Stingray-the most divisive bass sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vanheusen77, May 7, 2021.

  1. Vanheusen77


    Nov 9, 2016
    I find this interesting. Both in real life and from a couple of YouTube comparisons I’ve made it seems that the Stingray is the bass sound that people either love or hate. One of the few instances where someone has asked me to record with a certain sound it was a Ray. On the other hand many people find it annoying and artificial sounding. P or Jazz type basses by comparison most people (especially non bassists) do not really have strong opinions on IMO. Has anyone else noticed this?
  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    For me it depends on the StingRay sound used. Some StingRay sounds I like, some I don't. Pretty much the same with any bass but I think the 3 band preamp on the StingRay can change it's tone dramatically. I'm more a fan of the old style 2 band preamp.
    TrevorG, SJan3, Kestrel and 12 others like this.
  3. In my personal Stingray story, I had two SR’s in ‘94-‘95; fretted and fretless.
    I had the fretted one for 18 years - it was my first “real bass” purchase.
    I started hating how it sounded after having it for about 15 years and eventually sold it in 2012.
    Problem is that every time I play a Stingray now, I frickin love it.
    I hate myself for selling it.

    I feel that I might just buy an SR5 (or an SR5-inspired Warmoth build) as the last bass I ever buy…

    I started to wonder why I hated its tone, and entertained the thought that maybe it was the Ampeg SVT-2 Pro that I hated, and not necessarily the bass…
    I could never get an active bass to sound good through that amp…
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
    Cabrodante likes this.
  4. Vanheusen77


    Nov 9, 2016
    That could be the case. But I still think it has something to do with the general character of the sound. What setting do you usually go for with the 2 band?
  5. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    I don't believe that there's just one Stingray sound any more than I believe that there's just one P-Bass sound.

    Back in the '80s - when everyone *had* to have a Ray - I bought a late '70 piece and couldn't get it out of my house fast enough. Neither the sound nor the neck profile worked for me, at all. Bought a Sabre from the same era and fell in love with it head over heels and kept for for a few years as one of my main basses.

    I don't foresee myself buying a Ray of any kind ever again. But I sure enjoy when other people put these basses to good use.

    My $0.02 only...
  6. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I prefer a deep mid thump with just enough definition. It usually took a combination of the StingRay eq, the amp and maybe my SABDDI. I've since moved on from Rays to other instruments such as a G&L L1K (OMG mode), Fender Mustang PJ LE (P pickup only), and a Hofner Ignition Club (neck pickup only) among others.
  7. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    I am also in this camp. I like hearing other people play them, not me.
  8. bwildt


    Mar 21, 2017
    Wichita, Kansas
    I do like the sound of a Stingray-- but only when it is tamed down a little. That means rolling off the bass and treble a little bit. The result is that nasaly Stingray sound that is not in your face. I took mine to an 18-piece big band rehearsal and was pleasantly surprised at how it fit in. The result was a modern big band sound.

    I also have an Ibanez AGB140 semi-acoustic. 34" scale with a single humbucker near the Stingray pickup position. It is strung with TI flats. It sounds very Stingray-esque in its tone. I like it, too.

    350125g0, DTRN, Tiavarone and 16 others like this.
  9. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    In my experience, many Non-Stingray players associate the bass with aggressive tones that use lots of treble. In my mind, the great Stingrays masters Tony Levin, Bernard Edwards, Louis John, Paul Denman, Pino Pallidino, were good at darkening the bass’ tone. I am no master, but I use a darker tone most of the time on my Sterling.
  10. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    For me personally I would agree with the thread title but not for the reasons stated. When I hear someone else playing a Stingray I’m consistently impressed. I really like the tonality. By comparison, when I play a Stingray I find that I sound awful on them. Maybe awful is too strong but I sound consistently better on a Jazz, for instance. I’ve owned two Stingrays and a Modulus Flea so I’ve certainly tried to make it work.
  11. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    I agree, and TBH I am among the group that does not like the Stringray tone. I realize that is blasphemy to some, I just don't prefer it.
    lowdownthump and Low Commotion like this.
  12. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I like the Stingray sound and it has its ideal use especially when put in the right hands. I have a preference of 2 band over 3 band between the two.
    My current Ray though is the perfect one for me and I would take it over either, it's a passive US EBMM SUB Ray. I wouldn't trade or sell it for anything. It's got a bit of the P bass depth to it but the Ray definition.
  13. Bassclef46


    Feb 1, 2021

    I agree the preamp can sculpt the tone dramatically which is one of the wonderful aspects of a Stringray. I keep the high and mid all the way down and keep the bass at halfway to get that low end thump i love. The nice thing about the Stingray low end is it still has that unique stingray sound.
    leftybass54, dabis and BeyondFiredUp like this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Although mine are all passive, I got a few basses w/ the MM PU at the correct position. If my P or J basses don't work for whatever reason, I use the MM.
    Maxdusty likes this.
  15. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    If the Stingray tone is divisive, I think that says more about today’s society than it says about the Stingray tone.
  16. Katoosie


    Jun 12, 2020
    It depends, there are some variants I do not like but a single H Ray does sound good. Now if only they made a 6 string...

    And yes, the bongo doesn't count :p
    wmmj, Meaculpa, teh-slb and 2 others like this.
  17. spatters


    Mar 25, 2002
    Stingrays slapped, or played with a pick, really cut through the mix...
    ...but that's because the giant humbucker gives the high overtones the famous weird, nasal Stingray tonality.
    That's the divisive part of the Stingray tone.

    If you play a Stingray fingerstyle and don't dime the high end, the nasality doesn't come out, and it just sounds like a mellower J bridge pickup, which is a nice sound that sits well in a lot of mixes.
  18. Hammerfield


    Aug 1, 2016
    Love to hear it... hate to play it
  19. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    From my pov a ray is just an evolutionary step in "standard" (i.e. Leo) bass guitar design, which led directly to the very common HH config on many models today. The ray sound can be aggressive, but it can also be smooth. That's what all the knobs (and right hand technique) are for.

    For me the outliers are hollow/semi-hollow basses, Gibsons with mudbuckers, and Rics. I get their place in rock history, but they're hard to take seriously as tools in the modern bassist's shed, unless you're in an oldies or tribute band. I mean, you can make a clean bass sound muddy or trashy, but the inverse is not true.

    Edit: oh, I think the truly divisive bass is the ABG. I wouldn't touch one with a ten-foot Rickenbacker.:p
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
    Lee Moses, wmmj, Ben Rose and 3 others like this.
  20. Wolfhound32


    Sep 10, 2013
    WA State
    Want to really fluster the easily-excitable?

    Play a Bongo, 4-string, in purple!

    J0ttem, tbz, tubatodd and 1 other person like this.
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