#1
ERNIE BALL MUSICMAN STINGRAY (FRETLESS)


Here is the favourite bass in my possession, my Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray Fretless. It came to me as a very slightly used consignment instrument (in fact the warranty card was still in the case in a pristine state). I had accompanied a buddy who wanted look at some guitars, and I found this gem in the rack. It was one of those basses that felt good the instant you placed it in your hands. Yes, it was love at first sight and a good deal at 900 USD. (Though I have since been verboten to go to music stores with this particular friend unless I leave the credit cards behind&hellip. Excuse of the quality of some of the pictures; I really need a new camera…




Ever since I saw Christopher Brubreck play a fretless bass, I’d fallen in love with that luscious mwah, that some describe as being close to a human voice. And when a friend loaned me a copy of Japan’s Tin Drum and I heard Mick Karn’s distinctive fretless bass lines, I was hooked for life.

Another full shot:



According to research, the serial number indicates it was a 2004 model. The bass has a vintage sunburst finish with a stock black pickguard, and is 34” scale / 21 frets. The neck is bird’s eye maple and has a pau ferro unlined fretboard. I am not sure of the body wood; I have been told its likely ash (EBs site describes it only as a “select hardwood&rdquo. The neck is bolt on with six bolts. While heavier than my Ibanez, it’s not ungainly and the weight is well distributed. . The neck, while not slim, does have a great fast feel and is a dream to play.

Picture of the Body…



And the back:



The tuners are Schaller BM, with tapered string posts, and it has the stock Musician bridge. The “wheel” truss-rod system makes truss rod adjustments a breeze (though to be honest, I usually leave that to the luthier...)






It sports a single humbucker pickup, with 3-band active preamp - volume, treble, mid, and bass. The overall impact is that the usual ‘mwah’ of a fretless has that growling character of a Musicman, which gives it a nice singing quality. Right now, it’s strung up with flatwounds (for a more traditional jazz sound), but I’ve had roundwounds on this bass and it really voices well as a solo instrument in that scenario. There’s a truly awful sound clip on my profile; I’ll try to get a better one posted soon.



I use this bass to play Jazz, Rock, Alternative (think Japan or Matthew Seligman) and a bit of R and B (i.e. James Jamerson, Duck Dunn). The only issue I have with the bass is that getting the intonation dead on is a bear; much more so than most of the other fretless basses I have played. However, with enough practice, the benefit is that the bass will train your ear, as well as teach you the novel approach of sliding into notes as a technique. I love this bass and don’t regret the impulse buy during that lunch hour visit to the music store. Cheers!
Last edited by anarkee at Mar 1, 2008,
#2
Great job, finally we have a new BOTM. I've wanted to read about this thing ever since you told the forum you bought it.
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#3
Pretty Cool.
You may have a 10 x 10 stack of marshalls and i may only have one, but mine goes to 11.... Beat that
#8
I always like playing unlined fretless instruments - even though my playing is terrible it makes me feel like I'm a proper musician playing a real instrument rather than some punk kid making some noise. Not that there isn't a time and a place for that, of course.
#10
You forgot to post your bass and accidentally posted pictures of your toilet.

No, but seriously, that thing looks gorgeous. I've never quite been a fan of those pickguards, but the colors just look beautiful. I'm jealous.
#11
Quote by Hergiswi
You forgot to post your bass and accidentally posted pictures of your toilet.

No, but seriously, that thing looks gorgeous. I've never quite been a fan of those pickguards, but the colors just look beautiful. I'm jealous.


The pickguard is the only thing that puts me off them. Especially the fivers. But the 20th anniversary Stingray 5er doesn't have the pickguard
#12
Quote by Deliriumbassist
oh Tam, a big tut on the frayed silk on those strings

And I remember someone saying that selects hardwoods may be basswood... I may be lying out my ass there, though.


Yeah those silks have seen better days . And they were futzed with by a fellow bassist with OCD which made it worse....I need a new set of strings soon, but I was too cheap to replace them just for the photo shoot, lol.

On the pickguard. It was about the only thing I wasn't ecstatic about but it grew on me and does give it a bit of a retro look with a twist. And the Stingrays look less like toilets than the Bongos, imho.

Playing unlined is hard, but it does force you to use muscle memory and not your eyes. I still can't learn advanced pieces cold on this bass, but usually have to learn them on the fretted basses and then go to the fretless. My intonation has gotten decent up to the 12 fret, but is a bit dodgy above that. Relying on the open strings to hook your relative pitch is a godsend.
Last edited by anarkee at Mar 1, 2008,
#13
Wow looks like a great instrument.

But for some reason I've never REALLY dug the feel of Rays. I love the sound, but I just cant get the feel. Dunno, they're still great basses.

And inb4fitzbashingofbridgebucker.
#14
*looks at watch* Where the hell is Fitz?

That's a very nice Stinger by the way, I really have GAS now
Quote by skater dan0
Damn you and your ninja-like modding
#15
I'm sorry... I just really don't understand the appeal of unlined. I mean... if you put little white lines on the neck, it's still a fretless! I guess I'm just too practical to be a Romantic...

Regardless, that is indeed a beautiful looking (and I'm sure sounding) instrument. I've never gotten to play a fretless Stingray, but I've heard of it basically how you described it.

Now imagine if you went HH with it. It would be like a giant tonal labyrinth, at the center of which is the coolest sound EVER.
Les Claypool
Geddy Lee
Robert DeLeo
Flea

Weileder

...Coincidence? I think not.
#16
I've had my eye on a fretted one for a while, if only I had money...

I'm so jealous, they're definitely the best looking bass around.
#17
Very nice bass Tam! I've been GASing for a fretless and for a Stingray again recently and this bass makes me want both of them combined into one bass!

On the "select hardwood" thing, as far as I know, Stingrays are all made from ash. It's the Bongos that are made from basswood.
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#18
Quote by smb
I always like playing unlined fretless instruments - even though my playing is terrible it makes me feel like I'm a proper musician playing a real instrument rather than some punk kid making some noise. Not that there isn't a time and a place for that, of course.


+ 1

Quote by IndianRockStar
Wow looks like a great instrument.

But for some reason I've never REALLY dug the feel of Rays. I love the sound, but I just cant get the feel. Dunno, they're still great basses.


also +1

but that bass looks soo nice, I miss my cheap and tatty fretless, even if I couldn't play it

but that Stinger is another league entirely, and I think it looks amazing, and nothing like a toilet
Quote by the humanity
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#19
Quote by skippy_moogoose
but that Stinger is another league entirely, and I think it looks amazing, and nothing like a toilet

I totally agree, the bongo is the one that reminds me of a toilet, and only vaguely.

*ahem* Why isn't this stickied yet?
Quote by PatMcRotch
The term grammer nazi is from the camps in the lolocaust made by Adrofl Hitlol...


Quote by Wasted Bassist
Be sure to rape the blue note (augmented 4th). Rape it hard and exploit it like the skank it is.


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#20
Ooooh. I'm liking that finish. Just... not the whole "Stingray" part.

Stingrays have never really appealed to me, but that one came close to it.
#21
this looks like a great bass..i just dont think i could do the unlines jsut yet.... there is a fretless stingray 5 at a music store around me ive had my eye on bt its like $1700 CA


Quote by Deliriumbassist
The pickguard is the only thing that puts me off them. Especially the fivers. But the 20th anniversary Stingray 5er doesn't have the pickguard


i took the pick guard off mine and it looks so much better i think..but now there is alot more room between the body and the strings

when Moses brought down the plagues upon Egypt one of them involved Behringer amps


Dont be so humble, your not that great....
Last edited by Narcotics at Mar 2, 2008,
#22
very sweet bass. does it have dot markers on the side of the fretboard? just curious.
EBMM makes some of the best production basses available. thank you, Leo. lol
#23
Quote by 83lespaulstudio
very sweet bass. does it have dot markers on the side of the fretboard? just curious.


Yes, it does otherwise I'd be really hopeless in playing this baby. But the trick on this bass is the fret markers are almost where the correct pitch for the fret is--I find I have to land just a smidge beyond the mark to be dead on.
#24
tam even as the resident stingray hater i have to say that bass looks fantastic
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#25
I would tap that like a drunk fat nerd taps a keyboard...

Actually, that's a lie. I played a Stingray 5 the other day, and I was not impressed in the slightest.

Send that over here and see if you can change my mind?
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#26
About the wood thing, I heard that solid finishes are alder and trans are ash. To me, that DEFINITELY looks like ash. It has a very distinct grain, and both my Fender basses have it, while my Strat doesn't.

I always loved the sunburst/black PG on Stingrays. Oddly enough, on Fenders, I don't like it.

But yeah, that thing makes me miss proper fretless playing more than ever. My "5-string upright" is... not cutting it. Although it DOES sound decent through my setup.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#27
I dont like the sound of fretless basses but, it looks really good! I love the look of Musicman basses, too bad they're so damn expensive =/
Gear:

Guitars:
PRS SE Fredrik Åkesson
Schecter C-1 Custom FR
Schecter C-1 Plus
Schecter Damien Elite 7
Epiphone Les Paul Ultra II
Fender acoustic

Bass: Harley Benton HBB400TBK

Amp: Peavy valveking 112
Line6 POD HD500
#28
wow, great looking bass you got there. Personally, i've always been really intimidated by fretless basses (even though i played upright for a bit), but really cool. I'm getting a musicman soon, a used SUB, so im excited to join the club. thanks for sharing! oh and congratulations on modship! and happy belated birthday! everything is going your way it seems.
Quote by skater dan0
...and the bassist comes up to the EQ and moves all the sliders into the typical smiley face pattern and in a really thick Jamaican accent said "you can't have de bass without de smiley face"
#29
Thanks--March has indeed been kind to me so far.

My bass teacher plays both upright and electric bass, and he mentioned once that upright is easier to hit the intonation correctly than a fretless, esp an unlined one.

On the SUB. They are quite nice basses, much better sounding and playing than their OLP counterparts. Congrats on the new MM!
#30
Love the color scheme on that. Ive only been able to hold a Stinger because it was too expensive to try I guess. I asked for a Stinger and they said "how bout a (epi) T bird?" since they had quite a few in stock. As in like 2 or 3 on the floor alone in a place about the size of a living room.

Anyways, congrats on the bass (even though I know Im really late on that) and anything else that Im missing (I.e. modship).
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#32
Thats a fab bass.

About the woods, I've done my homework...from 2005, all musicman basses are ash, except bongos which are basswood. Before then, ash was used mainly on trans finishes, alder on everything else. SUB basses were made of poplar, and so were some stingrays in the 90s.
#34
Very nice... although once you switch to the double humbucker option you look at S-Rays in a new light, and with the frets off: you could get a lovely sound with a neck pickup soloed... but your bass not mine, perhaps its more fretless growl you're after and have found...
#36
i never really cared for the stingrays as well until i actualy bought one it was my favorite for about a year but i've been stuck on my jaguar lately i just love the tone i get out of it right now but i still go back to my stingray its my ol faithfull
#37
Quote by FbSa
Must have... Must have... *Runs to door, but quickly remebers that I have no money* Dang.


Must have... Must have... *Runs to door, but quicky remembers that I chose my F instead of the Stingray*. Daaaaaang.
#38
Would I be a turd for saying i wasn't that impressed by the EBMM Stingray? My local music shop just got two in, one 4 string and one 5, and I wasn't bonkers for either. I get better tone out of my pimped Mexican Jbass....
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#39
EB Musicman's aren't for everyone. They have a really distinctive sound and feel. People either love them or hate them; there's really no middle ground.
#40
Distinctive feel? Definately. I got some fret buzz playing the one I played because it felt so different from my J-Bass and my Stiletto 5.

Distinctive sound? I disagree. The warm tone was decent on the Stingray, but the treble pitches were similar to what my JBass sounded before I got better strings. Wasn't that impressed. But yes, the warm settings were nice....
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