1980 Pre Ernie Ball, Music Man Stingray Bass Guitar
Ok bass players, what we have here is a rare treat that I'd like to share with y'all... a beautiful pre Ernie Ball, Music Man Stingray from the rock-n-roll eighties.
Hear an mp3 audio sample of the stingray bass below
Before skinny ties were hip, the Music Man Stingray was a favorite of funky bass players worldwide. Created by the legendary Leo Fender (ever heard of him?), the Stingray electric bass guitar was known for it's cutting and unique tone... and yes, it was a favorite of slap bass players. Above is an excellent example of a sunburst vintage Stingray with a maple neck. Maple necks create a tight and crisp sound, which is why they're so favored by slappers. These basses were known to be built like tanks... they're sturdy and solid... and they weigh a ton.
Before we look at the Stingray close-up, let's take a peek at the case. Kinda unique isn't it? Well, not really... though modern cases are more rectangular, this teardrop shape was used for many instruments like violins and such. I like the shape because it matches the shape of the bass... not much extra, wasted space. Also, there are metal bumper 'feet' on the bottom so you can rest the case upright... nice. Another interesting thing about this case is that each clasp has a key lock on it (as opposed to more modern cases that only have the lock on one of the clasps). I suppose this is overkill... unless you wanted to frustrate the person who might steal your bass.
Now let's look at an up-close shot of the original, Music Man logo. Neat isn't it? As a graphic designer, I like this logo because: the musicians form the letter m, and you know that it has to do with music via the guitars. My only critique would be: what about the women bassists? ... and with two people in the logo, the name Music Men would translate better. Anyway, the musicians in the logo seem to be rocking-out... so, that's cool.
Ok, one of the first things you'll probably recognize is the headstock shape with its unique tuning key positioning. Three on the top, one on the bottom. If you have really short arms, you'll appreciate not having to stretch far to tune the G-string. Notice the pre Ernie Ball logo... and before I forget, I'd like to mention the tuning posts: they taper downwards... which is really smart, because as you tighten the strings - they naturally wind downwards. This creates a nice breaking angle over the nut. New bass players, this might sound like gibberish... but you pros out there will know why this is important. In a nutshell, it creates a better sound. Little details like these make the Stingray an awesome bass.
Ok, let's look at the body: alot to see here. The unforgettable, round pickguard shape. The wide spacing between the neck and pickup make this bass a slapper's delight... very roomy. The unique, beefy humbucker pickup with the fat magnet poles... and its location (known as the 'sweet spot') are a big part of the Stingray's sound. It features active electronics... the knobs above, from left to right, are: bass, treble and volume. Newer Stingrays have an additional tone knob for the mids. I personally like less knobs, because I rarely touch 'em anyway. Last but not least, is the massive bridge. This bass has the older style Music Man bridge with the foam mutes... newer basses don't have them. The mutes were used to deaden the strings for a more upright type of sound. Isn't the sunburst finish beautiful?
Looking at the back of this 1980 Stingray, we see the metal battery compartment cover (remember, I said the electronics were active... active means it needs a battery) and the 4-bolt neckplate. Earlier Stingrays used a 3-bolt configuration, and the newer ones have a 6-screw layout. What's next... a 15-bolt neck, who knows? About the active electronics... I like 'em because it allows you to have a wider range of tone sculpting possibilites... however, I don't like replacing batteries... and having to wonder if the battery is dead and I need to change it. I guess moral is, always have a spare batter ready in your pocket.
Ok, one last look at the neckplate close-up. You'll see the fancy logo again and a made in the U.S.A. stamped in the chrome. In summary and review, the Music Man Stingray is a groovy bass. It weighs a ton, so you better have a comfy strap. The sound is cutting and unique. This bass is a slap machine. I like it. If you ever see me playing one, you'll notice that when I'm slapping - my hand is in a 'thumbs up' position. That's because I think the Stingray is cool.
See the Modern Music Man StingRay Electric Bass Guitar Here