Ernie Ball Music Man celebrates 35 years of the StingRay 5 with stunning anniversary model now available to order

Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay 5 35th Anniversary Edition
(Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man)

Ernie Ball Music Man has released its much anticipated 35th Anniversary StingRay 5, a special edition of the groundbreaking bass guitar that is resplendent with a spalted maple top and a highly figured roasted maple neck and headstock.

Available in single or dual-humbucker formats, the 35th Anniversary edition has a typically top-tier build, with the neck and body finished in high-gloss to bring out all the detail of the figured and spalted maple, and an ebony fingerboard inlaid with copper pearlescent blocks.

There is a lot to get excited about with a bass like this but perhaps chief among its design innovations is something fundamental – the playability, and the notably solid performance of that fifth string. 

It was one of Music Man's design triumphs that it managed to get the low B feeling solid without extending the scale beyond 34”, as so many other manufacturers did when making a five-string. 

In the launch video, Sterling Ball reveals the secret – it’s all in the hardware.

“One of the challenges of the five-string was they could never get the B tight enough,” Ball says. “The B was tubby,” Ball says. “We did it with 34” scale. Most of the people who ended up making them, made ‘em 35” scale, and they made them 35” because maybe they thought people wanted to play them. But I really think they couldn’t get their B right, and we got the B right. 

“We got the B right early on. And I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s because of this bridge. They didn’t realise that if they spent enough time on the bridge they wouldn’t have to change the scale length that everybody knew and loved about the electric bass.”

The 35th Anniversary StingRay 5 has neodymium pickups, an active preamp, operating at 18V for extra headroom, with 3-band EQ and Volume controls, three-way pickup selectors on the single-pickup model, five-way on its dual-pickup sibling, altogether offering a huge range of sounds, from vintage to modern. 

Like the other StingRays, the neck joins the body with a five-bolt, sculpted joint. There is electronic shielding to nix unwanted noise, custom ‘clover-style’ tuners are a lightweight complement to a substantial Music Man bridge with stainless steel saddles.

The StingRay 5 35th Anniversary Edition is available now, priced $3,799 for the single pickup version, $3,899 for the HH model. For more information, see Ernie Ball Music Man.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.