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Thread: Thoughts on the Sterling SUB Series Stingrays

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Thoughts on the Sterling SUB Series Stingrays

    Just thought some comments/opinions (by me and anyone else who owns one of these basses) might help those contemplating getting one with their decision.

    Not all that long ago, I bought a Classic Stingray. Great bass. Sounded killer. Very classy. Beautiful. Everything about it was stellar... except my hands, unfortunately. I could certainly play it without any trouble, but I'm "blessed" with tiny hands and short fingers. I simply prefer the narrower and slimmer neck and I'm tired of “making do with a “normal person's bass.” So, I sucked it up, sold the Classic Stingray, and used the proceeds to special order my dream Stingray, which is a couple of months out (natural finish, maple neck, 2-band EQ, SLO neck... Perfection!!!).

    In the mean time, I bought a "cheapie" Sterling SUB Series Stingray. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much. It's a cheap bass. Cheap basses suck... or at least they did when I was learning to play. Back then a cheap bass was pretty much automatically a dog -- unplayable, sounded like garbage, felt like garbage, and fell apart soon after you bought it. I know, cause I had a few back in the day (when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth).

    Boy... was I pleasantly surprised by this SUB Stingray. I would have given my eye teeth back when I was learning to play bass to have something as nice as this. Yes, obviously the hardware is not as high-end as the real Stingrays. But I must say that I LOVE this bass. I haven't been able to put it down since I got it. I've used it for everything I'm doing -- band gigs, recording, and whatever else.

    It sounds like a Stingray, but with some differences (and not even bad differences, just variations on a theme). To my ears, the bass control is very similar to the 2-band Stingray, but perhaps a bit "hotter," boosting and cutting more. It is quite sensitive. You can really get some huge boom out of it.

    On the other hand, the treble control is, to my ears, quite different. In fact, I would call it a "high-mid" control more than a straight-up treble boost/cut. In boost mode, it's a bit harsh to my ears, although I boost just a very small amount for slap. Other than that, I use it as a cut. And as a cut, it ABSOLUTELY shines, IMO. It almost acts as a passive tone control sound. I can crank the zing out easily and get an old-school Motown thump if I slightly boost the bass. So this “treble” control won't give you shimmering highs like a regular Stingray treble knob, but it does do something just as useful, I would argue, in a greater number of musical settings.

    In general, the preamp is very HOT! The signal is way hotter than I'm used to. I have to really pad the input on my amp to keep from overdriving the input stage and clipping/distorting. This SUB has a WAY hotter signal than my other active basses, including the Stingray I sold.

    As for the volume control. Well, what can I say? It's weird. For about 7/8ths of its travel it only marginally turns the volume down. Then at the very end of the travel, it's almost like an on-off switch! Now, I'm sure this is just due to the price point. You can't use top-of-the-line electronic components when selling the basses for so cheap. At first I just concluded that I would replace it with a better pot. But, as I used it more... I actually found that a "by-product" of it's weird character was actually useful. Through the first part of its travel, it actually acts like a subtle tone knob. It doesn't cut much volume and at the same time it rolls the high end off at the upper frequencies and sort of smooths things out a bit. I actually find that a useful addition for lots of things. So... the "cheapness" of the pot actually turned out to be quite useful. (my apologies if it was intentionally designed that way... but, I'm doubting it. )

    As for the feel of the neck... love at first touch. My small hands really dig it. Narrow, thin, and sleek. The finish is the slightest bit sticky at times, but nothing fine steel wool won't cure. It's a flat/satin finish, so no gloss finish is harmed by this process. I love the neck on it. Very fast and comfy.

    As I said, the hardware is not the most heavy-duty (nor should it be at this price point). But it's all perfectly serviceable and works the way it's supposed to. It's not junk like low-end hardware was 30 years ago. The pickup is fine. Honestly, I'd intended to change the preamp and pickup before I actually got it. But after playing it for awhile, no way am I going to touch it. It sounds great. Running through my amp, it has its own voice, but it sounds as good as anything else I have.

    Until I get my new SLO Stingray, this will be my main bass. And I have no reservations about using it as such. Hell, I may become so attached to it that it will stay my main bass.

    So, if you are a beginner, or a seasoned player who wants a "beater bass" (personally I think it's better than that!), don't hesitate in getting one of these. As I said earlier, I only wish they would have had "beginner basses" like this back when I was learning. I actually had a bass (my first) where the entire body cracked open (huge crack) over the course of a couple of days while trying to play it. That was excuse enough to throw it in the garbage because the action was so high and neck so warped, I could hardly fret a string. None of that here. The SUB is a class act "beginner's bass" that can certainly do gigs as well. And it's SO inexpensive. Amazing.

    Any other Sterling SUB Series Stingray owners like yours as much as I like mine?
    Last edited by Chris C; 05-23-2013 at 05:17 PM.
    Music Man Stingray SLO 4 2-band EQ -- natural finish/maple fingerboard THE perfect bass. Mine forever.
    Sterling Sub Stingray -- White/Rosewood fingerboard


    Gallien-Krueger 1001RB
    Gallien-Krueger 1x15 cab
    Gallien-Krueger 4x10 cab

  2. #2
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    I haven't had one of the new SUB series basses, but my mint green Ray34ca (known locally as "Adventure Bass") is a shining example of what you've discovered - that entry-level basses are way better than they used to be back when pterodactyls darkened the skies. Especially when those basses are licensed by and modeled after Music Man instruments!

    You're going to love the SLO neck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    I currently own three Ray4 basses. And I have to say that I can't find anything to complain about! In fact, my white finished Ray4 may very well be the best bass I have ever owned!
    I have NEW BALLS!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I ordered a RAY5 from GC on Friday and will get it in about a week.
    I'll get back to this thread after working it a little if it's still relevant by that time.
    I played on a 4-string a little while I was there and they seem pretty good for the price.
    I have seen a need for a loaner bass for friends but couldn't justify loaning out one of my high-end basses so I decided to buy one of these.
    I've heard some pretty good reviews for the SUB so I expect to be happy with the choice.
    Last edited by KevinM; 05-27-2013 at 07:50 PM.
    25th Anniversary 5HH Quilt Top, RW board, DOB - 5/1/09
    BFR SR5 HH Honeyburst, Roasted Maple Neck, DOB - 10/22/10
    Bongo 5HS, Blue Pearl, RW board, Custom Pickguard, DOB - 04/11/12
    Bongo 5HHp Mahogany, Roasted, Honeyburst, DOB - 9/14/12
    Bongo 5Hp Fretless, Neptune Blue, Pau Ferro board, Black Pearloid pg



    Ampeg SVT-450H
    SVT-410HLF
    Boss GT-10B
    Bassist for The Dave Morrow Band
    Some of our songs on myspace

  5. #5
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    Thanks for renewing my GAS, folks.
    2002 SR5, Trans Red, RW fretboard
    2004 SR5 unlined FL, Vintage Sunburst, transparent PG, pao ferro fretboard
    2009 Bongo 4 HS Stealth, RW fretboard, Hipshot D-tuner
    2013? SUB Ray5 WS
    → Boss GT-10B → Trace Elliot GP-7 SM 150W

  6. #6
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    ...and thanks for the great review on your new SUB Series!
    Brian Martin
    Vice President
    Product Specialist
    Praxis Musical Instruments
    Home of Sterling By Music Man

    888-989-7266
    Brian@PraxisMusical.com

  7. #7
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    I'm loving mine! Just ordered a S.U.B. SB4 to add to my little collection.

    Brings my total to 4! This one is still my favorite!

    I have NEW BALLS!!!!

  8. #8
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    Jun 2012
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    I thought that SUB is former USA made budget MM. What is SBMM SUB?
    MusicMan Stingray 5H: Honeyburst/ White PG/ Ceramic magnets/ Ash body/ maple neck/ maple fingerboard.
    DOB 02/14/'95

    MusicMan BFR Stingray 5HH: Natural/ Tort PG/ Alnico magnets/ Ash body/ rosewood neck/ rosewood fingerboard.

    DOB 04/03/'09

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravesend Black View Post
    I thought that SUB is former USA made budget MM. What is SBMM SUB?
    There is the old US made SUB series (nice basses!), but these are the "budget version" of the recent Sterling series imports. So you have the Ray34, Ray35, and now the SUB series stingrays. The Ray34s are around $750-ish and the SUB series are around $300-ish.
    Music Man Stingray SLO 4 2-band EQ -- natural finish/maple fingerboard THE perfect bass. Mine forever.
    Sterling Sub Stingray -- White/Rosewood fingerboard


    Gallien-Krueger 1001RB
    Gallien-Krueger 1x15 cab
    Gallien-Krueger 4x10 cab

  10. #10
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    I got my Ray5 today. It plays better than I expected. The one I originally sampled was slightly rough on the neck so if I would have bought that one I was going to smooth out the neck a little. When I went to buy the black one it was gone so I ordered a Walnut Satin instead. I like this color better and the neck on this one is smooth and the sound is pretty good for the price. It will definitely do the job it is intended for. I bought this bass to use as a house bass at church so I could let some of the start-up bassists play on it without having to worry about messing up a high-end bass. I can leave it there on loan for anyone to use under minimal supervision. It sounds good as is but I'll probably try some cobalts on it after I get things going.
    New SUB day thread coming.
    25th Anniversary 5HH Quilt Top, RW board, DOB - 5/1/09
    BFR SR5 HH Honeyburst, Roasted Maple Neck, DOB - 10/22/10
    Bongo 5HS, Blue Pearl, RW board, Custom Pickguard, DOB - 04/11/12
    Bongo 5HHp Mahogany, Roasted, Honeyburst, DOB - 9/14/12
    Bongo 5Hp Fretless, Neptune Blue, Pau Ferro board, Black Pearloid pg



    Ampeg SVT-450H
    SVT-410HLF
    Boss GT-10B
    Bassist for The Dave Morrow Band
    Some of our songs on myspace

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Central MA
    Posts
    8
    I have A Walnut Satin Sub Ray 4 and found that by lowering the pickup as far as it would go I can run the pre-amp wide open with just a nice growl if I really dig in. Otherwise seems to have tamed that hot Pre-amp issue .

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post

    As for the volume control. Well, what can I say? It's weird. For about 7/8ths of its travel it only marginally turns the volume down. Then at the very end of the travel, it's almost like an on-off switch! Now, I'm sure this is just due to the price point. You can't use top-of-the-line electronic components when selling the basses for so cheap. At first I just concluded that I would replace it with a better pot. But, as I used it more... I actually found that a "by-product" of it's weird character was actually useful.
    SBMM outlines a fix for the volume pot on TB
    Sterling by Music Man SUB Ray4 and Ray5 - Page 9 - TalkBass Forums

    Go to post #339 to see the start of the description with pictures on subsequent posts.

    You can also buy a replacement pre-amp with an active/passive switching volume knob if you want to spend the money.
    Here's one link to the pre.
    Planet Bass Online Store: Bartolini HR 2.3AP/918
    You might search a little to see if you can find a better price.
    they also make it without the active/passive that might be a little cheaper.

    BTW, thanks to SBMM for the VR mod instructions.
    25th Anniversary 5HH Quilt Top, RW board, DOB - 5/1/09
    BFR SR5 HH Honeyburst, Roasted Maple Neck, DOB - 10/22/10
    Bongo 5HS, Blue Pearl, RW board, Custom Pickguard, DOB - 04/11/12
    Bongo 5HHp Mahogany, Roasted, Honeyburst, DOB - 9/14/12
    Bongo 5Hp Fretless, Neptune Blue, Pau Ferro board, Black Pearloid pg



    Ampeg SVT-450H
    SVT-410HLF
    Boss GT-10B
    Bassist for The Dave Morrow Band
    Some of our songs on myspace

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    36
    Havent been on the forum in the while, Im just saying.... The SBMM SUBs are grrrreeeeaaaaatttt! Ive got the walnut ray4, and its utterly fantastic. Im very tempted by the new mint green finish, and swap necks and defret the rosewood neck, so id have a fretless mint green ray. And Im not afraid to call it a ray, even though its a quarter of the price its more than 90% of the originals. Outstanding!
    EBMM StingRay 4 3EQ Honeyburst w/ maple fretboard

    SBMM SUB Ray4 Walnut Satin

    TC Electronic RH750 + RS212

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Sterling, Colorado
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    1,756
    Quote Originally Posted by RitchieDarling View Post
    I'm loving mine! Just ordered a S.U.B. SB4 to add to my little collection.

    Brings my total to 4! This one is still my favorite!

    This bass looks fabulous!
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v342/JRalston/7d65a184-4304-464d-9f3a-c83a9712dbe8_zps69d1fb3d.jpg
    Stingray Classic 4H D.O.B. 07/09/10 Breast Cancer Awareness Bass Shell Pink
    Bongo 4H D.O.B. 12/28/10 Black Sugar BFR Roasted Neck
    Bongo 4H D.O.B. 03/26/14 Candy Apple Red All Rosewood Neck
    Stingray 5H D.O.B. 06/25/13 Black
    30th Anniversary Stingray 5H D.O.B. 02/28/17 Transparent Buttercream

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    3
    I own the Walnut Stain version and it is probably the best bass I've owned (and in 38 years of playing, I've owned plenty. The neck is fast, the balance is perfect, the hardware is solid, the active electronics give high output and a lot of tonal versatility to a one pickup instrument. The truss rod needed NO adjustment. The strings were too light (.045-.100) for me, so I put on a set of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (.050-.105), adjusted the bridge saddles accordingly for height and intonation and it's perfect now. The sound is tight, punchy, and well balanced. Fit and finish are very good, especially for this price point. The Musicman lineage is clearly carried on here.

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