God Help Me, I Think I Want a StingRay

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bmusic, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. Ray4

    16 vote(s)
  2. Ray34CA

    12 vote(s)
  3. StingRay Classic

    86 vote(s)
  4. Old Smoothie

    21 vote(s)
  5. None of the above—something else

    30 vote(s)
  6. None—this is a rabbit hole you should avoid at all costs

    23 vote(s)
  1. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    So one minute I’m thinking “Wow, that cream-colored Ray4 is so cool-looking, and for $299, what would it hurt to have one lying around to dabble with?” and the next minute, I’ve descended into “Great price on that used StingRay Classic!” It’s that same old, sad story.

    To backtrack a little...I love my Fenders, I’m a P guy through and through, I have enough basses and I have no space to put any more. Yada yada yada.

    Putting all that aside...

    What’s the StingRay that’ll scratch my itch? That’ll give me the classic StingRay experience? I’m thinking one of the models with a single pickup and 2-band EQ, right? Which means...

    Ray4: a taste of the game without breaking the bank. The danger is that I love it and it sparks an unhealthy desire for one of the pricier options.

    Ray34CA: a step up, I guess? Slab body seems more authentic.

    StingRay Classic: there’s a beautiful used one I have my eye on, but do I really want to spend that much on my side flirtation?

    Old Smoothie: don’t know much about it.

    I don’t really want to go the vintage route, but...All opinions/thoughts welcome...
    DISCOSTUVW, Qlanq, Raoul_Duke and 2 others like this.
  2. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    Make sure to try before you buy... all the ones I owned had weak G strings. That's not to say they're all like that; they're fine instruments with wonderful playability. But man, the US made ones have gotten really EXPENSIVE!
  3. I went with "something else" because while nothing quite copies the 'Ray aesthetic, you can certainly get in the sonic ballpark a number of ways. I also like Precisions, but I find I go back and forth between them and my 'Ray-ish Ibanez ATKs quite a bit. I've had my 5-string ATK for 25 years and I don't think I'll ever let it go. Off the top of my head, Lakland and Schecter also have some 'Ray-ish options that may intrigue you. So let's muddy your waters a bit, bwahaha :bassist:
  4. None of the ones on your list...

    The first 2 will still have you wondering what a 'real' Stingray would have been like.
    The 2nd 2 are too expensive for a dabble and imho aren't typical of most Stingrays you would have heard over the years.

    Grab a used 2 band eq single pickup USA Stingray if you want a warm fat booty machine. Make it a 3 band single pickup USA Stingray if you want a tighter sound and mid control.

    Alternatively find a USA S.U.B for a bit less of a spend. Comes with a slab body, textured finish and 2 band eq. It'll give you almost the full USA sound experience on a slightly lower budget albeit with a painted neck (I much prefer the waxed neck personally)

    Buy used and you can flip them easily and without much loss if you don't get on with them....
    Commreman, backin82, Joebone and 11 others like this.
  5. I've got a short scale SBMM Ray, first Stingray I've owned, and I fully expected to be dealing with this issue - I've heard a lot about it happening, and heard it on bassss I tried - but I ended up with the opposite problem! Really need to lower the pickup to bring that G string in line with the others, it's so loud.

    Back on topic - I'd suggest waiting and picking up something used at a good price. Whether that's a Ray4 or a MIA, if you don't like it or want to upgrade to a better model, at least you won't lose much selling it on. Unfortunately this route does take a lot of patience and a bit of luck, so can certainly be an issue when GAS takes hold!
    Maxdusty and bmusic like this.
  6. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I like the post above from Hank....buy used if you can so you won't be out any money should you end up not liking it.

    First thing I should mention is that the Sterling Ray 34CA has been discontinued and replaced with the Sterling Ray24. The difference here is the new Ray24 (classic) uses a ceramic pickup whereas the discontinued Ray34CA had Alnico.
    Tbh, the Ray4 (SUB series) might be enough to give an idea whether the Ray is something you can use or want. Buy used and if you like it enough, re-sell it then save up for the EBMM Ray. The Sterling Ray24 and Ray34 are indeed a little better if you want something in between.

    Another option is to go with another of Leo's creations, a G&L L2000. A Tribute version uses the exact same US made pickups and electronics as the more expensive US version and are extremely versatile basses, more than any Stingray bass imo. I have a US EBMM SUB Ray, have owned a few Sterling SUB basses and also a Ray 34. I have also owned several G&L Tribute basses including the L2000.
  7. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    If you want the classic 2 band tone - go for it. If you want a pretty one - Classic is the way to go (but keep in mind those are only body through stringing if that matters to you). If you wanna save some money - old USA SUB is awesome, but not as pretty. Or find an older standard 2 band Ray. Nothing else will scratch that itch as nothing else sounds, feels and looks like a Stingray. Go for it man!
    Bajo Clarkko, IronLung1986 and bmusic like this.
  8. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    Hmmm...which is truer to the OG StingRay sound? I kinda though these two model names were interchangeable.
  9. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Alnico 2 band is the OG ray tone. There were 5 string 3 band ceramic rays in the early 2000s before they went back to alnico, but 4 stringers were always alnico. Until 2018 when they all went to neodymium and lost that true Ray grunt, punch and bite.
    birminghambass and IronLung1986 like this.
  10. ruju


    Dec 9, 2017
    I've got a Ray 34ca. Black with tort pickguard..2band EQ...
    I just love it. Such a fun bass to play.
  11. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Just wait a few minutes.....it will pass.
  12. LkS


    Oct 30, 2013
    EU, Slovakia
    Considering you being a Fender P Bass kind of guy and not really wanting to dish out much money on this - get the Ray4. It will give you a rough idea on what a StingRay is about. Should that Ray4 have a good neck and overall good feel and ballance, you might feel an itch to upgrade the pickups and/or electronics which always pushes these basses a heaps forward sound-quality-wise (though not exactly to what most people here would consider a "real" StingRay sound).

    One thing I would like to mention, since you play P basses: The Ray4 and Ray34CA have a 38 mm nut, the Ray34 (the 3 band EQ) has a 43 mm nut.
  13. I can't believe I blanked on the G&L Kiloton. I really want to try one of those.
  14. SunByrne

    SunByrne trained monkey Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    I've posted a version of this in other threads, but it keeps coming up...

    So one day back in January I was in a GC that had a SUB4, a Ray24, a Ray34, and an actual EBMM. I was interested in how they all compared and so I played all four of them. (GC wasn't busy and the guy working was very patient with me.) They all have a similar feel and sound, as they should, but there are real differences as you'd expect given the price. My thoughts:

    SUB4: Great bass for $300. Pretty close to the classic StingRay sound, but maybe a little thinner, which I'd attribute to the pickup being cheaper. Fit and finish not as good as the Ray34, but for $300 this is an excellent deal. Just wish it had 3-band EQ, but again, budget bass. And the "Ruby red" finish is actually even better in person, IMO—really nice. (I almost walked out with one of these.)

    Ray24: I swear to you were I blindfolded I would be completely unable to differentiate this from the SUB4. To me, it neither felt nor sounded appreciably different from the SUB4 and I have no idea where the additional $200 went. Well, the bridge is a bit better, but that's about it. Plus there aren't very many finish options for this. Feels like a complete miss by their marketing folks.

    Ray34: Really big step up from the Ray24. Better, more solid and smoother feel, improved fit and finish, nicer tuners, and fuller tone. This is also where you get the 3-band EQ. It's not quite the full EBMM experience, but it's probably 90% of it for about half the price. I think the SUB4 is a great deal, and so is this. You could totally gig with this.

    EBMM StingRay: There's a reason this is a classic... but the $1700 price tag ain't a joke, either. Components are a little better than the Ray34 but the overall feel isn't much different, nor is the tone... it's just not twice as good. I mean, if someone came up to me and said "I'm going to give you either a Ray34 or an EBMM StingRay, your choice—but you can't flip it, you have to keep it" I'm taking the EBMM. But spending my own money? Too rich for my blood.

    Obviously six months later I bought a Ray34, in part because it was just too pretty to pass up.


    The roasted maple neck and fretboard are just fantastic...
  15. Yes, please :drool:
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Ray4 is the perfect living room bass. Cheap, hot signal, easy to play. Close enough for me in that context.
    garp and bmusic like this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Stingray basses are proof that God loves you and wants you to be happy. Remember the old joke about some dude praying to win the lottery and one day he complains to God that he hasn’t won and God says “you have to play”?
    Well, there is a Ray for you. You have to play it. Every time a Ray is sold an angel gets its wings. You want an angel to get its wings? Or better yet, do you think God wants an angel to get wings? Do the right thing.
    And if you really want a Ray you probably don’t want the Old Smoothie as your first Ray.
  18. Jimtoonz


    Aug 26, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Maxdusty is offering you what I believe is the best road here. Like you, I have the occasional "I need a 'Ray" flirtations - then I go find one and play it for about 20 minutes and say, "What was I thinking?". For StingRay owners, I do not intend this to denigrate the instrument in any way. They are great basses, and hearing one in the hands of someone like Bernard Edwards is a wonderful thing.

    Having said that, the L-2000 does a lot of things that the StingRay can't, and - should you buy one - you will likely never find a song or situation in which you can't produce an appropriate tone.
    Gizmot likes this.
  19. bobalu


    Oct 1, 2004
    above the 49th
    Yeah, their whole line has gotten really expensive - way out of my price range now. Even the Ray34 (Sterling by MM) series has jumped quite a bit in price. I think used is the best/only way to go if you really want an EBMM now a' days. I still have my Stingray 4S and my Bongo 4 (some 10 years old or so), but could not afford to replace them if anything ever happened to either.
    Smooth_bass88 likes this.
  20. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    yeah, unless I opt for the Ray4, I’m definitely going used.