SBMM Confusion: Differences Between Ray35, StingRay Classic, and Ray5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by selowitch, Aug 20, 2018.


  1. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I'm so confused by the Sterling by Music Man lineup. What's the difference between the Ray35 ($759.00), Stingray Classic 5 ($500.00) and the Ray5 ($329.00), aside from what's in the catalog description? It seems like the first two would be of similar quality, so why the $250 price difference?
     
  2. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    It seems to me that the SBMM Stingray Classic would be a really good deal at $500.
     
  3. It seems to me it's the most suspicious one. Before that you had the Ray34 CA (classic active) with a narrow, EBMM Sterling, neck and the Ray34 with the Stingray neck. Can't tell if the pickup/electronics were strictly the same but pricing and supposedly quality was the same. It was as near as a Stingray as you could get from Asia at a "reasonable" price. Or you could go for a cheap "sub" (ray4 now).

    Now what is this Ray25CA about ? A classic stingray sound "mellower" (although the ceramic pickup) with an EBMM Sterling neck ? What is this preamp voicing trick ? Why the 250$ difference ? Where is the compromise ? etc.

    It seems to me SBMM had to fill the gap in between the cheap sub and the top end Ray34 and filled it artificially with a kind a frankenstein model made with parts/specs borrowed here an there and branded as classic. The result may be interesting though.
     
    selowitch likes this.
  4. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    On the other hand, I could just stick with my USA-built EBMM Stingray 5. I love it and it sounds absolutely great. My only real issue is that it's fairly heavy. My main interest in the import models is to try to shave off a pound or two but I have heard that the SBMMs actually tend to be even heavier.
     
  5. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    Vegas
    Well the bottom-of-line Ray4 I just picked up is only 8#7oz so at least the 4s are not necessarily heavy =0)
     
    selowitch likes this.
  6. Ah, here is the information from former SBMM VP.
    The Official Sterling by Music Man Owners Club
    "Ray35 is a far superior instrument."

    Replacing a USA Stingray with a Ray25 (or even a Ray35) ? They're not in the same category !
     
  7. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I'm not suggesting I would replace my USA Stingray with the Ray35; what I'm thinking is I would own both, gig the Ray35 because of the lighter weight and rehearse/practice/record with the USA one.
     
    Bthebassplayer likes this.
  8. My Ray34 is 4.3kg / 9.5lb which apparently is fairly standard for Stingrays. SBMMs are faithful to the original even in the weight department. The new Stingrays special are lightweight and would truly "replace" your current 5er (obviously not the same budget than going SBMM).
     
    selowitch likes this.
  9. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    At $2,000+, the new Stingray Special is a little out-of-reach for my budget. I got my 2001 Stingray used quite recently for $1,000 with the OHSC.
     
  10. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    There are some fundamental differences that are not immediately apparent. Putting aside the SUB Ray4/5...

    First up, the Ray24/25 (classic) have mahogany bodies whereas the Ray34/35 are Ash (at least the natural one is), so more faithful to the StingRay and presumably more expensive.

    Second, the Ray34/35 have EBMM-designed electronics that are the same electronically as the EBMM electronics, so I would speculate they are licensed for a fee. The Ray24/25 electronics are SBMM proprietary so no licences required. The two-band SBMM preamp is nothing like the two-band EBMM preamp, and may well be the same preamp as the Ray4. My understanding is that at certain settings it sounds similar to the EBMM at certain settings, but move away from that and it does its own thing...

    Thirdly, the Ray24/25 bodies are slab - less contouring means less production time/cost.

    Fourth, the tuners on the Ray24/25 are of lesser quality than the Ray34/35 - they appear to be the same as those used on the entry-level Ray4/5.

    Finally, the Ray34/35 come with a rather nice gig bag...

    Whether or not you think these differences add up to $250 of your money is your call, but my experience owning both a '93 EBMM StingRay and a 2012 Ray34 is that the top-end SBMM is every bit a StingRay...
     
  11. FingerDub

    FingerDub Inactive

    Jan 8, 2016
    Ive had both the Ray34 and a real Stingray and trust me, the Ray34 doesn t even come close to a real Stingray neck.
     
  12. According to the former SBMM rep here on talkbass yes it’s the same. Check SBMM club thread.
    I meant in terms of dimensions / nut width.
     
  13. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    IIRC, the earlier discontinued Ray34CA 2-band preamp was the same as the EBMM two band, i.e. bass boost only with assymetrical treble cut/boost.
     
  14. johnson79

    johnson79

    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    I have a Ray34 and it can sound pretty darn close to a Sting Ray. The neck on mine is superb, but it is a standard satin finish, NOT oiled like the USA models. @SteveCS did a thorough rundown of the differences, which I wasn't really aware of on the new 24/25 models. If you're looking to drop weight I'd be hesitant to think a Ray35 would be much less. The 25 or 5 could do it, but you'd need to determine if the tone works for you.
     
  15. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    To be perfectly honest, I don't really get on with the oil finish. My SBMM is satin but it's become highly polished and very smooth with use. My 93 EBMM is high gloss. Dimensionally they are almost identical other than a little more sculpting and rounder edges on the back of the EBMM headstock, which is also 2mm or so thinner. Both play amd feel pretty much the same, and switching from one to the other is a bit like going between two pairs of favourite shoes - the only way I know is the absence or presence of frets.
     
    johnson79 likes this.
  16. codiak

    codiak

    Mar 16, 2017
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I just got a USA MM SUB for $600 and it’s only about 8.5 lbs. Maybe try finding one of these since they’ll be about as close to an actual stingray classic you can find without dropping $1000.
     
    selowitch likes this.
  17. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Here's a five-string one of those, but I prefer a maple fingerboard.
     
  18. codiak

    codiak

    Mar 16, 2017
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I prefer maple too, but those USA SUB’s are all rosewood. Here’s my teal one I just got. I really like the 2 band stingrays.

    B1233CC7-E4BB-4686-95F6-4A85613E4E0C.jpeg
     
  19. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I just bought a used 2001 USA Stingray 5 (maple fingerboard, cherry burst finish) for a good price. If I come across a lighter instrument that sounds similar, I may acquire that as well for situations that require standing up for long periods.
     
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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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