Build Quality:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.8 out of 5 stars
Electronics:4.8 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars
Average:4.8 out of 5 stars

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Sterling by Music Man RAY34-NT Bass


  • Minimalistic, Tonewood oriented look
  • Highly Expressive Midtones
  • Versatile Sound


  • Plastic Nut
  • Heavy

To consider a midway-priced electric bass guitar right, you need to understand that an electric guitar such as this has a whole lot of aspects to enjoy and love. It is unfair to compare a guitar of such price to a cheap or affordable guitar because the gap in quality created by the price difference is so noticeable. To make this point even more clear, let us take a look at the Sterling by Music Man RAY34-NT Bass and see why it’s one of the best bass guitars under 1000.

Body Quality

The design of the guitar, at least of one of the more popular models of the instrument, is created in mind with a minimalistic look. It combines in itself a simplistic, respected body shape, with a double cutaway neck, with the reveal of the tonewoods grain and beauty. The pickguard located at the very center of the guitar’s body creates a single dot for an overall stylish, minimalistic design that does not feel understated despite its simplicity. Definitely one of my favorite guitar designs so far.

The body of the guitar is built out of the highly respected, though not often seen Swamp Ash. This tonewood is known for a while lot of good qualities that are highly enjoyable for an experienced musician. Swamp Ash is known for its very pronounced mid-tone resonance. The resulting mid-tones on the guitar are both powerful and nuanced, expressive in the most impressive ways. The low tones are also well resonated with. One of my favorite qualities of the Swamp Ash is the actual grain and look of the wood. This highly impressive tonewood is very pleasant and enjoyable to look at.

The neck of the guitar is made out of maple, which is a traditional choice among guitar manufacturers. The resulting durability of the neck, its warp resistance, and the resistance to denting and scratching damage prolong the life of a potentially beloved guitar. The neck of the instrument is bolted on with a 6-bolt system. This high-quality bolt-on system allows the guitar a stable, sturdy neck, as well as great alignment with the body. The fretboard of the guitar is made out of rosewood.


The guitar comes with a fixed SBMM design bridge. This bridge system is rather lovely, providing the guitar with some great action and some great string stability.

The nut of the guitar is made of a decent-quality plastic material. I do not enjoy plastic as a nut material too much, since it is not the most durable or long-lived. Still, the absence of sting buzz and good harmony is noticeable.

The tuning machine of the guitar is open-geared and designed to look rather handsome with the rest of the guitar’s design. The tuning stability is definitely something to be enjoyed.


The guitar comes with a single pickup, located at the bridge of the instrument. The passive humbucking pickup has some powerful output and great sound to make up for the lack of any other pickups present on the guitar. The Sterling brand humbucker works incredibly well with the bass guitar, producing a nuanced tone with a clean, warm sound. The detail in sound is well-rounded and present throughout most of the tones.

The guitar comes with a detailed set of controls, permitting the musician a lot of stylization of the sound. A master volume knob, as well as three knobs for treble, mid, and bass each allows for a whole lot of custom sound.

Sterling Ray34 Sound

The sound of this bass guitar is rather enjoyable and lovely. The warm sound produced by the instrument is bound to be impressive to anyone listening, while the nuance and detail in every single tone produced by the guitar is something to fall in love with. The guitar output a great and powerful sound, with a bias towards mid tones that is balanced out by the warm low tones. The bass guitar is well suited for music in Jazz, Blue and Rock and Roll.


This is one of my favorite midway-priced guitars on the market currently. It provides its player with a whole lot of power and detail in sound and looks rather amazing. Highly recommended if you are looking for a versatile, good-looking instrument.

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  1. hello sir… well presented review with tons of details that help a person seeking such a SBMM bass. though the new Ray34 natural ash feature an alnico pup’s whereas the Ray 24CA – 25CA comes with a ceramic pup’s so I wish you’ve explained the real difference in tone quality between these two. I am about to order one of these for $750 from GC but would love to know these Alnico pup’s are in fact much better ? I prefer a clean round warm tones without all that extra noises generated by my ray 25CA with ceramic pup’s. thanks

    • Both pickups have a great clean and distorted sound. Ceramic pickups are warmer sounding than alnico but the difference is not that obvious. Also, Ray34 has 3-Band Active Preamp which gives you more sound options.


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