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

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 3
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.2 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.9 (8 votes)
Sterling by Music Man: S.U.B. SB4

Price paid: £ 309

Purchased from: Andertons

Features — 7
Sterling S.U.B. Series is Music Man's cheapest brand. Similar to Squire by Fender. It is effectively a StingRay copy. Bought new in 2015. Made in Indonesia. 21 Fret Medium Jumbo frets. Neck feels narrow like a Jazz. Hardwood body but don't know what type of hardwood. Black finish with 34" scale maple neck and fretboard. Classic Music Man bridge. 2 band on board active preamp. Controls are a volume control, a bass tone control with cut and boost, a treble tone control with cut and boost. One humbucker pick up. Open gear tuners. No accessories included.

Sound — 7
I mainly use an Ampeg BA-110. This is for home practice and I play with a pianist. I don't use any effects apart from the overdrive on the amp. I play lots of styles from rock to ballads. I love how silent this guitar is. No hum whatsoever. The active controls are really good. I can get some very nice rich creamy sounds and some cutting crunch. I like it a lot. Electrics feel good and are consistent. The range of tone is very wide especially when compared to none active. The website says they are proud to sue Ernie Ball strings. Well the originals seem cheap and nasty to me so I swapped them out quite quickly.

Action, Fit & Finish — 3
Ok here is where the love in finishes. It is all relative I know. To give some perspective I have previously owned an American Fender Jazz, a Squire P Bass Affinity and an old Ibanez.

Bad Points

  • When I got the guitar the action was high but the bridge saddles very low. The neck angle was way off and I had to make a wedge.
  • At least one of the frets is high and I will have to get them levelled at some point.
  • The fret edges had been dressed which is good but the finish had not been reapplied.
  • The way the pick up height is adjusted is useless. I had to lift it with some packing to get it to within the manufacturers settings.
Good Points
  • It is actually very easy to set up with the truss rod adjuster being very well designed.
  • Bridge is effective without being pretty. Tuners are good. Paint finish seems excellent.
  • I've rated it low because of how it was when it came. Once set up it is fine.

Reliability & Durability — 7
Relative to a Squier I am impressed. The wiring and electrics look cheap inside. No worse than a Squire. So far all good. The build quality and finish is solid. Strap buttons are reasonable quality and I have no concerns playing live. Proper full size machine heads that are properly screwed in. Maybe, if I was playing really big gigs I would swap the wiring out for better quality. The paint seems to be particularly good and knocked it a few times without leaving marks. I taken it to pieces right down to the component parts and they are reasonable.

Overall Impression — 7
I have been playing for over 30 years. I think this guitar is a proper instrument and reaches the minimum standard I would expect. It is far better than all the budget guitars I have tried. Many of them are toys. This is a good instrument and equally suitable for a beginner or more advanced player. The set up from the factory was disappointing but I've played basses five times as much that needed a proper set up. I love the active circuitry and I love how silent it is. The finish is good. All in all well worth the money and I would recommend it.

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