Stingray or Sterling over a Jazz?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    I have owned three Rays in my life.....each time it was the same thing: I want/miss the Ray tone....Yay I got a Ray ....《time passes》..... OK I'm over it, I miss the J sound.......wash, rinse, repeat.......I thought I was completely over it as I historically played funk/jazz/dance I'm tackling heavy metal project and I want one again but, this time, for a different set of reasons
  2. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    I'm currently playing Sadowsky basses, but the EBMM Sterling HS I sold to make that happen was one of the nicest basses I have ever played or owned. Many usable tones, beautiful comfy neck, perfect fit and finish. I miss it. I don't miss my old EBMM Sterling H, which was similar quality but the aggressiveness was hard to tame. As far as replacing a jazz... nah, the Musicmans are a different flavor of cool.
  3. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    To me, the Stingray/Sterling is another bass you can pick out of a A/B comparison at a rate better than chance just by the tone, without knowing before hand which bass is which. The Rick 4001/3 is the other I'm thinking of that has such a distinct tone it's easily recognizable in a blind comparison.

    It has that really nice Fender "pinch" in the lower treble but with a really solid low and low mid that gives it that natural aggression to it. I'm thinking the late (great) Louis Johnson, who really kind of defined the Stingray tone (for me anyway, when I was in high school listening to the Brothers Johnson).

    But in saying that, I've never actually owned a Stingray. I love the Sterling since it's a little smaller and has the nice Jazz dimensioned neck, but I never found a fretless one at the same time as I had the cash to possibly buy it :).

    As for the Jazz, I don't think it can cop a Stingray tone very well, though like someone said on the bridge PU with some EQ you might be able to approach it sort of.

    As for which I'd prefer, my hearing damage affects the low frequencies (ironically), which if they're too woolly at high volumes, everything just sounds like a loud super distored "BRRRRRRRR" and I can't hear notes. So I tend to prefer more midbassy tones without a lot of low bottom, like a bridge PU. And when I play the P pickup on my tony franklin, I usually turn the bass down.

    So if I had a Sterling, I'd probably end up trying to make it sound more like a Jazz on the bridge PU.

    But I still love that tone, I kind of grew up on it... :)

  4. jmattbassplaya


    Jan 13, 2008
    They are definitely different enough to warrant owning both, which is exactly what I’ve done :)

    It would be hard to choose only one of the two to own. I definitely appreciate the thinner width of the Jazz neck, and I typically prefer the tonal characteristics of passive pups. However, there is a certain punch and sizzle of a Ray that makes it so unique and present in any mix. My Jazz sometimes gets lost, but my Ray never has that issue.
  5. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    For pure tone, I mildly prefer a J. But a Ray finds it's place in a mix so effortlessly
    Thegrandwazoo and lowdownthump like this.
  6. I have a Jazz Player 5 (my main player right now) and a Sterling Ray 35. Both are great basses. Even though the Jazz is my main player now, that may change (has before and will again). I'm fickle that way. Love the tone on the Ray 35. Not a huge fan of the string spacing. Love the string spacing on the Jazz, find I'm limited on tone (even with the Active EQ). Funk, etc better on the 35, Country and Rock seems to be better on the Jazz. Love the quality of the Ray 35, the Jazz, it's ok but for an MIM.
  7. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Good point. ... Leo designed the Stingray to be a modern P-bass. ... The Sterling (EB) was a P-bass with a J-bass neck profile. ... Leo designed Fender basses (and guitars) to be inter-changeable. ... So, at anytime if you found the perfect Fender neck from the 50's, 60's, 70's you could put it on any, P or J, body you wished. ... I guess you could do that with MM basses but, do people bother? ... I look at the P and J bass as two different instruments. ... The Stingray and Sterling, as to the 'original' design, are pretty much the same instrument, except for the neck profile.
    byoung93888 and Dr. Cheese like this.
  8. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I believe, and don't quote me on this, but I believe... that the Sterling has a slightly smaller body than the Stingray. To be honest the last time I played either is so long ago I don't remember the difference. Though I do remember playing Stingrays and a Sterling here and there in music shops. I remember both of them feeling just totally huge though, for some reason.....

    Dr. Cheese and Acoop like this.
  9. I had a Ray for a minute. I was going to give a bass to my son and it was a choice between
    the Ray and a P bass.

    I gave him the Ray.

    It's close at hand if I need to scratch that ich though :)
    foolforthecity and Flaked Beans like this.
  10. Sterling HH any day. Versatile, lots of presence.
    Thegrandwazoo, Dr. Cheese and Tubehed like this.
  11. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I love a stingray tone more, but it can be a bit aggressive for the music I play a lot now. With a jazz, it sounds great and fits without effort.

    I have been playing my P a lot recently, but think I prefer stingray and jazz over it tone-wise.

    I just really like basses in general, all sorts...I rarely discriminate.

    What was the question?
  12. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    For me, it's basses are tools and they go with certain bands.
    Country and/or R&B is P or P/J land. I don't have a current country gig, but I still prefer a P pretty much as a #1, and just always have to have one of those around.
    For my Zeppelin band, I need a 62 sunburst jazz (mine is a MIJ reissue, but still directionally correct to do JPJ justice)
    For my startup/unofficial rock band (the one that COVID killed on the vine), a Stingray would go well, likewise a T-bird, or Rick, or something with more gnarl to it. Since that band is going nowheres, I'm selling my Stingray 4HH in the classifieds as we speak.
    If that band somehow resurrects, I know I can get one again at pretty much any time, always Stingrays out on the market.

    shameless plug of my "for sale" thread:
  13. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    I LOVE how my SR5 plays and sounds and I also LOVE how a slapped Jazz Bass sounds and how most Jazz basses beg to be beaten to a pulp.

    That being said, I’d never in a million years purchase a Fender Jazz or really any other J bass shaped bass. I despise how the body sits on my body. One of the most uncomfortable instrument shapes I’ve ever played.
    Giffro and Wood and Wire like this.
  14. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Given the body size, pickup and electronics are the same. ... I was real close to buying a 94 Sterling but, something decided me against it, and now thinking back it could have been the body. ...
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  15. Manticore


    Feb 27, 2016
    Different horses for different courses. Probably best own both.
  16. Tubehed


    Oct 27, 2011
    As others have pointed out, they are very different animals. If I could only have one, it would be a HH Ray. Two pups, 5-way switch, 3 band eq. The classic Stingray tone with a lot more options. Tough choice, though. J basses are great!
    byoung93888 and Dr. Cheese like this.
  17. Valvehead


    Jun 21, 2020
    Opinions... Am I being antisocial if I say I don't give a hoot what other bassists think is good?
    Why have one or the other. You simply need and should want both. Change is the spice of life but addition will make you whole!
    byoung93888 likes this.
  18. BradH

    BradH Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2010
    Billings, Mt
    I have had a 1996 Sterling since 2001. Will never sell it. 9 lbs. even, low action & cuts through the mix great.
    I have a couple of jazz's too. A DJ4 & Will Lee 4.
    Love them all.
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  19. jbhaugh

    jbhaugh Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2018
    ABQ, NM, USA
    The single/parallel/series switch on the Sterling is awesome, and I like the body style and the neck better than a SR. Right there with ya, Doc.
    Thegrandwazoo likes this.
  20. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2001
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Neither is better, they are both unique and wonderful sounds that take years to find a place in our hearts...
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    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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