The StingRay and Precision bass guitars are both very popular, but which is the best for you? In this article, I’ll compare the differences and similarities between these two basses so you can figure out which to buy.
The Precision bass has a single passive split single-coil pickup in the middle position, whereas the StingRay has an active humbucker in the bridge position. The StingRay sounds clearer and brighter compared to the Precision bass which sounds warmer. Both basses have a 34″ scale.
|Specification||Fender P-Bass||Ernie Ball StingRay|
|Body Finish||Gloss Polyurethane||Gloss Polyester|
|Fingerboard Wood||Maple/ Rosewood||Maple/ Rosewood/ Ebony|
|Nut Material||Bone||Synthetic Bone|
|Construction||Bolt-On Neck||Bolt-On Neck|
|Pickups||Split Single-Coil (Middle)||Humbucker (Bridge)|
|Controls||Vol and Tone||Vol, 3-Band EQ (Active), Coil Split|
|Bridge||4-Saddle String-Through||4-Saddle Top-Loaded|
|Average Weight||9 lbs||8 lbs|
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Tone and Pickups
The most notable difference between the Precision bass and StringRay is the pickups.
Traditionally, the StingRay has a single active humbucker located in the bridge position. The P-bass on the other hand has a passive split single-coil in the middle position.
Hence, the StingRay produces a brighter and clearer tone compared to the P-bass which sounds warmer and mellower.
There are plenty of variations of these guitars though. The most common being the double humbucker StingRay and the P-bass which has the split single-coil in the middle position and then a standard single coil pickup in the bridge. These configurations provide the player with more versatility.
Check out this YouTube video comparing the standard P-bass and StingRay pickups.
Another notable difference between the two basses is the number of the controls.
- The P-bass has a volume control and single passive tone control.
- The StingRay has a volume control, and active 3-band EQ. The humbucker can also be coil split.
The active 3-band EQ allows you to adjust the bass, mids and treble directly on the guitar rather than having to go over to your amp. This ads plenty of versatility to the StingRay, particularly when you consider that the humbucker can be coil split.
Some versions of the StingRay have a 2-band active EQ instead with treble and bass controls.
However, setting up the StingRay to get your ideal is a little more involved due to all the controls compared to the P-bass where you can just plug and play.
Other Key Differences
It’s possible to get different neck profiles, fingerboard radiuses, tone woods, nut widths and pickup configurations with both these basses, so you should really look at the models in your price range and compare those directly and play them in a store to make your ultimate decision.
However, there are a couple of other extra notable differences which stay consistent regardless of which version you’re looking at.
- StingRay basses have a larger fingerboard radius compared to P-basses. This means the StingRay’s fingerboard feels flatter which some players find is easier to bend the strings.
- Precision basses have 20 frets whereas StingRay basses have 22 frets.
- StingRay basses are typically 1-2 lbs lighter than Precision basses.
There are also numerous similarities between the Precision and StingRay basses. Here’s a list of the key features these models share:
- 34″ scale length
- Bolt-on neck construction
- Maple necks
- C-shape neck profiles on most versions
- 4 and 5 string models available
- 0.045 gauge strings as standard
If you’re not sure exactly which models in the range are comparable, here’s a list of all the currently available versions of both basses and the average price at the time of writing.
- Sterling by Music Man StingRay Ray4 and Ray5 ($250-$450)
- Sterling by Music Man StingRay Classic Ray24 and Ray25 ($450-$600)
- Sterling by Music Man Stingray Ray34 and Ray35 ($950-$1200)
- Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay Special ($2200-$2600)
- Squier Affinity Precision Bass ($300)
- Squier Classic Vibe Precision Bass ($490)
- Squier Contemporary Precision Bass ($530)
- Fender Player Precision Bass ($850-$875)
- Fender Vintera Precision Bass ($1100)
- Fender Player Plus Precision Bass ($1150)
- Fender American Performer Precision Bass ($1500)
- Fender American Professional II Precision Bass ($1750-$1850)
- Fender American Original Precision Bass ($2100)
- Fender American Ultra Precision Bass ($2100)
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