Thursday, August 18, 2011

2004 MusicMan Stingray 4 Bass


Today we are looking at one of the few basses that I currently have that is equipped with active electronics: a 2004 Ernie Ball MusicMan Stingray bass.

In case your head has been stuck in the sand for the last 35 years, the Stingray bass was designed by Leo Fender and was introduced in 1976. It has a Precision Bass body shape, and the neck profile and nut width are just about the same too.

It was initially available only as a 4-string with a single humbucker pickup, a two band equalizer, and active electronics. The Stingray was one of the earliest production basses with an active pre-amp, if not the first. This gave it more output and a more aggressive sound than the competition.

The MusicMan brand was bought by the Ernie Ball company in 1984, and since then there has been a continually evolution of the Stingray, including: contoured bodies, stronger neck joints, improved truss rod access, and different EQ and pickup configurations (including a piezo). Also, the necks on most basses are finished in gunstock oil and wax, while the classic models have a poly finish on the neck.

This one was made in 2004, so it has all of these improvements including the 3-band equalizer, though it retains the single humbucker pickup configuration. It is all original, except for the pickguard (originally black, new tort, back to black again). I do love black basses with tort guards, though…

I got it from a guy on Talkbass, and the only gripes I have about it are things that he did not bother to tell me about, like a nasty ding on the edge of the fretboard at the second fret. That and that he was stupid enough to put the spare pickguard in the case so that it would rub again the paint on the back of the body for its trip across the country to me.

Aside from that, it plays very well, and sounds great with roundwound strings. I have been playing P basses with flats lately, and it took some adjusting to go back to an active bass with rounds.

Amazingly, seven years later the frets are still level with nice edges, and just show a little wear. I have been reborn and now enjoy fatter necks, so this one feels very natural to me (as long as I remember not to catch my hand on that nasty aforementioned ding).

It is a bit stout, coming in at about 10.5 pounds, but I am willing to put up with it because it is a nice bass. Apparently I am still a MusicMan fan boy.


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