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MusicMan Sabre not popular?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lowdownthump, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Why is the MusicMan Sabre rarely mentioned here? I know there are players here that enjoy them but the numbers seem so few in comparison to the other models .
    I’ve seen Louis Johnson play them for a lot of years after his Stingrays and Yamaha BB’s and Trekker signature model . He seems to be the player that I associate with the Sabre. Don’t really know of any other well known players that favor the Sabre.
  2. bdgotoh

    bdgotoh Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Pacific NW
  3. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Well, since you asked "Why is [it] rarely mentioned?", I’ve been playing bass for 15 years, own 8 basses and I’d never heard of the Sabre until just now reading this post, lol. No joke. I mean, it’s my own ignorance so I’m not proud of it (though I’m not embarrassed), but there you have it

    I think you answered your own question.

    Also, just reading up now on what a Sabre is, I see they were out of production for 22 years...
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Pbassmanca and Machiavelli like this.
  4. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    As to the title question, ‘Why aren’t they more popular?’ (to paraphrase), that’s a good question.

    Spec-wise, a StingRay with the flexibility of an extra pickup, it seems to make a lot of sense. I’ll be interested to read the responses to why they didn’t catch on as well as their more popular Music Man siblings
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Pbassmanca and lowdownthump like this.
  5. bdgotoh

    bdgotoh Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Pacific NW
    My first MusicMan bass was a wonderful Sabre and I've owned a bunch of them since. I'd still have one if I could find a lightweight one, but they've all been quite heavy, unfortunately. My favorite MM is now a very light HH4 Sterling, and I wish they had used the HH switching on the Sabre reissues.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  6. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2010
    Constant state of flux
    I love my Sabre (pronounced Sa bray for all you Office fans). I love Stingrays too, have had quite a few including an HH, but the two different pickups and the switching on the Sabre works better for me as does the slightly smaller body.

    MusicMan suffers from the same thing as Fender does, they have their iconic models and as much as they try and innovate, turns out the public just wants Stingrays, P’s and J’s.

  7. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've had a well used pre-EB Sabre neck for a loooong time but I've never found a Sabre style body for it. It already had Fender neck screw holes added so I installed it on an aftermarket P bass body. Best of both worlds? ;)
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    JimK likes this.
  8. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    The one I played was very interesting.
    Build quality was top-shelf (the figuring on the maple neck was amazing), it looked & sounded fantastic, but the neck had a very different profile from any I've ever felt before.
    It was only slightly wider than a typical Jazz Bass at the nut, but it was incredibly thick & beefy front to back.
    So much so that it was enough to keep me from purchasing the bass.
  9. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Should it be more popular?
    Unpopular might just be better than popular, unless you're the company who makes them.
    I'm glad my bass of choice is only popular with the elite few. Come to think of it, I wish I had the only in existence!
  10. I think they have some of the best tones available, and want one. But I have never seen one, in a city the the size of Toronto, 3 million population, you'd think there would be a few around. One came up for sales used, but the ask was to high, so I didn't consider it. So why aren't they more popular, because there is none to buy is my guess.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Your description makes me wanna try one!

    I have big hands though.
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    @lowdownthump I'm not proud of this, but here goes. Something about a Music Man with flat-top pickups (No exposed poles) just bugs me. I never picked one up because of that. Silly? Yeah, I know.
  13. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I'm not a fan of the looks personally.
    jd56hawk likes this.
  14. Dluxe


    Jan 9, 2011
    Austin, TX
    When I owned one in the early 80's I found that I was only using the back pickup most of the time. Even though the pickups are slightly smaller than the Sting Ray pickup it still gets that tone. I never cared for the Sabre after they changed the pickups and added the 5 way switch. I also liked that it had body contours because the early Sting Ray basses had none.
    uelliv and ajkula66 like this.
  15. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I still have a '79 Sabre that I found at a shop over ten years ago. Took way too long to get around to a good setup job and now it's a much more playable rig. Lots of mileage on the finish only ups the mojo.

    This bass became my #2 behind a cozy parts Jazz that worked well for me for a good stretch, but before finding that J-bass I had a US made G&L L-2000. That bass turned me on to the HH layout in a 4-string, but after a while I realized that I just didn't have a fit and sound that really clicked, so I moved on.

    When I found the Sabre, I already had the appreciation for the double humbucker design, but the Sabre was just more of everything... gotta love more, Teddy Bro-sevelt. Mildly more compact and playable (my L2K had more of a P-bass neck than a Jazz), but the sound was as big and fat as a supertanker. Huge, warm tone from the solo neck pickup, maybe the best slap sound I've ever known with both pickups running together, and a super useful sort of nasally aggressive bridge pickup tone that gets nicely rounded out with a little boost of the lows at the on-board preamp. Generally a little more dark sounding, but a bump of the mids at my amp easily brings out a little extra warmth.

    Yes, they're heavy. Even though the bodies are more Sterling than Stingray, they're dense. I bought this bass back when that wasn't an issue for me, but now that it's nicely squared away, I'll need a wide and cozy strap if I try to use it for full gigs. The neck is also J-bass narrow and thick (maybe deep?) as mentioned above. Since my Jazz has a semi-similar neck, I didn't mind this profile, but it's definitely a little more baseball bat than some. No bass does it all, but this one does a whole lot.
    DeanoBass, uelliv and raal like this.
  16. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You're right.
  17. As for famous bassists using them, Michael Steele of The Bangles used a black one before she went almost exclusively to P-Basses.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  18. I believe I remember that the guy in Culture Club played a Sabre.
    Dluxe and JimK like this.
  19. raal

    raal Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    Minneapolis / St Paul
    This sums it up well.

    Regarding weight, they seem to vary widely especially when it comes to ash. Picked up a low S/N 2 pc swamp ash in CL couple years ago. That bass runs in the low 8's. I typically prefer heavy basses but AB'ed it with an heavier one of the same wood combo and year and it was a clear winner.

    Why they're not popular has been subject of long discussions here on TB. My take is it did not really catch on at the time overshadowed by the ray and came too late in the CLF days of MM for it to be manufactured in large quantities. Like the L2K, I think it embodies a lot of the features and tone that became popular once repackaged in the new generation of modern boutique basses (tobias, smith etc).
    lowdownthump, mdogs and malthumb like this.
  20. Stingrays were just too good and became 'the' MM to have. Plus, relatively speaking, they didn't make a lot of them, and they weren't available for a lot of the time MM's have been in production. These days, a H-H MM is a valued option. Go figure . . . . .
    lowdownthump and mdogs like this.

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