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Sterling/Stingray---big difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave S..., Oct 26, 2000.

  1. Dave S...

    Dave S...

    Oct 13, 2000
    Please excuse if this is a redundant thread...

    I see that the Sterling has a 'dummy coil' and I believe, a different stock EQ? Also, the selector switch...

    Can you get the Stringray's tonal charachter from the Sterling, or do the different electronics get in the way of that?

    Also, I'd think Maple fingerboard is the way to go on these...any opinions? I've already got some nice Rosewood board basses w/ active electonics.

    Only 'Ray I've ever played was a mid 80's Maple about 6 yrs. ago and it was quite good for the gallstones...impressive.

    Thanks much
  2. bassgeek

    bassgeek Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Dave, I've played a Stingray 5 since '93. It has a rosewood board with a satin finish on the back of the neck which I don't believe they use anymore. The rosewood board is more versatile than the maple one, but if you're going to be playing heavy rock, the maple would probably be the way to go. As far as electronics I don't know too much about the differences between the two. Feel-wise, I'd say the Sterling is the Stingray's wimpy, younger brother. I can go from my upright to the Stingray without feeling like I'm playing a twig. Because you said you had some nice rosewood boarded basses, the maple one would be good for variety. Happy gear hunting!
  3. The general concensus is that both basses sound damned good and that the Stingray 4 really only has one tone, but what a tone, the Sterling has much more variety but it can't quite get the Stingray's one tone.

    Feelwise I prefer the Sterling, but the Stingray 4 still feels pretty damned fine.

    Choosing between the Stingray 4 and the Sterling is a really tough call... you're just going to have to play a lot of them. (its an even harder choice if you're considering the Stingray 5 too.. for me the ray 5 is the best playing 5 I've ever played and sounds more like the Sterling than the ray 4, but its sound is a bit heavier than the Sterling)

    btw.. I'm now the proud owner of a fretless Stingray 5 that I found on BassNW
  4. own a stingray, not played a sterling.

    stingrays have real beefy necks: great to play once you get used to 'em.

    I suffered considerable pain in me frettin' hand while getting used to the stingray, but I'd recommend them to anyone... unless thay have small hands.

    sound-wise, fantastic. like said above only really one tone, but the 3EQ can vary it considerabely and it really does sound GOOOD.

    I play the maple board, real nice!
  5. Funkster


    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA
    I just picked up a 98 Stingray 4 with the 3 band eq and this thing is a monster the 3 band gives me a very wide range of tones along with the vintage MM tone. As for playability I didn't think I was going to like it because of the huge neck (Jazz Bass player) but I have taken a great liking to it and I can't put it down. Mine has a rosewood board so it's a little warmer sounding, better for finger style & pick playing JMO, and it sounds great recorded. I also played a Sterling and really liked that bass too but I was looking for that classic Stingray vibe. I think wichever one you pick will be a great addition to anyones arsenal. Good Luck!
  6. Tuomas


    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    I pretty much agree with everything.. I had to choose between those two and I now I own 3 stingrays. Sterling is just as good, but I didn't give me the vibe. And it didn't sound exactly like a ray 4...
    And I have to add that even though stingray's neck is beefy, it's still surprisingly fast.
  7. zender976


    Aug 12, 2000
    I've had the pleasure of owning two stingrays and and two sterlings over 7 years of bass playing. I have to admit that my first love was the stingray, and that i really didn't quite care for the sterling at first. but once if figured that the two bass aren't supposed to sound like each other i began to appreciate the versatility of the sterling. don't get me wrong though, stingrays have fantastic tone, the only drawback is you more or less get that one tone, which kinda sucks if you wanna do more than play rock/funk (hmmm, maybe it's just another good reason to buy another bass!:D)...but if you are a a jazz bass kinda guy (like me) sterling basses fit the bill nicely. it's true that they don't quite capture the heavy tone of the stingray, but you get more of a jazz/ray sound that can sound like butta, especially thru an eden setup! Anyways, just remember, if your a jazz bass kinda guy, do the sterling, you won't regret it, otherwise do the stingray...but if you got the dough get BOTH!!!!:D

  8. Dave S...

    Dave S...

    Oct 13, 2000
    Thanks VERY much for all the input...

    Ugh! This seemed to be a tough decision from the start, and I'm sure it's gonna boil down to spending time with each. I'm partial to the Stingray with Maple in a 4 string for knocking walls down, but we'll see...

    Thanks again! What a great board...

    Best Wishes
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Sterling: has coil tap, slimmer neck, smaller body, shorter headstock and different neck joint.

    Stingray: HUGE body, 3 band EQ w/ no tap, wide spaced neck, and 6 bolt neck.

    Played many of both of them. I have a 'Ray (but I'm selling it) and though a great bass and something that should be in every arsenal, its tone is the best and worst thing going for it. You know a 'Ray when you hear it. Nothing can match the tone, but some come close. The problem is, as stated before, it's a one trick pony. Though incredibly versatile, you can always hear the 'Ray in it. They have a permanent buzz in the frets, but that adds to the sound when plugged in.

    My opinion: If you want a Ray sound, you have to get a Ray. If you like to do a lot more, but still have a sound close to a Ray, try the Sterling.
    (And a footnote: The Stingray 5 has more in common with a Sterling than a Ray. Note the electronics.)
  10. I've been the proud owner of a Stingray 4 with maple fingerboard for over 6 months now and have to admit that I'm still baffled by all this one trick pony talk I've seen on this sight. While I will agree that the ray has a certain active P/U vibe I've never had any problems extracting various tones between the 3-band eq and my SWR rig. Perhaps my ear is not as refined as others but I play in a cover band doing everything from SRV to Steely Dan and the ray covers the gambit quite well. Seriously how many great bass tones are there really? The thing that sold me on the Stingray was its playibility and looks, love that unfinished neck and wide fingerboard, for me its perfect.
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    No doubt, Rick. It's a good bass and would work well as one's only bass. But no matter what style you play or how you adjust it, it always sounds Sting-y. I will trumpet how much I like them and the way they sound and play, but basses sound different (DUH!). Warwick has distinct sounding instruments, Fender has them, a ton of companies have them. If you want a 'Ray sound and that's fine for you as a primary instrument, I'm not gonna knock you for it. But some people on this site like having a $#!%load of different basses for different tones. And if you play a bass with 2 pickups, 3 band EQ and piezos, etc., you'll probably think that a bass with 1 pickup and only a 3 band is a bit monotone. Some call them distinct, some call them limited-use. po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to, whatever.
  12. BassGuyNL


    Jul 20, 2000
    The Netherlands
    I agree with a lot being said here:

    Bassgeeks comment: I too think that the Sterling has a whimpy body. The fact that I can't rest my right hand comfortably on it (there's only air, no wood, where my right wrist is), is the main reason I hardly play it anymore.

    Zender(+some number)'s comment: many salespersons will try to make you believe that there are many sounds in the Sterling, including a Jazz sound. I feel all settings still make it sound like a MM. You want a Jazz sound? Simple, buy a good Jazz!

    Rojo(+some other number)'s comment: There's a buzz in my Sterling too, and no one seems to be able to get rid of it. I will, therefore, probably get rid of the Sterling.
  13. zender976


    Aug 12, 2000
    "...many salespersons will try to make you believe that there are many sounds in the Sterling, including a Jazz sound. I feel all settings still make it sound like a MM. You want a Jazz sound? Simple, buy a good Jazz!"

    Anton- first of all i never let those guitar center types tell me what to think, i like to believe that i know what type of tones a bass produces :D. secondly, have you ever owned BOTH a ray and a sterling? a sterling barely sounds like a ray! the comparison i was making is that jazz necks and sterling necks are very similar and that sterlings offer a kind of hybrid sound (jazz/MM). i don't know what kind of setup you have, but i've found that my sterling produces a greater variety of tones compared to any ray i've owned, but as you might have noticed not all basses are created equal. :D The title of the thread is "Sterling/Stingray---big difference? " and i was offering my 2 cents based on my experience playing 4 different musciman basses. and thats all this is, MY opinions.

  14. TonyS


    Dec 13, 1999
    My view on Sterlings, is the same as "zender976". He expressed very well, "My experience" with that axe.

    I own a Sterling and choose it over a "Stingray(4)" because there is a difference in size, smaller (Yes) ... Wimpy (No). They also ... "offer a kind of hybrid sound (jazz/MM)". The Sterling is more versatile in my view. But if you want a "Ray" sound you gotta buy one.

    Play'em both, You can't go wrong with either model ... let the sound you hear decide.

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