Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JU2389749203, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. JU2389749203

    JU2389749203 Guest

    Jul 1, 2020
    Hello everyone,

    Long time music experience from me, but new member on TalkBass.com

    As you could notice in thread title, I'm just about to buy new bass guitar and I have one dilemma:

    1. Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray4 Classic
    2. Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray4 Special

    So far, I've been using Fender Standard Precision Bass, which was more than satisfying experience last 10 years. But deep inside, I've always been seeking for that humbucker thickness and volume, which my P-Bass split coil could never produce, no matter what equalizer settings I put on, which is the reason why I've finally decided to go with Ernie Ball Music Man Bass.

    Considering the price of these basses, no matter the fact that you can't go wrong with Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray Bass, I still think I should hear some of your opinions and experiences before i spend cca 2500€, right?

    So, my question for you would be your experiences with both of these two (Classic & Special) and, more important than specification differences (which you can also provide), your personal differences and sound preferences and the most important - your advice for me. Thanks ahead ! ;)
    Randy Ward and hereandgone18 like this.
  2. hereandgone18


    Apr 28, 2018
    Tucson, AZ
    Get the Special! Mine is the nicest instrument I’ve ever owned.

    Advantages of the Special over the classic:
    • Neodymium pickups
    • Upgraded preamp (3 band vs 2)
    • Lighter hardware and more contoured bodies, leading to lighter guitars
    • Better access to the high frets
    • The roasted maple necks are amazing
    • Lots of cool color options, if you care about such things
  3. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    I picked up one of those asian made models the "SUB" I think they call it, it sounds and plays pretty well the only downside is that they will need some attention to clean up the fret ends and a good overall setup, but for the money its a good little bass and gets the classic Stingray tone all day long
    utrobicic13 likes this.
  4. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Half of your list is personal opinion and preference.

    - Neodymium pickups and the new preamp IMO tame the tone of the Stingray, and neuter it a bit, so not a plus for me.
    - Lighter weight is a definite plus, extra fret I can take or leave, but a better access to higher frets is a nice thing. - Most of the new colors I don't care for TBH, as they either lean on the Play-Doh side of visuals, or have the super sparkly finish that I don't like either.

    I'd try to hunt down and find a lighter weight 2 bander if I were you, if you want the classic 2 band tone.

    As for the 3 bander, check both the older 3 band and the new Specials. Only you can tell which tone you prefer. I prefer the older ones, as they have a lot more character IMO, while the new ones are often described as "I never like Stingrays, but I really like the new Specials!" There's a reason for that. Again, you can always try to hunt down a lighter weight Stingray no matter if it's 2 band, older 3 band or the new 3 band Special.

    Thick tone though? I only play P basses and Stingrays, so if I want a THICK tone, I go for my P bass with flats. The position of the pickup gives it more of that natural bass response. Stingrays are more focused (pickup closer to the bridge), sure you can thicken them up nicely with the preamp, but it's different than a P bass. If you want that spunky, aggressive Stingray tone, then heck yeah, grab one.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
    59jazz, Apathesis, Mr_O'B and 6 others like this.
  5. I went through this decision in early March before lockdown and went with a maple neck classic. I couldn't find one near me. But tried several lower priced versions of the 2 & 3 band EQ at G.C. and the eq sound was the deciding factor. I was really hot for a roasted maple neck but thought I could learn to love.the birds eye neck. (Gorgeous) I bought a used classic on-line to save money (it was about half) The thick neck turned out to be something I really like and the slab body was not a big comfort issue like I had been concerned about. Weight on mine is 9.2 but the balance seems somehow different than a Fender so was not as big a deal as I had imagined. I only did one gig with it before isolation but it sounded great and got good positive comments & feedback from both audience and band mates. I'm still Very happy with it and I am quite picky about basses. Y.M.M.V
  6. GitmoMango


    Sep 5, 2019
    I agree with everything above and I want to add my experience with my 5 string special.

    I find the preamp to be dead simple. Easy to dial in tones, it’s hard to get a bad tone out of this preamp / pickup combo.

    I find this bass more responsive to my technique than any other bass I’ve played. If I’m looking for mellow, aggressive, burpy or clanky, I can get it by adjusting my plucking position and how much I dig in. (I know this goes for all basses, but the Special just seems to respond to me)

    I will say this. Go on and set it up per EBMM’s specs on their website and adjust to taste from there. This is a different beast that won’t work as well with standard setup specs.

    As always YMMV.
    utrobicic13 and hereandgone18 like this.
  7. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I'm a dyed-in-the-wool lover of the 2 band StingRay. But if louder than a P bass is a requirement in a StingRay, then you'll want the new Special with it's 18v system. The old 2 band system was only offering eq control, not high output, so those only tended to be similar in volume to a strong P.
  8. JU2389749203

    JU2389749203 Guest

    Jul 1, 2020
    OK, but now, I have a different problem. Two of the German suppliers I was aiming on (Thomann and Musik Produktiv) have some strange differences in price. There are two basses that I find attractive and the only difference is the fretboard - rosewood and maple.


    Music Man StingRay Special MM107 RW VT « E-Bass
    Music Man StingRay Special MM107 MN VT « E-Bass

    The problem is, if you check out Thomann.de site, the maple one is 168€ more expensive than the rosewood one, while on Musik-Produktiv.de, the rosewood one is 230€ more expensive. How is that possible and what are their differences (other than fretboard)?
  9. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Probably an older stock or something. Thomann usually has a tactic where they lower the price for the items that they don't have in stock, to mess up competition, but if they have something in stock and it's sitting there for longer, they'll drop the price. Whatever the reason, it's not important.

    The fretboard is the only difference, so pick whatever you like more.
    utrobicic13 likes this.
  10. Rnr..........4

    Rnr..........4 Guest

    Jul 8, 2019
    Mouthmw is right

    Went to Guitar Center today and they had one of the new StingRay Specials. It didn't have that unique zing the older models have. Even with the 18v, it didn't sound the same. Too boomy and organic and no need for 18v. They changed the preamp too.

    I will be buying a Classic or previous standard Ray and pass on the Special. I like the heavier weight anyway. Tested out a Ray34 and it had the zing sting so maybe they released the Special to eventually phase out the standard Rays and people can just buy the Sterlings. Tested out a Sub 2-band as well and it sounded better than the Special! Told me all I needed to know. Even the Guitar Center store manager wasn't aware of the changes except the weight and style.

    Did I mention the new tuners? Look terrible and cheap visually.

    Only thing I like about the new redesign is the improved body shape, roasted neck and new bolt on contour.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
    utrobicic13, wizard65 and mouthmw like this.
  11. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    I agree you with there, pretty much on all points. Ray34 still has the design where it mimics the older style 3 bander Stingrays, and a 2 band Sub kind of mimics the older 2 band Stingrays, so yeah, they probably sound closer to the older Stingrays than Specials do.

    A lot of people do like Specials and that's cool, but a lot of them seem to want to get a more mellow, run of the mill bass tone from Stingrays (that's why I said it's for people who don't like Stingrays). I've heard them in several mixed (smooth jazz, r&b, rock, hard core punk, metal) and IMO, they always sound a lot more bland in the mix, or even get lost in it, compared to the older rays. They remind me of an old combination I did on one of my previous rays - Nordstrand pickup and 2 band preamp - played it with a band a couple of times (hard rock, classic rock), and it was just way too mellow and tame. Once I put the original pickup and 2 band preamp back in - that was it, the bite, the cut through and the character came back.

    But to each their own.
    utrobicic13 and Rocknroller4 like this.
  12. Hidesert


    Oct 7, 2011
    Santa Fe
    Please see my “Wanted” ad looking for a Stingray with a highly flamed neck...
    JU2389749203 likes this.
  13. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    The Special will be lighter, faster, more versatile, and more ergonomic. The Classic will be more traditional, and sound and feel almost exactly like the old pre-Ernie Ball Stingrays. If I dodn't already have a standard or Special Stingray, I personally would pass on the Classic. If I had a regular Stingray, I'd likely consider the Classic to supplement it, but if I were looking for a main player, I'd focus on the Special (or the Sterling).
    utrobicic13 likes this.
  14. Rnr..........4

    Rnr..........4 Guest

    Jul 8, 2019
    Lighter, faster? Only hipsters can't handle the weight (kidding slightly) and the Classic is the best sounding Stingray. When you play the Sub Stingray (which is similar to the Classic) it has more presence with that natural zing there. The Ray34 (and I am guessing the 3-band MM) have a bit more treble ping zing (lol!) so whoever mentioned that filter.. you can tell it's there.

    Reading this back.. I sound like a Stingzologist.
    utrobicic13 likes this.
  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I am a fan of the 3EQ, 3 band preamp. 80% of the time I'm boosting bass a little and cutting the mids a little. But there are times that a little middle punch is useful and that midrange is a sweet spot with the Ray pickups anyway. So even if you mostly leave the middle knob alone it can come in handy if you need it. And for what it's worth I think an EBMM and a P make a really versatile pair.
    Special is nice. But honestly they are both nice basses. The weights are inconsistent so I would't personally worry about it. You'll be comfortable transitioning between a Ray and a P because they have pretty similar neck shapes.
    utrobicic13 likes this.
  16. Nebadon2000

    Nebadon2000 Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    Moyock, North Carolina
  17. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I can't talk to 4's but I have two 5's, and one is a Special. Here's a quick summary of the differences from my point of view.

    • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I like the looks of my older bass better. Of course, Autumn Redburst is an uncommon color, and I picked my Special based on three criteria (maple fingerboard, unpainted headstock, as light as possible) and color concerns weren't on the list. So, I ended up with puke green burst. The color is growing on me, though.
    • I like the shape of the older pickup better. The sloped rectangle makes for a very comfortable ramp. This pickup shape was something I sought out specifically when looking for an older StingRay5.
    • The hardware is different. The Specials's hardware is supposed to be lighter, but quality-wise, they are the same.
    • My non-special is old enough that it doesn't have the compensated nut. I haven't found any reason to prefer one nut over the other.
    • The roasted neck looks great. As near as I can tell, though, the profiles are identical and the fretwork is great on both - no issues in setting either up to my liking, but I've noticed that these StringRays like very little relief as compared to a Fender.
    • There is a major weight difference. My older model is over 11 pounds and the Special is under 8.
    • They both sound like StingRays, but they are different. They both have that signature crisp top end. The low end on the Special is more round, like it boosts a little more. The mids on the Special are also more tame; I haven't figured out how to get the nice midrange "bark" out of it that almost needs tamed in the older one.
    • The Special is significantly louder.
    • The G string hanging right at the edge of the fingerboard is an issue on both. It is a StingRay5 "thing," though, and I knew that going in. If anything, the frets on the Special are rounded a little more at the ends, making it a little more noticeable on that bass.

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2021
  18. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    I’ve owned both and I used to play p-basses exclusively. As far as Precision’s go I’ve owned every variety Fender has to offer. My main bass is currently an SR5HH and has dethroned the p-bass in my main group. I still bring one as a back-up but my singers hate it now. The special produces a wayyyy more full and rounded out sound and they are incredibly versatile (it comps a p-bass fairly well if you know how to adjust EQ and technique).

    As far as Special Vs Classic go there are a few key differences.

    Firstly, MusicMan has made a handful of changes through the decades to preamps and pickups so to get really into it you’d want to figure out what year the classic your interested in was built and do some homework (if you can get the serial number you can enter that on their website and you’ll get all the details you need).

    The specials are designed to be more ergonomic (YMMV), the difference in weight can be substantial my SR5 classic was almost 12lbs and my Special is 9 (lighter than my p-basses of past and present).

    The specials will offer more headroom than the classic.

    The finishes on the specials tend to be more flashy. The roasted maple neck looks sweet and is super comfortable too.

    The special is just a smidge more mellow than the classic but it produces sounds that the classic cannot and not vice versa.

    online videos don’t really do justice because no two players sound alike on one instrument (obviously they can but in general). I couldn’t find ANY demos that represented my playing style or groove approach. If you have the chance try to hunt one of each down and demo them! If you have to buy blind I’d say go with the special as it will be easier to resell. (Then again you might be able to score a classic for a pretty good price used).

    I had my classic and special for about a month together and quickly decided it wasn’t worth keeping the classic. The difference in weight and comfort was undeniable for me and the special had more to offer tonally as well.

    good luck!
  19. Rnr..........4

    Rnr..........4 Guest

    Jul 8, 2019
    I had to settle for a Sterling Stingray Ray 34. I think they sound just as good as the American made ones. Only difference is the neck. I really wish EB would bring back the classic style Stingray's tho. I really wanted the Cliff Williams Stingray but it was just way too expensive.
  20. Bill Murray

    Bill Murray Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2019
    New Hampshire
    They definitely will! Like many companies they’re having supply issues and decided to focus on the better selling stingray specials but they never disconnected them or removed them from there product line, it’s just on hold for now.
    Rocknroller4 likes this.