First Foray Into Music Man Stingrayland

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Garagiste, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    So I've always played Fender P and J basses, never had any interest in the higher end/boutique stuff from Spector, Warwick etc. But lately I'm listening to a lot of 80's records and digging some Music Man tones, specifically from Paul S. Denman of Sade and Bernard Edwards. Since my reference is limited to Fender brand basses (not strictly Leo Fender designed instruments), I have a few questions:

    1) Any reason not to buy a new or used Ernie Ball model, but rather to look for a vintage Music Man one instead? I'm not interested in vintage for vintage sake, but as we all know from experience with Fender basses, quality control has been inconsistent over the years. I'm wondering if that's less so with these basses.

    2) I have no experience with active electronics. When the battery in a MM dies, do you lose all sound? Do people just change batteries in regular intervals to avoid this?

    3) Can a Jazz bass with bridge pickup soloed approximate a MM sound or are they not that close on the sound spectrum?

    4) Any final thoughts, things to look out for?

    Thanks folks
  2. #3. No. Not at all similar.

    Le female is a complex species. I've learned about their behaviours from Game of Thrones and My Little Pony, so I'm kinda an expert. - Kohntarkosz

    Fender jazz club #1323, EBMM Stingray club #561
  3. StayLow


    Mar 14, 2008
    1. All good, all years. Very solid builds and consistent quality that have varied very little and arguably immaterially over the years.

    2. It's a slow decay. You'll hear it and suspect it long before it actually goes dead. Out of curiosity I just pulled the battery out on one of mine and there's sound but it's low output and dull tone. Could get through a gig, but it shouldn't ever come to this.

    3. No. If you wire a Jazz bass in series, maybe with a pickup swap to perhaps humbucking pickups you can get close enough. Especially with active electronics.

    4. Look out for the awesome. It's easy to find in these basses.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
    Tbone76 likes this.
  4. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    1 - You can buy a vintage, a new one with 3 band eq, or a new classic with the 2 band eq... I have never owned a vintage but have one several new ones including the classic serie, all good.

    2 - Bateries last alot, I change mine every 6months no matter what, however, you should always have some batteries on hand, changing bateries in the new SR is very quick and easy, on the vintage ones and classic serie you need a screwdriver.

    3 - No, at least my Fender Jazz cannot do it.

    4 - They are great basses with their own distintive sound.
  5. All eras are fine. The vintage ones have slightly different appointments and feel, but they're all good. I personally prefer the ones with two-band eq, but you should compare the two- and three-band to see which you like better. There's also a piezo option. Older models and Classics have foam mutes, which may or may not be important to you. Also, Stingrays can have "weak G strings" that aren't as loud as the other strings (or at least are not perceived to be as loud). This can be improved by raising the pickup on the treble side.
  6. 2. When the voltage of a battery drops too low, the sound will start to distort when you dig in. Continue and it will distort even when played lightly. Carry a spare at all times, put a fresh one in before a gig.
    3. There's no substitute for the real thing.
  7. Love mine and I'm later than you, I guess. Play mostly Fenders and played a G&L L2000 since 1993. Thought the G&L might be a kind of improved version of the Musicman Sabre. Not so...
    I have a Classic. Incredible workmanship. I looked for a 2-EQ version 'cause most players I like seem to prefer them. I'm a huge Edwards Fan and like the Sade sound, too.

    A Musicman has a very distinct sound you can't copy with a P or J, not even with a G&L L2000 with the neck-PU soloed. Very different pre-amps on these basses.

    It's a bit of a one trick pony - the Musicman. Hard not to immediately recognize (on many recordings even recordings of myself I can't exactly say if I played a P or J).
    But what it does it does it very very good.
    I still use my J's more often after the first months of MM-purchase-fever are over, but the Musicman is an incredible good gig bass. Always sounds good, doesn't get buried.
    One reason, I never bought one before is that they are very very expensive in Germany. The used prices are kind of moderate.

    Garagiste likes this.
  8. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Here is your definitive answer (great points in the rest, but this is a great summation).
    TMARK likes this.
  9. TMARK


    Jan 10, 2012
    Richmond VA
    They are incredible basses. As has been said, I've never found one to have defects or issues. If I were you, I would play before you buy. The Classic, a new Ray, and a Sterling.

    I would suggest the Sterling HH. Hotter electronics, the five way switch gives you so many tones its incredible. I found the Sterling HH to get in teh same ballpark as a Jazz, but also to growel like a lion that isn't thin sounding like a Jazz bridge p/u soloed. The neck on the Sterling is very thin.

    Everyone loves the two band EQ. I don't. I had a Stingray Classic. Loved the bass, hated the two band. The EQ for bass isn't shelved, so as you crank it up to get more bass you start to boost all the mids, and some mids I don't like at all, depending on the amp I'm using. I mainly play an Orange AD200B and that amp has very limited EQ, so I could not EQ out the high mids that jsut sounded dry and crappy. That being said, the Classic was one of teh best built basses I've ever played. Better than post 2003 Warwicks, in my opinion.
  10. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    There was a period before MM went bust that QC was very spotty. The amplifiers were built by MusicMan, which was run by Tom Walker and George Fullerton; the guitars and basses were made at CLF Research, which consisted of Leo Fender and Forrest White and there was a lot of ill will between the two factions. MM complained about poor paint finishing, rust on the hardware and, towards the end, necks that were built with straight truss rods, which precluded being able to adjust the neck. A friend had one and he broke the truss rod trying to set the bow, and the electronics failed as well. The truss rod story is not just urban legend: I have a book on MM and there is a photo of a neck that was band sawed apart along its axis by the Japanese distributor and sure enough, the truss rod is straight. Another issue is that the bodies were not contoured during the MM era, and the electronics were different. And MM did not build SR5s.

    I have a '99 EB SR5 and I'd not trade it for its 4-string ancestor.