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Musicman Stingray 2band and 3 band eq

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sparkl, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Hey guys.

    I am searching the web for info atm but haven't stumbled across anything useful. So I am turning to you guys here for more info.

    Is there a general rule as to which production year stingrays were naturally equipped with a 2 band eq and from which year on with 3band eq?

    I saw two interesting rays for sale here in europe. One is a composed one with a 1988 body and a 1980 neck and the body is equipped with a 2band eq. On the other hand, there is a complete original 1987 ray which appears to have a 3band eq (the input jack is on the side of the body and has obviously 4 knobs as opposed to 3 knobs on a 2band).

    Is this normal or is it safe to assume that either of these 2 could have been modified at one point? (except for the composed ones different neck to body).

    I will be glad to see any input on this.
  2. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Some photos of these two basses:

    1987 supposedly original ray:


    And the 1988/1980 ray:

  3. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017
    3 band EQ was introduced in 1987, as an option - both 2 & 3 band instruments were readily available.
    Sparkl likes this.
  4. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Thank you, this is all I needed. I can now rest in peace :D
  5. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017


    Whether you prefer the addition of the mid-band EQ, or having the jack on the control plate, is your dilemma - I won't try and influence you.

    (FYI the tone that made the 2 band Stingray famous - volume, bass, and treble on full - is achieved on a 3 band model by setting bass & treble on full, and leaving the mid in the centre detent position).

    As nice as that composite 88/80 bass is, I would want to personally inspect, and play it before purchase :

    It's an Ernie Ball era body (contoured), with a pre-Ernie Ball neck.

    Pre-Ernie Ball necks were a bit variable, and occasionally problematic. They were also commonly 3 bolt - whereas the Ernie Ball body of that '88 era would be 4 bolt.

    There may well have been some modifications to either the neck, or the body, so that's worth checking.

    Pre-Ernie Ball necks typically have the string tree over the D&G strings, but in your photo it in the Ernie Ball position, over the A&D strings - there may be some cosmetic issues there (wood filler, or the original drilling still exposed), but it is indicative that there has probably been work done.

    That's not to say it's won't still be an excellent instrument.
    Sparkl likes this.
  6. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Thanks for informing me about this.

    I am aware about the 2band vs 3band eq thing, hence the reason why I even created this thread. I have tried a good number of Rays and I even owned a stingray5 H/H 2007 but always preferred the 2band eq sound whenever I played it. Also, except for one 3band that my friend owns (which by the way kills with sound) all "3banders" sounded kind of clunky and also presented themselves with a somewhat lower feel quality when I played them. On the other hand, every 2band ray I tried sounded warmer, rounded, and felt nicer in the hand. Might be just my mind playing tricks with me, I never really compared the neck dimensions and other things between a 3band and 2 band eq.

    As far as the input connection goes I actually prefer the jack to be on the pot panel rather than being located on the side of the body. This is also something I dislike about my passive/active Jazz Bass Elite V. Based on my experience it is much easier for me to hit the jack either somewhere or with my body when positioned on the body side (especially when playing in a seated position). But that's just preference, doesn't affect playability of course, except for maybe the "cool factor" (I find the panel inputs to be more old school badass in a way).

    As for the two rays on sale - yes I am aware that I should play them first and inspect the info. The 1988/80 one is supposed to have brand new frets and is supposed to sound great, I asked the owner to take photos of serial numbers on body and neck and they seem to check out fine. If I manage to convince the seller to lend the bass to me for a day to try it with my band (we are less than an hours drive apart) that would be awesome.

    Anyways, my experiences from above made me search basically exclusively for a 2band ray, either the new classic series or original vintage.

    Edit: Oh and yes, I am aware about the string tree thing and this was basically the first thing I asked the owner about but he was unable to provide me with any info about it. He basically imported the bass from Italy as a financial compensation for some project or something so he is basically a middle man here so it is more up to me and myself to figure out the rest if I decide that the bass may be worth checking out.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017
  7. Wood and Wire

    Wood and Wire

    Jul 15, 2017

    The neck dimensions between 2 band, and 3 band models are identical, but of course there are caveats :

    Pre-Ernie Ball necks have a rounder radius (Ernie Ball are flatter).

    Over the last decade, there have been special edition Stingray's with the "SLO Special" neck (basically a Sterling neck on a Stingray).

    Pre-Ernie Ball, and about the first decade of Ernie Ball era necks are high gloss finish. In the early 90's the necks changed to satin finish, eventually to the gun wax finish they have today.

    There are some operational differences between 2, and 3 band models (as I mentioned, the 3 band can replicate the 2 band basic tone, with bass & treble full & mid in centre detent), but it's true that the 2 band EQ produces more sub-bass, due filtering on the 3 band model - and personally, I feel there is some harshness around 2kHz on the 3 band, due to the crossover.

    I've always only ever owned the 2 band model, but if I end up buying a new model as a backup, I'd consider the current 3 band.

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