Sterling RAY34ca Bass by Musicman

Sterling RAY34ca Bass by Musicman

This is my Sterling RAY34ca ‘Classic’ Active Bass by Musicman, which arrived on Wednesday 1st October 2014.

Sterling RAY34ca Bass | by Musicman | Review

I had been hearing good things about this particular range of Basses, and couldn’t believe it could get anywhere near its legendary cousin, ‘The Musicman Stingray’.

I couldn’t allow the opportunity to acquire one of these Basses pass by.

Built in 2011. 34” long scale, 21 frets and finished in tobacco sunburst. I paid around 40% of the full UK retail price at auction.

A nice guy (Dominic) from Northamptonshire, England had owned the Bass from new. Well looked after, with no major scratches or repairs required, and even came supplied with new strings and a strap!

Here is a video (not by me), showing some sound clips of the ‘Stingray’ and ‘Sterling’: –

Sterling RAY34ca: Review

A considered review (edited) from 2011 of the RAY34 by a contributor to Talkbass

He says: –

“I’ll preface this review by telling you that I am the owner of an Ernie Ball Musicman (EBMM) Stingray Classic, which is the single best bass I have EVER played!

I bought this as an alternative to having beer spilled on my EBMM again. Once was enough.

This Sterling RAY34 Bass is STUNNING!

The finish is very well done, very consistent with a depth that the RAY34’s from 2010 didn’t.

It’s simply beautiful. The lacquer used is right on par with the US built ‘Stingray’s’.

Sterling by Musicman | RAY34ca Bass guitar | Review

Specification:

  • Scale: 34 inches; long scale
  • Nut Width: 38mm
  • Neck Width, 12th fret: 55mm
  • Body Wood: Ash
  • Neck Wood: Maple
  • Fretboard: Rosewood (SVM, VC, MG) Maple (BK, 3TS)

Fretboard:

Very nicely done. I’ve played the RAY34ca side-by-side with the ‘Stingray’, and I can tell you the differences are very, very small.

The frets are NOT the jumbo’s that everyone seems to be using these days, however, they are bigger than the thin frets used on the EBMM ‘Stingray’ classics.

The fretboard is smooth with very level and even frets. The satin finish looks good and feels almost identical to the EBMM. Seriously. The radius of the neck is 10″, which compares to 7.5″ on the EBMM. Other than that, it isn’t much.

Sterling | RAY34ca Bass guitar by Musicman | Review

Hardware:

The hardware (knobs) are almost identical to my EBMM Classic. I cannot tell the difference.

The bridge looks very similar to the standard EBMM’s and nicely designed, but it does lack some of the substance and weightiness from the EBMM’s.

Tuners:

They’re not bad as far as holding the strings in tune go, but bigger than the EBMM’s and look a bit…well…cheesy. They’re almost too big. But, it’s not anything a retrofit set of tuners can’t fix.

Sterling by Musicman | RAY34ca Bass | Headstock

Tone:

I have played and owned everything from Marcus Miller Fender J-Basses to Alembic to EBMM Classics and Warwick FNA Jazz bass. I am as impressed by the RAY34ca as I am with any other bass.

These were made to give folk a ‘Stingray Classic’ on a budget. And let me tell you, it delivers! 

Playing my EBMM Classic and the new Ray34ca side by side, it’s almost undetectable to the ear (at least to me), to tell which one is which.

The feel will tell you that the Ray34ca is a bit heavier. But overall, the sound is almost the same.

The EBMM Stingray has a 2 band eq, as does the RAY34ca, and the biggest draw for me on the EBMM Classic was the tonality you could achieve with the bass and treble knobs;

Honestly, it’s staggering how many different sounds you can get with just those two knobs.

Sound: Sterling v EBMM

The tonal range on the Sterling Ray34ca is equally as good as the EBMM.

Not as dynamic and broad as the EBMM Classic, but very good, and much better than most high-end P-Basses you’ll find, coming from a $600 bass! It’s simply amazing.

The sound, with the active circuit, still has the highs many aggressive types will like. For me, bass full, treble at 3/4 sounds perfect and side-by-side, you can’t tell much difference.

Also, the pick ups have been re-voiced to be quieter than the 2010 models. No more annoying buzz!

To conclude. comparing the Sterling to Lackland’s and G&L Tributes? Both blown out of the water! The quality of the build is just better than in 2010. They would carry a far higher price tag if they were made in the US.

The Sterling RAY34CA is an instrument with real quality.

Sterling by Musicman | RAY34ca Bass guitar | Review

InfinityBass.com | by Simon Edward | October 8th, 2014

Sterling RAY34ca Bass by Musicman | Final analysis: