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uk_lefty

Quality comparison, Harley Benton

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Hi everyone, I have a request please. I'm interested in a bass that Harley Benton do on request only (fretless lefty jazz). Thing is I don't know what to expect. I've heard Harleys are great / great value, but that can mean so many different things. But what do they compare to? I've listed out the below in my view of order of quality... Would be good to know where you place Harley Benton against those. 

Westfield

Squier Affinity

Squier CV

MIM Fender 

Sire

MIJ Fender

 

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It's been long since I've had Squiers and MIJ Fenders, but I have had three Harley Bentons and changed quite a few MIM Fenders + tried some other basses of the same brands owned by friends.

It seems to me HB basses are often too heavy and/or have neck dive and the pickups in the vintage-looking models sound more modern than you would expect.

For the money, they're great. You can probably find one that has nothing wrong with it that would seriously bother you. But I wouldn't go as far as to compare them with MIM Fenders just yet.

I liked the sound of this one, though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fD7ZM9_FO4

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8 minutes ago, Sida79 said:

It's been long since I've had Squiers and MIJ Fenders, but I have had three Harley Bentons and changed quite a few MIM Fenders + tried some other basses of the same brands owned by friends.

It seems to me HB basses are often too heavy and/or have neck dive and the pickups in the vintage-looking models sound more modern than you would expect.

For the money, they're great. You can probably find one that has nothing wrong with it that would seriously bother you. But I wouldn't go as far as to compare them with MIM Fenders just yet.

I liked the sound of this one, though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fD7ZM9_FO4

Thanks. That's the kind of comparison I'm looking for. I just want it to be better than a Westfield to be honest, though I know some people like them and even gig them I found them to feel really cheap... Low quality is not necessarily the wrong word but they didn't have the feel of a 90s MIM Fender (poor quality for MIM Fender) so while someone may rave about them it's probably because they can't get past paying just 50 quid for one second hand. 

That is a beaut if a bass you linked to. 

Edited by uk_lefty

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I don't find neck dive a problem on any bass. Depends very much on your dimensions, and your preferred position/height, so neck dive experiences and preferences are entitely personal to each individual.

I had a play on a colleages HB dual pickup Stingray clone a while back.  It was very, very, very nice, couldn't  fault the finish or the sound.  Active onboard electronics and it had a grear tone - not vintage (ypwhich a Musicman wouldn't give you anyway) and not super-clear modern either.  A nice tidy in between, with nice highs but a touch of mud when pressed lower down. Even the setup out of the box was first class. If the HB logo on the headstock had been hidden I could have easily believed it had cost 5 or 6 hundred quid, not £160.  Indeed, im not sure the entry Stingray Sub is any better for a lot more money.  Loved it so much Mrs Bassfinger is buying me one for Crimbo.

And thats what HB do - they're not the best out there, not without fault, but they bring levels of build, finish, sound and playability that most manufacturers cant match at three times the price.  If you have more than 3 times the cash to spend then you can start to look elsewhere, but if you don't then theyre a viable alternative for someone who wants more from a new bass than they could otherwise afford.  If you can afford a new or used MIJ Fender then you wouldn't be considering an HB anyway, so im not sure theres a comparison to be had there.  Indeed, MIJ Fenders can vary so much in character with the model and year it can be tricky to make a comparison against each other.

Thomannn also have a fair rep for customer services.  Reports generally ageee that if one does arrive faulty then Thomman are usually pretty swift about swapping it.  Compare that with the grief we hear of from owners of boutique or custom basses who try to get problems sorted, or even of cooking Fenders and the like.

In summary, cheap, but with plenty of cheer.  Those who like or even love them seem to massively outnumber those who don't. If you want classic tones look somewhere else.  If you want something immaculately presented that will kick a Westfield in the nuts and steal its lunch money and which sounds nice in it's own right, then theyre for you.

Edited by Bassfinger
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No neck dive on any of my HBs. One or two quite heavy , others not heavy at all. The best of them hold their heads up in Squier company. The last one I bought, a £100 P-Bass is extraordinarily good. I prefer it to my Mexican Fender PJ.

Now, what some people consider a serious problem, others do not count at all. So my, or anyone else's opinion is really hard for you to measure. I sold a bass once and the buyer returned it unhappy with a couple of things I hadn't mentioned. He wasn't picky and I wasn't a scammer, I just didn't think of them as issues or worth mentioning, for him they were a big deal.

It's like the HB preamps. For me they are absolutely perfect. The only active basses I've ever liked other than a Sandberg. There's a gentle subtlety to them which is just what I want from tone controls. Others have said they're rubbish, don't do anything, need replacing immediately.

It's what you like, how it looks, feels and sounds to you. All I can say is Thomann are great to deal with.

 

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HB do a range of their own brand gear at different price points, so without actually knowing which specific model you mean, difficult to give a good reply.

In general HB make good solid gear for the price point, don't get this confused or mistaken for good quality or especially high quality. A £120 HB jazz isn't going to play, sound or parts last as long as a £1000+ jazz. Necks and bodies, as well as general build quality is good from HB, so basically they have good bone's. Although playability, sound and feel are all subjective, so some may prefer the sound or feel of a HB over a Sire or Fender.

For the low end HB gear, like any low end gear the tuners, pickups and electrics are not going to be brilliant. Change these components to you own taste and some fettling with the neck, seating frets, smoothing fret ends, even rolling the neck will all make a very good bass at a lower price point than a stock Sire or Fender etc.

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Thanks everyone. I'd prefer not to be changing components but then again im not shy to do that if the bass is a keeper. It's more the feel, which I think has been resolved. I always fancied a fretless jazz and their Jaco type one looks the part. I've raised nearly enough from selling other gear but also have a bass to possibly shift too, shall decide this weekend. Its just with it being a special order I don't want to mess anyone about and buy it thinking I'll return it if I don't like it. For 140 quid I'm not expecting it to rival my USA Stingray or MIJ Jazz but I also don't want to buy it and be disappointed. I think I have a good impression of what the quality will be like now, thanks all. 

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I had the Harley Benton Jaco style Jazz. It was well built and well finished. I think the top might have been a veneer , because there were no obvious joins.

I thought it was a good bass, and certainly did me for a while. The only issue i had with it was that it was heavy. I sold it to someone on here, who wanted it for the neck!

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35 minutes ago, songofthewind said:

I had the Harley Benton Jaco style Jazz. It was well built and well finished. I think the top might have been a veneer , because there were no obvious joins.

I thought it was a good bass, and certainly did me for a while. The only issue i had with it was that it was heavy. I sold it to someone on here, who wanted it for the neck!

Great! Thank you 

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6 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

I'm interested in a bass that Harley Benton do on request only

 

I never knew this was a thing? Do they do this with other basses do you know?

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My mate's got the HB fretless jazz. 

 

Build quality is great, fingerboard is much smoother than my 86 fretless Peavey Foundation.

 

Reasonably heavy at about 12lb. To put in context ,most of my basses are around 12lb . 50something me still thinks it a reasonable weight.

32 minutes ago, rasher80 said:

I never knew this was a thing? Do they do this with other basses do you know?

Instead of ordering a batch of 200 and those taking up valuable warehouse space, Thomann take requests then place the order when the figures are worthwhile.

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9 hours ago, kodiakblair said:

Instead of ordering a batch of 200 and those taking up valuable warehouse space, Thomann take requests then place the order when the figures are worthwhile.

Could be a long wait then, depending on the minimum number required. 

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I've played one HB bass, @Jus Lukin's Precision, and the neck was too chunky for me.

It seemed solidly made, though.

Not in the same class as a MIM Fender, IMHO.

I've played some Squiers and they have been pretty good; I sold an Affinity Precision for £60 and the buyer got a darned good bass for that money!

Edited by prowla

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2 hours ago, pineweasel said:

Could be a long wait then, depending on the minimum number required. 

Wouldn't think the minimum will high, once you go over 10 units prices start to drop.

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12 hours ago, kodiakblair said:

Instead of ordering a batch of 200 and those taking up valuable warehouse space, Thomann take requests then place the order when the figures are worthwhile.

I've sent them an email with all the relevant questions. Do all requests get fulfilled? How long is the wait... Etc. 

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You missed out Revelation, by Alan Enwhistle.  Under £200 brand new, my fretless P bass kicks the nuts of every other P bass clone I've ever had (Squier, Westfield) and only really lost out to my MiM in the quality stakes. 

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37 minutes ago, lownote12 said:

You missed out Revelation, by Alan Enwhistle.  Under £200 brand new, my fretless P bass kicks the nuts of every other P bass clone I've ever had (Squier, Westfield) and only really lost out to my MiM in the quality stakes. 

I've seen them - Street Level in Southsea sell them; they do look to be good budget instruments.

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@uk_lefty

If you are after a Jaco style thing, I know Vintage do one that's highly thought of, although I expect you're probably already aware of it

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4 hours ago, lownote12 said:

You missed out Revelation, by Alan Enwhistle.  Under £200 brand new, my fretless P bass kicks the nuts of every other P bass clone I've ever had (Squier, Westfield) and only really lost out to my MiM in the quality stakes. 

Sadly Kev and co don't offer their fretless basses in left hand versions 😞

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5 hours ago, stewblack said:

@uk_lefty whereabouts are you BTW? Roughly speaking? 

At my desk... 

 

 

 

Sorry couldn't resist a sh!t joke. St Albans area. 

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11 minutes ago, uk_lefty said:

At my desk... 

 

 

 

Sorry couldn't resist a sh!t joke. St Albans area. 

Darn it. A bit closer and I'd have popped round and left you a handful of Harley B's to try. 

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16 minutes ago, stewblack said:

Darn it. A bit closer and I'd have popped round and left you a handful of Harley B's to try. 

Thanks, appreciate it. I'm waiting on a reply from Thomann so I can understand the terms and conditions around the "on request" instruments. It could be non refundable in which case I might not take the risk, depends how selling off some other stuff goes... 

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Slightly off topic, I asked Thomann whether they would sell HB necks separately.  No dice - apparently the manufacturer won't do it.

So if you need one as a fault replacement Thomann will do it, but not as a thing on its own.

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News just in... Thomann have this bass as "on request" because its a new model and they don't yet have an expected delivery date. They told me they'll update their page when they have a delivery date. 

So it's not so much "on request" as "coming soon". Lost in translation I think. 

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