When I was at school, Music Man was a brand that had a mythical quality.
Neither my friends or I had ever seen a Music Man but we all considered their guitars to be incredible based on what we’d hear from older kids and family members.
The guitar form of unobtanium, if you will.
In this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on one of the guitars in the Music Man catalogue that gets nowhere near the attention it deserves – the Stingray RS.
Let’s dive in:
First impressions of the Music Man Stingray RS
The Stingray RS is a vintage inspired guitar with some tweaks for the modern day guitarist. All made in San Luis, California.
Right out of the box, the setup was on point. The fret work was excellent and the same can be said for the fit & finish. Everything I could expect from a guitar of this caliber.
What about playability? This is highly subjective and it depends mostly on what you’re comfortable with. But for me? The neck thickness, fret radius, fret size, all felt great.
Immediately, I could tell that the details had really been thought about with this guitar. Even the details that aren’t even considered on a lot of other high end guitars.
For example, there’s actually enough room to restring the guitar without removing the cover for the tremolo. This is such a minor detail but it’s real nice when it’s actually thought about in the design process.
Let’s talk about features
The Stingray RS comes fully tricked out with locking tuners, chrome hardware and high quality electronics.
The pickups are a set of custom humbuckers made by Music Man. There’s not a lot of information available on these but they have alnico 5 magnets and sound tremendous. We have a three-way selector switch. In the middle position we get both humbuckers wired in parallel.
We’ve got 22 high profile stainless steel frets with a medium width. Not too big, not too small. Just the way I like it.
The neck is super comfortable as well. According to Music Man, this is a hand rubbed oil and wax finish. It feels superb!
The neck carve allows for good upper fret access and the neck is attached with 5 bolts which is unusual to see.
The neck radius is 10” which provides a nice balance between vintage and modern guitars. And the scale length is 25 and a half inches.
What about finishes and colors?
Music Man offers a good selection of colors for the Stingray RS and they do change every so often.
Depending on the color of the guitar, you’ll either have a rosewood fretboard or a maple fretboard.
The neck is lovely figured maple that’s roasted. This particular Stingray RS has birdseye’s in the maple but I’ve seen some of these (at least on the Music Man website) that have flamed maple. Both look stunning.
The body wood is African mahogany with a high gloss polyester finish.
And in terms of accessories, you get a well-built hardcase and the usual case candy.
It’s also worth noting that there’s another line of Music Man guitars called the Cutlass. These are ideal if you are looking for more of a single coil thing. They come with either HSS or SSS pickup configurations.
What tones can you get from the Music Man Stingray RS?
These custom humbuckers have a certain vintage vibe about them but they’re surprisingly versatile.
They’re well balanced – beautiful highs with strong lows. The mids are where they need to be and don’t sound too barky. You can be aggressive when you want to be or the complete opposite.
Overall, the pickups sound excellent. Nice and open. These are stock pickups that I can never see myself swapping out.
Wrapping it up
The Stingray name is typically associated with Music Man bass guitars. The Stingray RS line of guitars shares similar design characteristics to basses but they tend to get overshadowed by the various signature models that are available.
Regardless, the reverence I had for Music Man guitars all those years ago is completely justified. The attention to detail, the tone, and the build quality are incredible.
Could the Stingray RS be the guitar for you? It depends on you. If you’re looking for a guitar that offers a vintage vibe with modern sensibilities, I highly recommend checking them out.
And, if you’re looking for more of a single coil strat vibe, check out Music Man’s Cutlass.
Featured image credit: Tone Island // Adam Connell