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The all-new Cliff Williams Icon Series StingRay Bass is the first in a series of limited handcrafted replicas made to capture the look, sound, and essence of iconic Music Man instruments. Initially dubbed “The #1 Workhorse,” Cliff's 1979 Stingray has been his favorite bass for more than 40 years. Built to the exacting specifications of his original, every detail and characteristic was carefully examined and addressed. Body contours, neck carve, pickup construction, and decades of wear and tear were dutifully replicated by Music Man’s team of master craftsmen. The resulting outcome is a finely crafted period-correct instrument that looks, feels, and sounds just like Cliff’s #1 Stingray bass.

Only 26 available worldwide.

Listen to our podcast episode with Cliff Williams and Ernie Ball Music Man engineer Blair Ridings.

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OPTIONS

Back in Burst

Your Custom Options:

Model:
Color:
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Build Code
000-00-00-00

"We were in Alberts Studios in Sydney Australia, must have been 1978-ish, when George Young(Angus and Malcolm's older brother) let me try his new Music Man Stingray Bass. I was used to my old '64 vintage P-bass and was happy with that until I came upon the Stingray. The neck immediately felt comfortable and the weight good, but it was the sound that got me hooked! I got my '79 and, apart from the odd short-lived sidetrack here and there, have played it ever since. The scratchplate has been on and off a couple of times ( I don't know where it is now so I guess it’s staying off ) and the need for new tuning pegs, it's remained unchanged. I'm not one to name a bass guitar but if I had to this would be Workhorse #1." - Cliff Williams

Strings Thru The Body Bridge

You Can't Mute Rock and Roll

String-through body bridge with stainless steel saddles replicates the classic Stingray design. The original rubber mute pads have been removed per Cliff's set up requirements because you can't mute rock and roll.

3 BOLT NECKPLATE WITH MICROTILT ADJUSTMENT

3-Bolt chrome plated neck attachment with Micro-Tilt provides neck angle adjustment without the need for shims. Firm neck and neck pocket tolerances ensures a tight fit with no shifting.

Micropowered Preamp

The 2 band preamp is a hand-soldered circuit board constructed with high-quality components using vintage correct ceramic disc capacitors.

Cliff Williams Highlights

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Cliff Williams Highlight
BULLET TRUSS ROD
Original Pre-EB Stingray bullet truss rod adjustment for proper neck action.
Cliff Williams Highlight
Vintage style Alnico Pickup
Humbucking pickup with longer Alnico 5 magnets wound with original single poly-nylon wire.
Cliff Williams Highlight
CLASSIC ORIGINAL MUSIC MAN LOGO
Period correct vintage gold Music Man waterslide decal.

A Faithful Recreation

Hand-selected three-piece Poplar body blanks were chosen for their specific weight and appearance characteristics to match Cliff's original bass. The "Back in Burst" Sunburst bodies and maple necks were then sprayed with nitrocellulose lacquer to replicate the period-correct finishing techniques.

The Difference Is In The Details

At Music Man, the arduous task at hand was capturing the entire essence of this instrument one hundred percent. Staying true to the original, every nick, paint chip, and blemish was painstakingly examined and recreated by our skilled team of artisans and master craftsmen.

FROM THE FACTORY FLOOR

Milling

The entire manufacturing process for this unique instrument was engineered to match the aesthetic, feel, and functionality of Cliff Williams' "Workhorse #1." The 3-piece Poplar bodies were meticulously graded to achieve the proper color hue once painted. The hallmark front mineral stain was laser engraved for the perfect accent to the grain. New old stock Music Man truss rod components from the correct era were installed into the necks before the light shade Walnut 'Skunk Stripes' were glued in. The contours of the body and neck are exact matches. No detail was spared.

Paint

Nitrocellulose Lacquer is a challenging material to handle, apply, and distress properly. The history of this paint and its varying chemical composition is fascinating. It is heavily sought after in the guitar world because of its natural living & breathing qualities which help support the resonance and natural frequencies of the guitar itself. This is also what makes it so volatile and prone to cracking or "checking." There are many tricks in the industry to help make this paint behave including the addition of plasticizers, various drying techniques, etc. After extensive testing and research, we ensured the paint was as true to the original as possible.

Hardware

Alongside the major chrome plated components, Cliff's #1 bass is littered with lots of nickel plated, steel hardware. This material and plating was commonplace during the era when this bass was fabricated. However, nickel plated fasteners are not available without custom orders anymore. Stainless steel is not as exotic as it once was, and Zinc, Cadmium, or Black Oxide plating has become the standard for steel fasteners. Most do not recognize the subtle difference in hue between Nickel and Chrome plating. Rest assured each nut, bolt, screw, and other metal component is period correct and matches the original.

Electronics

The electronics package was carefully recreated through reverse engineering and many, many listening tests. The old school 2-band preamp is constructed with legacy components no longer in production to best replicate Cliff's exact sound. The original bass has a treble knob marking on the control plate to indicate his preferred tonal location, which we recreated through exact resistance measurements of the potentiometer. The pickup assembly is comprised entirely of matching period correct components, wire gauge, and DC resistance to the original. This pickup, in particular, has a significantly higher output than what was considered the median range of the era in which it was created. To produce the true clone of the instrument, the control cavity of each bass will be lined with copper insulating tape.

Distressing

The only way to properly distress or 'relic' something to give it the most realistic look and feel is to imitate the true process of degradation. Cutting any corner to try and save time will ultimately result in an extremely artificial look. The body and neck had to be entirely painted and buffed before all scraping back down was done by hand. The open wood areas were then finished with an oil paint mixture to best imitate the oils and dirt present on our own skin. The hardware was also plated throughout as a normal part would be made before any scuffing, plating stripping, or oxidation was introduced. Each and every part followed the same basic process that it would have experienced throughout a 40+ year Rock & Roll lifetime.

Nitrocellulose
Lacquer Checking

The phenomenon of 'Checking' is actually a mechanical fracture of the solids that are left in the paint once all of the solvents have evaporated. When the guitar experiences temperature variations, the wood and the paint expand and contract at different rates resulting in these unique cracks. After studying this aesthetic, one can eventually decipher whether the checking is natural or done by use of a razor blade or scalpel. The real deal is what was chosen by Music Man. Putting string tension on the instrument before applying temperature variations help the paint cracks propagate in their natural directions.

Final Assembly

Similar to any other 40+ year old machine, the 'Workhorse #1' has its own customizations, upgrades, repairs and mismatched hardware. The two different styles of saddles, Micro-Tilt neck shim adjustment, Bullet style truss rod, 3-bolt neck plate, and old StingRay contours can't help but make you feel like you’re back in the late 70's. The setup is exactly like how Cliff Williams himself enjoys his bass: Flatwounds, excellent action, a meticulously filed nut, with some soul and style sprinkled all around it. Part of the allure to any vintage item is seeing and feeling the history embedded within. We understand that importance and want each customer to have this experience with these basses.

Making Of The Cliff Williams Bass


The task of recreating a 40 year old instrument belonging to an incredible player from an iconic band was a tall order, and we all knew it. Cliff Williams giving his blessing to move forward was such a cool way to show his loyalty and trust for Music Man. We knew we had to do it right!

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Many of us were quite critical of other replica "Relic" instruments that had been done in the past. The product can easily become a gimmick if you’re not serious about it. Countless hours of research and experimentation proved again and again that no shortcuts could be taken if we were to create something up to our standards.


New old stock, period correct Music Man components were found in our stash and used including the truss rods, truss rod bullet nuts, and truss rod bushings. The original Music Man logo stamp was dug up by our long-time vendor and used on the 3-bolt neck plates. Old, original engineering hand drawings from the early 80's were used to create some of the out-of-date steel, nickel plated parts. The project soon became an homage to the history of Music Man as a company as much as an homage to Cliff Williams and his tenure using our machines.


Dudley Gimpel and Derek Brooks are absolute encyclopedias of Music Man history (and guitar history in general, for that matter) and were invaluable resources during all of the research. They helped to clarify which historical "facts" about MM basses of this era were actually true or false. Dudley's attention to detail when it came to reproducing the original Stingray pickup was incredible. The entire electronics package as a whole is a thing of beauty with no detail spared. If you remove the Banana Plate, you will find old school electronic components no longer in production with the entire cavity enclosed in copper shielding tape. Yes, as close to Cliff's setup as possible.


The best results to show the signs of age came from mimicking the organic, natural process of each component. The bodies & necks were fully painted and then scraped down by hand. The cracking or "checking" of the paint was replicated by remembering that time you left your axe in your car trunk on too cold of a night. The hardware was all plated in traditional fashion and then deteriorated in the proper places using chemicals that best represented the natural oxidation progression. Basically, every process utilized was as close to the 'real deal' as possible. After all, you can’t fake the funk!


The Nitrocellulose Lacquer checking on the body came out great after Dudley suggested that we put string tension on the body while it spent a night in the freezer. The string tension cups the body and directs the cracking propagation perpendicular to the strings.


Much of the hardware is Nickel-plated steel, which is no longer commonplace for simple nuts and bolts found on the shelf as it was in the 70's. Many components had to be purchased with Black-Oxide finish, stripped and re-plated in Nickel only to be stripped again in specific areas and corroded accordingly. The plating was stripped in the exact areas of Cliff's hardware by using lacquer masking paint for the plating to remain, and a Nickel Stripping solution carefully monitored at the correct temperature and length of time. A Muriatic Acid vapor chamber was then utilized to heavily oxidize the plating and raw steel sections for the final look.


The worn through areas of the paint were mimicked by scraping, sanding, and rubbing off the paint by hand. Our laser bed provided an extremely light etching on the bodies to show the exact areas to be worn away. Each body and neck were then painted on the exposed raw wood with oil paint to match the dirt and grime from the last 4 decades of some serious Rocking and Rolling!


Everyone is an AC/DC fan whether they want to admit it or not. At Ernie Ball/Music Man, we are HUGE fans! Throughout the project, we couldn't hold back from saying our favorite song titles and lyrics to each other during different phases of the R&D process. "It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)", "Shot Down In Flames", "Shake A Leg", etc. I think so many of these lyrics proved incredibly relevant to this project because it was a very 'Rock & Roll' endeavor. Start with nothing, give it your all, and don't stop until you’re satisfied!


Blair Ridings

Project Lead Engineer

Specifications, Schematics & More

Specifications Cliff Williams StingRay
Model Cliff Williams StingRay
Size 13-1/2" wide x 1-5/8" thick x 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
Body Wood 3-Piece Trans Poplar
Body Finish Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Body Colors Back in Burst
Body Bindings N/A
Bridge Pre-EB Geometry Music Man® chrome plated, steel bridge plate with vintage stainless steel saddles
Pickguard N/A
Scale Length 34" (86.4 cm)
Neck Radius 7.5" (19.1 cm)
Headstock Size 8-3/4" (22.2 cm) long
Frets 21 - Low profile, wide
Neck Width 2-1/2" (63.5 mm)
Neck Wood Select maple neck
Fingerboard Natural aged light yellow finish
Fret Markers 5/16" Dot Inlay
Neck Finish Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck Colors Natural aged light yellow finish
Neck Binding N/A
Tuning Machines Schaller BM, with tapered string posts
Neck Attachment 3 Bolt, Pre EB Music Man Design with Micro-Tilt Neck Shim Adjustment
Electronic Shielding Chrome plated brass control cover & Copper Insulating Tape in Control Cavity
Controls Custom 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass
Pickups Custom humbucking with 8 elongated Alnico magnets
Left Handed No
Strings 50w-70w-85w-105w (Group II Flatwound #2804)

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Specifications Cliff Williams StingRay
Model Cliff Williams StingRay
Order 0
Size 13-1/2" wide x 1-5/8" thick x 44-7/8" long (34.3 cm wide, 4.1 cm thick, 114.0 cm long)
Body Wood 3-Piece Trans Poplar
Body Finish Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Body Colors Back in Burst
Body Bindings N/A
Bridge Pre-EB Geometry Music Man® chrome plated, steel bridge plate with vintage stainless steel saddles
Pickguard N/A
Scale Length 34" (86.4 cm)
Neck Radius 7.5" (19.1 cm)
Headstock Size 8-3/4" (22.2 cm) long
Frets 21 - Low profile, wide
Neck Width 2-1/2" (63.5 mm)
Neck Wood Select maple neck
Fingerboard Natural aged light yellow finish
Fret Markers 5/16" Dot Inlay
Neck Finish Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck Colors Natural aged light yellow finish
Neck Binding N/A
Tuning Machines Schaller BM, with tapered string posts
Truss Rod
Neck Attachment 3 Bolt, Pre EB Music Man Design with Micro-Tilt Neck Shim Adjustment
Electronic Shielding Chrome plated brass control cover & Copper Insulating Tape in Control Cavity
Controls Custom 2-band active preamp; vol, treble, bass
Switching
Pickups Custom humbucking with 8 elongated Alnico magnets
Left Handed No
Strings 50w-70w-85w-105w (Group II Flatwound #2804)

Register your Instrument

Why register?

Thanks for choosing Ernie Ball Music Man. By registering your instrument within the initial 12 month warranty period you are entitled to an additional 3 months of warranty coverage. That is 15 total months of factory warranty protection from the initial purchase date.


Registering your instrument, whether or not it is covered under warranty, also provides a record that you owned that particular instrument. In the unfortunate instance that the instrument is lost, stolen or destroyed we can provide you with the serial number if needed.

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Since 1984, Ernie Ball Music Man has been crafting instruments in San Luis Obispo, California.

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