Its been 30 years since Ernie Ball Music Man introduced the StingRay5 to the world in 1987. We had taken the knowledge learned from the development of the original StingRay bass and brought the advanced active electronics system to a 5-string platform that incorporated Ernie Ball Music Man’s philosophy of ergonomic, forward thinking, musician-friendly instruments. Thirty years later, we’re celebrating the continuing legacy that the StingRay5 has offered bass players over the last three decades. Let’s take a look at the story of how the 30th Anniversary StingRay5 came to be.
Upon acquiring the Music Man company from Leo Fender in 1984, the newly formed Ernie Ball Music Man set out to create a 5 string bass. After three years of research, design, testing and refining, the StingRay5 was released to the world in 1987 along with the Steve Morse signature model. Since its release, the StingRay5 has defined the industry standard for the way a 5 string bass should sound, look, and feel.
The first update to the StingRay5 line didn’t appear until just over two decades later. In 2009, Ernie Ball Music Man introduced the Classic StingRay5. Featuring a 2-band EQ, mute pads and the distinctive pickguard / control plate configuration of the original StingRay, this bass is the perfect representation of what a StingRay5 built during the 1970s would entail.
Six years later, the next evolution of the StingRay5 was unveiled. Making its debut in 2015, the StingRay5 Neck Through of course featured the namesake neck through body construction, resulting in a more resonant body and superior high register fret access. A newly designed preamp was also designed, which provides for full and robust tonality while retaining excellent clarity and crisp attack.
After three decades had passed, the time came to make a version of the StingRay5 that not only celebrates, but advances on the ideas that the original version brought to the table. According to company CEO Sterling Ball:
“We don’t do re-issues. What we like to do is we like to start and celebrate the beginning, 1987, some things along the way like the compensated nut, the roasted [maple] neck, and then we have something that we’re doing now, a new discovery.”
Sterling also shines a light on the technical side of things:
“We’ve re-voiced the pre-amp. What that really means is, taking some of the treble down, changing the mid-point, and boosting the bass a little bit. We’ve voiced this bass for what people want right now.”
During the design of the 30th Anniversary model, we also experimented with the differences between pickup magnets. Alnico, ceramic, and neodymium magnets were used in various stages of design. After extensive testing we discovered that ceramic magnets gave the 30th Anniversary model a punchy and balanced tone that complements the revoiced preamp.
In addition to all the specially revamped electronics, the 30th Anniversary StingRay5 is finished with a beautiful limited edition trans buttermilk finish, red tortoiseshell pickguard, roasted maple neck, and a bound fretboard with white position markers
The 30th Anniversary StingRay5 is only available for a limited time, learn more and find a dealer near you at our website.