The conception of the StingRay Special has always been to make a classic bass that understands what the modern era can offer to it, and the inclusion of Neodymium magnets and 18V preamps are cardinal to this idea. The other side of that coin is that we also need to consider the smallest details, how have the little things improved and how can we integrate that? I’ve seen it said by experienced hikers, ex-military, and generally rugged outdoorsy folks who will say that “ounces equals pounds, and pounds equals pain.” This extends perfectly well to the music world, as anyone who’s hung a 10 pound bass over their shoulder for 3 hours on stage night after night can tell you.
This is why we’ve worked very hard to get the StingRay Special down to an average weight of 8 pounds 8 ounces, for reference that’s on average about 1 pound lighter than the StingRay Classic series of basses. Here’s part of what goes into taking that weight out and keeping the instrument forward-looking: Starting from the top, the new tuning machines provide a refined gear tuning ratio that allows for a more precise and secure string tuning. Coupled with the Ernie Ball Music Man compensated nut, these new tuning machines add to the already robust tuning stability as well as further securing intonation. Not only that, but the new tuner design has incorporated engineering and materials which brings the weight off of the headstock to mitigate neck dive.
Moving down the neck we begin to see another long-awaited inclusion to the StingRay family: stainless steel frets. For many years Ernie Ball Music Man has used its own select fret wire for StingRay basses (barring special editions and limited runs) for many years, and fans have often requested the inclusion of stainless steel frets in a mainline production StingRay Bass.
Going further down the body, we come to the new chrome plated aluminum cavity shield and potentiometer knobs. These feature the same aesthetic characteristics that are signature to the StingRay bass, yet they further reduce weight which helps maintain an ideal balance for the player. All of the familiar feel and controllability remain consistent with previous models.
Lastly, let’s take a look at another subtle tweak: the bridge. The new StingRay Special models feature the Vintage Music Man top-loading bass bridge design. These bridges are constructed with a chrome plated steel plate and nickle-plated steel saddles. When considering changing the bridges on StingRays the team at EBMM conducted exhaustive research and determined that these bridges not only reduce weight, but preserve the ruggedness, playability, and tone of previous versions.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next and final edition of the StingRay Spotlight: Roasted maple necks, body contours, and an extra fret.
Be sure to check out all the other entries into the StingRay Special Spotlight series of blog posts on the Music Man blog. You can find out more about the updates to the body and neck, the new pickups, and the new preamp!