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Sterling 5 vs. Stingray 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by T. Alan Smith, May 11, 2010.

  1. T. Alan Smith

    T. Alan Smith Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    I've owned a 'Ray5H for several years now, and am curious as to how these compare out there in the real world. Who has experienced both? Primarily, I'm interested in the necks. I'm one of those mildly annoyed with the G string on mine, and wondering if EB fixed the "slipping" issue with the Sterling 5. Another thing that interests me is that I've always heard that the 'Ray5 was basically a 5 string version of the Sterling, and that's what really intrigues me about where the two differentiate.
  2. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Well, here's what I know...

    The neck profile is exactly the same, with 6-bolt mounting on the SR5 and 5-bolt on the Sterling.

    SR5 has Alnico magnets, Sterling 5H has ceramic

    SR5 middle selector position is electronically "filtered" series to enhance mids, Sterling middle selector position is series front coil + "phantom coil"

    andruca likes this.
  3. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I thought Sterlings had a smaller, more Jazz like, necks?? Or is that just with the 4 strings?
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    IIRC (please correct me if I'm wrong), the StingRay 5 pickups had ceramic magnets (same as the Sterling 4) when the Sterling 5 didn't exist. But after the Sterling 5 was released, the StingRay 5 received alnico magnets, same as its 4-string counterpart. In that sense, the StingRay 5 used to be sort of a 5-string version of the Sterling, but not anymore.

    As for the G string very close to the fingerboard edge, I think that's how all EBMM necks are designed and I don't think it will change. Nothing that cannot be fixed just being a bit careful when playing a pull-off on the G string, but while I love my Bongo to death, I must say that it's also a minor gripe I have.
    andruca likes this.
  5. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    4 string, yes. 5 string, no.

    The SR5s were, until recently, the same electronically as the Sterlings. The last couple years EBMM has made the Stingrays and the Sterlings have the same kind of electrics across the style.

    Yeah, for most of their history, the SR5 was a 5 string Sterling.

    I doubt very many blindfolded listeners could tell the difference between a Sterling or a Stingray regardless of ceramic/alnico or switching options.
    armybass likes this.
  6. T. Alan Smith

    T. Alan Smith Guest

    Sep 9, 2001

    My Bongo6 high C string doesn't give me an issue like the G on my 'Ray5.

    Thanks for the replies. I was hoping the neck profile was closer to that of the Sterling 4. Oh well...looks like, if I'm to stay with MM, it's either a 4 or a 6.
  7. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    It's a mess what Ernie Ball did with naming conventions on their products (and CEO Sterling Ball's fixation with sticking his name on anything adds to the confusion, for sure).

    Politics apart, let's talk differences. I own 2 Stingray5s, one from 1997, the other from 2003. Both have ceramic 3 coil pickups and both were the de facto Sterling5 (same preamp and switching, ceramic PU, a very sharp C neck profile). I also owned a 2012 Sterling5 HS. Same neck profile as it's been mentioned before. Now, in the HS, 2 of the 3 positions you get in an H are available (single+phantom and series). Thing is they sound nothing like those positions in my ceramic Ray 5ers. The humbucker is not the same to start with (apparently it's 2 coil and the phantom coil is attached to the S pickup) and also the preamp is the redesigned version (post-2008 IIRC). My ceramic SR5s sound WAY thicker and with more character (for lack of a more precise term, they punch more, bark more, growl more and have more lowend authority). I've also tried some modern Stingray5s (alnico) and even tho' they sound thicker than the "classic" positions in the HS Sterling I had, they don't sound as massive as my Rays either. Can't say about the pre 1992 (again, IIRC) Stingray5, which was alnico too, never played one nor had the chance to compare side by side, but the ones I've heard sound like my ceramic SR5s to me, not much of a difference. I finally sold that Sterling5 HS because it was neither too good at the Musicman tone game nor other occasional more Fender'ish duties (my initial goal for it). I'm going a more "radical" path now for Fender'esque versatility.

    Another thing I've observed is that the 30th Anniversary Stingray5 sounds exactly like mine ("re-voiced" preamp?, "new" humbucking pickup?, I think they reissued a 1992-2007 SR5 with an upgraded neck -roasted maple, binding, compensated nut- AND price tag, and called it a day).

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