Stinger by C.F. Martin

In 1985 Martin unveiled its Stinger line of solid body electric guitars. These were manufactured on the Southern Korean peninsula (south of the DMZ). This was coincidently during the same period in which there was a dramatic increase in quality among Korean manufacturers.

As with most other imported Martin products, Stinger guitars were made in Korea and shipped to the Martin factory for a final inspection and set-up, before being sent on to dealers. Essentially, Martin Stingers are well-made entry level guitars pretty much following conventional lines of the marketplace.

Martin never produced Stinger catalogs, so a detailed accounting is pretty difficult. However, there were four basic Stinger body styles, a fairly conventional Strat shape, a Strat-style with an arched top, a Tele and a Fender-style bass.

These came in a variety of finish and pickup configuration options. Headstocks were a kind of modified Strat-style six-in-line, with a pointed throat and slightly hooked nose, with a painted triangular Stinger logo running under the strings. All had bolt-on maple necks. Guitars had a 25.4” scale, while the basses were 34”ers.

The principal difference among the Strats was in finish options. All had 21-fret maple necks, three single-coil pickups, volume and two tone controls, and five-way select.

Strat-style guitars:

The arched-top Strats

The Tele

Basses

The core of this early Stinger line can be seen in an undated flyer which could be anywhere from around 1986 to ’88.

By the Fall of 1988 the Stinger line, as reflected in a November price list, had rearranged slightly. Still around were the SWG ($281), SGV ($294), SSX ($308), and STX ($330) guitars and the SBX ($337) and SBL-10 ($367) basses, the black SSX and SBX now available in lefty versions (add $15). Essentially these were unchanged in options.

New was the SSX-N ($347), basically the three single-coil SSX with an ash body and natural finish, set off with black hardware and a fixed bridge/tail assembly.

The arched top Strats were still available, but now with new names and details. Gone were the one-pickup SSL-1


All information was dug up online. Alot of it was at http://www.guitarsite.com/database/Guitars/rec/1435/ and was posted by an individual on that site. I was unable to locate his post to give him credit.

Pictured Stinger guitar is from my personal collection.