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Help me choose, please: Tony Levin OLP vs S.U.B. Ray 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by harborcoat, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. harborcoat


    Feb 11, 2017
    Rural PA
    I'm eying up a Tony Levin sig OLP on Reverb going for $399.

    There are numerous threads in the forums comparing the regular OLP line to the first SUBs when they came out (that sounded like they were pricier, I don't know - this EBMM/SMM nomenclature is wack) but many people reviewed and loved their Tony Levins in the mid-late 2000's. On the other hand, people seemed to like the build quality of SUBs over the regular OLP lines.

    How do they stack up now?
    • Pro TL OLP:
      • More unique than a S.U.B.
      • I like the look a bit better.
      • I can pretend to be awesome.
    • Pro S.U.B.:
      • Cheaper by almost a hundo
      • Can try it in the store to make sure I dig that particular instrument
      • Pay no shipping.
    I'm already bald, so hair loss is not a concern.

    Thanks for the bargain basement bass advice.
  2. Mark76


    Dec 1, 2015
    Elephant talk!
    PeterH and Malak the Mad like this.
  3. harborcoat


    Feb 11, 2017
    Rural PA
    Nevermind. I figured it out! ;)
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
    PeterH likes this.
  4. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    I owned a SBMM SUB Ray4 briefly. It was a good bass with a decent pre-amp. I've never owned an OLP, but I've played a few, and the SUB felt, looked and played like a higher quality instrument, IMO.

    Also, OLPs are passive. I would go for the SUB just for the pre & eq.
    lostreality and Aqualung60 like this.
  5. harborcoat


    Feb 11, 2017
    Rural PA
    The Tony Levin signature has active electronics with a 3 band EQ.

    I guess my main hangup is, like you echoed, though forums searching and google searching many haven't seem terribly impressed with OLPs, yet lots of folks seem to love the Tony Levin signature. Is it placebo effect? The doodle? Or were these instruments really made to a higher standard? I don't want to plunk extra dough on a less quality instrument just because it's cool. Okay, actually, I do... but I shouldn't.
    lostreality and Mosstone like this.
  6. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    The SUB Ray5 is a very decent quality instrument for the price. I've owned one since December. Little niggles like sharp fret edges but otherwise a nicely finished bass. Good sounding too - good preamp, doesn't really sound like a Stingray, but it's a good modern sound nonetheless.
  7. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    Oh... My bad. I've never seen the Tony Levin model.

    Ok, I just went and Googled it, and hold the presses! That thing looks niiiiiice!

    You're right. It is a tough call. I'm leaning more toward the TL sig OLP now myself.
  8. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    This is the one I was talking about, with the quilted maple top:

    G RICH 5 likes this.
  9. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    Is this the one you're thinking of buying?


    Not my choice of finish, but my gut says go for this one. This looks a bit of a step up from a regular OLP. And I like a 3-band rather than a 2-band EQ. What I don't like is the price. Have you tried haggling with the seller?
  10. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    I think you might be out of luck. That reverb listing ended two years ago and there aren't any other OLP basses listed at the moment (signature or otherwise).
  11. harborcoat


    Feb 11, 2017
    Rural PA
  12. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    That's really strange... I did a couple variations on 'OLP Tony Levin signature bass' and the search came up with nothing.

    Anyway, yeah... I'd be more interested in that one. Looks like that bass sold for $350 when it was new (about 12 years ago). I think you have a little bit of wiggle room in the price. I did a completed listing search on ebay to see what these typically sell for. There was only one listed, and it sold for $299. Another one sold here in the classifieds this past Feb for $350.

    These basses seem to be rare, and so maybe the seller thinks it has a little more cache because of it. I'd offer $350 shipped and see what he says. It's been listed for two months, so he might be motivated to move it.
    Spidey2112 and harborcoat like this.
  13. My non Levin OLP had some of the worst hardware and frets I've ever seen. I've since replaced both and love it but it was not made well. The $400 price tag is reaching. I'd go for the sterling sub by sterling sterling sub sterling ray sterling.
    lostreality and harborcoat like this.
  14. groucho


    Sep 28, 2005
    Ringwood NJ
    I had a Tony Levin OLP in "Barbie Flesh" and it was quite nice.
    Got to compare it head on for an hour with a MM Stingray 5
    and I have to say it did not come off looking so shabby.
    The MM had the obviously better pickup/electronics but as to feel and playability
    (cut of the neck) they were not all that far apart.
    Considering $399 I paid for the OLP vs (what? $1200 )for a used MM Ray 5 string?
    Get the OLP just for the color!
    harborcoat likes this.
  15. bassbooty

    bassbooty -Rey Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    groucho and harborcoat like this.
  16. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    That's a no-brainer - go check out the SUB - if you can play it, AND it's nice - then why even consider the risk of the other bass?
    aah_scary, edencab and harborcoat like this.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    So why have you not purchased this already???
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    now you need these


    dkelley, groucho and Malak the Mad like this.
  19. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    BTW, those things are in the 10#+ weight range in case you care.
  20. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    I think TL only uses those on his 3-string MM bass if I'm not mistaken. Can't imagine trying those on a bass with 17mm string spacing.
  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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