MusicMan StingRay Bass

A Bit of History

MusicMan is the company that Leo Fender founded on his return to the music business after he sold his own company due to failing health. This happened several years after he sold Fender to the giant corporation CBS and he subsequently made a great improvement in his health.

The MusicMan StingRay has been the de-facto standard workhorse bass for the last 30 years, that it is still relevant in today’s techno hungry music world shows, how was far ahead of its time it was when introduced in 1976.

Instantly recognisable for it 3+1 tuning key arrangement, the StingRay was the first production bass to feature active electronics that shape the basses tone to the players needs.

Over its production cycle many improvements have developed, such as a six-bolt neck attachment for no shifting, contoured body for comfort, improved neck truss-rod system, a better bridge and quieter electronics. 


The particular model we are reviewing is the StingRay 4 with the optional 3-band active preamp. It is finished in sapphire black, with gunstock oil and is hand-rubbed with a special wax. This is adorned with a moonstone pickguard in the traditional StingRay oval shape.

The neck is satin finished (except for the back of the headstock) is 34” in scale length and executed in maple with an optional matching painted headstock. It is attached via a 6-bolt join for no movement. As for the tuners these are in a 3 + 1 configuration, are made by Schaller and have tapered string posts.

The electronics are comprised of the optional 3-EQ active preamp – with volume, treble, middle and bass, whilst the pickup is a MusicMan humbucking located towards the bridge.

Fit and Finish

The quality of this instrument is simply superb. Everything fits nicely and is done professionally as one would expect from a top US manufacturer. The bass is also well setup and plays perfectly out of the box. The neck requires a special mention as it is just the right balance between chunky and playable and also the satin back makes it feel very smooth to play.


Well this bass can sound like whatever you want it to, thanks to its active preamp. It impressed tremendously at the first gig we used it at, and certainly proved its worth. Roll off the treble and you have yourself a mellow smooth sound, boost it for a slaphappy tone. The bass and middle can be adjusted to each player’s particular taste. The maple neck option obviously makes it sound slightly brighter and this can be appreciated in the upper registers especially when snapping.


An excellent, well finished instrument, whose superb electronics are versatile enough for most styles of music.

By Ernest H Slade