NBD - Purple Sparkle Ray34

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gibsonchild, May 12, 2022.

  1. Gibsonchild

    Gibsonchild Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2022
    I’ve played a couple Sterlings recently at GC that were impeccable, and have been thinking about nabbing one. When I saw the new purple sparkle finish that just came out, I absolutely had to have it. So after a good bit of research (and the seller offered 10% off, Yay!), I decided to roll the dice.

    The good:
    1. It sounds great! I replaced the pickup in my previous SUB Ray4 w/ an SD SMB-4D (which sounded fantastic), and this sounds even better.

    2. The 3 band preamp has a lot of range, and there are a plethora of tones to be found in this thing.

    3. The neck is extremely comfortable. It feels somewhere in the ballpark of a medium “C”, which is my preference.

    4. Metallic purple!!

    5. I’m not a gig bag kind of guy, but it comes with a surprisingly decent padded gig bag.

    The bad:
    1. It has the worst factory set up of any instrument I’ve ever laid my hands on. The nut slots are cut entirely too shallow, pulling the strings out of tune when fretting.

    2. The neck had a comically excessive amount of relief in it, and the intonation was way off.

    3. A few of the frets are a little rough.

    4. Good Lord, it is heavy. I’m not one to weigh my guitars, because weight usually doesn’t bother me. But this beast is noticeably heavier than my Norlin LP Custom and my 77 Ibanez P bass. I‘m not sure that I could play a 3 hour gig with this thing.

    All that said, none of this really bothers me because I always do a full set up whenever I get a new guitar/bass. An hour or 2 in my shop, and I’ll have it dialed in how I like. And the weight thing isn’t an issue because I’m not gigging. And if I was, I’d only be using it on certain songs.

    The really bad:
    1. The truss rod is super tight. As in, I’m afraid I’m going to snap it while making adjustments. I did manage to get the neck sorted out without any drama, but I bent the included truss rod tool while doing it.

    2. The tuners are completely unusable garbage. All 4 of them stripped the teeth off of the gears while tuning up a fresh set of strings.

    That said, I knew from my research here that these last 2 things would likely be an issue. I generally replace all my tuners anyway, so I wasn’t worried about the tuner issue. I ordered a set of Hipshots and an Xtender when I ordered the bass, and will swap them out when they show up. And I figured if the truss rod thing was bad enough that I couldn’t adjust the neck, I would just send the bass back and get a replacement.

    All that to say, if you just have to have one of the new sparkle finishes, and don’t mind a bit of a project, it’s a pretty solid bass. Especially if you can get one used, or at a discount like I did.


  2. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    Beautiful bass!! I’m glad you are handy with the tools. That trust rod and tuner issue on these models have been noted on this forum. I cancelled my order for one because of it. Hope that doesn’t become a regret for you and that you enjoy this bass for years to come!!
  3. Eye catching color! Shame that the tuners were so bad when you pay the $$ for a nice bass.

    Enjoy it! :thumbsup:
  4. duanev3

    duanev3 Inactive

    Dec 1, 2020
    I'm kinda wondering how a jazz bass would look in sparkle sonic blue.... if that's possible... Either way I dig the purple sparkle and the pick guard shape.... very different
    LadyLoveStingRay5 likes this.
  5. essarache90

    essarache90 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA
    Wow, that is nice!! Is the neck roasted? Congrats - hope you have fun with it for many years to come!
  6. Gibsonchild

    Gibsonchild Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2022

    I can’t foresee any regret. Even if the truss rod issue gets out of hand, I’ll get it sorted out one way or another.
  7. Gibsonchild

    Gibsonchild Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2022
    I really, really dig the purple. It’s the whole reason I bought it, despite knowing it would probably have issues. I had a late 90’s metallic grape Telecaster for years that was my favorite guitar. I had to sell it when times got tough, and I’ve wanted another purple guitar ever since.

    It is indeed roasted.
  8. Nice!

    I use to have that exact Trace Elliot head when I was in high school. I didn't know what I was doing back then so I foolishly got rid of it for an Ampeg B2R. Ah well...
    Gibsonchild likes this.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    That’s a fine looking Ray. Wear the paint off it.
  10. Gustopher

    Gustopher Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2018
    You aren’t the first person to mention the tuners on this model. The black ones specifically have had issues. Contact Sterling and they will send you replacements. That is a beautiful bass, I played a blue one the other day and you’re right about the sound, it’s excellent!
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    sounds like you're able to fix/rationalize any shortcomings or expectations, so it all turns out to be a happy ending! ;) i think most of us are used to tweaking things as they come 'out of the box', but apparently, you got a good one and made it even better! congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:
    Dust2Dust and Gibsonchild like this.
  12. Gibsonchild

    Gibsonchild Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2022
    That’s a bummer!

    I freaking love that amp. My wife bought it for me for Christmas last year (along with the original 2x10 and 1x15) and Dad got me the Ampeg fridge to go with it. They will both go to the grave with me.
    Last edited: May 12, 2022
    definenredefine likes this.
  13. Man that purple is fierce:thumbsup:
  14. AncientNoob

    AncientNoob Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2021
    Rural Oregon
    Congrats! The purple sparkle finish is super sexy! I actually just bought a Fender P and it was a toss up between this exact model and finish or the Fender. I also had heard about the issues with the tuners, but this is the first I’m hearing of the truss rod issue. Glad you got it sorted and congrats again on a beautiful instrument!
    Dust2Dust and Gibsonchild like this.
  15. No Malarky

    No Malarky

    May 27, 2010
    Man, that is the Purplest Purple that ever did Purple.
  16. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Stunning! I’m not sure it would fit my image and or the image of our band of 70 year olds, but ya got yourself a show stopper there, Congrats!
    Gibsonchild likes this.
  17. You'd have to be Plum Crazy not to love that purple!
  18. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    I guess like any instrument in this price range, it's going to be hit or miss in terms of what you get. I have a natural/roasted maple Ray34 I got last year and had the complete opposite in terms of setup and overall fit/finish out of the box. Great general setup, one nut slot was a little high that was an easy fix, and neck relief was about where I wanted it. The trussrod seems a bit 'sticky', but not overly tight. Tuners have also been just fine and I've changed strings twice so far with no issues in terms of their functionality or any failure of any kind.
  19. Katoosie

    Katoosie Chocolate is the best Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2020
    That is some crazy sparkly purple right there. Sucks that the tuners are absolute garbage but your hipshots should help with both the tuning and weight.

    What are you gonna do about the truss rod? Can it be replaced? I saw many people mention that stewmac in the US sells cheap truss rods Iirc. Maybe that would be an option?

    Also, I like that it has one pickup, these sound better to my ears.

    Cool, I'm super glad for you (minus the issues) :)
  20. That's HOTT! Been hearing bad things about the tuners. Still asked my local spot to order one for me. LOVE the purple sparkle! Which Hipshot tuners and Xtender did you order?

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