SUB series Sterling by Music Man? What am I Looking at?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by B-Mac, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    I just keep getting confused on this.
    This popped up at a good price. But after reading about EBMM and EBMM SUB Series and Sterling by Music Man I really just am not sure about what this actually is. So some help would be appreciated. This is selling for $200

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    What I Understand:
    EBMM made in USA
    EBMM SUB also made in USA out of somewhat lesser quality items and only in certain finishes
    Sterling by Music Man is made in Asia not necessarily China?

    Here is the sellers description:
    About This Listing
    Don't sleep on this one! Super hot pre, pushes really nicely.
    Smaller body style than SUB with control panel plate.
    I believe this was a GC exclusive when they were sold.
    Exceptionally solid bass for the price, it sounds like an MM.
    Dunlop Dual Design strap buttons

    Brand Sterling
    Model SUB by Sterling/Music Man SB4
    Categories 4-String
    Made In China

    I want to know what it really is.

    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Bootlegger guitars : S.I.T. Strings Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Florida USA
    It’s a Sterling by Musicman
    Sterling body shape , not stingray

    basically an SUB ray4 with a sterling body shape
    I think they’re out of production
    tindrum, eriky4003 and B-Mac like this.
  3. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    MM has the most confusing brand naming scheme possible, it seems to me.
    Winton, tindrum, rockdoc11 and 9 others like this.
  4. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    I have to agree. Keeps me from buying any.
  5. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  6. beatdatthang


    Aug 29, 2011
    It’s definitely worth $200.
  7. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    It is the discontinued Sterling SUB version of the Sterling model, the SB4. The pickups are wired in series as opposed to parallel of the early SUB Rays so it's less mid-centric than the Ray, also the obvious difference of a smaller still has the Ray punch and all though. Very good bass that's worth the $200 if in good condition.
  8. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    It's really not that confusing once you get to know their product range.

    There's basically 3 ranges of products:

    - the cheapest line - used to have a big SUB logo on the headstock, now they all have SBMM Stingray on the headstock (Ray4 and Ray5 models).

    - the "mid range" - Ray34 and Ray35. Again, the new models now sport "Stingray" on the headstock and they even come with roasted maple. The pickup cover still differs from the USA EBMM Stingrays as they're flat (no ears).

    - EBMM stuff - obviously, top of the line, made in USA stuff.

    There's a few more variations here, like Ray24CA/Ray25CA being somewhere in between the cheapest and mid range line, the old USA SUB stuff (still top notch USA quality) and Japanese EX models (basically the same as USA, same parts, just outsourced to Japan for domestic sales due to cheaper import), etc.
    jd56hawk and eriky4003 like this.
  9. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    It’s also worth mentioning that the current SBMM line consists of StingRays only, as the SB4 and its pricier sibling, the SB14 are long discontinued.
  10. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    True, Sterling models (as in, the type of bass, not the brand) are discontinued from the import line.
  11. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    So where does what i posted fall into your description?

    the headstock indicates SUB SERIES then has Sterling by Music Man at the tip of the headstock

    the SUB threw me off because I thought that was only used on the old EBMM USA basses
  12. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    It’s true that EBMM put out a line of basses under the SUB name, but the most inexpensive part of the SBMM lineup also used the SUB moniker.

    The USA SUBs had a poplar body, painted neck, simpler hardware, and a textured paint job. Electronically, however, they were identical to the StingRay, which was what made them so prized. They were discontinued in 2006, as production costs were too high.

    The SBMM SUB line consisted of the Ray4 and Ray5, as well as the SB4. The Ray4 and 5 were budget version StingRay-type basses, and the SB4 was a budget version of the EBMM Sterling, but as has been mentioned was also discontinued some years ago. The SBMM StingRay-type SUBs are alive and well, and still being made. The «SUB» on the headstock has been toned down quite a bit (possibly to avoid this sort of confusion), but it’s still there in the form of a very small «SUB SERIES» legend beneath the logo.

    But what you’re looking at here is a SBMM SUB SB14 manufactured in China by Praxis instruments, under licence from EBMM. It’s actually a very good bass for the money.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  13. mouthmw


    Jul 19, 2009
    Oh, sorry, should have been a bit more precise. Sterling by Music Man (the import brand) SUB series is the cheapest one. SBMM brand are all the imports.

    Ernie Ball Music Man SUB were the USA SUB brand, no longer made.
    B-Mac likes this.
  14. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    I bought a 330. SUB 5 of some kind, made in Indonesia because I played it. GC had lots of these with the black/blond classic color, and based on the name only I would have avoided it, but it's playability and sound are outstanding. Great neck! I later bought one of the Caramel colored Ray5 which was like 550., the preamp isn't quite as hot. That's the one issue, the cheep one can't be used with overdrives or many effects but sounds Great direct into a combo which is the most likely scenario for a beginner. Loud and bassy from the start.

    I strung the SUB with Labella low tension flats and it's a perfect match...their output is lower than the rounds I use and the flats work with the PUNCH of a Stingray. The Ray 5 has DR Pure Blue nickle alloy.
    Scale wise the Asian basses are a bit smaller than the originals, and I prefer it. I was surprised because I always found American Stingrays to be too trebbly in general but these Sterlings could do reggae using the tone controls of the overkill preamp.
    EatS1stBassist and B-Mac like this.
  15. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

  16. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    mouthmw likes this.
  17. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

  18. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    So the seller is not correct in saying this is an SB4, it is actually an SB14 which is a bit better?
  19. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Also, where do the OLP MM basses fit in?
  20. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    The older versions, the one you're interested in, had SUBpar pickups and preamps.
    Not an unplayable bass, but many people modded them to make them sound better.
    There's a reason Sterling makes these now.
    It's not an SB-14, though.
    The Sterling SB14 has a basswood body that delivers warm tone with great sustain. Like the Music Man model, the smaller body is comfortable and easy to hold during long gigs. It features a Music Man-designed active preamp that is dead quiet and allows precise cut/boost control of bass, mid, and treble frequencies. The Music Man-designed bridge has thick saddles for stability and precise slotting that guarantees no sideways string movement during heavy playing.

    SB Series bass pickups utilize a 3rd hidden coil for hum cancellation. You can also switch from single-coil or humbucking mode and get all the tonal goodness without the hum and noise.
    Note the toggle switch.
    OLP Guitars was a guitar building company that marketed licensed replicas of famous models by other makers. The company's name stands for "Officially Licensed Product". OLP worked with MusicMan and other companies. OLP was a subsidiary of Hanser Holdings International.

    I prefer the OLP copies, myself...passive and matching headstocks.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
    BradH and B-Mac like this.
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