Thursday, August 5, 2010

MusicMan Month: 20th Anniversary Stingray 5

The MusicMan Stingray 5 bass was introduced in 1987. It has to be one of the most popular 5-string basses out there, and it seems like every country band I have ever seen has a bassist that uses one.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of this model, in 2007 MusicMan issued a limited edition anniversary edition. Many consider these to be the finest 5-string basses that the company has ever produced. Only around 335 of these were built.

The 20th Anniversary SR5 was available with a single or double humbuckers, as well as a humbucker/single coil combination. All of the available pickups used alnico magnets. They were also available fretted or fretless, and with maple, rosewood or Pau Ferro (fretless only) fretboards.

Besides the pickup changes, the pre-amp was also voiced differently. And to round out the functional changes, these basses got a mahogany tone block, as well as a slightly different body contour and a five-bolt neck to improve upper fret access. These basses play very well, and have a much deeper sound than a regular Stingray 5.

Visually, these basses are real lookers. They received figured maple tops, and all almost all of them were finished in the translucent California Sunset finish

Of course, everything else on these basses, such as the hardware and craftsmanship, meets the high standards that MusicMan basses have had since Ernie Ball bought them out in the mid-1980s.

These basses came in a custom G&G hard case, complete with a 20th anniversary emblem inside. The list price was around $3000, so they were pretty spendy when they were new. Nowadays, you can find them for pretty reasonable prices on eBay.

This is one that I got from a friend on the Ernie Ball forums. It weighs in at around 10 pounds 5 ounces, and is a joy to play except for one small problem: I do not play 5-string basses. I may never learn this lesson.

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