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Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 15:10
by Nigel
Hi guys,
So I bought a second hand Sterling Ray 34 (Indonesia). I needed something semi-decent each Friday morning at my school for 2 songs and didn't want to be lugging my Mailloux in just for that, figured I'd buy something fairly cheap and just leave it there.

The Ray34 was a great price and I've had a noodle on one before and it was pretty impressive for the price. My error was just using the guys amp to test it out. I just assumed a few details about it and I think now I've walked into a problem. When testing a bass I generally check for scratchy tone pots or loose connections and a decent neck. This bass had excellent action and the tone was nice. The tone controls weren't as strong as I'd remembered them being, quite weak actually, but I just put it down to a different amp and it was at his house so I didn't want to turn the volume up too high. There were a few minor checks in the neck finish but the body was in excellent condition. I paid the guy and went on my way.

Playing through my rig at home I noticed it was a bit on the quiet side but kinda within normal parameters. Once again not much difference with any of the tone controls. But as it was at home I have to keep it quiet so I didn't panic too much. When I got to church was when I realised there was a problem. I use that amp regularly. I had the bass up max and the amp volume up max. This would usually be pushing the speaker but it was giving me only about a third to a half volume I was expecting. Changing instruments revealed it wasn't the amp. I had to quickly turn the volume back to 12 Oclock with a different bass. The tone controls only made very subtle difference in tone and no extra perceived volume.

So, is this normal? Have I just bought an extremely weak output bass? I just pulled open the electronics and it all appears stock with no adjustments, loose wires, broken bits ect. I do have a local tech I can take it to but thought I could draw on your collective experience first. I think I may need to replace the pickups or the pre. Do regular EB Stingray sized pickups and pre drop in?

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 15:15
by Petebass
No that's not normal. 1st step, change the battery.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 15:25
by Nigel
I was just getting back on to say first thing I did was buy a new battery and put it in.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 15:53
by Nigel
I suspect this might be it? There was some black shrink wrap and I slid it along a bit. Could this be it?
Looks like previous owner fiddled with it, cut the wire and did a bad job of re-soldering the break. Hope the link works. I do have a solder here I wonder if I should try myself...

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 16:29
by Nigel
OK. I think problem kinda resolved now. I do recall a bit of hum when fingers not touching strings, plugging it into the amp got me the same issue but twiddling the solder point got rid of the hum. Putting it all back in the preamp rout yielded a few minutes of the big big tone I'd expect from a stingray style instrument. There are two guys I can take it to for a solder fix.

The red wire is the only one that long. I wonder if the previous owner broke the red wire from the solder point on the preamp and added the extra bit from the preamp to the solder join. Hopefully I'll have it repaired and sounding huge in no time.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 13 Jan 2018, 18:40
by Petebass
A bad solder joint will do it. There could also be some shorting going on with that exposed wire not being insulated properly.

I'd do it myself. All you have to do is apply some heat to the joint until the existing solder melts. As it does so, it'll invade any gaps and correct any iffy connection. Then remove the heat and let it harden. You're done!

Grab some electrical tape and wrap up the exposed wire so it can't come into anything metal. Put it all back together. A few minutes and $Zero later, your beast will again be beastly.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 14 Jan 2018, 08:49
by BassLine
^ This. :yep

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 14 Jan 2018, 09:44
by BigDaddy
Yep, give it a go yourself. It will take u longer to unscrew the control plate screws that it will to actually solder the connection. You could always check out YouTube if you aren't sure and then do a bit of practice on some spare wire. It is good to develop skills - saves time and money provided you are competent and know your limitations.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 15 Jan 2018, 06:31
by narcdor
And if you stuff it up THEN go to a tech!

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 15 Jan 2018, 10:07
by Nigel
Thanks for the encouragement guys. Nice to know you believe in me, but I suspect you didn't see the job I did in creating that 26 scale 5 string. I think I've tried to solder about 12 times in my life, over the years, none - not one - of those times did I meet with any success. If we ever end up in some kind of life and death situation and our very lives depend on me being able to solder: 1. I'll feel really silly. 2. You can say "I told you so." and 3. I'll be OK, I know who Jesus is.

I'll do someone else a favour, as at some point I'll probably sell this bass to someone on here one day, I'll pay a guy to fix it properly - so we know its done right. Like the original owner should have done. Going to see Centauri Audio in 20 minutes.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 15 Jan 2018, 11:04
by slashin_velvet
Nigel wrote:
15 Jan 2018, 10:07
Thanks for the encouragement guys. Nice to know you believe in me, but I suspect you didn't see the job I did in creating that 26 scale 5 string. I think I've tried to solder about 12 times in my life, over the years, none - not one - of those times did I meet with any success. If we ever end up in some kind of life and death situation and our very lives depend on me being able to solder: 1. I'll feel really silly. 2. You can say "I told you so." and 3. I'll be OK, I know who Jesus is.

I'll do someone else a favour, as at some point I'll probably sell this bass to someone on here one day, I'll pay a guy to fix it properly - so we know its done right. Like the original owner should have done. Going to see Centauri Audio in 20 minutes.
And really it's probably not the end of the world if the bass was ultra cheap in the first place.

If its an easy fix, the tech probably wont charge you a lot, and if its a tricky fix you probably couldn't have done it yourself anyway and may have done more harm than good.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 15 Jan 2018, 18:12
by Nigel
Took the tech less than 5 minutes. The red wire was badly resoldered and creating grounding hum noise. There was also another wire only partially connected to the input jack which I didn't notice. He fixed both and only cost me $10. The input jack is also a bit iffy. I had to put some sideways pressure on it to get it to work properly. It did feel a bit funny before going to the tech too. So I've gone and bought an input jack and he will replace it tomorrow.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 16 Jan 2018, 16:16
by Nigel
So the tech replaced the existing input jack with a new switchcraft jack. Upon inspecting the old jack, it was a very old jack which had the guitar lead connect points filed back. The suspicion is that the original jack was damaged and the guy replaced it with something old hanging around. It must not have made a good clear connection so he has filed it back hoping to file away any dust and grime, but he filed away the outer layer of conductor and through to the inner layer which doesn't conduct as well - hence the problems and whilst doing it broke and badly repaired the red lead and did a terrible job soldering one other lead back to the input jack. If only he had used good parts and soldered properly in the first place. Bass is now good and sounding stingrayish - like I remembered these basses sounding. I had to force the tech to take another $10 for his efforts.

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 20 Jan 2018, 13:05
by jezzamac
:thumbup:

Re: Sterling Ray 34 help needed

Posted: 20 Jan 2018, 14:23
by Petebass
Good result. That poor bass has been abused, so you might have to be extra nice to it to make up for it's rough early life. Is there a musical instrument version of the RSPCA?