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Sterling or Bongo?...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by quadrogong, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. quadrogong


    Jul 6, 2006
    I was all set on buying something in Japan, but the dollar is at an all time low against the yen,and there's no sign of it going up.
    Gonna get a nice shiny Musicman. I love a good strong bridge tone,and a stock Sterling seems to nail it for me,I've played one with an Aguilar pre and a Lane Poor MM pu which was even nicer for me.
    But I have to say,the looks of the Bongo really does it for me,it's a shallow statement,I know
    ..and a 1.5" nut width is a tad faster for me,

    but I was wondering how some real MM nuts compare the two instruments,sonically
    ..do they sound noticable different?
    or are there any features on either bass that u prefer,or that bug u?
  2. The preamp in the 'Ray and Sterlings are nice, but the electronics package of the Neo pickups and low-mid/high-mid preamp in the Bongo is a powerhouse! Extremely versatile, but of Godzilla-esque proportions when you "open her up". To my ears, the Bongo can get 95% of the StingRay and Sterling's tone as well as a ton of it's own.

    Try to like the Bongo, and start looking at photos rotated 90 degrees clockwise - it's a bass that looks far better in playing position that on a stand or hanging vertical.
  3. America's on sale!
    Well - you can always troll the forums at ernieball.com; best described as...
    If the Stingray is along the lines of a "P" bass, then the Sterling is more like a "J." The Bongo...is...maybe someplace in between. The necks have slightly different profiles (the Bongo being roughly inbetween a "J" and a "P" with the Sterling 1/8" narrower and a tad thinner, with a slightly different profile.
    The tone of a Bongo is generally described as 'richer' or 'woodier,' than a Sterling. The electronics of the Bongo are a lot hotter as well, takes (2) 9-V vice the one battery for the Sterling. Of course, you can always go to http://gc.guitarcenter.com/basses/musicman/index.cfm?src=pro-gear and see Mr. Ball demonstrate both of them - and as best you can, hear them. I think if I could only own one, it'd be the Bongo.
  4. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    The Bongo and the Sterling are two different sounding instruments. The Bongo in my opinion is a bit more versatile because you can dial in more tonal variations. The Sterling is great, don't get me wrong, but it is slightly less variable in the tone dept. Not that the Sterling's tones are bad by any means.

    Basically it's a tough call. Play a Sterling and a Bongo and see which you prefer. Then there's whether to get an H or an HH. All tough decisions.

    By the way, the Bongo plays like butter. The Sterling neck is a bit thinner than the Bongo's, but the Bongo neck is so comfortable it should be illegal.
  5. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    They are both amazing basses. I'm perhaps a fan of the Bongo tone and preamp more though. However, you really have to play them before you decide, as they are both very, very good.
  6. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    I cant really do an equal sound comparison because I've owned a Single H Sterling and currently have a HH Bongo. FWIW the Single H Sterling was very aggressive and cut throug the mix like no other bass I've ever had, including the Bongo and my StingRay. The HH Bongo on the other hand is a bit bigger sounding, a little rounder and fatter, but still has enough balls to punch through the mix.

    In terms of feel I prefer the Bongo. Very comfy no matter how high or low you wear it, and to me its has the nicest neck of all the EBMM's.

    You really cant go wrong either way IMO.
  7. Soulfinger


    Sep 20, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I've had two bongos and neither really worked out for me. My sterling however, will go with me to the grave. It has a lot of low-mid grunt, and is never boomy. This makes it great for bad rooms/bad PA's/bad amps. It always sounds good, and plays like a dream.
  8. I have a Sterling, and had a Bongo. The neck on the Sterling is like my SR5 neck, unfinished and fast. I like thin necks, and the Sterling is my dream neck. I never could get use to the painted neck on the Bongo.

    As far as tone goes, there both different animals, but both are great in their own way.

    Basically, it's a preference thing.
  9. The only way to know is to play both of them.
  10. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Actually, the only way to know is to buy a Bongo and never look back. My god, those things are like sex plus a 4-band EQ.

    Oh, and the Sterlings are pretty cool, too. I guess. :p
  11. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    This is perfectly said. I have had both, and this is my experience.

    The Bongo is capable of the "broadest" sound of any bass I have owned or played. The Sterling is great, too; more like a laser to the Bongo's blunt force trauma.

    Buy them both.
  12. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    I never liked the apparent lack of low end the sterling had compared to the HH bongos. I'd rather have too much low end that I can dial out as opposed to not enough.

    And then you have the superb 4 band eq on the bongo. I went with the bongo in the end.
  13. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    The Bongo looks, imo, dreadful hanging vertically on guitar store walls. Bulbous and clumsy. In my opinion. I would suggest that hanging like this costs EBMM lots of sales, as this is how virtually everyone is introduced to the Bongo.

    They are sleek and sexy when horizontal and being played. Since this is really the only position that matters, get one. :)
  14. quadrogong


    Jul 6, 2006
    WOWWEE! lotta votes for the Bong!:cool:
    I must say, the sadowsky metro's glossy neck never bothered me, I like a 1.5'er,and I like the Sterling's "one tone" the bridge tone is what I'll be using, I like a hi-fi bridge tone,modern and growly,but never twangy..I love the Sterling's neck and tone..it's warm and plush yet very "direct",immediate attack,which I like.
    But..I never tried a Bongo,
    there's a Bongo 5 in NYC i found online,
    although I cannot stand a 5'er's neck...i can still get a feel and a vibe from it
    (I have a chronic left pinky injury and wide necks,high action,etc make it flair up)
    gonna try her tonight!
    I'd LOVE a shiny new Bongo..like desert gold, or all black..nice and shiny..that just looks so tight and pro to me,that bass.
    I've been obsessed with their looks for years,but never,ever had one..
    I MUST try a Bongo! thanx, very informative..
  15. I think you need an Alembicized Starfire.;)
  16. quadrogong


    Jul 6, 2006
    mm, Phil's "Europe '72" bass tone?..
    I'd LOVE that..
    BTW, I tried my 1st Bongo today,

    Matt Umanov has a Desert gold 5'er,
    it ruled, DEFINITELY stronger low end than the 'ray, I A/B'ed them for a while,both flat..

    I wanted to try a stingray 4,to feel what a bongo 4's nut width'll be like. I can do a 1 5/8",although a 1.5 is quicker for me.

    I was floored by the Bongo 5's looks and it's electronics..it has that cushion-y bridge tone I love,like a Sterling,(sorta)
    The tone is really modern and useful,well voiced.
    I felt like I'd never use all that EQ though, is that like a sweepable midrange? sort of like a parametric?

    can anyone explain the inner knobs(in the stacked ones)?
    ..those guys choose a frequency,right?
    then I boost or vut with the outer knob?

    do u guys use all of that?
    I always boost a bit of bottom on my 2 bands,but keep everything flat for the most part. Do u use it to cut certain annoying frequencies or boost other freq's that are lacking?
    It seems hard to do all that on the fly,
    for me,at least,
    but I'm somewhat of a lazy stoner/keep it simple kinda guy.
    I'm curious,what are some of your favorite settings?
    does anyone really use the 4 band much?

    I think i'm gonna order a
    desert gold/rosewood matching headstock Bongo 4
    not sure what color pickguard though.
    waiting for a quote from Matt Umanov..
    I wonder if dealers will vary on price for a special order.
  17. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    +1 I didn't like the Bongo looks at first but after playing one, I learned to love the looks really fast. The playability, comfort and sound are dynamite so the looks grow on you fast. Believe it or not, I get more compliments about how cool it looks then I ever did with my Stingrays. It's definitely different and out of the box but I don't think it's as wild as a Reverend or a Steinberger.
  18. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    The inner knobs are seperate EQ contorls. The first knob is volume, second is blend between pickups, next knob is mids (little knob is hi mid, bottom knob is lo mid), next knob is bass (big bottom knob) and treble (little knob on top).
  19. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    had a HH bongo for awhile, loved the feel & playability, however, i found i was tweaking all those knobs constantly, to try to get the tone i wanted,,, & i mean constantly... :meh:

    at home,, just wanking,, tweaking is fine,, but on stage,, i'de rather set it & forget it,,, so the bongo had to go,,,, :bawl:

    then i picked up a '96 Sterling with the ol school bridge,,,, problem solved... :hyper::hyper::hyper:
  20. tkozal

    tkozal Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    hey quadrogong, the Candy Red 5 string Bongo at the 14th st GC was for sale for like $970 at the Presidents Day sale, and it didn't sell. They may give you a really good deal on it, armed with this info...especially compared to Matt Ripyouov

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