Music Man SUB (US)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skokiaan, Aug 1, 2021.

  1. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    I just bought a NOS US Music Man SUB. I did some internet research on the model and discovered several variations: 4/5 string, passive/active, StingRay/Sterling.

    Mine is a four string active Sterling style SUB.

    My headstock says “SUB.” I have seen others that say “S.U.B. Bass” and “SUB Sterling.”

    Is there any difference between the “SUB Sterling” and my Sterling-style “SUB”?
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  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You sound like you have the bass I have: 98FBE953-D2EF-4A38-B102-B83A898B043E.jpeg E647EA61-070D-4D12-9C78-7405345CE663.jpeg There are large threads on the old American SUBs and the current Sterling by Music Man import SUBs.
  3. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    upload_2021-8-1_23-49-57.jpeg upload_2021-8-1_23-50-13.jpeg
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  4. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
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  5. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    Vail, CO
    Your USA SUB was made in the same manufacturing line as any other USA musicman bass. They cut some corners (ping tuners instead of schallers, more generic bridge, the serial number is a sticker instead of it being printed in the headstock. The finish is a single coat that didn’t need to be sanded or polished. Having owned a stingray classic, and a USA sub at the same time , I can say that there is not much of a difference between them - the main one being the finish of both neck and body.

    I gifted the stingray classic to a friend, I kept the USA sub.
  6. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
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  7. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
  8. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    Is there any difference between what I have and the ones labeled “SUB Sterling”? I’m guessing no.
  9. Skokiaan


    Jun 19, 2004
    New Jersey
    It had been hanging in the shop for nearly two years. I test drove it against a Fender Dimension. I liked the Dimension, but the SUB was the clear winner. I like the smaller Sterling body. (Always liked Sterlings over StingRays, but never owned either).
    lowdownthump likes this.
  10. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    Yes, they’re totally different. The Sterling by Musicman SUBs are not produced by Ernie Ball, but in Asia by Praxis Instruments under license from Ernie Ball.

    The US SUBs were discontinued around 2010. The Sterling by Musicman SUBs (also known as the Ray4 and Ray5) are still being produced, and have nothing to do with either the original SUBs or the Musicman Sterling, but are the lowest tier on the Asian-produced Stingray value line.

    The naming conventions are confusing, but as long as you remember that Sterling by Musicman (SBMM in TB parlance) is produced in Asia under license, and Ernie Ball Musicman (EBMM to us TB’ers) is produced in the US, it’s not too difficult. Here is a chart I made earlier:

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  11. MaxSpinrun

    MaxSpinrun Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Knoxville, Tn
    My Sub Is not USA made, I’m pretty sure. It took some mods to get it where it is today. The pre was problematic, so I switched it out for a John East MM 3 band EQ with sweepable mids, and the treble has a pull bright switch. Replaced the pup for a Nordstrand MM 4.2 DC. Transformed that bass into something that I really like now. Much more versatile, especially in the midrange. The pup is much more pleasant. Smoother similar to the 70’s MM SOUND. D7695484-C55C-4BD6-8F95-014E210985E2.jpeg 43CA00FB-BB93-4F78-A21C-ABE4B41FC27C.jpeg E1B65BA3-EF2C-4009-9DBB-68C91C655276.jpeg
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  12. MaxSpinrun

    MaxSpinrun Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Knoxville, Tn
    Oh a fellow TB’er, did fret work and replaced the nut for next to nothing. Really increased playability.
  13. skycruiser


    Jan 15, 2019
    This is a Stingray by Sterling. The OP is talking about a Sterling by EBMM. Completely different animal. One way to spot a Sterling bass (not a bass made by Sterling) is the lack of the control plate on the front. The pots mount to the body.

    It is unfortunate that EBMM makes a bass they call a Sterling and also produce Stingray basses under license by a company called Sterling.
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  14. bassfuser


    Jul 16, 2008
    I find it interesting the OPs SUB has a 3 band EQ. I have a SUB5 Stingray that has a 2 band EQ. I thought all the USA SUBs had 2 band EQs.
  15. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    Not the Sterlings. All US models have 3 band. There has never been a 2band US Sterling IIRC.

    They also have some passive US SUB models.
  16. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    Your bass is a USA made bass that was made between 2003 and 2006. Sterling Ball wanted to prove that a quality USA made bass could be made for under $1K so he rolled out this line. Body shape is the same as a USA Sterling but there were some cost saving methods used to keep manufacturing costs down. So the body is a slab body (no contours), the paid is a textured and rubberized finish that is rough to the touch, the neck has a thin coat of black paint and the hardware is non-branded. The body is a 2 piece poplar body.

    The sterling model is based on the USA sterling concept but it does not have the pickup switching and uses a regular Stingray PUP rather than the Sterling PUP which has a hidden third coil to hum cancel when switched to the single coil mode. The Sterling is the only SUB that has the 3 band EQ.

    In terms of how this compares to the SUB Sterling, it doesnt. The SUB Sterlings are cheap starter basses. Fine for the modey but not what the USA SUBs are and as a USA SUB enthusiast, it bothers me that they repurposed the name for those instruments. The USA SUBs were short lived precisely because they were great. Sterling Ball said upon discontinuing them that he might has well have put a $100 bill in each case when these shipped out.

    Anyway, congrats on your SUB. It is a fantastic bass.

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  17. The US SUBS are quality instruments. I've got two fours, both active. One sports a fretless Stingray neck, and I modded the second with a 3 band EQ and a side jack. There was a time when you could find them used in the $300-400 range. That's no longer the case.
  18. MarMar

    MarMar Inactive

    Sep 9, 2020
    These are awesome. I got the random chance to play one probably 13-14 years ago (time flies) and I have never seen one in person since (once in a while, someone posts one here). The one I played was the greenish one with the plate metal looking pickguard. It was comfortable and it had a nice tone which you could adjust and make a little softer than the ballsy default. It was the real USA made Musicman SUB bass with the headstock just like the one here in the pictures. I believe that guy is still using that bass in a working/touring band.
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  19. Kukulkan61

    Kukulkan61 Inactive

    Feb 8, 2011
    Northern Arizona
    I like these basses but it’s very confusing to know what is what?????
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  20. Giffro

    Giffro Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2017
    South Australia
    JakobT's post above is correct regarding and explaining the differences. Mine that I bought for my wife is Asian made, actually Indonesia, and is the cheaper Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series.

    Sterling By MM SUB RAY4 and Rumble 500C 115Cab.JPG
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2021
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