S.U.B. SB4 review by Sterling by Music Man

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (8 votes)
Sterling by Music Man: S.U.B. SB4

Purchased from: local guitar shop

Features — 9
Must be brand new because I bought it new. My first ever brand new bass guitar. It says it was made in Indonesia. It includes Humbucker pickup (I don't know if they are actual hambuckers or not but look and sound like them).

- Made from solid hardwood bodies with a 34 full scale maple neck
- 21 Medium jumbo frets
- Satin tinted neck finish
- Narrow 38 mm nut width for easy play especially if you have small hands or a younger player, maple or rosewood fret board (although I wish they had a black colour bass with rosewood instead of maple) 
- 2 band onboard active preamp, cut & boost (with volume)
- Large heavy duty bass bridge with full adjustments
- Easy access truss rod adjuster
- 6 bolt super strong neck joint
- Non-locking tuners 
- Battery included. 
- No gig bag included, or cables, straps tool, just the bass and a big box.

Sound — 10
I play metal, rock, funk and acoustic music. I use a Zoom bass pedal, Ashdown Electric Blue 180. You can a wide variety of tones very easily and quickly without a pedal. The bass excels in funk and rock. Sounds include a nice warm sound perfect for an like acoustic sound, (like "Californication," RHCP) to a punchy bright sound (like "Longview," Green Day) to a deep reggae like sound (like "I Shot the Sheriff," Bob Marley) to more aggressive tone (like "Take the Power Back," Rage Against the Machine) and heavy metal sound (like "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Metallica).

A good all-rounder bass for sound. Easy enough to create your own tone or mimic others. It does a little hum. No need to use a pedal to get a wonderful tone like some basses but with a pedal sounds even better. Overall the sound is pure, thick and versatile.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar shop set it up for me before I got there so I don't know what they did or if they did anything. The setting was perfect for my style, action was low, pick ups adjusted nicely, ready to play straight off the bat. No flaws or dings. The finish, walnut satin, looked great and still does. The body shape and style makes for a comfortable play. 

4 string does come in only few colours, black with black pick guard and maple fret board. White or blue or red or walnut satin (dark natural brown) all with black pick guard and rosewood fingerboard. 5 string comes with even less colours which are sunburst, black or walnut satin all with black pick guard and rosewood fingerboard. I went with walnut. Looks amazing.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Sterling basses are meant to last, and this one was built very well. Straps button solid, body wood sturdy, neck unmoving, tuner pegs nice and tight so you have to move them a bit to change the notes which is good because if it is too loose can be difficult to get the right note while tuning, electronic sound good for a long time, it is an active bass so you'll will have replace the battery every 6 or so months depending on play but since changing battery is really simple and battery cost next to nothing it is no bother.

It is not too heavy but is lighter than a Musicman Stringray. Even with a thin strap the bass does not weigh too much. It a weighty but not heavy so seems like it won't break if you would to drop it. But on the other hand, it isn't light like a toy. You could definitely stand up or have it on your lap for hours and not be in pain. It is definitely perfect for gigs, home practise, recording and band practising.

Overall Impression — 10
I had a 2nd hand Stagg bass for years which looked good, played great but sounded limited and broken numerous times. Instead of fixing it every 2 years or so, I wanted an upgrade. I didn't know much about basses when I bought the first one, few years later I know more so I want the perfect bass for me, so had to be critical and to choose wisely. 

I had many alternatives in local music stores and online within my price range of £300 such as Squire Jazz Bass, Washburn T24 Taurus, Epiphone Thunderbird and an Ibanez (can't remember which one) all which had their imperfections for me. I was looking for anything under £300 mark but struggled.

For example Squire Jazz are bulky and sound good but not great and I dislike the look but play well and good valve £240ish. Washburn are right sized, great style, look great, sound good, good valve £280ish but I couldn't play before buying so I was put off. Epiphone was bulky in size and weight, playing style not suitable, sound too limited for my taste, looked great, good valve £240ish. Ibanez was good size, limited sound, ok look, good playing style, ok valve.

So I upped my budget. And bought this bass after a lot of time researching. Reviews online and YouTube helped, such as these two, who can give a good idea of sound, comparisons and other things.

YouTube preview picture
YouTube preview picture

After 30 minutes of playing various things. I got used to the style of playing (as it is very different from the Stagg I owned), it became very easy to play. Good for hammer on/pull offs, slides, slap and pop, finger style, pick style, double thumb slap, only negative I could use is bending notes was a little rough and difficult at first but after a while became easy.

If you're unsure of the tone it gives off, check out people on YouTube there many who own this bass and make video using them. This bassist gets a good rock tone…
YouTube preview picture

and funk tone

YouTube preview picture

Anything I would change, only include a bass bag, sort fret buzz, include more colour variety. In UK where I bought mine the colour choice were only black, white and walnut satin even SUB website said different. 

I love the bass, I would buy it again if it broke. I played actual Musicman Stringray and only few differences I could tell were, weight because the Musicman was a bit heavier, Musicman sounded slightly better but between £1,500ish for a Musicman or £319 for a SUB, I would say that is pretty good and some fret buzzing on the SUB, lack of colour choices and the headstock writing. Overall this bass isn't for everyone, but for a funk or rock bassist I think it is a must have. I would suggest go to local guitar shop, play a Musicman Stringray, see if you like it, save yourself at least £700 and buy it.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date