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MM vs SUB vs Sterling

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bard2dbone, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    How is their general nut width for Stingrays?

    I remember back in maybe the mid-bronze age (Okay 1987-ish) playing a Pre-Ernie Ball Stingray and it had a fairly substantial neck. It felt like a P-Bass to me.

    Much time passes.

    I considered a Sterling, when they first came out as a EBMM model. It struck me as more like a Jazz, with a narrower nut.

    Still more time passes.

    It occurred to me recently that I don't have one and I kind of want at least one of every bass Leo designed, so I clearly NEED one. But I'm a paramedic. So I'm poor. So I looked at their new budget line. I saw a Ray4 at GC that had a too-nice-to-ignore price on it. So I picked it up and plugged it in. I could barely play it. The neck was tiny. Now admittedly I've been mainly playing Lakland fivers lately, so that may have exaggerated things. but this thing was microscopic. It's way narrower than a regular Jazz bass.

    Is this because of the series? Are the MII Ray4's just all that skinny, like a broomstick? Or are they really inconsistent and maybe I just got an awful one?

    Basically, for that price I could swap out the cheap electronics for good stuff and have the proper StingRay sound, if not feel. But I'd like to get the feel as well, if possible.
  2. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    The Ray4 is notable for its skinny neck, its nut width is 38 mm, which is just about the same as a standard Jazz. My advice would be to move up to the Ray34, which has a more substantial 43mm nut width. Or just get a used StingRay, which sits somewhere in the middle at 41,3 mm.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    btmpancake and jd56hawk like this.
  3. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I like the idea of a used MM Stingray.

    I’ve bought 4 used ones over the last 3 years. All around $800. Never disappointed.
    Mockyngbyrd and Pet Sounds like this.
  4. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Definitely find yourself a Ray 34.
    Saw this at GC just a few days ago.
    andruca, Farrin D and brianmharrison like this.
  5. I read somewhere on TalkBass or Ernie Ball forums that ray4 are 'voiced' to sound like StingRays. So if you change the electronics you may end farther than where you come from. Ray34 are much better.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    My '93 StingRay is the exact same 43mm as my Ray34.
    The Ray4 electronics are indeed 'voiced' to sound like a StingRay, whereas the Ray34 electronics and pickup are made to the same design spec as their EBMM counterparts, hence they essentially sound the same.

    That Ray34 above looks to be at a crazy price - someone needs to snag that right now. My used one cost the equivalent of $600 over two years ago. New Ray34 here in the UK are now up to the equivalent of $1100+.
  7. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I have a Ray4 and the neck is the same as my jazz. I also play a Lakland 5'er. If I were to buy a 'real' Stingray, I'd have to get the SLO version with the slimmer neck or a Sterling. Great basses. Slap monsters.
  8. Note that Ray34 CA have a nut width close to JB whereas the Ray34 has the 43mm nut width. The Ray34 CA came out after the SBMM SB14 was discontinued, a model somewhat equivalent to the EBMM Sterling (if I'm not wrong). So in case you're interested in a Ray34, pay attention to 'CA' or 'not CA'.
    Badwater and Helix like this.
  9. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    The current crop is 41,3mm, according to the EBMM website.
  10. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    That’s quite true - but I believe the CA models were discontinued a couple of years ago.
  11. Ooops, yes you're right. But they were still sold in europe some months ago hence my mistake. So no more thin neck on SBMM catalog in the ray34 range.
  12. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Like I mentioned, mine is 1993...
    JakobT likes this.
  13. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Another option is buy the discontinued US made EBMM SUB Ray. It is essentially a no frills Musicman Ray Classic. It's even closer to a true 2 band EQ Ray than Sterling as it's made in the same US Factory and the same parts and neck (albeit painted) as their more expensive "true" Rays.
    Used prices vary so much on these, but typically I've seen them for as low as $300. Note though, there are passive versions as well as active ones available. I do have a passive version which I prefer (I bought mine for $160!), but may get an active one to keep it company in the future or perhaps get a Sterling Ray34.
    The Sterling SUB is a nice bass for the price point, but yes the neck feels different.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  14. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    The Ray4 neck is skinny--that's just the design. So if that's not your bag, the Ray34 or EBMM would be more to your liking. Used prices for both can be very competitive, and you wouldn't need to consider an electronics upgrade.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    SteveCS likes this.
  15. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    It's not really worth changing the electronics - you're still not going to get that feel you're looking for- the neck is still going to be different. I would sell the Sterling SUB, cut your losses before you consider upgrading parts and buy a used US made EBMM SUB if you can find one at a good price(which is a true Musicman Ray, more so than any Sterling) - this will have the neck and electronics (2 band EQ) you're looking for at an inexpensive price. Saw one recently for around $300 in my neck of the woods. Buying a used Sterling Ray 34 is also a good option but I would try the first option if you can.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  16. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    When I first read the title of your post, I thought this might be another high-end vs. medium vs. low-end quality discussion, as you often see debates over (as an example only) MIA vs. MIM vs. MIJ Fender vs. Squire etc.

    I've never owned a Stingray of any sort, but I've played the Sub, Sterling Ray34, and the MM Stingray. The MM Stingray is considered by many to be the holy grail, but if you're going for "most bang for the buck", the Ray34 might be it. As far as neck size, I am a Fender Jazz enthusiast. To me, the Ray34 neck profile is very close to a standard Jazz and less chunky than the MM Stingray, but not enough to bother me. As you mentioned, the fact that the Ray34 felt "too thin" to you, might be due to you being most familiar with the feel of a wider 5 string neck, and this is something you will eventually get used to. So if it were me, I would not make the neck width my primary decision criteria. But that's just me.
  17. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    This is my Sterling ..very nice instrument but I cannot get comfortable playing this bass..it can pretty much get any sound you need for most shows.

    Attached Files:

  18. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I have a stingray classic and an AVRI Pbass with the classic nut width. The Ray is definitely thinner than the Pbass. It is not a substantial neck compared to the AVRI - which is, but it's a great one.

    The classic sits between the Pbass and the Jazz bass.
  19. MarkM13


    Mar 29, 2015
    CT - USA
    You may want to consider this. A few months ago I was considering upgrading my SBMM SB14 to an EBMM Sterling. I brought mine with me and played them both side by side. The tonal differences were very minimal and came down to the fact that mine had DR Low Rider stings on it which are considerably darker than EB Slinkys. Other than the feel of the oiled neck (EBMM) vs the satin neck on mine they felt the same. So much so I couldn't justify the extra $1000 for the EBMM. My previous bass to that was a Ray34 and while I didn't get to do a direct comparison to a real Stingray, I'd imagine the same would be true. I loved it but the neck was just too thick for my hands. A used SBMM Ray34/35 would be by far the most bang for the buck.
  20. Acoop

    Acoop Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2012
    Sterlings are nice and narrow but, for me a guy with big hands, too narrow. ... See if you can locate a 90's to really early 2000's Stingray with Paulfaro(sp) fretboard with a curly maple neck. I think those are the nicest MM necks they've made. A great combination of traditional MM and Fender. Plus the birdseye maple necks have a very sturdy feel to them. ... Worth hunting down.
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