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NBD: rock bottom fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SoVeryTired, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Just a quick NBD post. Brand new fretless, my first, from Harley Benton (the in-house brand of Thomann.de, a German music retailer). I wasn't really looking for a fretless until someone linked to this and at the price (just over £100) at the spec level, I found it hard to resist. Full review to follow but it's way more than worth the money.

    [​IMG]
  2. JDLowEnd

    JDLowEnd

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    Is that a nitro finish???
  3. 3234718

    3234718 Supporting Member

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    That's beautiful.
  4. mjac28

    mjac28 50th Anniversary Ed Sullivan February 9, 1964 Gold Supporting Member

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    Love it what pups are those?
  5. Temcat

    Temcat

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    Looks almost like Squier VM Fretless, but with RW fretboard and traditional jazz knobs. Who knows, it may be even better value — looking forward to your review.
  6. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    No time for a review yet but to quickly answer questions/comments:

    I'd be very surprised if it's nitro at the price - but if it starts to wear like nitro I'll let you know!

    The pickups are Wilkinson, presumably the same as in the more expensive Vintage Icon fretless. On that point, whilst it looks like the Squier, it probably has more in common with the Vintage (albeit not roadworn) - rosewood fretboard and Wilkinson pickups. It's made from ash though, rather than the poplar of the Vintage or the agathis of the Squier.

    And it comes with D'Addario XLs, which I find amazing in such a cheap bass.

    More details and pics to follow later.
  7. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    Sub'd, as I've been considering getting one of these. Looking forward to your info.
  8. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Okay, so let's start with the reminder that this is a €133 bass, or £110 to me, or around $180. It's cheap. I ordered back in January in excitement at the supposed great value, and have been doubting ever since. The 30-day guarantee was my comfort that if it turns out to be cheap junk, back it goes for a full refund.

    First impression on unboxing: this is no lightweight bass. It's a solid, substantial piece of wood. I haven't weighed it but if you demand the lightest woods known to man, step away. The description says American Ash (I'm guessing to be clear on the variety, not that it's necessarily from the USA). From the weight and grain pattern, I have no reason to doubt it. The fretboard is rosewood with fret lines of some unknown material, set flush so there's no sensation of bumps or dips as you run your finger over it. The neck is (supposedly Canadian) maple - a nice enough piece of wood. Standard passive J bass electronics with Wilkinson pickups. The website showed brass saddles but they're the standard Fender style. The tuners are solid and stable, the classic open-geared Fender style.

    Playability: well, it's a Jazz-width neck, which I find very comfortable. The fingerboard as stated is as smooth as you'd want. For a factory setup this is as good as I've seen. The nut is cut lower as a fretless requires, there's a small amount of relief, the action is low without being ridiculous. The E and A are completely clean, the D and particularly the G are set just low enough to get the familiar fretless buzz (or mwaaaahhhhh, to use the correct terminology!). I may raise the action a little but I'm going to give it a few days to settle, and for me to decide how much buzz I want.

    Sound: I tested it through my Zoom B3 with headphones, through a range of the patches I use with my fretted bass. Stock strings are D'Addario XLs, I think 45-105, and they're a good choice. Open strings are very bright right now but the 'fretted' notes are rich and woody. It sounds like a Jazz bass should - slightly scooped with both pups full, deep and growly when backing one of the pickups back slightly. The tone pot does what it should, but I usually prefer wide open. It's noisier than my other bass, but then I'm comparing it to a well-shielded custom PJ from a top quality luthier. When touching the strings it's pretty quiet and the noise reduction on the pedal takes care of the rest. So far, better shielding is the only change it may need - but that's true of many Js that I've played.

    Disclaimers: this is still very new so I may find issues and imperfections over time. I'm also an inexperienced fretless player. But so far I'd say it's a fantastic bass and would be great value at two or three times the price.

    Feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer!
  9. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U

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    Looks like they got down to the details with that bass. Inserted bridge screws, tight pickup routes. The satin finish looks great too. You can see from the pic it's made of the good stuff.
  10. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the update. Sounds great, especially for such an inexpensive bass.
  11. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Yes, it's very well assembled. I don't think I could slide a piece of paper between the neck and body.
  12. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    I just love it when inexpensive basses are good!
  13. Temcat

    Temcat

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    What is the exact model of the bass? My loaned Squier VM has developed a crack in the neck, so it's time to search for a new cheap fretless.
  14. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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  15. 3234718

    3234718 Supporting Member

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    Have you ever played the Squier fretless jazz?

    If so, how does this compare?
  16. Hugh9191

    Hugh9191

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  17. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Sorry, the only comparison I can make is on specs. The only other fretless I've spent more than a couple of minutes on was a MIA Fender Jazz - it's difficult to compare sound from memory but the feel and overall playing experience is very similar (probably due to both having nice rosewood fingerboards).
  18. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

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    Hmm…makes me wonder if it'd be worth getting one of their Jazz 75's shipped out here to the states. After all, at the current exchange rates, I could get it shipped for about $210 or so.

    OP, I know you said it's your first Harley Benton, but is it the first you've ever tried out?

    http://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_jb_75_sb_vintage_serie.htm
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014 at 11:30 AM
  19. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Sorry to hear that. The relief was pretty much perfect on mine so I haven't touched the trussrod yet, but I'll check it out later and report back.

    Of course, with a refund on the Vintage you could order two HBs and keep the best of the pair!

    The only additional issue I've found is that the pickup screws are pretty much impossible to move (a question for the Hardware forum). It's a minor annoyance at worst as the pickups are almost exactly where I want them.
  20. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much Supporting Member

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    Nice 75 - the natural one looks good too. This is the first HB bass I've ever tried so I can't give a definite answer as to whether they're all good or I just got a good one.

    I bought it with some confidence having bought a HB electro-acoustic mandolin (for about £70) which was fantastic value and has paid for itself in gig money - a little scrappy in places cosmetically but it does the job really well.

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