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Help me love my Stingray

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassGH, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. bovinehost


    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    There are so many variables. Strings, amps, cabs, the room itself.....what strings are you using? FWIW, I've been playing SR5s for a very long time (in spite of my Bongo problem, I still have a Stingray 5 and am looking at a new one) and have always found them to be perfectly amazing in a live situation.
    Mastermold likes this.
  2. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    I'm with you, passive J's with hot pickups work for my needs.
    I also owned 3 Stingrays at one point, sold the SR5 last year and in process of selling the SR4.
    The cheapie import Ray34CA has a 2-band and alnico pickup....sounds better than the $$$ "real" Ray IMO.
    It's easier to play bc it has a Jazz profile neck like the SLO special.

    Cutting the clank and grit out of the stock ceramic MM pickup with a retro MM clone 2-band preamp is job #1.
    Adding an Alnico pickup with a series/parallel option would finish it off nicely.
    You could get an SD pickup and preamp inexpensively, the SD preamp sounds good.

    I had the same problem you are having with the SR5 with a pair of Warwick $$'s.
    They got SD Alnico + SD preamp or Nordstrand Bigmans run passive and are actually playable.
    Those things stock are super gritty and clanky, their preamps are even more compressed and weird sounding than the SR5 based 3-band MM preamp.
    BBassBassington and BassGH like this.
  3. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    Exact same thing happened to me-
    Mine had the weak G syndrome. Back it went.
    I owned three rays and they’re all gone.
    I have four P’s now and never looking back
  4. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Aftermarket pickup fixes that up.
    You could even go unique and throw in an EMG MM and an Aguilar OBP-3.
    That's a surprising combo, really musical.
  5. faulknersj

    faulknersj Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2008
    Scottsdale Az
    I bought an MM Sterling ((USA) to flip. I decided to take it to a gig and loved the way it played but hated the way it sounded. I took my time listing it and kept taking it to gigs once in a while. After 5 or so gigs...I started to really dig the bass so I started playing it more and more. I also started to notice that other bass players were coming up to me regularly and asking about my Sterling and it became the favorite of many of my musician friends. Remember...I really hated this bass after that first gig...so what changed? Sometimes we are so used to one thing, that we fail to appreciate that it sometimes requires a process to adjust and evolve to a new sound and feel. It’s kind of like the PlayStation vs X-Box controller thing...neither is better...it’s just what you are used to! It took me while for my ear to have a certain comfort level with a non-jazz bass tone because that’s really all I played for the 15 years prior. To this day, I love the sound of certain P-Basses...but the response/tone of a P can feel a bit sluggish to me compared to my J Basses. Gig the Ray...like gig the poopie out of it for a month or 2. If you don’t like it after that...✌️ It Out!

    Here’s a link to a vid of my MM in action...EQ on amp is flat...the slightest boost to lows and miss on the on board pre-amp. This vid features an Old School Funk Feel but I could play any style with this badboy all night long.


    Attached Files:

  6. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Trim it up with a Darkglass pedal.
  7. tonymcbony


    Mar 21, 2006
    I have always adored the feel of a Stingray but wrestled with the tone a bit – too much sizzle/gank/clank going on.

    Had a HH stingray with a Nordstrand bridge humbucker and John East MM preamp and that sounded nice once I'd added those, but ultimately couldn't get along with all the switching options.

    Recently bought a single H stingray that had the 3 band EQ and Humbucker swapped out for the Seymour Duncan equivalents and it sounds exactly how I want a Stingray to sound – recently did a shootout through the same gear with a stock Stingray 3 band and my one with the SD Pickup and preamp sounded so much nicer. Tone was 100% Stingray but with none of the 3 band drawbacks.

    All that to say – try a Seymour Duncan setup, you might just love it.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
    BBassBassington likes this.
  8. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    I agree it's what you're used to and what your personal preference sound wise is. I love Stingrays, my favorite being 2 band (and pre eb 2 band) rays. I had a USA SUB - recorded a lot with it, and it absolutely shined live. They really show their value on a big stage IMO, terrific. I sold the SUB for a jazz because, I guess I kind of sort of missed having a jazz again. Jazz didn't do it for me. Got a 3 band BFR Stingray (single H). All 4 stringers btw. I like it a lot, it's that 3 band middy Stingray tone. But I missed 2 band. Replaced the preamp with a John East MM (2 band with a mid module) and put in a Nordstrand MM4.2 for that extra pre eb vibe and whoa. It's more open sounding, rounder, warmer, less compressed, clearer. It's exactly like my 2 band USA SUB was, but more of that vintage pre eb vibe. Oh, and the mid/sweep control is fantastic. No more fiddling with the knobs like I did with the 3 band.

    Maybe check out swapping out the preamp if you prefer a more classic, vintage Stingray tone? I'd definitely recommend John East.
    BassGH likes this.
  9. BigDrew


    Jun 1, 2016
    I should also add that I find Music Man’s new pricing ridiculous.
  10. inthebassclef

    inthebassclef Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    Personally never felt a ray sat well in a mix for me. On the other hand had a modulus flea and man Did the work for everything. But take it for what it's worth sold all the mm style basses and now use a passive p or j for everything
    BassGH likes this.
  11. Two things that made me go from liking my Ray to loving it:

    1. Chromes. For me the Ray is made for Flatwounds. I went with chromes but try whatever ones you want and see how you feel then.

    2. The second was recommended by someone here on Talkbass and was a real game changer. Set all your Eq's(Bass, Mid, and Treble) to about one third (ie.just down from center detent). From here you make your small adjustments up or down where you see fit. This for me was where I found the sweet spot tonewise.

    YMMV but worth a try.
    Kokoman, BassGH, Mastermold and 3 others like this.
  12. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I mostly play Stingray 5ers and for me there's no other bass like it, love everything about it (playability -that neck profile!-, tone, looks) and still Imm very aware that if that tone isn't for you there's really not much in the way of "taming" it. A Stingray5 has an aggressive sound, full of personality and you cannot hide that much if it happens to not be your thing. I mean, it's defintely not a one trick pony (these are used in MANY and very DIVERSE music genres) but it cannot sound too far from what it is.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
    Operation Ivy and BassGH like this.
  13. I think it was Gail Anne Dorsey (look her up) who said she keeps the treble turned all the way down and adjust mids and bass to taste.

    I would focus on settings 2 and 4 on the switch and see what happens with those settings. I use Rotosound 66 strings on my HH Stingray and can get a very vintage tone from it. I traded away a Stingray years ago because i wasn't patient learning to use the preamp.
    BassGH likes this.
  14. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    The Stingray 5HH became my favorite bass the day I bought my first one. Love the overall sound, love the versatility, love the looks, love the feel. I've bought about 12-15 other basses since then and none have them have knocked it out out that #1 spot (a couple have come close).

    I'm a late starter and have only played with two groups so far but it sounds as great in a band context to me as it has at home. The first group I played with was a southern rock band and I used the Stingray almost exclusively with them. The guitar players would bust my chops sometimes because I play 5's but they always liked how that bass sounded. Unfortunately that group fizzled out sooner than I would have wanted but I recently started playing with a group doing mostly British Invasion era rock with some 50's rock and some blues thrown in. It sounds fantastic in that context, too, and even more so after I put flats on it (it had nickel Lo Riders on it before that, my favorite string and THE string for that bass AFAIC). After rehearsal last week the BL told me he really likes how I sound and I've gotten two texts from him since then saying the same thing. But I'm a still an inexperienced hack of a beginner, so I figured it's GOT to be the bass. :D
    the baint likes this.
  15. redwingxix

    redwingxix Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2015
    I picked up a stingray 4hh a couple months ago. I tried to love it, I really did but I am not digging the tones out of it and I'm not enamored with the neck. When I have time to play at home I 'd rather be playing than monkeying around with string changes and mods to get a sound I want so I move on pretty quickly. It's in the classified section now and will hopefully find a new owner that really loves it.
  16. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    This. And if you change your mind down the road, there are always tons of them on the used market so you could pick one up again easily.
  17. darkinners


    Oct 4, 2006
    Which part you do not like the Ray sound? Too much clank? If that's the case.
    You can either

    1. Replace the pickup to Nordstrand MM pickup. It basically reduce the clank a lot and have a lot of mid range. kinda like the impression of P bass but with Ray sound.

    2. Set your strings action to be higher.
  18. stingray78

    stingray78 Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    I have 78 Pre EB Ray that I have owned since the mid 80s. There are not many styles of music that I haven't played with this bass; for many years it was my main player. It can growl, it can thunder, it can clank. I gigged it extensively with a Trace Elliot AH 250 and an Ampeg SVT II back in the days and with a GK 1001RBII and an Aguilar AG700 in recent times. There was never a situation where I could not tame the highs with the EQ on the bass and the amp (and I like to use cabs with tweeters/horns). I absolutely love this bass.
    Unlike many others in this forum the P-Bass doesn't work for me. My first bass was a Fender P which I sold it after a few years. I bought a 63 AVRI 2 years ago, trying to like the P again. I love the recorded sound, but it just doesn't work for me as a live bass.
    SteveCS likes this.
  19. armyadarkness

    armyadarkness Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2012
    NJ Bayou Country
    Go G&L all the way!
  20. armyadarkness

    armyadarkness Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2012
    NJ Bayou Country
    +1 I have the Ibanez with the Nordstrand setup. Heaven!

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