Music Man StingRay 4-string Bass

Dom’s Music Man StingRay 4 bass guitar sounded strident and energised when I dropped in to see three-piece band ‘Ethernal’ playing the Camden leg of their latest tour. Dom plays the StingRay bass with such energy and attack that even without being miked-up, the sound through his Orange bass amp and speaker cab was an equal balance for Steve’s Les Paul through a Laney stack and Mark’s huge array of drums – and powering, frenetic double kick-pedal work!

Ethernal was not the loudest band playing that evening but their sound has a level of drive, energy and light and shade that reaches the depth of your soul.

Image of Music Man Stingray 4 and Orange Amp & Cab

Music Man Stingray 4 and Orange Amp & Cab

Dom uses a completely standard Music Man StingRay 4 (i.e. 4-string) single pickup bass, finished in ‘Natural’. He bought the StingRay new almost three years ago from GAK and paid a slither under £1,000 so this bass guitar certainly sits at the apex of our price criteria for ‘gigging’ bass guitars.  That said, the StingRay is in perfect condition and very ‘playable’ so it is robust and resilient and has certainly held its looks and value well.

Ethernal is a 3-piece, black metal band that plays a unique brand of acausal, occult music. Dom is the bass player and vocalist and uses his Music Man StingRay 4 bass in conjunction with Mark’s amazing drum patterns to create a clear but driving foundation that gives all three band members plenty of space to demonstrate the full range of their amazing talents.

The StingRay’s ‘natural’ (Ash) body is finished in a high gloss polyester lacquer and fitted with a black scratch plate.

The neck is made of maple with a maple fingerboard with 21 high-profile, wide frets and traditional dot markers. The scale length is 34″ (86.4 cms) with an 11″ (27.9 cms) radius and the neck width is 1 5/8″ (41.3mm) at the nut and 2 1/2″ (63.5mm) at the top fret. The neck is joined to the body with six bolts.

The bridge is the standard Music Man chrome plated, hardened steel bridge plate with stainless steel saddles and the stringing is through the body. The machine heads are standard Schaller BM models with tapered string posts positioned with three on the top and one on the bottom of the head. The single pickup is Music Man’s own humbucker with Alnico magnets and large, double pole-pieces.

Dom’s StingRay has the ‘standard’ single pickup ‘2EQ’ controls, namely a 2-band active pre-amp and controls for volume, treble and bass. The jack socket is located on the control plate next to the controls.

To create Dom’s signature ‘scalloped’ sound he plays through an Orange ‘The Bass Terror’ TB500H bass amp and Orange Smartpower SP212 Isobaric 2×12″ Bass speaker cabinet and uses the Ernie Ball Super Slinky bass strings (45w; 65w; 80w; 100w) recommended for the StingRay. He also uses Jim Dunlop 0.60 mm gauge ‘Nylon Standard’ picks. Dom uses one lead straight from the guitar into the amplifier so there are no effects pedals in the signal chain – and not even a tuner pedal in sight!

Image of Ethernal Band's Logo

Ethernal Band

Dom is totally happy with the sound he gets from the StingRay and describes it as ‘powerful, rich and versatile’ and feels it is perfect for the band’s particular heavy metal style and feel. He admits that while the StingRay looks aesthetically very pleasing, it is not typically very ‘metal’ – and that is part of its appeal and  what conversely makes it even more ‘metal’ to him!

Dom is totally happy with the bass and loves its versatility and tonal range and has no plans to change or modify the guitar in any way or augment any component of his gear. In his view, one of the StingRay’s greatest strengths is that it is a totally versatile, all-round bass guitar that always sounds great and never needs tweaking, adjusting or setting up. All Dom does is take it out of the gig bag and play it!  Having mentioned gig bags, he recognised that perhaps upgrading his current gig bag to a hard case might offer more protection for his pride and joy!

Dom’s view is that while the two pickup StingRay model might provide a slightly broader tone range, the single pickup is powerful and perfectly positioned and the EQ gives him more than enough tonal range for the sound he needs for the band. His playing technique and the versatile tone palette that he generates from the Music Man Stingray 4 are certainly key constituents of the band’s sound and appeal and Dom rates the bass very highly overall and especially for its tone and versatility.

Take a quick listen to the band and Dom’s Ernie Ball, Music Man Stingray 4 bass in this short video clip: