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The Sterling tone and Ray tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tupac, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    Is there any difference between the tone of these two instruments? If so, what makes them different?
  2. boristhespider9


    Sep 9, 2008
    Search the forum. Discussed many times.

    Main difference is that the Sterling (and I hope you're talking about a US made one, not "Sterling by Music Man") uses ceramic pickups. They are a bit more modern soundind and definitely much louder and more powerful than the alnico pickups used in the Stingray. The alnico pickups are a bit warmer and more vintage sounding. In my opinion, the Sterling has more sustain than the Stingray. Also, one is wired in series and one in parallel, which again makes the Sterling louder/more aggressive. Ed Friedland discusses this in his YouTube review of the Sterling 5 string.

    The necks are significantly different. The Sterling is 1.5 at the nut and thinner than the Stingray. It also has one more fret. Very comfortable. The Stingray is more like a P-Bass neck. You can get the Stingray SLO Special which is a Stingray with a Sterling profile neck (still not exactly a Sterling neck, but very comfortable and 1.5 at the nut).
  3. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    You want a comparison of the two basic single pickup models?

    The Ray, in general, has more highs and lows, more of a scooped sound. The Sterling has more mids.

    Now, I have always thought they sound much more alike than different, and in a band context very few could tell you which was which. Plus, with that EQ on there, you can get both to sound pretty much like anything you want.

    I would buy the one that had the neck that felt best to me. The necks are very different.
  4. XtheDeadPawn


    May 24, 2008
    I think the Ray has more of a high personally the sterling I think is pretty low but, then again I fiddled with the knobs so I can't accurately tell you for sure.

    Might I suggest to also look into a ATK? They are rather heavy instruments so you can be sure they carry alot of low end atleast that's my perception the heavier the bass the more bass it has and every Ernie Ball bass I picked up felt way lighter than my Ibanez ATK305 bass.
  5. The Sterling has always sounded a little brighter and little more 'modern' to me, something I'd attribute to the magnet material. Mind you, you'll notice it in the studio but not neccessarily on stage so it's not something to get too hung up on!
  6. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    It depends on how picky/selective you are. To the bass nerds who argue over the difference in the two and thee band Stingrays, and the difference in rosewood and maple, the Sterling and Stingray sound nothing alike. To those who think the Big Al middle pickup sounds like a Fender Precision, the Sterling and Ray are practically indistinguishable. Personally, I think the Stingray has a more open fat tone than the Sterling which is more compressed and midrangy.

    BTW, the single pickup Sterling has a switch that allows for series, parallel or single coil settings.
  7. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
    The sterlings are like 9 pounds and the rays are 11 ish
  8. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    I played two back to back at a local music shop a few months ago, and alls I remember is liking the sound of the Sterling better. Seemed much more "alive" than the Stingray I tried.

    No idea what particular models they were, but I think they were both over $1000.
  9. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Rays average around 10 pounds.
  10. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006

    This could have been nothing more than string condition.
  11. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    True enough.

    Are the preamps the same in both?
  12. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    No, although I'm not sure of the technical differences. The Stingray definitely sounds a little warmer to my ears than a Sterling, and I attribute that to the pickup/preamp differences.
  13. boristhespider9


    Sep 9, 2008
    I own both a Sterling and a Stingray SLO Special (each with Humbucker/Single Coil HS) and with all the settings set similarly the Sterling is significantly louder and more aggressive or "alive," I guess. The controls on the Sterling also make much more of an impact over the sound compared to the Stingray. For example, if I boost the bass knob all the way up on the Stingray, the difference is mild. If I do the same on my Sterling, the bass becomes thunderous. That doesn't make one better than the other, but the preamp and pickups on the Sterling are both more powerful and sensitive. However, my Stingray SLO Special looks cooler because of the more traditional body shape. Anyway, we can go on and on...just go try them. And consider whether you want a neck pickup (HH or HS) on which to rest your thumb.

    If you want to hear an entire album recorded with a Sterling HS, go here and listen (or buy on iTunes) The Steel Chops - welcome home choppers
  14. BowserBass


    Jan 18, 2012
    Just wondering r u the bass player for this band? would love to know how much the player used the S pickup
  15. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    HS on Sterlings or Rays kicks butt!

    Really adds some options to the sound.


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