ouch, AL, you got my bucket bass. Damn it. Well, if anybody (besides me) deserves one its you.
Man oh Man, what I wouldn’t do for one of those.
I have about 5 basses listed for sale, if I can sell any 2 of them, I will be getting that Black ASH 34.
One thing you forgot to add about the Ray34ca and the Ray24 is that the Ray34ca is only available on the used market, since they pretty much changed the Ray34ca to the Ray24ca.
I think, like you said, the Ray34ca was voiced better with better pick ups, and was wired in parallel (the standard Stingray method), however, you forgot to mention that it is possible to change the Ray24 to be wild in parallel in about 50-10 minutes and that will help a bit with sound.
However, I still think the pick up from the Ray34ca was better then the stock pick up that comes with the Ray24ca. That said, you can get a slightly better sound if you take the time to wire it in parallel.
Unfortunately, the Ray4 has the same crapppy pick up that the Ray24ca has, but they potted it, and don’t give you access to the start and finish of the winding, therefore making it impossible to wore in parallel, unless you get creative and don’t mind messing with the potting.
AS far as upgrading the pick up and pre-amp, you can get a 3 band eq with a push / pull pot, so that you doh’t have to modify the control plate, but get access to the 3 and pre-amp if you so desire.
Personally, I like my Ray4, and I have used both Aguilar (my preference) and Kent Armstrong (a strong 2nd), both with the stock pre-amp, and I have had no problems with the simple 2 band eq. I know some people will want to add the 3 band (possible with many name brands, as long as you get a push / pull pot, so you can still use the 3 volume / tone pots, AND the input jack on the control plate.
It is not that big a deal however, if you prefer to get a 3 band eq, with no push / pull pot, and utilize all 4 holes on the control plate, and then drill a side hole thru the body, into the control cavity, and add a side jack (like would be fond on USA EBMM Stingrays with the 3 band eq.
It is also notable to add that the 78 Stingray (year 1 and 2 of the Stingray from Leo Fender, prior to selling to Music Man) only had a 2 band pre-amp.
There are also clones of that exact 2 band pre-amp widely available in case you prefer to go with the classic Stingray 2 band pre-amp (clone, so voiced like the original 78 stingray), which works with a myriad of pick ups from Kent Armstrong (on the cheap spectrum of $50) to the mid range Seymour Duncan and Aguilar ($99 - $120) and up from there to EMG, Nrstrand and a host of others, both with their own specially voiced pre-amp to match, or they work with the 78 clone from companies like MojoTone and another UK company that I can’t think of the name right now, but if I remember, I will post it.
There is a stingray for everybody just like there is a body for every stingray, so try and find that perfect combo and stick with it.)
And Al (@Al1885 ). Whaaaaaaaaaa!!!