The StingRay SR50 is designed with particular deference to the original Leo Fender Music Man guitar design, but reimagined and updated by the Ernie Ball Music Man design team. It’s available in Ernie Ball Music Man and Sterling By Music Man versions. This review is for the latter.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
The body of the StingRay is made of African mahogany finished in high-gloss polyester, and it’s available in black or three-tone sunburst. The neck is made of hard maple with a dark rosewood fingerboard that holds 22 frets with a 12” radius. The famous 5-bolt neck joint is present and accounted for, and seems to offer great transfer of string energy and a nice snug fit. The back of the neck is fatter and rounder than the Cutlass. The electronics consist of a pair of Ernie Ball Music Man spec Alnico-magnet humbuckers, a 3-way pickup selector switch and master volume and tone controls. The bridge is a two-point vintage-style unit and the tuners are chrome locking units.
The StingRay feels a little body-heavy, but once you find your balance with it, it becomes a very playable guitar. It has a particularly wide dynamic range, which will please those who play fusion and blues in particular; you can really dig into the note to make it sing loudly, or pull it back to a whisper. This is true of the guitar’s unamplified voice but even more so when you plug it in. The bridge pickup has a vocal quality to the upper mid-range, which really emphasises your fretting-hand phrasing.
The neck pickup maintains this detail while giving you a fuller, bolder take on this same tonal quality. Switch to the middle position and the two pickups work together to create a jangly, slightly scooped tone that’s great for broad rhythm work or fingerpicking.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is an exceptional guitar that’s flexible enough to fit a huge range of musical styles, and neutral enough in cosmetics that it will look the part no matter what context you drop it into. And it’s so affordable that it’s going to find a lot of fans in a lot of genres.
For more details on the range of Sterling By Music Man products, head to cmcmusic.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Rich, vocal quality in the pickups
No coil split mode.