Friday, May 6, 2016

Sterling by MusicMan Ray34CAFL Bass Review


Today we are looking at a very nice Sterling by MusicMan Ray34CAFL fretless bass guitar. For those of you that are not familiar with the brand, here is a little background of this MusicMan bass copy:

If you have been shopping lately you know that MusicMan instruments are pretty expensive, and are financially out of reach for many beginning musicians. In an effort to provide reasonably priced quality instruments to this crowd, the Ernie Ball Company made a deal with Praxis to sell imported versions of popular MusicMan guitars and basses. They named the brand “Sterling by MusicMan”, which is confusing as there was already a MusicMan Sterling bass on the market. Oh well!

Sterling instruments are very good and are made from nice woods, and are equipped with good quality hardware and electronics. They are made in Indonesia, and are inspected and set-up by Praxis in Orange, California.

The bass we have here today is a copy of the MusicMan Stingray. Thank god it is not a copy of the Sterling, because then it would be a Sterling Sterling, if you will. See what I mean about the brand name being confusing?

This one is a recent production Ray, and it is finished in glossy black over its ash body. The body has the same shape and contours as its MusicMan cousin. The paintwork is first rate and the neck and body fit very well together.

All of the hardware is heavily chromed, and is heavy duty, but lacks the MusicMan logos. The tuners hold well, and the high-mass bridge is bolted to the body, just as it would be on the MusicMan version. The 2-band pre-amp and electronics are very good. There is a genuine MusicMan alnico magnet humbucker and this is a very loud bass with an edgy tone, leaving nothing on the table. The 6-bolt neck is good, and it has the Stingray feel down. Of course this one if fretless, so I cannot play it worth a hill of beans, but it is nice. Sterling has adopted the truss rod wheel too, so adjustments are a snap.

This bass is growly as all get out, and it has a smooth and playable neck and action, making it a true winner. The only reason I sold this bass was that right now I prefer narrow jazz-width necks (plus there is that whole fretless thing), so this was not really working for me.

The Sterling Ray34CAFL basses have a list price of $1143 and a minimum advertised price of $720, which is pretty reasonable for a nice bass. But they do not do very well on the resell market, and this is not a lot less than you will pay for a used American-made Musicman that will hold its value forever. So, the choice is yours…


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