New Bass Day… Sort of…
About a month and a half ago, I traded a Sire Jazz Bass for a Sterling by Music Man Ray 34. The single humbucker pickup is a configuration I’ve been seeking in a bass for a while, and I jumped on the opportunity when it became available. This bass has a black body, a maple neck with rosewood fretboard, and it had a black pickguard when I got it. I’m not a fan of a black pickguard on a black bass, because it’s boring, so I had Chandler Music in Chico, CA use the old pickguard as a template, and create a new pickguard in a ‘Tortoise Shell’ finish, called Tort for short. It’s a thin piece of a celluloid material that’s transparent, and gets mounted onto 3 more pieces of plastic, that stacked in the following order: parchment/black/parchment. When an angled cut is made, you can see all the layers clearly, as you can see in the picture below:
But why tortoise shell?
Honestly, it’s my opinion that a tortoise shell pickguard makes pretty much every guitar look better. Like most things, it all comes down to preference. I have tort pickguards on all of my instruments that have pickguards, so it’s become kind of a personal touch for me.
My Sterling Ray 34!
Sorry for the somewhat blurry picture and background clutter. If I remember, I’ll get a better picture of it at some point. I’d like to touch briefly on what makes this instrument special, and why I wanted it. The reason is the electronics, which consist of a Music Man style humbucking pickup, and an active 9 volt preamp. This combination gives a louder fuller sound, because humbucking pickups have 2 coils, where most electric bass pickups have 1 coil. This means, in laymans terms, that there is twice as much pickup, at least when compared to a standard single coil, like a Fender Jazz Bass.
The claim to fame, and the name of the humbucker is from the 2 coils are wound in opposite directions, causing any electrical hum cancel out, thus “humbucking.” This Sterling Ray has that very distinct ‘Music Man sound’ because of the humbucker, and that’s the reason I got it. It’s a great playing instrument, and I hope to have it for many years to come!