Ernie Ball Piezo StringRay, Fretted Reviews 4

This one is black and chrome. A Ray is not just ''black WITH chrome hardware'' .... a Ray is actually two-tone ''Black AND Chrome''. The huge hardware all over the headstock, and the massive bridge, PLUS the ''chrome banana'' [aka control cover plate] puts a whole lotta shiny chrome into your eyeballs. It's a waaay cool effect. I play in small ensembles, classic tunes without 'benefit' of a drummer .... so usually I play FL. This a rather inappropriate ax for my needs, but since Guitar Center was giving it away, I figgered I could afford to convert it to FL. But for a while, I'm just investigating its possible usefulness WITH frets.

Guitar Center was pretty much giving it away, and I bought it with a mind to convert it to FL.

This is my first FRETTED piezo MM. I really dig them FRETLESS and already reviewed this same ax in FRETLESS version on this same site [see the ''music store/band'' section for a link-to-the-review] One cool thing about a piezo Ray is it's the only Ray or Sterling to offer a PU fader between it's two different PU voices. The versions with dual magnetic PU's have no fader, just a blade switch with the resulting sudden changes. The piezo-to-mag fader makes it easier to ''season-to-taste''. Another cool thing you get with the piezo is individual gain trim pots for each string. Very useful.

It has the potential to make some seriously awful noises ... given that you're using an acoustic PU to listen to metal-on-metal all along the neck. This compromises the range of the EQ ... as there are plenty of places EQ-wise that a sane player would NEVER wanna go. For the insane player, this would be a Royal Feast, especially with roundwounds [which I removed after a coupla hours]. With my FL piezo Rays, I often wish they were the hotter MM, the Sterling. With this fretted incarnation, I'm thankful it's NOT a Sterling.

It's built like a MucicMan. If you don't know what that means, then read all the other other MM reviews, here and elsewhere ...

String choice seems to be extremely important to the behavior of this beast. While thaz very true of almost any stringed instrument, it's more than very-very-true when you've got acoustic PU's listening to your strings tapping [or crashing] on your frets a zillion times per hour. I've got some brite flats on it now, and it responds well to a [sort of] Flamenco approach. If you need some out-of-the ordinary playing effects, direct from your ax and hands ... no pedals, no extra junk ... then this Ray is a treasure chest. And since the PU fader runs from 100% magnetic to 100% piezo, this ax can be way far out, or be a perficklee normal StingRay ... or anywheres inbetween. I should emphasise the inbetween. Lotsa MAGIC lives in the various mixtures in the broad middle ground of the PU fader. With a FL piezo MM, I tend to favor pure piezo, or nearly pure. With the fretted version, pure piezo is kinda ''Special FX'' [10X truer with RW strings] ... but in exchange for a lack of broad usefulness at the pure piezo end, you get the magic middle ground, a special breed of ''Enhanced StingRay''. It's a very intriguing ax. I'm rating it a '4' ... but a really sooper dooper '4'. To rate a '5', it would hafta be so magical that it instantly became my best 'go-to' ax. I'm kinda stingy about giveing out a '5' ... but this is a sooper '4'.

Golem rated this unit 4 on 2010-09-16.

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