S.U.B. SB4 Review

manufacturer: Sterling by Music Man date: 08/03/2015 category: Bass Guitars
Sterling by Music Man: S.U.B. SB4
All in all, for sub $300 knock out MM Sterling copy, this is the bass to buy. Very satisfied.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 8.7
 Reliability & Durability: 8.7
 Action, Fit & Finish: 6.7
 Features: 7.7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (3) pictures (1) 6 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.4
S.U.B. SB4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on february 15, 2013
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 239

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features: My bass was made in Indonesia at 2010. It comes standard with 34" scale, 38mm neck. Solid black ash body finish with maple neck. Body is in MM Sterling style but thinner. Features passive single humbucker designed by Music Man at bridge side with active preamp and EQ (bass/treble boost and cut), also designed by Music Man. Standard open clover leave tuner, one volume, one bass and one treble eq boost or cut with flat indication (this helps a lot when finding flat position without looking at the eq). Externally, nothing stunning but over all very clean finish. // 7

Sound: I mainly play blues, rock, punk, and occasionally punk rock. I run this through Bass V-Amp Pro most of the time at home. Noise level is awesome (I meant no back ground noise). The humbucker does great job cleaning noise. EQ's cut and boost works very well to control tone from super fat to very clean slap to mellow finger blues. Coming from Ibanez and Yamaha user, I was very surprised by the tone quality and versatility of this under $300 bass. It sounds much better than other brand that cost 2 to 3 times more. My only complain is the output of the preamp. It gets so HOT at the full volume, it will create it's own distortion. I may need to lower the pickups a little. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: I cannot say much about the set-up out of box. I bought a display model which has been played by other people. However, string level was decent, pickup height was little high, and neck had a little bend at the nut side. I adjusted all that in a matter of minutes. Thrust, string height, and pickup adjustment are very easy to do compare to other basses I have. My bass had over all good finish. Even though it was a display model, there were no dent, crack, break, bent... etc. In my opinion, because MM does not re-inspect this model at CA factory, frets have sharp edges. Something I had to address as soon as I bought it. I though I was going to cut my finger on it. Other than that back of neck can be little bit smoother.. But then again, it could be because it was abused from guitar store.. Or I am asking too much for sub $300 bass. // 7

Reliability & Durability: I have not taken this bass on stage yet. However, from what I have been experiencing in 3 months with 3 kids around, this bass is a solid built. I would prefer taking this bass on stage than any other basses. Electronics seems very solid build. Phone jack is very strong. Shoulder strap buttons are at ideal location. Paint on this is very thick. I would like to pill off and measure it myself, but it feels like it will last for a decade. Everything is bolted solid. I have not lost tune even though I am moving low E string to D and back to E I know exactly how much I need to turn. Dead on every time. I love this tuner. // 9

Overall Impression: It has very punchy fat growl like P-Bass. It can produce funky snappy slap tone like Jazz Bass. EQ controls are so good, it can change it's personality in a snap. However, After 3 months of playing with this bass, I feel little lacking. Granted this is under $300 bass and it sounds like a $1000 bass, but ceramic pickup on this bass is a bit harsh in my ear. Also, I am looking for a new set of strings, just because I prefer softer string (pure person preference, factory strings are great). I would prefer this bass over a... say... SBMM Ray34? Then again Ray is modeled after a completely different bass, which is MM Stingray. All in all, for sub $300 knock out MM Sterling copy, this is the bass to buy. Very satisfied. // 9

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overall: 9.8
S.U.B. SB4 Reviewed by: harrygolding, on march 21, 2014
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: local guitar shop

Features: 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. // 9

Sound: 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. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: 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. // 10

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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.

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…

and funk tone

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. // 10

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overall: 6.2
S.U.B. SB4 Reviewed by: Boomeister, on august 03, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 309

Purchased from: Andertons

Features: 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. // 7

Sound: 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. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: 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.
// 3

Reliability & Durability: 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. // 7

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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