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Musicman Stingray old vs. new

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kondensator, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. kondensator


    Apr 2, 2009
    Hi everybody,

    i play bass for now over 25 years. I think I am familiar to Fender Jazz Basses (1961, 1973 , 80´s and 90´s models). Unfortunately i do not know anything about musicman stingray basses but i would like to purchase one. I tested some of them. The best sounding by far seemed to be a 1977 model.

    Can anybody tell me which years are said to be the best "stingray years", like the pre-cbs Fender Years?

    Thank you very much.


  2. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K
    anything before 80' is gonna grab my attention. i think Ernie Ball took over in 84' and the early 80's basses are ok but they can be hit or miss in my experience.

  3. Gasman

    Gasman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    South Carolina
    I'm certainly not an expert, but I believe the '70s models are somewhat prized. There was a period (and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong) I believe in the early '80s when there were some quality control issues that were resolved when Ernie Ball bought MusicMan. Since then they have been all quality, and EBMM has actually fixed the problem instruments sent to them from that period for free- pretty outstanding, if you ask me, that a company cares that much about it's reputation.

    But specifically to your question, they aren't like Fenders where there are 'good years". They are all consistent other than the presence of a 2-band or 3-band preamp. The '70s models were all 2-band and sound awesome, but I think the new ones sound good too. So if you found a '77 model in good shape and like the sound of it, I'd say get it. The resale value of the pre-EB stingrays is excellent.
  4. Octoplus


    Aug 17, 2008
    Cincinnati, OH
    I've owned a few EBMM basses - a 1990 Stingray H, 2007 Stingray HH and a 2008 Bongo. The build quality and sound was outstanding for all three. I've also had the opportunity to play many in-store. I've yet to pick up an EBMM bass with noticeable dead spots or fret problems. I honestly believe that these are some of the best US production basses made in their price class, although their prices (new) have gone up in recent years.

    I'd feel more confident buying an EBMM Stingray bass sight unseen than any other.
  5. I've done this twice with a used but near mint 08 Stingray 4H and my new 2010 Classic Stingray 4H. Both are sweet players and sound great!

    Head over to the EBMM forum. There's a lot of knowledge over there too, including Sterling Ball himself as a daily contributor.

    BTW - The new Classic Stingray should be part of your "must try" list.
  6. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I own old ones and new. My '78 is still flat-out the best StingRay I've ever played (in avatar pic^).
  7. ausf


    Jun 24, 2008
    New York
    Go Classic, best of both worlds.
  8. stoolpigeon


    Dec 17, 2009
    Greenville SC
    I've never played a bad 'Ray, regardless of age...I do tend to personally like the three band EQ....but would love to have one of the new Classics.
  9. Bass Junkie

    Bass Junkie

    Nov 3, 2009
    The early 80's Musicmans were built by Charvel Jackson.
  10. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    There were some quality issue around that time, but by all accounts they were intentional!
  11. fretless Bob

    fretless Bob If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

    Nov 27, 2005
    Harrow, London, U.K
    thats a cool bit of info but i have played a few early 80's rays that were god awful and a few that were ok. I own a 79' fretless ray myself and its just a beautiful bass. so maybe im just just leaning towards the early rays cos i own one.

  12. mgauge


    Dec 21, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I feel the same way.....Consistent great quality.
  13. kondensator


    Apr 2, 2009
    Hi everybody,

    thanks for all that information. I guess i get a new one for there seems to be no noticeable differnce compared to the older ones, as far as i have learned now. And i have the chance to choose the color, fretboard, eq etc.....

  14. ovialexm


    Jun 5, 2006
    I did not want to open another topic so here is my question:
    What about stingray 5? Early '90 are better then others?
    I heard they were not so good in 2000 and few years latter.
  15. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    I had a stingray5 I bought new in 2002. That thing was freaking awesome. To this day I'm sorry I let it go.
  16. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    I think most SR 5 fans draws a line around 1992 as the Alnico pickup was switched with a ceramic one.

    I have owned around 5 SR 5's all of which were from the 'Ceramic' era. They were great basses, and the last one I kept was a 2005, which sounded really good...

    However, I got the chance to buy a 1992 Alnico not so long ago, and I decided to go for it to make an A/B test. So, I brought both to a gig and switched bewteen them a few times. There was no doubt in my mind. The 1992 was way, way better!

    Maybe it was just coincidence, but both basses had the exact same conditions: same amp, same cabs, same room, same band... I did the same thing the following weekend to be sure, and the exact same thing happened. So, for me the old ones are better :)

    As for SR4, I have much less experience. I have never owned an EBSR4, but I have just got my hands on a 79 Sabre, and I have a 78 SR incoming. So far, when I solo the bridge humbucker on the Sabre, I really, really like what I hear :) I know it's not a true SR, but still, it sounds damn good!

    I'll follow up when I get my 78 SR in a few days.
  17. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    I own several vintage and newer EB basses. Old and new both have their pluses and minuses. Overall, I much prefer the tone of my Pre-EB '80 Stingray with the 2 band preamp EQ over the newer 3 band '97 Stingray I had and sold off. Much more organic, warm, and richer. Classic 'Ray tone. MY EB '97 was a real lemon: It had a very sterile, hi fi cold sound. It also had an unfinished neck which would never stay stable and looked like crap from sweat and dirt after playing. (Does EB still offer unfinished necks. If they do, they SHOULDN'T!). It swore me off EB instruments for a while until I found my '01 Sterling, which is easily one of my favorite basses. The build quality I would argue is better today too. The '80 has a 3 bolt gloss finish neck, which can feel sticky and difficult to fly around on with continuous playing. Newer Rays have a 6 bolt neck (not that I ever had problems with my 3 bolt) and come in a nice smoother satin finish. The '80 also was string thru, the newer ones are not. Does it make a difference? In terms of feel, I think so (I like the "springiness" of the strings on the '80 better). But I played a newer 'Ray at NAMM this year and it was killer! Not at all the tones I hated from my '97.

    Bottom line: I really don't think you could lose with either choice (unless you happen to buy my '97;)), so it's best to try each for yourself.
  18. ovialexm


    Jun 5, 2006
    If your bass ('97) was not very good, but those (early '90 and earlier) are good and also the new stingray 5 (2010) are good, that means it was a bad production period around year 2000. Right?

    As far as I understood, Alnico pickup are better then ceramic pick-ups?

    What about the new Classic stingray 5? I notice they did not keep the old pickguard but they use the same pickguard like stingray 4.
    I am really considering buying a stingray 5 and don't know which one to buy having 3 options: early '90, a new one 2010 or a classic stingray 5. Any advice will help. Please don't tell me to try each of them ... I am in Europe and here is hard to find those 3 basses to try them. Thank you!
  19. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    My first SR4 was a year 2000 build, and it was in no way a "bad production." The 30th Anniversary edition I bought, with a mahogany body, just sounded better to me.

    The new Classic line is flat-out awesome! I like the neck, with a 7.5" radius, better than the standard models, and the 2-band eq sounds better to me. YMMV.
  20. guitarhuckster1


    Aug 28, 2010
    Some of the early ones have neck problems. Don't buy one without playing it.

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