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My New Stingray 4: A Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Funk 'N' Stein, May 14, 2005.

  1. Hi Everyone.

    I have now owned this bass for close on 4 months and would like to offer my review to all who may be interested.

    I traded my previous bass, a 1978 jazz, on this axe
    (incidentally, I got more for the jazz as a trade in, than what I payed for it 20 years ago!!) The Stingray set me back $2200 AUD with the trade.

    The store that I purchased this bass from had several SR 4s in stock at the time. I played them all, but this particular one was the best looking AND the best playing of the bunch.

    I had for a long time wanted a new bass , having grown tired (after 20 yrs) of the 'polite' sound of my jazz bass (jazz bass guys...please dont take offence. It could sound rude when I wanted it to, but for the most part it just couldnt cut the mustard.Strung with TI flats however,it did sound good in a small 'jazz'{funny that} combo that I played with, especially with the back pickup soloed.For the most part though, that was really the only useable sound I could get out of it. The neck pickup soloed just sounded like a P Bass with one less testicle...but I digress)

    Ok here goes...


    The bass has a beautiful 'natural' hard ash body which is absolutely flawless; easily the tightest grain that I have ever seen on a naturally finished bass. It is what I would categorize as a mid weight instrument (being around 9-10 lbs) and a lot lighter than the old jazz (13.5 lbs).

    I like the weight because the instrument is heavy enough to resist the physical exertion when I "dig" in. I find that if an instrument is too light, it wont resist and becomes a little difficult to play.

    It is laminated from three pieces of the same piece of wood, but the glue joins are invisible unless one looks at the body end-on. Looking at the bass from the front or back deceives one into thinking that the body is actually one piece of wood. Just stunning!! I actually prefer laminated bodies because in my estimation they would be less likely to 'move' than a one piece body.

    The crew at Ernie Ball have done such a terrific job with this they are to be highly commended. Heck, there are even small washers between the strap buttons and the body. Screws have all been perfectly (ie; horizontally) driven into the holes in the black scratchplate.

    This bass earns 10 out of 10 for cosmetic appeal. WAY TO GO!!

    When I played the bass in the store it had been reasonably well set up. It had a beautiful acoustic resonance about it when played unplugged and felt very comfortable (I also tried a SR 5 and was contemplating getting one, but It did not speak to me like this 4 string).


    The all maple neck/fingerboard on this axe is absolutely superb and is what really sold me on the bass. It is supremely comfortable with beautifully dressed and polished frets. The fingerboard/neck join is almost invisible and can only been seen under a magnifying glass in a very good light !. The neck/body join is as tight as can be and I cannot even slide a piece of A4 paper, end-on between the join.

    Neck alignment is absolutely perfect (Alignment on the old Jazz was problematic given the 3 bolt micro neck, and it would go out if knocked. It was one thing that used to really bug me about the old girl!!)

    The neck is slightly bulkier than that on my old jazz bass and of course has a larger string spacing, but I actually prefer this as I have reasonably large hands.The satin finish on the neck is also very player friendly. My only gripe is that the fingerboard tends to get dirty very quickly (no matter how clean the hands are), but this is only a mild cosmetic issue and can be rectified very easily.

    Strings are perfectly spaced in a perfectly cut nut.There is also plenty of room between the E and G strings and the edge of the board (something which was lacking on the SR 5 that I played and which quite frankly, turned me off slightly)

    The neck is extremely responsive and the strings seem to spring back off the board after a note is fretted.This really enhances the playabilty of the instrument (unlike the old jazz which had a very dead, unresponsive neck, a factor I attribute to the rosewood board and the shoddy neck/body join). To date and as far as I can tell, there are no dead spots on the neck.

    Headstock and tuning machines are all perfect.


    This is the three band model which differs slightly from the two band in that it has a Mid Boost/Cut. I like this feature.

    I have heard guys say it does not sound as good as the two band EQ but in a live setting but I would like to challenge this assertion if I may. It may be noticeable when played in isolation, but to my ears, and having heard both 2 and 3 band in a live situation, I really can't discern that much difference in the intrinsic sound quality. Both still have the stingray signature sound and both have plenty of punch.

    People have also said that the two band has more punch than the three. I say the three has more than enough plus the option of boosting mids which when one plays right over the pickup, gives a 'wetter' greasier tone( slightly reminiscent of a jazz bass with the front pickup rolled right off, but with a helluva lot more balls).

    Set flat, the instrument has a very smooth punchy tone which sits extremely well in the mix. I think this is where the stingray puts it all over my old jazz bass. It just lays there so well. I often wonder how I played all those years in bands without it. The jazz bass just did not compare in this aspect.(and these are words from a guy who is a died in the wool fender bass lover from way back).

    The bass has a versatile array of sounds and no, it is not a 'one trick pony' as it has been so often labelled. It can cope beautifully with all styles but in my opinion it really really excels in soul,R&B & funk and no, im not talking about slapping stuff (which I dont do) even though it sounds great when subjected to that particular technique...but then again so do the jazz and the venerable Precision (which in my opinion is the best all round sounding bass on the planet).

    The treble can get a little noisy if fully cranked, but I would never use this option.Bumped slighty past centre and with mids and bass boosted just a tad, it just cries "stingray"; it sounds wonderful. Honestly I could not be happier with this bass and I will keep it for the rest of my life.

    I have it strung with 8 YO TI flats ( transferred from previous bass and which sound better than the day I put them on).

    With the TI flats, the tone I can get is identical to that of Bernard Edwards on the CHIC stuff he cut with his stingray.

    Think "Le Freak" and (to use the old baseball analogy) you're not only in the ballpark, you're in the damn dugout with the coach !!

    That is how I would categorize this bass.

    I play most styles except metal and this bass can cope with all and sounds great. I have already developed an emotional attachment to it !!

    Well there ya go!

    I hope you all enjoy reading the review and are able to get some worthwhile information out of it.
  2. nivagues


    Jan 18, 2002
    Great Review! :)

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