Jump to content

Harley Benton - cheap AND cheerful?


lownote

Recommended Posts

Should you be looking for a cheap jazz bass but are worried about quality, let me share my recent purchase with you.  I was looking for a lined fretless to improve my high end playing, something that's very hard on the unlined fretless I usually play. So I bought the Harley Benton JB40 FL from Thomanns.  I was a little nervous because of the price - £138 new inc VAT. But while I am sure there are cheapnesses somewhere - electrics, maybe? the fit, finish and performance are IMHO equal to Sire or Squier at a third or half the price (and finish actually better than two Ibanez I've had at x5 the price!)   I haven't found a single feature yet where I've castigated myself for buying cheap. The fingerboard hasn't any dead spots and the markers are clean. The machine heads are tight and smooth. Trussrod was stiff to turn but did - turn that is. The bridge is thicker than the usual bent tin and the screws work smoothly enough. Amazingly relief, string height and intonation were spot on straight out of the box.  It's a bit heavy by modern standards and you'll neeed a wide strap to play a three hour gig with it. If you want clever active electrics buy Sire.  Otherwise get this and if you must at some point perhaps throw a ton at upgrade Tonerider pups and KiOgon loom. You'll still have a cheap bass. But for most jobs you do don't even need to do that.

 

   

_72A2645.JPG

_72A2646.JPG

Edited by lownote
  • Like 14
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • lownote changed the title to Harley Benton fretless jazz bass

I can 2nd that. I have a few Harley Bentons and all have been decent.
 

Only minor issue I had was with my PB-Shorty short scale P bass as one of the saddle height adjustment screws was a bit rounded out of the box, you could adjust it when string was loose but any tension on the string and the Allen key would just spin in the head. Messaged Thomann and within a week had a full new saddle with intonation adjustment screw and spring, I was only after the little set screws to replace the rounded one. Can’t fault Thomann customer services as they are amazing. 
 

In my opinion Harley Benton is a great way to get cheap instruments backed up by a large company with good customer service. 
You may be able to save a couple of quid buying a no name off eBay but I reckon if you had any issues you’d be on your own. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had one of these. It was really very good, especially after I had deepened the nut slots enough. Mine was quite heavy too, but a good strap took care of that. I think the wood grain is actually a fotoflame type thing, but it was really well done and indistinguishable from the real thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Solid bit of kit these.

I know a few folk with the JB-40 . When I've did their set ups ,  the fingerboards to have been bang on.

 

7 hours ago, songofthewind said:

but it was really well done and indistinguishable from the real thing.

That's because it is the real thing 😃 

 

"Fotoflame" is one of those snippets folk hear and think it applies across the range ; it's only used on burst basswood bodies , PB-50 , MB-4/5 & MM-84/85 👍

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, kodiakblair said:

That's because it is the real thing 😃 

 

"Fotoflame" is one of those snippets folk hear and think it applies across the range ; it's only used on burst basswood bodies , PB-50 , MB-4/5 & MM-84/85 👍

That's interesting. I didn't know that. When I took the pickups out of mine, the bottom of the routs didn't look like the top body wood.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • lownote changed the title to Harley Benton - cheap or cheerful?

Loving my MB4 in all black.

 

Less than a hundred to buy new, Wilkinson tuners improve tuning stability, Warman pickup adds punch without sacrificing tone, skull knobs add panache.

 

Less than a hundred and fiftey sheets and its perhaps the best sounding bass I own, but even in stock form it was an absolute belter.

 

Also got the BeatBass. Comes out the same factory as the Epihone Viola, and it shows in the sound and finish.  I looked at the Hofner Icon, but it was twice the price and no better in any tangible way. Another piece of cheapness with great cheer.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have a stunning Paisley Fender P-bass and a few HB PB-50's.

 

OK , single coil P-basses are simple animals but my HBs hold their own against the Fender 😱 Original Wilkinson was a lovely pickup , later Roswell is no slouch either .

I'd imagine plenty folk would find the HBs easier to play , Fender has a right chunky neck.

 

In 8 years I haven't touch a TR nor tightened up tuners.

 

"Harley Benton , cheap or cheerful ?"

 

Well they're certainly inexpensive and still smile every time I play one , reckon they're both 👍

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last December I jumped in and bought a Musicman clone just before the Brexit cutoff, brand new, shipped. for £117.

 

I really wanted one of the stealth black looking ones as per the photo in the post above but they didn't have any in stock at the time.

 

However, this is my first ever maple (or maple coloured anyway) fingerboard and I really like it.

 

I really can't complain for the price and a bit surprised at the comments above RE: weight - this isn't the lightest bass I've ever picked up but  feels a lot lighter to me than my Sire V7.

 

PHOTO-2021-12-10-11-33-43.thumb.jpg.47709a1c8f1a80dfa42d59e60eba37c2.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • lownote changed the title to Harley Benton - cheap AND cheerful?
3 hours ago, Bassfinger said:

Indeed. My MB4 is on the lighter side of middling.

 

 

6 hours ago, Huge Hands said:

I really can't complain for the price and a bit surprised at the comments above RE: weight - this isn't the lightest bass I've ever picked up but  feels a lot lighter to me than my Sire V7.

 

 

I am speculating here but my 40 is American ash.  Is the Musicman basswood? My limited experience and almost total lack of knowledge is that ash can be heavy, and basswood not.

Edited by lownote
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just this past weekend I scored an immaculate barely played PB-20 with a gig bag, 2 cables, a strap and 2 tuners (one regular Ibanez, one thoman clip-on) for 80€. After some setup (lowering the nut and action, intonation) it plays great and sounds as nice thick P goodness should. Also plays and sounds better than any Squier Affinity I've played, at less than half the price either new or used. Unbeatable P for the price.

 

 

Edited by andruca
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, andruca said:

Just this past weekend I scored an immaculate barely played PB-20 with a gig bag, 2 cables, a strap and 2 tuners (one regular Ibanez, one thoman clip-on) for 80€. After some setup (lowering the nut and action, intonation) it plays great and sounds as nice thick P goodness should. Also plays and sounds better than any Squier Affinity I've played, at less than half the price either new or used. Unbeatable P for the price.

 

 

 

¡Vale! Tocaste esa canción muy bien.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...