I have long been a big fan of the MusicMan Stingray bass and it seems like I always have one around the house because I think they are the best bolt-neck production basses on the market. So, this seems like a good opportunity to look over the 2011 Stingray that I recently picked up.
The Stingray bass was designed by Leo Fender and Tom Walker, and it was introduced in 1976. It was originally available only as a 4-string with a single humbucker pickup, a two band equalizer, and active electronics. This was one of the earliest productions basses with an active pre-amplifier, if not the first. This gave it more output and a more aggressive sound than the competition.
Ever since Ernie Ball Strings bought the MusicMan brand in the 1980s, there has been a constant improvement in features and options available for the Stingray, including: contoured bodies, improved neck joints, better truss rod ergonomics, and more than enough electronics and pickup configurations. But I am a simple man, and I still prefer a plain-old Stingray with a single humbucker pickup and the 2-band or 3-band (like this one) equalizer. And that is why this bass appeals to me so much - because it is pretty close to the way it was originally intended to be.
As I said before, this Stingray was built in 2011, and it is finished in a glossy black, like a lot of these are. This one has a contoured hardwood body with a six-bolt neck joint (for extra special sturdiness and sustain). It has has had a gentle life, so it is still in terrific shape.
The neck is a peach. It is true, and the truss rod works freely (you have to love the easy to adjust trussrod wheel). It has a nice-looking rosewood fretboard, and the 21 high-profile frets are still in good shape. The back of the neck is finished in gunstock oil and wax, which always feels as smooth as silk, though it does show dirt more. This one has a compensated nut, which I am unable to hear any intonation difference from, but someone with a good ear might…
The original hardware is all there, which includes the Schaller BM tapered post tuners and the high-mass bridge. I love the way the bridge bolts so solidly to the body on these basses. It is not a Classic model, so it does not have the string mutes, but I am not sure how many people actually use those things anyway.
The electronics are also unmolested, with the original single humbucker pickup and 3-band preamp. Stingrays have punch to spare, making them fabulous funk or rock basses. This is a well-made bass. The finish is perfect and the frets are simply gorgeous. I strung it up with some new regular gauge Slinkies, dropped the action a little, and It plays well and sounds magnificent, just like every other Stingray I have ever owned. As a bonus, it is relatively light (for a Stingray, that is), coming it at a little under 9 1/2 pounds. All bass players should own one of these at least once in their career.