Ray35 review by Ernie Ball / Music Man

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (12 votes)
Ernie Ball / Music Man: Ray35

Price paid: C$ 860

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Sound — 9
This bass fits perfectly with some of the music I am playing, it doesn't lend itself well to funk and alternative, though it is perfect for rock and metal - especially progressive like with Dream Theater (probably because John Myung uses a Bongo). Regardless, it will give you a very punchy sound that works well with certain genres. The bass on this instrument is surprisingly full - especially with the low B string, the highs are bright and the mids are "punchy". Unfortunately it has none of the versatility of something like a P/J bass would. That being said this bass does what it does well, extremely well.

Overall Impression — 9
Since I am mostly playing rock, metal, and progressive, this bass works perfectly with where my interests lie. The 5th string is extremely helpful to me, especially for ease of movement and the extended range (Partially the reason I bought the Ray 35 instead of the Ray 34). I honestly love this bass guitar, though as I mentioned, it is extremely heavy; The sound that it produces more than makes up for that. I also forgot to mention, the strings are close together for a 5 string (17.5 mm) and makes it very much like playing a 4 string, very easy to transition from string to string. Apart from the few flaws I found in it, it really is an incredible instrument. It captures the Stingray sound I love, while keeping my wallet happy at the same time.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I plan to play live shows with this bass in the future and it seems like one beast of a bass guitar. I'll be buying a wider strap in the near future as well because my shoulder can't seem to stand playing for 15 minutes standing up with this thing around me. All of the hardware seems perfect as well, it seems only time will tell when reviewing hardware. The strap buttons also seem very good, solid like most everything else. The finish, as I mentioned seems perfect, I have no worries about that either.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Unfortunately this is one section where I have a problem with the bass - probably resulting from being built in Indonesia. When I started playing the bass, the action was setup terribly. There was a lot of fret buzz, up to around the 7th fret on each string. Fortunately, I got a free setup with Long & McQuade so it wasn't too big of an issue. I also noticed a small crack in the pick guard because of a screw being screwed in too tight. It wouldn't be hard to buy a new pick guard, and it doesn't bother me very much, but when buying a new, near $1000 instrument, there shouldn't be small flaws like that. Everything else however was perfect, no issues with anything other than what I mentioned.

Features — 10
I bought this Ray 35 in the beginning of July after ordering it from Long & McQuade (luckily enough it didn't take 4 months to come in). It was built in Indonesia in 2011 and inspected in California. It has a swamp ash wood body and a very thick finish - The woods grain looks beautiful and it has a perfect natural finish.

This bass comes with a 3 band preamp which allows for a decent amount of versatility when used with the tone selector (which has 3 settings for the pickup, series, series with a filter, and parallel). I'm not big on the tuning knobs which are fashioned in a clover design though they are tight and the bass holds tune very well. The bridge is solid as one would expect from Music Man; I also like how it hides the loops at the ends of the strings. It also came with a very nice heavy duty gig bag. Overall I was impressed in the quality of construction as well as the materials used.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    cant go wrong with a musicman! and thats just a fact i use musicmans for all types of music jazz/post rock/bluesy rock/instrumental/hip hop and so on. im a tone junkie and these things produce TONE out the ass, so i give it a 9.5 in tone alone.