Monday, March 21, 2011

Ernie Ball MusicMan SLO Special Stingray Bass


Como estas?

Today I have dragged out some photos of a 2009 MusicMan Stingray SLO Special bass. You may ask: “What’s so special about it?” In a nutshell, it is the neck.

The Stingray Bass has been made since 1976, with numerous improvements and refinements over the years, particularly after Ernie Ball bought MusicMan in the early 1980s. But, one thing that never changed was the neck profile.

And this was a problem for some bassists who did not care for the Stingray’s beefy P-bass neck profile. MusicMan does make the Sterling bass, which has the narrower Jazz Bass profile neck with a 1.5-inch nut. But the Sterling is a smaller bass that does not sound like a Stingray, so what to do?

How about taking a Sterling neck and putting it on the Stingray body? Wouldn’t that be special?

Well, that is exactly what they did. The named it “SLO Special” as homage to San Luis Obispo, California where MusicMan guitars and basses are built. They were introduced in 2009 with little fanfare and no advertising support, so chances are good that not many bassists even know these exist, which is a shame.

Other than the neck, everything else on the bass is pure Stingray. It has all of the high-quality appointments you would expect from MusicMan, including Schaller tuners, the solidly attached bridge, a 6-bolt neck joint, quiet electronics and tons of craftsmanship.

The SLO Special pictured here was made in 2009, and is all original. It is finished in glossy black poly (with a tort guard!) and there are no finish flaws that I could find. The neck pocket fit is very tight and the fretwork is perfect.

This one has a single humbucking pickup and the 2-band equalizer, which is my preferred configuration for the Stingray.

An unexpected surprise with this bass was that it came in at around 8 ½ pounds, which is very light for a Stingray.

I had it set up with Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinkies (.045 to .105), and it was a really smooth player but I eventually traded it off so I could get one of the new Stingray Classic models. I actually prefer the beefier neck of the regular Stingrays…

If you want to buy one of these new, you had better start saving up. New Stingrays have a list price of $2300 and a street price of $1645. Or if you are not super picky about condition, you can buy them used on eBay all day long for $900.

Mahalo!

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