Ernie Ball retros the Sting Ray

(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-02-07)

Ernie Ball retros the Sting Ray

The music industry was abuzz in 1976 when Leo Fender introduced the Sting Ray bass. It was an instant winner -- new pickup design and placement, new 3+1 headstock, active 2-band EQ, a familiar, yet different, slab body, a distinctive teardrop pickguard and individually adjustable string mutes. I loved the SR4, but was disappointed in 1987 when Ernie Ball, which had acquired Music Man in 1984, chose to released an Sting Ray five-string with a restyled, contoured body without mutes. Although the SR5 sounds great and was quickly adopted by many high-profile players, such as Tony Levin, I just never liked its looks and hoped for a slab-bodied SR5 someday. Apparently, I wasn't alone. Perhaps the biggest news out of Winter NAMM 2010 was the release by Music Man of the new Classic Sting Ray in both 4- and 5-string models. It's deja vu all over again: slab body, string mutes, teardrop pickguard and 2-band EQ and some very interesting pastel colors.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Classic SR5 will be one of EBMM's bestsellers. The buzz from my fellow bass players all over the Internet is high. We love the look and the return to 2-band EQ, and the re-introduction of string mutes will appeal to many players who like the old Motown thump that was available from classic Fender basses that had a rubber pad under the bridge cover. About the only downside I can see is that the estimated weight on the Classic 5 is almost 11 pounds.

The new Classics are available for order now from your favorite EBMM retailer at MSRPs of $2,570 for the 4-string and $2,820 for the 5. Look for them to arrive in spring.

Some specs on the Classic 5:

Size: 13-1/2" wide, 1-5/8" thick, 45-1/2" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 115.6 cm long)
Weight: 10lbs, 12 oz (4.87kg) - varies slightly
Body Wood: Ash
Body Finish: High gloss polyester
Bridge: Music ManŽ chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with "Classic" stainless steel saddles and adjustable mute pads
Pickguard: White only, teardrop shape. There are no pickguard options
Scale Length: 34" (86.4 cm)
Neck Radius: 7.5" (19.1 cm)
Headstock Size: Only 9" (22.9 cm) long
Frets: 21 - High profile, narrow width
Neck Width: 1-3/4" (44.5 mm) at nut 2-11/16" (68.3 mm) at last fret
Neck Wood: Select maple neck
Fingerboard: Fretted - maple (your choice of figured or flamed maple) or rosewood Neck Finish: High-gloss finish
Neck Colors: Natural aged yellow finish
Tuning Machines: Schaller BM, with tapered string posts
Truss Rod: Adjustable - no component or string removal (chrome wheel at body end)
Neck Attachment: 6 bolts - perfect alignment with no shifting
Electronic Shielding: Chrome plated brass control cover
Controls: Single Pickup, 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass
Pickups: Standard - Music ManŽ humbucking with Alnico magnets
Left Handed: No
Colors: Black, Classic White, Powder Blue, Tobacco Burst, Coral Red and Mint Green

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