison highlighting just the 2 against each other ... I can only find comparisons showing Sterlings vs Subs or Stingrays but not a comparison highlighting MIA Sterlings VS Indonesian Sterlings.

    I currently own a Stingray classic and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it, it's one of my absolute favorite basses and I'm hoping a Sterling will be just as enjoyable.

    Can someone help educate me as to what the major differences are between the two and whether the (almost doubled) price difference is apparent enough in either the build, finish,or tonal options to justify buying one over the other?... I do not have the time to A/B the both of them so I am hoping for some good info / advice from the TB family.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  2. wizard65

    wizard65

    Sep 1, 2014
    The Indonesian Sterling is a budget copy of the Ebmm Stingray, good quality though.
    The Ebmm Sterling is quite a different animal, smaller body and neck and a more aggressive tone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  3. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks, I'm trying to determine the differences between the Indonesian made Sterling versus the American made Sterling, not the Stingray ....
     
  4. wizard65

    wizard65

    Sep 1, 2014
    What I'm trying to explain is the Indonesian Sterling Ray34 is a Stingray copy.
     
    Blue_Whistle88 likes this.
  5. wizard65

    wizard65

    Sep 1, 2014
    Or are you talking about the SB14?
     
    Mike Sorr likes this.
  6. wizard65

    wizard65

    Sep 1, 2014
    As far as the quality goes, I've owned a usa Stingray, a usa Sterling 4H as well as a Indonesian Sterling Ray35 and the Indonesian Sterling compared very well.
     
    andruca likes this.
  7. The SB14 is a solid instrument, but I'd look for a used MIA Sterling. The quality is a notch or two better, and USA Sterlings can be found used for amounts that don't hurt the wallet too much. The Sterling By Music Man line is pretty good -- I don't care much for the SUBs, though. But if you get the MIA you won't have to wonder if you made the right move.
     
  8. garp

    garp

    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    +1. Marketing for the Sterling By Music Man line is quite candid about the Indonesian-made instruments being "reverse engineered" to hit a specific price point. They're all great instruments, but when you A/B an EBMM Sterling with an SBMM S.U.B. or Ray34, the difference is quickly apparent.
    +1. There is no current offering in the Sterling By Music Man line that has the same body dimensions as the Ernie Ball Music Man Sterling.
     
    SBMM, Ikkir and wizard65 like this.
  9. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    I have an SB-14 which I believe is the closest thing to and Indonesian Sterling and I personally think it's a stellar bass. I've used it as my main bass for the past 8 months and it performed admirably on recordings and live.

    The main difference is the wood. The Sb-14 were made of basswood and it is considered a cheaper wood. Then again, as other people mentionned, the bongos are made of basswood and can hardly be considered a cheap instrument.

    I should mentionned that I bought the bass used for $450 equipped with a Nordstrand pickup. That might be why it sounds so good.

    Not too long ago I made a thread about how using the single coil on it, if you want to check it out.
    Sterling SB14 Single Coil Epiphany

    I have tried EBMM Sterling as well and I would say they are a bit different. The finish on the EBMM was overall slightly better and the bass felt more "mature". But I find the SB-14 more playful. And I'm not scared to take it out of the case. In terms of tone, I didn't compare them on the same amps so it's hard to say but I loved them both. The Sterling somewhat gets overlooked because of the Stingray but it's such a powerhouse. And to me the single coil option makes a big difference now.

    Whatever you choose I hope you'll have fun with it.
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  10. BK bassist

    BK bassist Schroeder Cabinets endorsing artist Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Thanks all, I guess it boils down to the simplicity of asking if the differences between the Indonesian Sterling and the American Sterling are substantial .... and so far it appears that they are.
    Thank you
     
    Volunteerk9 likes this.
  11. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    Yes I would say they are.
    A good solution, although it can be a bit of a hassle, would be to buy a used SB-14 and see if you like it. If you don't, you will be able to resell it at the same price. They go pretty cheap nowadays I think.
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  12. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    Sterling by MM is the Indo company that builds MM types of guitars. Sterling Ray34 is a copy of the MM Stingray. Sterling also makes a Ray34CA which is more like a Sterling with a more narrow taper neck and no contour for the arm and a different sounding preamp.
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  13. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    I own an EBMM Sterling 4H, an EBMM USA SUB Sterling 4H, an EBMM Sterling 4HH and I have owned the Indonesian Ray34 and SB14. The difference between an EBMM Sterling 4H and the SBMM SB14, are that the USA made instruments tend to be lighter, use higher quality hardware and electronics and are built like tanks. The necks on the EBMM instruments are super stable. The SBMM instruments tend to be heavier, the necks seem to require slightly more adjustment, the woods are of lower quality as is the fretwork. Having said that, it's all nitpicking. The SBMM instruments sound awesome, still have a high build quality, and sound virtually identical in a mix. If you are thinking about an SBMM, you won't be sorry. However, I'd probably save an extra few hundred and scour the internet for a US made 4H. Unfortunately SBMM no longer makes the SB14...SBMM's version of the Sterling 4H. Too bad, those are great basses.

     
  14. There's a USA Sterling on Reverberate right now for $650. (No affiliation)
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  15. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    Happy to see another SB-14 user. Love that bass.
     
    Mike Sorr likes this.
  16. Shoulda been "reverb" above, not reverberate. Durn autocorrect.
     
  17. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    I want to find another and yank the frets out.
     
    grillman likes this.
  18. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Sterling by Music Man (Indonesia) basses are licensed “copies” of Ernie Ball Music Man (USA) StingRays. They have the StingRay size body and neck, and an alnico pickup.

    Ernie Ball Music Man (USA) Sterling models have smaller bodies and thinner necks than StingRays as well as ceramic pickups.

    These bases won’t feel or sound alike. There’s also a significant build quality difference. While the SBMM basses are very good, EBMM basses are excellent.
     
  19. grillman

    grillman

    Dec 15, 2014
    Did it on a cheap jazz bass knock off.
    Loved it even though I'm a bad fretless player.
    You can here it here on the quiet section at 01:38
     
  20. svlilioukalani

    svlilioukalani Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2012
    Seattle, Wa
    I would highly recommend a USA made Sterling. I have a serious bass obsession. I gig regularly, and have a large collection of basses. And I got some high end stuff in my collection. The Sterling has now become my main gigging bass. It has replaced my Fender, my Lull, a Nash and an Alembic. I love it so much I got a second on so I have one to practice on and one to gig with.

    I played my first USA Sterling in June of this year. It is now my main gigging bass. It has a aggressive tone, with the most beautiful deep tone. One thing I can say is that the tone of the bass is geared towards a live application rather then bedroom jamming. It really shines when playing with the band.

    So I would say if you can afford an American Sterling get it. Also get a used one. The can be found rather inexpensively. If you call $650 to $700 cheep. That's a screaming good deal for an instrument of this quality. Also if you can find one made in the 90's you may get a better bass. It's difficult to define why I like the older Sterling basses. The neck on the 90"s bass just feels better in my hand. Also the tone seems slightly warmer. The more recently made Sterling I have, has a more aggressive tone. The neck on my 2006 can get the lowest possible action and it's rock solid.

    Good luck and happy hunting!
     
    BK bassist likes this.
  21. 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.

     
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