I feel like my StingRay 5 HH sounds dull and dead

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassmatt4792, Apr 14, 2018.

  1. bassmatt4792

    bassmatt4792 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Oswego, New York
    After playing several EBMM SR5HHs in stores- and falling in love, I came across my dream color combo on eBay last February. Tangerine pearl metallic with a maple neck. So I bit the bullet. It came in OHSC in virtually mint condition. Felt great. Whatever strings were on it were somewhat dead, but had a pretty nice warm thump to them so I kept them. I couldn't quite get the clean, crisp, clear, punchy zing I had heard on the previous StingRays I'd played. The action was a little high for me so I brought it to a local EBMM dealer for a set up and restring.
    Upon playing the bass after the set up, I was still underwhelmed. I had DR strings put on (i cant remember the model string) but it was still dead sounding and had fret buzz. There is a very noticeable dead spot on frets 4, 5, and 6 on the G string. But the whole bass seems lifeless.
    I feel like the string tension is super tight or something. I'm very mechanically inclined, so I've been fussing with the saddles and neck relief myself. Some days it feels better than others. I took off the DR strings and tried standard EB Slinkys .045-.130, EB Cobalt .045-.130, and I've even thrown on a brand new .040 Rotosound Swing 66 because its the brightest string I have. This bass still sounds sterile. I've tried new batteries. I've even emailed EBMM to price a new neck. They want $550. Some days it sounds better than other days, but never quite like how i think a $1500 bass should sound.

    I don't know if anyone has any other ideas, or maybe a string recommendation, or words of wisdom or what, but I'm pretty bummed. I played a EBMM Sub 5H the other day at GC and it still had that StingRay tone that I love- for 1/10th of the price. Thanks in advance for indulging me.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Man that is a bummer for sure. I wonder if it’s an issue with the pickups or preamp. Even on a Ray with old strings that trademark sound should still be there. I played a Ray with flats and it was still on point. Hope you get it figured out.
  3. bassmatt4792

    bassmatt4792 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Oswego, New York
    I honestly don't know, but it feels more mechanical than electrical. I feel like the strings are almost hard to play, if that makes sense. They feel kind of stiff. But all of the different strings I've tried have felt like that.
    zortation likes this.
  4. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    That's a shame becsuse they look great in that color.
    Somebody's bound to mention the new Ernie Ball flatwounds that supposedly sound almost like roundwounds, so I won't.
    Maybe you should try LaBella gold tapewounds.
    Very expressive, brighter than their copper tapewounds, and they feel great.
  5. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    What amp are you using? Do you plug straight into the amp? Pedal board?

    Just asking so we can get a very clear picture of what you are working with.

    How do you have the EQ set? Which pickup selection? All three?
    Giffro, Hand slap and P. Aaron like this.
  6. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Have you tried changing the pickup heights? That won't change the stiffness, because stiffness is basically a factor of scale, string height and string type. That stiffness interpretation may be a subjective result of a resonance characteristic that is changing how you play.
    It could have a wiring issue as well.
    Then ultimately you may have a "lemon" neck. If you can swap out another neck to test that might be a good idea if possible.
    MobileHolmes and Big Benner like this.
  7. bassmatt4792

    bassmatt4792 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Oswego, New York
    I’m using a GK 700rb-ii into a GK 410RBH. Normally I run into a Digitech BP200 effects processor, then into my amp. I have a BBE Sonic Maximizer in the amp’s effects loop. Normally, the amp is set flat.
    Also, I play my bass through my DAW, Logic for Mac regularly. I use headphones when it’s just too late at night for an amp.
    With all that being said, I’ve fussed with EQ until no end- on both my physical amp, within Logic, and I have a GK plugin in Logic that I’ve messed with. I’ve also played with effects such as compression on both setups. I’ve only been able to hear a marginal difference, if that.
  8. bassmatt4792

    bassmatt4792 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Oswego, New York
    To answer @Bassbeater, I’ve tried pickup heights. I’ve had them to each extreme and everywhere in between. The action is definitely not where I want it, but it’s as low as I can go without fret buzz. My other basses have lower action, I just can’t seem to get the neck relief right.
    Unfortunately I don’t have a spare neck. EBMM wants my current neck back before they ship a replacement. I’ve heard they’re very controlling of their parts, so it’s nearlt impossible to find a used neck online.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  9. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    This sounds a lot more like an electronic problem than a mechanical problem. You should talk to EB customer service and see what they can do for you.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  10. quickervicar

    quickervicar Supporting Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Lancaster, PA
    How does it sound unplugged? If it's dead acoustically it'll be dead amplified
  11. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Seems like a lot of EBMM necks have that dead spot to some degree. I'm not knocking on that bass, it's a great bass, but I read about that from time to time. For $550 I would consider putting a graphite neck on it to avoid any dead spots, but it might look frankenball.
  12. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I have a favorite action I like on all my basses, and while I have had many Musicmans, their nut slots are factory set way too high for my liking. It takes more fretting hand effort to push the string to the fret.
    I always have to spend time with my small file set and lower the nut string slots, then they play effortless.

    But even with that said, the MM zing should be there to begin with. Have you checked how the neck is connected to the body? No weird shims making too much gap in there?

    Quickervicar is right^. If its dead acoustically...
    Session1969 and Element Zero like this.
  13. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2014
    Wantage, New Jersey
    A cheap experiment is to change the strings. Because of the chunky neck on my Stingray I've been using a lighter gauge round core. So even with my action a wee bit higher I can still get clean clear notes with a lighter touch. As a result I suffer less fatigue in my hand.
  14. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    If it feels stiff, it’s an action issue. I have great action on my ray, probably my best player. Tone wise, you just might not dig the 3 band rays. I know I prefer 2 band stingrays which is why I swapped the preamp in mine.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  15. Benny4P

    Benny4P Supporting Member

    I have a 3 band and a 2 band Ray and the 3 band is noticeably brighter... too bright almost because with DR High Beam strings, I am rolling the treble control almost completely off.

    I am wondering if the HH have different pickups than the single H Rays (and therefore, maybe, a less trebly sound)? The pickup covers appear to look different between the H and HH models.
  16. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I've experienced the same problem with their basses. Stiff strings to me means either a poorly adjusted neck or a neck that can't be adjusted enough. You also live in the northern US and those unsealed necks are very sensitive to weather changes.
  17. xnewyorka

    xnewyorka Inactive Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 26, 2006
    NYC Area
    In response to this post, a good way to eliminate the nut as being a factor is to test with a capo to see if it behaves differently.
  18. xnewyorka

    xnewyorka Inactive Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 26, 2006
    NYC Area
    I have two gorgeous basses that were both total duds to me and they just sat in their cases for 10 or 15 years untouched. Coincidentally they both happened to be StingRays. During that intervening time, I became rather proficient at doing setups. It dawned on me that I should do a set up on these basses to prepare them for sale. I did so, and in both cases, the results were nothing short of astonishing. You would not even know they were the same instruments. They went from being dull, lifeless things not even worth playing to being the fantastic sounding, fantastic playing awesome instruments that I thought they would be when I bought them. The strings certainly have a lot to do with it, but the number one most important factor is having the neck relief set exactly right, and then having the action nice and low, as low as it can go without buzzing for the style of playing you are doing. You have to set the relief first, which is completely independent of the saddle height. You should be able to achieve eight to ten thousands of an inch of relief if the neck is not defective. Do you have a spark plug gap feeler gauge or something that you can use to measure the relief? You will need a second person or a capo to measure it, since it requires three hands.
    I am very concerned about your statement that the feel varies from day-to-day. That implies that your temperature or humidity is swinging wildly. Do your best to try to keep the bass in as stable an environment as possible, and as close to 47% humidity as you can get. It is well worth investing $13 in an AcuRite humidity gauge.
    Giffro, craigie and Groove Doctor like this.
  19. Slade N

    Slade N Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    portland, or
    as mentioned adjust the pickups and then get rid of the maximizer from the chain and then play with amp and bass settings
  20. bassmatt4792

    bassmatt4792 Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2012
    Oswego, New York
    Going to do my best to answer some of these questions:
    The dead spots on the G string are definitely there acoustically, but the whole bass generally sounds good acoustically. It's still probably the quietest bass I own when unplugged.

    I've had the neck off and there's no shims there. The fitment of the neck in the slot seems solid, and I reattached it as tight as possible.

    I was thinking about a lighter gauge, just to make it brighter. I also considered going heavier to maybe help resonance. Kind of the mindset when playing an acoustic guitar, obviously a heavier, higher tension string is needed- as opposed to electric- to make the sound resonate. I feel as though the strings I've tried are a wide range on the spectrum, so I think I need to experiment with gauges- although I need to keep in mind the gauges of the nut.

    @mouthmw and @Benny4P I've played both- albeit only a 4 string, single H with a 2 band, and I definitely like the sound of the 3 band. The other SR5HHs I've played were 3 band and they sounded killer.

    That crossed my mind. I bought this bass off eBay from a guy in Arizona, and during shipment, the temperature at my house was near 0*F. I imagine after 14 months it's now pretty acclimated to Upstate NY climate, but that can change daily.
    I tried the capo idea, and it sounds marginally better. One big thing was that with the capo on the 5th fret, the action was pretty comfortable for me. I still have a dead spot on the 5th fret of the G (now the zero fret with the capo there) but that's a whole other can of worms that I don't think I can solve.

    What I planned on doing was throwing on a set of Rotosounds and trying that. I think I need to also focus on really getting the neck relief better. Right now, all of my saddles are so high that the setscrews are negative of the saddle. Just an estimation, but all strings are easily 3/16" off the 12th fret.