Harley Benton DB01 and DB02 - Looking for infos

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Luigir, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. Luigir


    Mar 15, 2018
    Hi all!

    I am electric bass player looking to try an electric upright bass.

    I've read multiple reviews of the NS Design WAV4 which looks good and costs about 1200$ https://www.thomann.de/it/ns_design_wav4_db_ab_double_bass.htm

    In Thomann I've seen two EUB which looks promising and are way cheaper 500$ to 700$ and they are called HarleyBenton DB01 and DB02.

    I know that HarleyBenton gives a great bang for the buck regarding guitars and basses. Is it the same for EUBs? Does anybody here have tried one of these? How they do compare to the NSDesign Wav?

    Thanks in advance for all the comments.
  2. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    It looks like a rebranded Stagg EUB: 3/4 electric double bass with gigbag, violinburst
    Maybe look in the Stagg EUB topics here on talkbass.

    I played one of the Stagg ones; they are okay-ish for what you get but that is it.

    Can't comment on the NS Design (never played one).
  3. Luigir


    Mar 15, 2018
    Thanks for the comment but looking at the pictures they look pretty different. Neither the DB01 nor the DB02 can be a rebrand of the Stagg you linked.

  4. They are basically Stagg EUBs, just with a little different shape. The more expensive one is better, separate fingerboard, bigger and longer pegs.
    Worth the additional money.
    The fingerboard curvature is often too flat for bowing (except if you are used to a 5-string DB). The body support bends a bit too much and needs to be custom bend for better fitting.
    Probably worth what you pay for it. At least feels more like a DB than a tripod mounted EUB.
    The bridge is too bulky and the crown is not shaped well, which means either live with it or remove the lacquer to shape it better. I‘m still planning to make a solid non-adjustable bridge for my Stagg, but since I have a better Clevinger 5-string EUB, that won‘t happen soon.
    You also want a better set of strings (like Spiro Weich 4/4).
    For an EUB with an endpin you might want a stand too.
    Bisounourse likes this.
  5. John Le Guyader

    John Le Guyader Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    DC Metro

    I have to agree that the Harley Bentons referenced are slightly modified, but basically the same design as the Stagg: slab body, upright scale string length, arched bridge and fingerboard, piezo pickup, internal preamp. Except for the cut of the body and the scroll on the DB02, they are essentially the same as the Stagg. Its the same bridge and bolt-on neck as the Stagg. I had a Stagg and it could be bowed, it wasn't great, but cheap, especially if you find an open box/b-stock/used. My Stagg was my beach bass when I had it for a year or so until I found a cheap Yamaha Silent Bass SLB200 on eBay that needed work. The SLB is a much better EUB, and closer to the feel and sound of an upright compared to a Stagg, and the Bentons by analogy in design. I priced the Stagg for a quick sale (basically what I paid for it) and it sold fast on Craigslist fast. Maybe I was lucky.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
    Luigir likes this.
  6. Mister Cbass

    Mister Cbass

    Jun 30, 2011

    The more expensive one is better, separate fingerboard, bigger and longer pegs.
    Worth the additional money. "
    How could you see that ? Separate fingerboard ? Is it not the case on both ?

    longer pegs ? Sorry for my English, Not sure to translate correctly. wich part of the db is it ?
  7. The cheaper Stagg has a neck that is covered by a thin hard black layer of black epoxy or another hard lacquer.
    A double bass fingerboard needs some relief to work well in all positions. The manufacturer put in a truss rod like with a bass guitar, but the thick neck doesn’t Allow bending by a truss rod. So the truss rod is unusable and the relief needs to be done by shaping the fingerboard (for most a job for a luthier). The relief of the Stagg fingerboard can be very different as delivered by the manufacturer. I have two Staggs with the black epoxied neck and one with the rosewood fingerboard that is glued on. The relief on the rosewood fingerboard was worst, but the black neck ones were more or less completely straight which is not good either, but acceptable because I don’t use them often. The rosewood one (that I got very cheap because it was damaged) had a bump that needed to be removed. I used a scraper to shape it (very slowly and checking very often). There was lacquer on it, but it was transparent and a thin coating by boiled linseed oil will be enough for a fingerboard finish as done with DB fingerboard too.

    I might be wrong with the pegs (where the strings are wound on for tuning), but older Staggs have a thin headstock that can easily break when it gets a hard push from the sides. The newer head sticks are thicker and single thick peg fender BG tuners will fit them in case they might break.

    A Stagg is not a finished instrument to play. To make it work well there is some tuning needed, most of it easy but the fingerboard can be a problem and the bridge is bad (E string gets out of the groove if plucked a bit harder). Less to work on than a Palatino, but both are not good instruments to be played in serious situations. More made for a BG player who sometimes wants to play a piece upright.

    Once I got a used Clevinger EUB and since then I usually play that instrument as an EUB. But even my old beaten ply DB was more fun to play than the Clevinger. I take the Stagg to vacations when I’m not completely sure it would be safe there. The Clevinger if it is safe and my big DB stays at home unless I have a gig or a rehearsal that needs it.

    The Stagg was good as a first EUB for a very tight pocket when it was cheaper (and at least for me because I got them slightly damaged for half the price). But it is not good for learning DB (almost no EUB is but the Stagg and Palatino are worse than most more expensive ones), but if you want something to be played with effects and maybe a bow (hard, the Stagg bows like a 5-string DB), an EUB is the only choice.

    I have started with my old ply DB, got a carved DB later that I still play and like and then got my first Stagg. The reason I have three is that they were cheap on EBay because they were damaged and I made two working ones out of three.
    So I already came from the DB. But learning DB technique on a Stagg needs a lot of discipline and a good teacher who accepts an EUB for teaching DB technique.
    Luigir likes this.
  8. Luigir


    Mar 15, 2018
    In the end, instead of following the EUB route, I have decided to rent a very cheap plywood bass. It's not great by any stretch of imagination, nevertheless I like it and it seems to be decent enough to get started.
    marcox likes this.
  9. Artem Trunov

    Artem Trunov

    Feb 7, 2019
    Hey guys. Actually it’s not rebranded stagg bass and it doesn’t have anything common with. But this Harley Benton is just a copy of a Dean Pace Contra which is actually not that bad.
    here’s the link.
    I’ve never tried this particular model but due to my experience all the solid body EUBs sounds nearly the same to each other.
    And as always simple replacing of factory strings, bridge and perhaps tailpiece is not cost you too much but without doubts will make every eub sounds way better.
    Luigir likes this.
  10. It‘s the same construction as the Stagg EUB, only the body shape is a little bit different. I‘m pretty sure playability will be the same as the Stagg.
    Martin Spure likes this.
  11. Yammer


    Jul 28, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    I just received a Harley Benton DB02 a few days ago. While far from perfect on the whole due to cost savings on some parts, It is pretty fantastic for general playability and tone. If anyone is interested I could do a full write up.
  12. clintrubber


    Oct 16, 2011
    Hello Yammer, Would sure be interesting!

    Like DoubleMIDI wrote, it indeed looks like a bit reshaped Stagg (apart from the labels, it seems to have the same electronics-section as the 'HDB-200' part of the Stagg. And several identical construction-methods, like the neck to body screw locations. And last but not least also the strap button :) ).

    Already curious for now: how noisy is the DB02? (Especially the headphone out on the Stagg is pretty noisy.)

    Enjoy the DB02!
  13. Luigir


    Mar 15, 2018
    I'm surely interested in your opinion. If you play acoustic too could you give me some info about the similarities with it? Thanks in advance!
  14. Yammer


    Jul 28, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    Yes for sure, I play a 3/4 carved 1967 Hoyer. I don’t have a ton of experience playing other uprights, but I know this bass well, I have had it since I was a kid—25 years. The scale and neck feel very similar to my own instrument. The amplified and non-amplified tone is pretty darn satisfying, which I’ll get more specific on later.

    I have not played the Stagg equivalent but I have researched enough to know yes, they are all probably made in the same Chinese factory, including the Dean. I almost bought a used Dean earlier this year, and then spotted this thread. EUBs are pretty niche already, and Harley Benton is a pretty obscure brand here in the US; I had never heard the name before.

    I have to say, given the shared origin and design, the traditional headstock was a big part of the interest among the three. I’m going to be gigging/touring this instrument in a modern surf band; The Stagg headstock seems awful fragile. The Dean’s was a little better, but it just appeals to me quite a bit to have a full headstock, visually it grounds the design a bit, and OTOH, it also gives it a bit of a demented mash-up vibe, which appeals to me too. Having appropriate scale tuners was the practical part of the decision; in use, the tuners are quite serviceable, and because they are standard design, can be replaced or upgraded with 3rd party hardware.

    I am getting used to the side relief. This is probably the biggest adjustment—the the physical contact with the instrument when comparing to my classical bass. The screw-in standoff has vertical flex to it, which helps getting into play position. I’m figuring it out I’d say. And yes, the strap button! Leave it to the Germans. I have a super long Ernie Ball light gauge strap, and this allowed me to ‘put it on’. First position is a bit awkward, but I know I’ll be doing a song or two this way in the surf band, for the visual bizarreness even on top of how bizarre the whole thing looks already. I am cool with awkward instruments in general, I have a Fender Pawn Shop Reverse Jag I use in the same group. Style over comfort! LOL.
    clintrubber and Luigir like this.
  15. Harley Benton is a Thomann brand. Only they use it. As far as I know they are made from general models from Asian manufacturers to their specifications.
    Same with the Thomann DBs. They are manufactured in Asia or Romania, depending on the model it are all named Thomann xyz.

    the headstock of a Stagg is a weak part, specially the older models, but if you mount a back plate to it and fix it well it is not that bad.
    It’s cheaper to make the headstock that way, so in that price region, any possibility to save money gets used.
  16. Yammer


    Jul 28, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    Yeah, I found out Harley Benton was Thomann’s house instrument brand once I made contact. FWIW, if you’re in the USA, you may have a hard time getting one of these instruments shipped. Because of COVID shipping restrictions (for your safety, of course) the shipping box was too big. I have some connections at Thomann. They were able to reduce the shipping size down for me by modifying the original box. Not sure if they would do that for everyone, but who knows.
  17. clintrubber


    Oct 16, 2011
    Great, hadn't even considered using it :)

    Via a friend the strapbutton-question actually also landed at the Stagg Product Manager stringed instruments, ... 'added just in case' was the gist of his answer. And he added a pic of an horizontally played big upright bass ;-)

    So how do you attach the other side of the strap, connecting to the end-pin?
  18. Yammer


    Jul 28, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    Yes, just pulled the end pin all the way out, and pushed that end through it.
    clintrubber likes this.
  19. Yammer


    Jul 28, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    I don’t recall if the other two have it, but the only tone control is ‘sub-bass’. At least at home on the vintage B/15, it really brings out some of the lowest frequencies associated with an acoustic equivalent. I look forward to hearing how it affects the sound on my main amp the Fender Bassman 800 at our first rehearsal with it.
  20. clintrubber


    Oct 16, 2011

    FWIW, here some observations for the (most likely identical) Stagg electronics module:
    Stagg EUB stock preamp mod
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