There are so many guitars on the market. Acoustic, acoustic-electric, bass and a lot more are available at pretty much any price. There are pro-level string instruments, and then there are what you would call entry-level or beginner guitars. Nevertheless, it seems like stumbling upon a good quality guitar that does not cost three months of your salary is either a form of divine intervention or months and month of vigorous research combined with extreme luck. Look, I don’t want to bash guitar market. I’m one of many people who has been through quite a few guitars and I did not have to go bankrupt for them. But then again, getting to that point, as I said, takes a while. So if you are looking for a beginner bass guitar but do not necessarily have the ability to splurge all your savings on it, then maybe I can recommend a few models for you. One of those models is Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series Ray4 StingRay Bass.
First things first, let’s talk about the build of this guitar. Whether it is a bass guitar, acoustic, or mandolin there is no better way to predict the performance of the instrument than the construction and tonewood. What you get with the Ray4 bass guitar is nothing stellar but it definitely is durable and nice in quality. This is a classic Music Man shape bass with precision basswood body as well as hard maple neck and fretboard. For me, the neck thickness near the headstock is a little bit too narrow for my taste, but you might enjoy it. Basswood might not be as revered as some of the other, more expensive and high-end woods, but it does the job pretty well while sustaining the quality for a while. This Sterling is marketed as something for any level player. I would definitely say that this is a more beginner/intermediate level instruments. What you get is a decent craftsmanship and nice playability that will only enrich and foster your love for bass guitars.
When it comes to hardware, Music Man equipped the Ray4 with pretty decent, entry-level hardware that will be easy to use. You get easy to use open gear tuning machines with extremely nice quality that hold the tune for damn long time. Music Man also used what they call ‘Straight String Pull’ across the nut that allows for more accurate and long-lasting tuning. There is also truss rod for neck adjustment, a fully-adjustable fixed bridge is a nice addition and allows you to have control over your guitar like with no other beginner instruments. While this might not be the jaw-dropping hardware that comes with $2000 instruments, I don’t think I need to remind you that this is a very student/beginner oriented instrument that does not really have to even have what it already offers.
I have had so many people pick up the Ray4, expecting some knock-off quality sound and after about ten minutes seeing their surprised and dumbfounded faces. Yes, part of the fascination in their face was probably due to low expectations (because I don’t think any of them expect this sound for under $300 guitar) but the other part is the actual tonal range and amazing definition that this Sterling offers.
The Ray4 comes with a single, standard single coil humbucker as well as volume and 2-Band EQ controls (treble and bass). The control knobs along with the input jack are places very nicely and are easily accessible. Overall, the electronics on this model are pretty surprising and seem to imitate the classic Music Man bass almost to perfection. With you nice control over the tone of the instrument as well as nice versatility. Honestly, I could not ask for more with beginner bass guitar.
While owning a high-quality, pro-level guitar is every musician or student’s dream, most times (at least in the beginning) it is not the most realistic scenario. We have all been there but there is always a way to sort of imitating the quality of your dream instrument. With Sterling by Music Man S.U.B. Series Ray4 StingRay Bass, you get a taste of what a high-end instrument can be while also not overpaying. All in all, the Ray4 is probably one of our favorite beginner bass guitars in its price range.