Leo Fender's Stingray Pickup positioning and design.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by growler571, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. growler571


    Sep 19, 2007
    Hello fellow bassists Growler571 here. I have heard that Leo Fender designed the Stingray Primarily for funk, Is this true do you all believe? Or do you think he was aiming for a bass that could be versatile enough to cover a wide style of Music similar to how a Jazz Bass can? I find it very interesting how he came up with the idea to place a massive humbucker in a position that is about 2 or 3 inches closer to the bridge but not quite as far back as the single coil on a jazz I would say. It seems like he chose this position to create ample trebel response from a bridhe posotioned pickup yet the Massive Fat Humbucker Pickup would also provide plenty of deep fat low end, and coupled with the active 2 or 3 band eq. You can seem to get quute a few different tonal variations out of it, But the only thing the stingray cant seem too do very well is get realy smooth deep bass withouth that agressive growl and trebley sting the Stingray is know for. So my main question is Did Leo primarily desing these Stingray Basses for mostly funk? Any thoughts and opinions on the stingray bass greatly appreciated. Sincerely Growler571.
  2. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    I find it hard to believe Leo was into funk. Remember, the Ray came with string mutes.
    A Ray can do a lot of things. I use flats on mine and use it for blues and country. Ever heard Pino in his fretless?
    Jay Mastro likes this.
  3. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    Leo:Funk:Hahahahahaha! That's a new one; he was a C&W boy through and through IIRC.

    Speaking of fretless Stingrays, check out some Patrick O'Hearn. :)

    hdracer likes this.
  4. If you look at the period when the Stingray first appeared, a lot of funk and disco was up and coming. Mr.Fender was clearly watching and moving with the times, creating a bass that would have a very different sound to what he'd previously created. It was a damned good move which made the bass more prominent in band sounds, too. Definitely an important piece of our bass history.

    I learned a lot from playing in some of the UK's top big bands, whether I was playing Double Bass or Electric Bass, in that singers and wind/brass players want to be able to hear every frequency of the bass, the overtones, naturally recurring harmonics. It's how they pitch - By listening to the bass player - Maybe Leo wanted a bass that did this very job, opening up the higher end frequencies?

    I've read a lot about the inception of the Stingray, but there's never been a documented concrete reason for "that" amazing sound.

    Edit: I've just watched a video session with Sterling Ball, and he comments that the Stingray came out so bright, not because of Louis Johnson, but because he (Leo Fender) was very hard of hearing. So obviously he had lost a lot of the high frequency from his hearing. He used to listen to the frequencies of the instruments by putting a screwdriver against the bridge rollers and to the catilage of his ear.

    So there's your real answer.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  5. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Have you ever listened to Sade? Diamond Life is a great example.

    Yup Leo was a C & W lover, but he always listened to the needs of the players around him.
  6. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    Roll back the treble and play closer to the neck and you will get "smooth deep bass without that aggressive growl and trebly sting"
  7. Dragan


    Oct 5, 2009
    If you know that one of very first StingRay went to Louis Johnson, it might well be "designed for funk" Leo infact wanted to do something new,so humbucker on a bridge position and active electronics were a great idea,dont you think?
    Freekmagnet likes this.
  8. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006

    The guy who played on the Lawerence Welk show in the 70's doubled on upright and tuba. I was impressed to see him sporting a burst Stingray in
    '76 for the "rock" stuff. (I had just traded my Ric for a Ray).

    The Welk Orchestra was far from a funk band (though very good).
  9. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    Maybe after the Precision, and the Jazz he just wanted to do something different?

    Isn't that enough, why are we reading into this further than that?
    bassdude51, Geri O and lz4005 like this.
  10. FirewalZ


    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    IMO the original Rays and the Ernie Ball versions sound different. To me the originals have a thicker and less twangy tone. From samples and other recordings I have heard, I like the original tone better. Are you basing this assessment off the Leo Rays or EB?
  11. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Yeah, IIRC Louis Johnson was the celebrity artist (Brothers Johnson were charting and Louis was working with Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson recordings) Leo worked with on the original Sting Ray.
  12. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    I don't think funk was Leo's target. And I also thought I read that Forrest White had a big hand in the bass' development too. What Leo and Forrest DID know how to do was find the sweet spot, moving the pickup around the test jig until they got it. And Leo surely did listen to everyone's input.
    GlennRH and lz4005 like this.
  13. dincz


    Sep 25, 2010
    Czech Republic
    Which fret is it sweet for?
    SteveCS and tortburst like this.
  14. LowEndWooly


    Sep 3, 2013
    I always thought it was the leprechauns who helped Leo come up with the Ray by guiding him to the end of the double rainbow where the Stingray design was found amongst the unicorns and pots of gold.
  15. Sputnik Monroe

    Sputnik Monroe

    Feb 11, 2014
    This reputed to be the Ray prototype

  16. GBassNorth

    GBassNorth Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    My preEB Ray still has plenty of sizzle on the top end, maybe about the same as an EB Ray but I do think my preEB has a lot more bottom end than any EB Ray I've owned. However, there could be a lot of factors at play here since the pickup, preamp, strings, bridge and maybe even the woods are different between the two.
  17. The strings on the bridge are going across straight...I thought all the old MM bridges had the strings coming across as skewed angle?
    bassdude51 likes this.
  18. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Yes, except the new Classic StingRays are a throwback to the original. Successful, IMO; I love mine.
    Yango likes this.
  19. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I just thought they did it that way to be different from fenders old designs. and then he designed the preamp to enhance the bass and treble.
  20. Red Planet

    Red Planet Inactive

    May 29, 2005
    I'm cranky in my old age.
    Cool thread subed.