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Music Man Basses - a good upgrade?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jaywa, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Would love to hear from any/all who have owned a Music Man bass or play one currently. I am a "weekend warrior" playing 6-10 dates a month in a variety of bands playing everything from old school Motown, to classic rock, to modern country, to contemporary worship. I have played a 78 P-Bass for the last 25 years and am thinking about buying a second/"better" bass that will play as well as my P (and still share the Fender "heritage"), but give me more sonic options.

    Some questions:

    1) Are any particular years of MM better than others - more so from a playability vs. collector standpoint as this will be a working instrument, not an investment? How do the new models stack up in quality and price to used ones? It looks like US $1,500 is about the price of admission for either new or near mint used models ... any way I could get into one for significantly less than that?

    2) Am especially interested in hearing about suitability of 1-pickup StingRays for fingerstyle players. I have read that the standard StingRay is great for pick players and slappers but is not friendly to fingerstyle (which is about 85% of my playing). I am accustomed to resting my thumb on the P-bass pickup and wondering if that will be too different on a StingRay.

    3) How do the 2-pickup StingRays sound? If I get a StingRay it will probably be a 2-pickup model simply for reason #2 above.

    4) Anyone had experience with the Sabre model and what are your opinions?

    5) Music Man vs. Lakland -- thoughts?

    I'm sure I will have follow-up questions but these should get it started. Thanks in advance.
  2. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    I play a Sterling as I prefer the neck profile that being said if you play a P bass now you would probably like the stingray more. I really like the H/S combination, I have a few boutique basses as well and my MM holds up well against these basses...played great out of the case. I dont really understand the comments about single pick up stingrays not being great for finger players...I play 100% with my fingers and quite often use the back p/u only with good results...nice punchy tone.
  3. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    if you want more sonic options, get a g&l L2k. it does the p, it does the ray, the jazz and anything else you could want.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I bought a G&L used about 10-11 years ago. The sound was amazing but it had some serious playability issues. I had a set-up specialist work on it twice and it still didn't play right so I had to return it and that pretty much took G&L off my list ever since. But maybe I just got a lemon.
  5. Ampeg SVT

    Ampeg SVT Son, I am disappoint.

    Sep 9, 2006
    I honestly think they are too aggressive for motown, go for a Lakland 44-02.
  6. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    They are very bright sounding. I would stick with your P for motown.
  7. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I got into an argument with somebody about this: If you have a Fender J or a MM Stingray, do you need the other for tonal difference?
  8. danster


    Jul 13, 2007
    Connecticut, USA
    Hey Jawa -

    I own a 2002 Stingray 4, single PUP. Got it off ebay for $600. :ninja:I play similar styles and contemporary worship too:bassist:

    I also have a 74 jazz bass - I bought the MM for the same reasons that you are considering...It really does do all things well.
    I play mostly fingerstyle too. I did go a few stores and tried a few. They all seem consistent, quality- wise.

    Highly recommended!
  9. spencer

    spencer Guest

    Feb 22, 2006
    First of all, I would step over to the music man forums, those guys are great and very helpfull, www.ernieball.com/forum

    1. Newer is better, in certain terms, todays musicmans are built better than vintage ones, unlike fender. Yes you can find them on craigs list as low as 600, I have owned 4 ernieballs, 2 for 700 1 for 900, one from GC for 1000

    2. Haha no the stingray has a GREAT finger style sound, and you could can make it sound better than your p bass, agian please go to the ernie ball forums.. Also you will find it easy to play with the single pickup, I always rest my thumb on the humbucker but if needed a real smooth bassy low end I just rest it on the pickgaurd..

    3. 2 pickup models sound great. I personally don't like the double humbucker, have owned one didn't like it. I would kill for a sterling right now with a single coil front, they sound amazing.. But I currently own a stingray single H it does everything I could ask, I love simplicity and if I got the dual pickup I most likely would like to return to the single.. But playing them in the shops i love the HS STERLING, as for stingray I like the single H. Also the HH I owned was a bongo..

    4. No experience but they were discontinued for a reason, everyone wanted the stingray..

    5 Music man, they make, how do I put it, there almost like the....Well there built great solid basses... Lakeland is just a boutique bass maker and you could buy a bass with the same sound from fender..

  10. spencer

    spencer Guest

    Feb 22, 2006
    Nope, they can dial in the smoothes sound you ever heard.
  11. spencer

    spencer Guest

    Feb 22, 2006
    cut the treble.... I think the markbass head compliments ernieball basses the greatest. I love the VLE, but either way roll back the treble there not too bright anymore..
  12. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    Stingrays are a great bass.

    As for years?
    I prefer the older sounding Musicmans.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Definitely will be keeping my P-Bass... but then would just reserve it for the Motown/R&B material.

    Thanks for the input on Lakland... I went to their Website and boy is their stuff nice but I would have to be making a lot more $$ from my gigs than I currently am to justify their prices. Even their foreign-built stuff is out of my budget. And I don't imagine Lakland stuff goes up on eBay too often.

    Meanwhile I will check out the Ernie Ball forum.

    Keep the ideas coming. Thanks again.
  14. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I prefer the new models, that is, the Ernie Ball models with the six-bolt neck joint, etc. There are always used examples out there. I sold a 1995 fretless StingRay in practically new condition for about $800, and a 2002 fretless StingRay, also in practically new condition, for $1000, both back in December 2007.

    Right now, I play a 2000 StingRay fretless with the 3-band EQ and the piezo bridge. I play fingerstyle almost exclusively. While I primarily use the piezo bridge, the traditional single MM humbucker sounds great, as well, and with the EQ options, many different sounds can be dialed in. BTW, I paid about $1000 for this one used, but in mint condition.

    I haven't played a dual pickup StingRay yet, but I have played a 1984 Sabre that I really should have bought. The Sabre Bass is/was awesome, and probably was one of the things that led EB/MM to offer the multi-pickup options for the StingRay. When I get another StingRay, I will strongly consider the dual humbuckers. I want a fretted StingRay to match my fretless.

    I like both, but Lakland uses quartersawn wood for their necks. EB/MM is widely recognized as having very possibly the best production build quality out there. Lakland is boutique, and can compete with anyone else in that regard. None of this applies to the Skyline series, BTW.
  15. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    If you really want versatility, then I'd go for one of their 2 PUP models: An older Sabre (harder to find), 2 PUP 'Ray, or even a Bongo.

    As for a single PUP 'Ray, they're great instruments in their own right, though I actually prefer the Sterling as well due to the smaller neck profile and switch. But versatility? Well it depends on your definition. I personally think a P bass is more versatile than a 'Ray. Yes, you can slap, pick, or play a 'Ray fingerstyle, but being active there's a "sameness" to the tone no matter where you play it/pluck it. A good passive P can have a lot of tonal versatility depending on whether you pluck by the bridge or neck, for example, and I find them (and especially J basses) more responsive to your playing, whereas a "Ray always sounds like a 'Ray to me regardless due to it's dependency on it's PUPs/EQ.

    Newer Musicmans are very well made and sound great, but I prefer the pre-EB 'Rays, since the 2 band EQ sounds warmer/more organic and less hi fi to my ears. But they are commanding high prices these days and I wouldn't dismiss the newer ones.
  16. spencer

    spencer Guest

    Feb 22, 2006
    contrare, I can make a stingray sound like a stingray or a jazz with dual pickups or a dull bassy p bass, or a p bass front pickup solod.. But a p bass can never do jazz much less a stingray..
  17. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    I play a single pickup 2006 MM stingray with the 3 band eq. fantastic for rock bass, from classic to modern, for motown you'd want to be using a neck PU for sure. I'd go P bass or G&L
  18. FrigginChris


    Feb 6, 2006
    I play a single H stingray 5 and i play with my fingers 90% of the time. i think it has a great finger style tone. although they are very bright sounding basses they can be tamed by rolling back the treble.
  19. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Older Stingrays can be found for a good deal-look for a 77-78... They are great for anything you want to use it for. The preamps are very responsive, intonations is fine and what the heck.... designed by Leo Fender...
  20. JonathanD


    Dec 13, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    +1, I have not changed the strings on mine in a while and I am loving it.


    6:00 the bass comes out a little more.

    try this link. I am working n this this weekend. Its just a rough draft, but you can get an idea of the tone you can get with one. They are very versatile. This is with the bass up 1/5 of a turn and the treble down 1/10th of a turn through a GK combo mic'd with a Rode NTK mic.
    SR5 H 2005 LE in buttercream. I thought this mix was too dark so I set the EQ back to flat and redid it.

    Oh ya, sorry I can not play keys for &*^@

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