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Help me purchase a Stingray

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by greekorican, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    So I'm in the market for a Stingray 4H. I'm on the fence between the much cheaper Ray34, or trying to find a used MM Stingray. Maybe I could get a new one, but this is a graduation present. I don't want to push it, unless I can come up with some cash to help pay for it.

    I spent an hour in Guitar Center today after my lesson. I had a blast comparing a Honeyburst Ray34 and a Vintage Sunburst Stingray. They were both gorgeous (I'm also a sucker for sunburst finishes) and they both sounded so extremely good. According to the salesmen, the American made Stingrays have better pickups/electronics, but I could not tell the difference. The Ray34 had less buzz, but they were both setup poorly. The MM Stingray was significantly heavier than the Stingray, and I really liked the beefier neck. The extra weight of the body made for zero neck dive, though it wasn't bad on the Ray34. So basically I like the feel of a Musicman over a Sterling, I haven't quite decided if the feel is worth $600 bucks more. The Ray34 was still very nice though.

    Of course I'm going to feel guilty about this purchase. Today I jammed in my friend's basement and my SX P Bass sounded so extremely good as well...

    I'm asking for the differences between Musicman Stingrays and Sterling Ray34's. In your opinion is it worth the extra price? I'm a little curious about these Classic Stingrays with 2 band EQ as well, but I want to play the bass that I'm going to buy, and i haven't seen any in stores.

    I would love to get the Musicman over the Sterling, and I think if I go that route I'm gonna buy used. How much does a used Stingray go for typically? This has been on craigslist for a long time and I'd love to buy it, but $1200 is alot. I hate when people lowball me on craigslist, but $1200 is simply out of my price range, especially for a used instrument. How much should I offer him? http://chicago.craigslist.org/nwc/msg/1676107505.html

    I'm also wondering how negotiable prices are for new instruments. Amazon.com has both instruments at lower prices, so thats a start. I could try to get them to match or beat amazon.com. How low could I talk them down for a Musicman? What about a Sterling Ray34?

    Don't tell me to search. I've been searching the classifieds to get ideas on prices, and I've researched the differences between Sterling and Musicmans. There are just so many threads that come up when I search, most of it doesn't help me at all.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. Essthreetee


    Aug 19, 2007
    Visalia, CA
    I believe that GC does price matching. If you can take a print out of the exact same bass listed at a lower price...or have the website for them to look up...
  3. prophet178


    Mar 13, 2009
    There's a bunch of threads on this topic already, you might want to check them out. But the short answer is: if you can't tell the difference and don't care about the name on the headstock, go with the Ray34. The only thing you're going to have to take into account is resale value, obviously the American made Stingray will hold its value should you decide to sell it down the line.

    It has a lacquered neck vs oil and wax on the standard ray, vintage frets, string mutes on the bridge and chrome battery cover. It also doesn't have any contours for your arm on the body. Mostly cosmetic enhancements akin to 70's Stingrays. Some say the 2 band EQ is beefier than the 3EQ, but the only way for you to tell is to try it for yourself. Also you have to realize the classic is at least $300 more than a standard Ray, so if that is peaking your price range already you might want to block the Classic out of your mind.

    They come around for under a grand often. Honestly I wouldn't spend over $1000 for a used Stingray unless it was pristine or a rare color. Theres no harm in trying to lowball that guy on Craigslist, it looks like it's just what you're looking for too. I would say try him for $1000 and see how it goes, he might go for it, especially if its been listed for 6 days with no bites.

    Not very. Your best bet would be to find the lowest price online get GC to match it +10% of the difference. GC runs deals pretty often too, so you might want to take advantage of those.

    I recently went through the same thing you are going through when deciding to purchase a Ray, so I hope this helped you out in some way.
  4. There is a ray34 for for 470$ shipped in the classifieds i'd grab that .

    But you can get stingrays under 1000$ as said pretty easily, i could have got a pristine black one with hardcase last month for 700$ and i regret not doing so , just wrong time for me to buy.

    I have gotten a ray for 430$ but it was pretty worn.
  5. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    The necks "should" be the same size/width. At least the Ray35's and MM SR5's are. The true stingray may have an oil/wax neck (which I personally have converted all my basses to), but you can always sand down the Ray34 neck and give it the Oil/Wax treatment for about $10 cost in supplies.
  6. ausf


    Jun 24, 2008
    New York
    Used Rays should be around $800. Better deals can be found, but that seems to be a fair price.

    New Rays in a non- GC/Sam Ash/MF should be around $1250.

    Classics are way out of this range and I don't think you'll find too many used for a while.

    If you were happy with the 34, then do it. You could always upgrade the PU if necessary and still be under a EBMM.
  7. Johnny Alien

    Johnny Alien Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2003
    Harrisburg, PA, USA
    ^^^ This. $800 is the average. That $1200 is WAY out of line for a used Ray.
  8. I recently purchased a Sterling By Musicman SB14 over a Musicman Sterling and haven't regretted it at all. The sound, playability and quality are all outstanding. My bass teacher, who owns an MM Sterling could hardly tell a difference between them. he actually thought it was a real MM at first lol.

    If the Ray34 and the Stingray are as similar as the SB14 and the Sterling then I'd say go for the Ray34. You can spend whatever money you save on accessories and such.
  9. Essthreetee


    Aug 19, 2007
    Visalia, CA
    is the ray34 for $470. That would be the way I would go...but then again I am cheap.
  10. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    used rays typically go for $850 to $950 shipped. i wouldn't pay more than that unless it was one of the various special edition models ie, 2005 buttercream, 30 yr anniversary, etc.
  11. mgauge


    Dec 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Instruments at Guitar Center are never set up properly..I rarely buy from GC, I just go there to try out an instrument..

    DUDE, GO MUSICMAN, I think the Sterlings are quality...But having played both, I own Musicman.....The electronics are better and its made by Musicman (my favorite brand).....

    I LOVE the oil/wax neck on the Musicman basses... I swear by it...

    BUY USED... Theres always someone selling a nice Musicman stingray on craigslist used for a decent price... You can negotiate too...Usually, there a $100 or so flexibility.. Ive posted on craigslist for say $600, I ended up selling for $500....Dont buy from GC... Buy used original musicman off craigslist...

  12. Fender32


    Jun 23, 2005
    Kent, England
    I had pretty much the same dilemma this month and (mainly 'cos I had a load of EBMM spare parts lying around), went with the Ray34 and swapped out the pickup (for a Nordstrand MM4.2), the tuners (for origial MM ones) and some other little bits.

    I don't want to start any 'hysteria' here, but I have to say that the Ray34 (now that it's been upgraded and had the fret edges filed) is a much better StingRay than 3 of the 4 other MM 'Rays that I've had in the past. It's a fraction lighter, has better looking grain in the swamp ash body (natural finish), the neck is smoother to the touch than either the nitro lacquer of the older instruments, or the oiled finish of the current EBMM models (which can get very rough if your hands sweat a lot) and even the low action and general playability are better on this one Indonesian bass than on any of the American made MMs I've had.

    Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that any Ray34 you end up with is going to be a 'better' bass than any EBMM Ray that you find - it's simply that, in my limited experience, the Ray34 is a great bass for the price. That said, if you buy new, you'll lose a fair percentage if you sell it again. Buying a used EBMM 'Ray should protect you from any heavy losses, although you'll have to fork out more for it in the first place.

    Finally, if money was no object, I'd go for the new "Classic" model - if those 2 band preamps, slab bodies and all the other vintage appointments can get its tone anywhere close to the early pre-EB basses, then it's worth twice what it costs! I had a '77 StingRay a few years ago and the tone was way different to the modern 3 band EQs.

    Good luck with making your (difficult) decision.
  13. stoolpigeon


    Dec 17, 2009
    Greenville SC
    I'd go with the used Stingray...never a bad choice.
  14. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Used Stingray 4H is still twice the price of a used Ray34, and slightly more than a new one. I will be the first one to admit there are differences, but the instruments are very close.

    Here are some recommendations about buying SBMM basses.

    1. Replace the neck screws w/EBMM screws. $3.00 a set + shipping from EBMM

    2. Get the fretboard edges rolled/filed. - $40 at a tech

    3. Check the pocket fit (look for non-flat neck bottom) Apparently more of an issue with very old SBMMs (Older ones have the large "Made in Indonesia" similar to an EBMM) On newer SBMMs, it's much smaller, more like on a Lakland.

    If you want 2-band sound, check the thread in the Electronics section about replacement 2-band preamps. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=614382&highlight=stingray+band

    Still much cheaper than a used EBMM, and you won't go wrong with either. I think right now, EBMM's biggest advantages are the HS and HH pickup options.

  15. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I have always found that the quickest way to get "market value" for a fairly common product is to go to eBay and look at completed items that have sold. Ton of Stingrays there.
  16. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    The necks were very similar, but the MM was definitely a bit beefier. For some reason a thicker neck is more comfortable, where the sterling seemed to bother my wrist a little bit (had a pretty bad wrist injury 3 years ago on my fretting hand). I did like the oil finish on the neck as well. The MM also weighed signifcantly more, and I like that feeling. Light instruments feel more like a toy and less like an instrument IMO.

    If I can get a good price on a used MM, I think I would prefer to go that route, rather than feeling like I'm missing out on owning the real thing. Like I said, my biggest problem right now is deciding if the MM really felt that much better. I suppose I'm gonna have to go back and play them both again.

    For now I'm gonna make on offer on that Stingray. Vintage Sunburst looks gorgeous.
  17. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    Guess what I got today? I bought a Vintage Sunburst 4H Stingray (Rosewood fretboard) for $900. I might have been able to find one cheaper, but it is in such nice condition. One little ding on the body, otherwise she looks brand new. Saves me the horrific experience of putting the first ding on an immaculate instrument.

    I put some straplocks on, strung her up with some Chromes, and gave it a setup. Wow... The bottom end on these is HUGE. I'll put up some pictures tomorrow if anyone wants to see.

    It's so nice to finally own a "real" instrument. Until now I've had a squier, which was replaced with a really beat up MIM Jazz, which was replaced with an SX P Bass. They weren't bad, especially the P Bass (i've still got it), but they've got nothing on this Stingray.

    Thanks everyone for your advice. One final question: How do I know when the battery needs replacing? Can you tell before it goes completely dead? This is the first active bass I've owned. I already have some spare batteries in my case.
  18. congratulations on your buy! :)

    my personal experience with a Ray34 and a Stingray side by side in a music store through the same amp is this:

    feel and playability, the Ray34 and the Stingray both feels the same, almost exact. nice neck and fingerboard feel.

    as for the tone, I find a huge different between the Ray34 and Stingray. I played the Ray34 first and on it's own it sounds really good. But when i plugged in the Stingray into the same amp, oh man, the Stingray's tone is much much better - it feels like the tone has way more balls and punch than the Ray34. - even when EQ'd to the same knob positions as they Ray34. to me, clearly, i am much happier with the tone of the Stingray than the Ray34.

    i thought i could live with paying less money for the Ray34 coz it sounds good on it's own and the feel of the neck and fingerboard is almost exact to the Stingray.

    but after plugging in the Stingray, and hearing the difference in tone, there is no comparison. I didn't buy the Ray34 in the end, and now saving up for a Stingray.
  19. greekorican


    Mar 12, 2009
    So here are pictures as promised. She's gorgous- I'm such a sucker for Sunburst finishes.

    Here it is, with the hardshell case it came with: http://imgur.com/dhxcz.jpg

    And the only flaw this has. This ding is worth $600 bucks:http://imgur.com/d5mdM.jpg
    Atleast I wasn't the one who put that ding on it. I HATE when I put the first ding on anything thats brand new/immaculate. I almost like it better because of this little chip in the finish.

    I could not be happier. I spent all day playing this, and it just sounds so extremely good. I'm still getting the hang of the preamp- I leave it flat, occasionally I'll roll off some highs. Is there any kind of tutorial I can read to get the hang of the preamp? I've never owned an instrument with active electronics.

    Also, do you guys use the eq on your amp, or do you use the Stingray's preamp instead?
  20. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Congrats, and I added picture code to your post:

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