NBD! Musicman StingRay 5H Special

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GRoberts, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    New Bass Day! Musicman StingRay 5H Special (2019)

    I didn't find this bass. ...It found ME! Has that happened to anyone else? I didn't see this one coming and I am so excited!

    I tried a Fender Jazz Bass Elite V at a local GC and liked it so I crossed town to check out another. Loved the classic sound but struggled with the neck size for my hands. The only other 5 string bass in the shop to get my attention was this cool looking Surf Green StingRay 5H Special. (Musicman calls this color "Cruz Teal.") To my surprise, the model was updated in 2018 and the first thing I noticed was its light weight. I later confirmed this particular SR 5H special weighs exactly 8.3 Lbs!! Other SR 5H Specials I found online range from 8.10 oz's to 9.6lbs. That weight range is still a lot more user-friendly than the heavier original StingRays! But this StingRay 5 weighs less than 8.5 Lbs?!? Wow! How does it sound?

    The updates made in 2018 include an 18V preamp, 3-Band EQ with boost/cut for Bass/Mid/Treble. There is a 3-way selector switch for the single Humbucker pickup. The 3 switch-position modes are; Parallel, Series w/filter & Series. I am amazed at the useful and wisely voiced EQ ranges even in their most extreme settings. Tone shaping is profoundly capable and more versatile than I imagined it could be with just a single PU. I've been favoring the "Series mode" where the switch is all the way forward toward the neck. I need to try the Parallel mode a bit more and use the EQ bands to punch up the parallel sound on the bridge PU.

    The ebony fingerboard is a striking deep black. It is a sexy thick slab on the maple neck. The neck profile is super comfy. The string spacing feels tighter than the 19mm spacing I am used to. Not sure if this is 18mm but it feels fantastic. It is incredibly comfortable and fits my hand well. It affords highly fluid playability. There is plenty of room for slap where the FB meets the body.

    The body is lightweight swamp ash and offers sleek body contours with new sculpting. The neck bolts onto the nicely rounded & sculpted heel with 5 bolts through the heel plate. The contour at the heel is superbly rounded making upper fret access on the 22-fret fingerboard effortless and super easy to play. (Yes, the new updated Special has 22 frets!)

    The official color designation is called "Cruz Teal." (But it looks just like Bel-Air or Surf Green) At first, I thought the color was a bit loud but I have completely fallen in love with it. The black knobs look great paired with the new lightweight aluminum bridge. (also black) The black tuning pegs on this color scheme look perfect. They are new and are super lightweight and the tuning ears have a thicker 3D shape versus the older flat tuning ears. The overall aesthetic of this bass exceeds the sum of its parts. It is visually striking in person!

    The neck is roasted maple and has a familiar darker tint seen on most roasted neck offerings. I can't say what sonic affect the roasted neck offers if anything, but the back is a satin smooth finish and it feels great. Every note sustains like magic and can be felt resonating in the neck as I play. All notes have a nice sense of texture and fullness with detail and articulate growl that make it extremely resonant, vibrant and inspiring to play.

    I've gigged this bass at three very different shows using different bass rigs at each show. It cuts in the band mix perhaps better than any bass I've used. My bandmates love it! They typically do not comment on my sound. They said I seemed to play this bass with more inspiration. That could be due to the ease the neck profile and string spacing affords me. I excuted some things better than before. (Translated: I sucked less?) LOL

    Whether or not this new StingRay 5H Special rivals the original StingRay I can't say. Some have said this new model is a little warmer and less aggressive. For some that may be disheartening, but for me, those attributes constitute an "upgrade" and make it perfect! I simply cannot deal with basses bordering near or above 10lbs. The 8.3 Lb weight of this bass made it even more enticing and seductive but the sound needed to aquit itself. Boy does it ever sound great! And being less than 8.5 lbs makes a huge difference on a typical 3-4 hour show.

    The sound is classic, has tons of growl, and it cuts through the band mix notching a very credible voice that works incredibly well. There is something about this bass that feels like an old bass I've played forever. It is resonant, alive, vibrant, responsive. Brilliant bass. The reviews from other owners seem to be consistently positive. I can see why.

    I may name this bass "The Bird" since the color scheme reminds me of the '57 Ford T-Bird in one the photo's below.

    I am more excited than I've been in a long time! It KILLS through my big rig; GK MB Fusion 800 / Bergantino CN212


    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
    bmac314, Gregc57, Lovep and 59 others like this.
  2. HD007


    Jul 12, 2018
    The Bird! Love it.

    You’ve written a beautiful and apt description of these Specials.

    Nice pics too!
    GRoberts and lowdownthump like this.
  3. sludgetail


    Feb 26, 2018
    Orange, CA
    Man she’s a babe!! Congratulations and play her in great health!!
    GRoberts likes this.
  4. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Yeah, I'm jealous!
    GRoberts and lowdownthump like this.
  5. Great pics, tell the story. Nice one.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  6. Wow, that thing looks fantastic! What’s the deal with the battery cover. Looks like they’ve gone back to having a screw on cover but it’s hard to tell from the pics. Love the look of that bass!
    GRoberts likes this.
  7. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    The battery cover has a small indentation on the 9V compartments for easy flip-open access via quick release latches on each 9V battery. the screws simply bolt the compartment to the body. No screwdrivers needed for battery access. :)
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
    johnny_bolt likes this.
  8. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Thank you HD007! I've always believed a great NBD post deserves great photo's. I get to gig her again tonight! I am going to demo a Mesa WD-800 and compare to my GK MBF 800 amp using the SR 5H Special.
    HD007 and lowdownthump like this.
  9. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    Mmmm...cruz teal.

    Nice score!
    HD007, GRoberts and lowdownthump like this.
  10. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Thanks! 80jazz!
  11. Great score....I was pricing 5H's and I just couldn't pull the trigger at the requested price. I have a Lakland Skyline coming. Your color is beautiful and hope you enjoy.
    lowdownthump and HD007 like this.
  12. HD007


    Jul 12, 2018
    That's partly why Sweetwater has the evil 0 percent financing over 4 years for EBMM...a few of us have pulled that lever for sure!
    lowdownthump, 80jazz and GRoberts like this.
  13. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I called Sweetwater and got a bit of a discount and they also offered the Zero percent too. But the one I played was the "Bird in the hand" ..and it weighed 8.3lbs. I have not seen that anywhere. Plus I wanted to thank my local shop by allowing me the opportunity to demo this bass. (I have a 30 year relationship with the shop and know the owner) So that is highly unusual. They earned my business big time ..and I still got a great deal!
    HD007 likes this.
  14. really nice, cool color, rock on.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  15. murphy

    murphy Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004

    Love it love it

    I want all the usual chrome bits....not black
  16. hotrodjohn

    hotrodjohn Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2009
    Love mine too!! Gets along well with my ‘78 ;) D328C8F0-8C17-4A71-BC0A-6B2A7A4EE6E0.jpeg
    johnny_bolt, brocco, HD007 and 2 others like this.
  17. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    I have a feeling this first SR 5H Special is the gateway drug leading to an SR 5HH Special Ash/Maple! Love yours!! Classic!
    CaptainWally, HD007 and lowdownthump like this.
  18. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    I think cruz teal and chopper blue are the 2 most appealing colors to me.

    Charging green is probably #3 IMHO.
    HD007, lowdownthump and GRoberts like this.
  19. Tony G

    Tony G Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2006
    That is a great pick up! I'd expect it will compliment your Nordy nicely!
    lowdownthump and GRoberts like this.
  20. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    I'm not a MM fan, but damn, these new Specials look sweet.

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