From the first basses in 1976 to the latest designs in 2015, the Musicman line has been an amazingly consistent sound and an internationally recognized brand. These basses have been in the hands of everyone from Louis Johnson to Flea. The Stingray specifically opened the ears of the funk, soul and R&B players since the earliest days. The "sweet spot" location of the pickup and the overall Fender type build give this bass the umph-then add the preamp Leo designed for 'that' sound and it wins!
There are a lot of articles written about the different Stingrays (whether it is Pre Ernie or modern) and I am not going to attempt to expound on all of that data. The Pre-EB basses have a unique tone as the preamp was in a constant state of change and even basses coming off the line around the same time did not have exactly the same electronics inside. Suffice to say, Leo hit it out of the ballpark with this creation and they command a healthy price on the used market nowadays.
The EB 'Rays are stout in their own right and even as they have changed here and there over the last 30 years, they remain true to Leo's vision of a bass with a special tone. It is easy to hear a 'Ray on a recording versus a Fender or Ric bass. I have owned many of both over the years and the irony of this is the fact that I find both equally exciting and sonically pleasing. EB came along with custom colors and finishes that further highlighted the 'Rays and made them stand out even more. Add to this, the SR5-Stingray 5 models begun in 1987 and they were on a train for success. Even on the used market, there are a number of 'Rays to pick from and they are never far from 'the Truth'!! Below are some examples of Stingrays that have been in my hands. Draw your own conclusions on these basses, but you cannot beat them for the money or sound regardless of musical style or genre! Enjoy!