Musicman Sabre Experts: Need help identifying year of this Sabre

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Saint, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Trying to figure out what year this Sabre is. Looks to me like early 1980s, but it is different from both the MusicMan and Ernie Ball versions I’ve seen or the 1979 I once owned. I’m thinking it might be one from the year Ernie Ball purchased?
    As you can see from the pictures, the logo on the headstock is MusicMan, not Ernie Ball. But the features are definitely 1980s or later, including the bridge, the controls and the fully covered pickups. It only has 2 band EQ, not 3 like some. The input is in front, not on the side. It has a 5-position switch, and I’m not sure what each does.
    Any help identifying the year and features would be greatly appreciated.
    s-l1600.jpg s-l1600-2.jpg s-l1600-3.jpg s-l1600-4.jpg
  2. Mid 80s, early Ernie Ball, check the dates at body and neck.
    5way switch, hidden pole-pieces, string-tree position, dot at 21st fret, finish and plexi pickguard - an real early 2nd Generation EB for sure.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
    armybass likes this.
  3. V2 (1986)

    1 Neck pickup, both coils
    2 Both pickups, both coils
    3 Bridge pickup, both coils (Stingray)
    4 One coil of neck pickup + both coils of bridge pickup
    5 One coil of neck pickup only

    check here:
    Musicman Sabre Club
  4. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks @FenderOli. I agree that it is an Ernie Ball design, but the headstock does NOT have Ernie Ball on it.
    Any thoughts on that?
  5. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The earliest used up decals didnt say Ernie Ball.
    The StingRay decal was the same way for about the first year and half.

    Going by those details id say its about an 87-ish.
    Saint likes this.
  6. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    As with anything else, you can remove the neck to check for a date. And the pots would have date codes as well.
  7. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks @Caca de Kick. I thought about taking off the neck, but it’s really screwed on nicely now and not sure I want to upset that particular apple cart.
    armybass and P. Aaron like this.
  8. Yes, the same logo on early ones.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
  9. nivagues


    Jan 18, 2002
    IMO late 1984 to 1985. String retainer on A&D strings with the original Pre-EB Sabre logo on the headstock: MUSICMAN followed with "TM".

    Next generation logo in 1985 is MUSICMAN followed by an encircled "R". Next again, and still in 1985, is "Ernie Ball" appearing on top of MUSICMAN.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    Saint likes this.
  10. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Very cool bass. Congrats on your score there.
  11. ProgressiveDoom

    ProgressiveDoom Guest

    Mar 31, 2017
    OH NO!, whats happening to those bridge saddles?, is the bridge alignment out?. Cool looking bass though.
  12. liverbird


    Mar 22, 2003
    You'd probably have to check for body and neck dates to be sure. The pot codes are only of limited use as it's not uncommon for them to be from different years, especially when older parts were being used up. For example, I have a 1989 StingRay with pots dated 1979, 1983 and 1988.

    Do run the serial number by EBMM Customer Service but it could well be too early for the database.
  13. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks everyone. This is a very different animal than the 1979 Sabre I sold 15 years ago to help finance my homemade/Warmoth/Moses take on the Cutlass. While I think the tonal options are a bit more limited than the 1979, the tones that are there all sound more useable than what I was getting from the 1979. Haven't tried recording with it yet, and to me, that's where the rubber will meet the road.
  14. Djema


    Aug 13, 2020
    Hi, i have the same one except that my handle is clear i bougth it in 1988, i can send you pictures if you want.
    best regards, Jean-Michel
    Saint likes this.
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I can’t help you date this bass, but it is a real beauty. Congratulations on owning such a sweet bass!
    Saint and SunByrne like this.
  16. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Dumb question - what's the difference between a Sabre and a Stingray HH?
  17. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    Different pickups and preamp, for one thing. The StingRay HH has the standard StingRay eight-pole humbuckers in both the bridge and the neck position and a three-band preamp. The Sabre has smaller pickups - an eight-pole humbucker in the bridge position, a 16-pole humbucker in the neck position (hence the solid pickup covers) and a two-band preamp.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
    Saint likes this.
  18. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Also from 81 and up, the pickup switching is way different compared to an HH Ray.
    The Sabre can do HS coil selection, and can also do a single neck S coil.

    (The 78-80 Sabre can only do HH, or front H or rear H).

    Not to mention, the Sabre front pickup is a little further away from the neck, giving you much more space if you're a slapper. The HH Ray pickup is really close to the neck, popping is really tight to get you finger in there.

    Its really too bad the Sabre never takes off when its being produced. It is a better two pickup bass than a StingRay HH is.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
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  19. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    This. Absolutely. Stingray HH is a total no no to me, but Sabre is awesome. Sabre does HH right.
    JakobT, Wood and Wire and wizard65 like this.
  20. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    This guy maintains a serial number registry that is probably more accurate than the EBMM folks. If you enter your SN on the EB website and doesn't show a result you can email their customer service and they will respond, they'll do a hand record search. But try the below also. He'll respond to email and help you confirm the identity. When MM became EBMM there was a period when all they worked through all the old stock of bridges with the serials stamped. There are a couple years with imperfect record keeping but they did keep paper logs of those bridges and they correlate to model and color and completion date. Also, there should be an assembly date on the control plate. Check under the plate some time.
    - Serials EB Sabre
    Saint likes this.