Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Year: 1996

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, maple neck & fretboard

Electronics: EBMM humbucking pickup, 2-band EQ

Controls: Volume, Bass boost, Treble cut & boost

If instruments could talk I would get a cup of tea, pull up a chair and listen intently to what this one had to say.

When I sold the black Stingray, I never thought I would own another. The 2-band EQ one intrigued me though, perhaps as a result of listening to too many Chic records, but it seemed like the more basic EQ had more about it than just one less knob. This one was for sale at a really great price for quite a while. The damage, it seemed, had made the tyre kickers come out in force to have a look, suck in some air and furrow their brows but none of them made an offer. I kept my eye on it and eventually swooped in for a look. What harm could it do?

I met the guy and he told me how he hadn’t played for a few years. I got the feeling he had gotten himself into a situation which perhaps forced this sale, but I didn’t wish to intrude. I did ask about the great big chunks of missing finish. Seemingly he had gotten into another situation he shouldn’t have with his ex and she took it out on the bass. Aside from a couple of great whacks, she had scratched “Thank You!” into the back of it. I suspect she may have been sarcastic about that one. I made extra sure the neck wasn’t screwed after hearing the story. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the body colour anyway and was thinking of stripping it and refinishing, so the paint damage didn’t bother me. Structurally, it all seemed ok and the damage to the body wasn’t too severe so a deal was done.

Not only was the neck ok, but it’s actually fantastic. It sets up really well and the action is very, very low without a hint of buzz. It’s still straight as an arrow and, given the bass has been used as a hammer, testament to the build quality of the good folks in San Luis Obispo.

The 2-band EQ is indeed a different beast to the 3-band. It’s definitely a lower output. The 2-band EQ is not just boost only, as many believe. The bass is boost, but the treble both boosts and cuts. To my ears is sounds smoother and warmer than the 3-band. They both sound like a Stingray but they’re definitely voiced differently. Unlike the 3-band, it gives me something the Godlyke can’t do and, as a result, has stayed a few years now. It’s a great bass to play, sounds lovely and the neck really is special.

I still don’t like the red but, every time I see the damage and think of the stories this bass could tell, it puts a smile on my face so I’ll hold off on any refinish for the time being.



Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Year: 2002

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: EBMM humbucking pickup, 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, Bass cut & boost, Mid cut & boost, Treble cut & boost

This arrived as a trade for the Bacchus Venus. It’s hard to go wrong with a Stingray. This was the three-band EQ version and, to be honest, I found the much maligned mid control quite useful. A small boost really helped cut through without losing the classic Stingray tone. I liked this bass but, once the Godlyke arrived which covered much the same ground, it fell down the pecking order and I eased it on out the door.

Basses of 2015

TECHNIKA SH-A366 Clockwise from top left: EBMM Stingray, G&L L2000, Charvel JP, Mightymite Jazz, Hotwire Custom, Warwick Streamer LX, Godlyke Disciple, ESP 400 Series Jazz, Warwick Streamer Stage I, Status S3000, Bacchus 02 Standard 5, PRS Electric Bass 4,  Alembic Orion, Bacchus 24, Warwick LX Streamer Jazzman, Bacchus Woodline P Classic