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Tom Walker played a large part in the design of the bass preamp.They were the first production guitar and basses to use active electronics which could boost levels in selected frequency bands.Given this climate, the Sting Ray guitar was quietly dropped from the line. Music Man's remaining physical assets were sold on June 1, 1984.The production of amplifiers, which were manufactured at a separate factory, ceased.
When CLF stopped making necks Jackson made those also. After looking at a few offers Music Man was sold to Ernie Ball on March 7, 1984.White had worked with Leo Fender since 1954, in the very early days of the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company as the plant manager, eventually becoming vice president, and stayed on after the company was sold to CBS, but grew unhappy with their management and resigned in 1966.Fender did not like the corporate name, so it changed first to Musitek, Inc., and in January 1974 the final name, Music Man, appeared.The factory, which Ball still owned at the time of the Music Man purchase, was located in San Luis Obispo, California and that is where Music Man started producing basses in 1985.Ernie Ball Music Man improved their visibility in the guitar market with a succession of new guitar models, largely player-endorsed, including the Silhouette (1986), Steve Morse Signature (1987), Eddie Van Halen Signature/Axis model (1990), Albert Lee Signature (1993), Steve Lukather Signature (1993), the John Petrucci six and seven-string guitars (1999).