Product recommendations- Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRay

Could it be the best Short-scale bass out there?

Unlike my three part Hofner 500/2 Product recommendation post from last month, there’s no need to devote an entire post on the thought process to buy this bass, because I was sold from the get-go! How can I not be? Being a Leo Fender fanboy, it was natural for me to follow his next step in his evolution as he moved from Fender and started Music Man, and now that the Import line ‘Sterling’ was producing an affordable Short-scale, it was a no brainer!

But the biggest challenge was ‘how to get my hands on one?’ As the first store where I placed my online order with, I was informed that there was going to be a 6 – 12 month wait before the next shipment arrived in Australia. What the! But when asked if I wanted a refund, now that I knew it was going to be 2023 before I got the StingRay into my hands. I told them ‘Hell no’, because if I decided 12 months later that I still wanted one, the chances were that I’ll be waiting for a further 12 months after that to get a StingRay, and that would be 2024 by then……

So, the purchase was made, and I was settled in for a long wait. And as one evening as I aimlessly perused ‘Bass Centre’s web-site (I usually don’t peruse, as I just rely on the product pop-up which appears at the top of Google searches), but this time I just felt like scrolling down Bass Centre’s Short-scale bass guitar page, going through a guitar at a time, and low and behold! They had 3 Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRays in stock, in the colour which I preferred (Olympic white). And not only did they have the StingRay, but they also had the last Hofner 500/2 in stock as well! So that evening I bought them both! Moohaaha!

Shipping was going to take a couple of days, and the battle plan was that as soon as the Sterling arrived, I’d ask for a refund from the first music store. So yeah, I unboxed the StingRay late on a Wednesday evening, made sure it played and that was that. To bed as it was midnight.

The very next day, I get a text on my phone, stating that my StingRay had been shipped and was due to arrive in the next 2 days! What the!? Wasn’t that first bass not going to arrive until at least April 2023!? So, after several attempts to stop shipment before it made the Newcastle to Sydney journey down to us- at the courier depo we thought had been successful as the customer service representative told us that they will retrieve the package and return it to sender. But it eventually showed up on our doorstep, we were advised to just tell the courier driver to take it back with him, but he adamantly refused, and all of a sudden I had 2 short supply Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRays! Lucky me! Right? But yeah, we ended up sending the other back to the store, took a $20 hit with shipment costs, but at least we weren’t stuck with 2 $1,499 guitars!

So how is the StingRay and how does it play?

First impression was that it’s light in weight, I already thought the Fender Mustang was light, but the StingRay was even lighter than that! Due to the cut-out at the back where the guitar hugs your body, and the slight cut-away at the bass of the guitar where your forearm rests when playing. I love the body shape, with the deep sweeping shoulders, I’m assuming this is how it got its name as the ‘StingRay’. And in my mind’s eye at least, I love the gleaming white of the guitar, it came in both Olympic white and Daphne Blue (a pail blue), but I think the white suits the guitar better.

The knock on the quality is the untreated nature of the neck wood. It’s not lacquered nor has a satin finish like the Fender. Instead, it feels a bit like a rustic table leg. Which first annoyed me a little bit, as I didn’t like the feel of it in my hands. But as time has passed and I’ve played it more, the wood has actually gotten smoother, just from handling. So, I do find myself rubbing the back of the neck whenever I have a down moment in-between songs, to hasten up its path to utter smoothness!

And the second issue I had with the fit and finish, was the single pickup- as it floats. So, just the smallest amount of pressure on it, the pickup sinks down, but springs right back up once you remove the pressure. At first I just thought it needed a few extra turns of the screw, which I then proceeded to do. But the pickup actually sits in a recess in the guitar, so after 6 or 7 rotations of my screwdriver the screw was still boring its way into the body of the guitar. So much so that I ended up having a lop sided pickup, where the left side of the pickup was noticeably lower. And when I played it, the booming sound was actually 50% less. So, it seems like the height in which it first came, that was the proper setting, so I went about reversing what I had done, returning it back to its original height where it sounded thumping again! So, I guess I just have to put up with the floaty feel of the pickup.

The Sterling has a single Neodymium Pickup, positioned towards the bridge of the guitar, so the character of its voice is a deep clear tone. The strings are awesome! They have a great spring feel to them, and of course they’re good as they’re Ernie Ball strings! The bass has three nobs, a tone and volume nob, and in-between them is a three way twist nob, which cycles through Parallel (a more mellow tone), True Single-Coil (a little louder and booming), and Series Mode (louder and more booming still). And if Series Mode is not enough for you, the volume has a push boost, which pops the button out, giving you at least a 20% sound boost! Which is plenty loud, very loud in-fact for a home set-up. Haaha.

And for the first time, with all the guitars which I own, the StingRay is the first guitar which doesn’t have an issue of fret buzz. Which I’m so thankful for. And I’d say it has the best tone from the lot. It has a deep clean sound to it, a modern sound which isn’t grungy nor retro  sounding. A nice deep sound to be played with modern genres of music. As mentioned before the strings are great to play, the guitar is light so you can play for hours on end. And the neck feel is only getting better with time! So, I’d say it is probably the best Short-scale bass out there at the moment! And I highly recommend it.

So, if you’d like to read more about the Sterling by Music Man Short-scale StingRay bass, and if you’d like to own one yourself (there’s 2 more in stock at the Bass Centre), just click HERE! And let them know that sent you……

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