I own a Harley Benton club

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JACink, Dec 26, 2014.

  1. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    OK, it's another one of those club threads!

    Actually, the intention of this thread is to try and recap some of the information that is dispersed around the web regarding these instruments that are sold by Thomann in Europe.

    Obviously Harley Benton basses are not going to be very popular here for various reasons. First (and mainly) because it is only sold in Europe, via Thomann.de, and secondly because they are pretty cheap instruments.

    Having said that, Talkbass is a major research guide for those looking for new instruments, and the Harley's do come up now and again.

    So basically this is for those of you who own a Harley Benton to share any information (good or bad) regarding these cheap bass guitars.

    I also understand those of you who would never go near the brand, and respect your decision, but unless you comments are based on experience, please keep the negativity to a minimum, as the point here is to help those who are looking at the HB series, most of who are pretty new to the world of bass.

    (NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with Harley Benton, Thomann or Saein!)
    Ferre, PaleAngel_90, VWbug and 9 others like this.
  2. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    What is a Harley Benton?

    So before posting basses, I just wanted to enlighten those who have no idea what a Harley Benton is, as to where this brand comes from.

    The Harley Benton basses are made by a company called Saein Musical Instrument Co., who have factories in both Korea and China.

    Saein was established in 1991 and in 1992 began manufacturing the Epiphone guitars for Gibson. They won "The Best Quality of the Year" award, presented by Gibson in 1998 and 1999.

    Saein currently are the OEM vendor for Ibanez and Peavey.

    Harley Benton is an in-house brand name exclusive to Thomann, the biggest musical instrument distributor in Europe.

    Although Harley Benton has a a large selection of products (guitars, effects, amplifiers, cases, parts etc.), the aim of this thread is to focus on the Bass Guitars.

    Harley Benton has a wide range of basses, some are based on popular and famous designs, others are their own design. The prices of their basses range from 66 € ($80) for a basic short scale P bass, up to around 300€ ($365) for a Neck-Thru 7 string.

    Obviously this is the low end of the price bracket, so by no means should these be compared to some of the models they are based after. Some of the instruments are excellent as they come out of the box, some have set up issues that can easily be addressed, others have QC issues that mean the instrument should be returned. I will say however, that Thomann issues a 3 year guarantee, and a 30 day money back return period, no questions asked, which they even cover the return shipping on.
  3. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    My experience with Harley Benton...

    OK, I will get to the photos and info of specific basses soon, I promise, but first I want to give my "general" opinion of the brand.

    My first bass was a Harley Benton. I had absolutely no idea about basses, I had never played one, and I didn't do any research. I just looked throught the Thomann site for a few hours (days) and picked one that I liked the look of.

    I must say that the bass did not inspire me much.

    After finding Talkbass, and learning about setups, different neck sizes and finishes etc. I ended up refinishing the bass (I had already devolped GAS, and had other basses to play). After sanding the neck and swapping pickups, I found the bass was really comfortable (and sounded much better!)

    This inspired me to try (and buy) other Harley Bentons, and although I only own 2 (the 3rd is on its way), I found that most of these instruments were very good quality for the price. Also, I have never had an issue returning any of the ones I decided not to keep.

    I have reccomended them to many friends (both guitar and bass players) and although some of them did get returned, the majority of them were happy with the purchase.

    In short, my opinion of Harley Benton is that you get a decently made instrument for far less than would be expected. I find that most of the pickups are lacking quality, although some of them are pretty good, and that sometimes the QC is not good (but again, this is on the minority of the instruments I have tried).

    I would reccommend them to new players, and to those who enjoy modding basses.

    (Usual disclaimers: IMO, IMHO, YMMV etc. etc.)
  4. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    Ok, enough useless chit chat, and on to the basses.

    I would like to start with the first bass I ever purchased, unfortunately an "artist" friend of mine has the body (for over a year) and I still do not have it back. So I will start with my "noodling in front of the PC bass".

    This is a Harley Benton PB-Shorty BK Standard Series. It is a 30" scale (762mm), P style bass with a single split P pickup.


    I purchased this while I was in Germany for a while, so I had something to play with. It cost me 58€ ($70) new.

    The bass out of the box had an action that was a little high, but definately playable. The strings were total rubbish, and the pick up sounded a little hollow (although I was playing it through a 20w 8" combo).

    The neck is very comfortable, and the small size is great, so I decided to upgrade it.

    It currently has DiMarzio Model P (DP122) pickups intalled and is strung with LaBella Flats.

    The sound is great, for that old school P tone (running it through a Zoom B3 on the SVT patch) and it is probably the bass that gets most use, as it is small enough to play comfortably on my lap while in front of the PC.

    I have had the bass for about 3 years, and so far the only issue has been that the bottom strap pin has pulled out. This was when I removed a very cheap strap, with a hole that was too small, from the bass. I have not yet fixed this as I only ever play this bass sitting down.

    I am currently gassing for a new Short Scale, so once I get the new SS, I will probably refin this bass and swap pickups to an SPB-1 which I purchased for this bass but have been too lazy to swap.

    I can't offer sound samples of the stock bass, but they are available on Thomanns website: http://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_hbp90bk_shortscale_ebass.htm

    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
    rumblejunkie, Helix and Short-scale like this.
  5. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I didn't know about them until recently, I like some of the styling on their semi-hollows. No idea if any of them are good, never seen one around here.
  6. Following on from JACink's lead I'll go with my 1st HB.

    This is the PB-50, currently 98euro so $100. 34" long scale, Basswood body with a photo flame finish.
    It comes with Wilkinson hardware and pickup and weighs around 9lbs. Nice clean and easy maple neck.

    From ordering to arrival took 3 days,Germany to Scotland.

    It the very well packed box I was impressed, no sharp frets was in tune just a wee adjust to the action.
    In short for the £80 it was great.When I plugged it in an old school groove got me.

    I did a NBD here about it.The response was generally good, of those that owned them one fella had put
    a Haussel pickup in. That's a 150 euro pickup.Another interested party was subdude67, he lives in Kenya
    and was hoping to get one.There were a few posts between us but the airline friends changed route
    scuppering his hopes of one.

    Subdude was back a while ago with the news he'd got one and I knew the seller in England.:)

    Back to the PB -50 I strung mines with Rotosound black nylon and that gave it a heavy thump
    Benton 2.jpg Benton Back.jpg

    All in alll a decent well made and good sounding bass for very little cash. The Douglas Pisces is very similar,close enough dabbler thinks they're the same.
  7. My mirrored version of the Harley Benton PB-Shorty.
    Unbelievably well built for its price. Mechanically everything is okay, reasonably well finished, the frets are level and have no sharp ends, only the tuners sometimes felt a bit vague, which was easily fixed with some pencil lead in the nut groves.
    The only thing that really needed to be done was a proper shielding job, this is absolutely necessary, it already started humming when you looked at it.
    I also lightly sanded the back of the neck with 1200 grain sandpaper (for a smoother feel), and of course put on a set new strings and done a proper setup on it.

    Even though it will double the price :woot:, I've ordered a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder pickup for it, I think this fun little bass deserves it.
  8. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    I must say that this bass has been floating around on my GAS "top ten" list for a while now.
  9. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
  10. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Los Lunas, NM
    Honestly, I've heard nothing but good reviews from folks re: Harley Benton instruments. You do seem to get get
    much more than you paid for! I'm a bit biased because I LOVE inexpensive instruments that rock. :)

    My only HB purchase thus far is an EUB. I the U.S. they're labeled Palatino. In Europe, Harley Benton.
    I'm quite happy with it. Needed a little set up. Had a few minor issues that got straightened out with a little
    research. All in all, a good purchase. (I'm an EB player just learning how to play UB and chose the HB EUB as
    my best fit, both stylistically and price wise).

    I have a slew of other HB basses in my "wish list" on Thomann. They have a resonator bass I'm interested in buying,
    just because I think it's great that they actually have a HB resonator bass for sale (seems like an infinite circle resulting in GAS)

    They also have a P-bass kit that you put together. That's my next purchase for sure.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  11. I've also got a left handed Harley Benton Gold Top LP inspired guitar.
    I won't go into too much detail about it because it's a guitar, but this one is also very nicely made.
    There were some frets that needed leveling and the frets needed proper crowning and polishing, mainly due to the fact that there was a weird bumpy varnish on them.
    Another thing I did was a proper shielding job, including the open covers for the humbuckers, this one wasn't humming as bad as the shorty bass but humming non the less.
    Squittolo, GKon and JACink like this.
  12. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    I have been tempted by the P-Bass kit a couple of times, but they also have a finished P-Bass for the same price. The way I see it is that the finished bass has at least had some kind of QC, and when you receive it you can check if everything works, before taking it all apart, refinishing and rebuilding.

    This way you get experience in taking it apart, sanding (not a fun job, but practice is a good thing) and you can't blame the instrument if it doesn't go back together properly! ;)
    Volker Kirstein and GKon like this.
  13. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    My brother in law has exactly the same guitar. After a decent set up it is very good for the price.

    (I just wish he could play the damn thing!)
    Squittolo, GKon and kodiakblair like this.
  14. Imaginary Pony

    Imaginary Pony Guest

    Aug 29, 2014
    I've been looking at HBs for some time, but have yet to take the plunge. I'm interested in their 7 string bass. it's cheap enough to take a gamble on, and someone here posted a review not long ago which was pretty positive.

    I also like the look of their resonator bass and their hollow bodies.

    The main problem people seem to complain about is the weight, which is less easy to fix than shielding, strings or action.
  15. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    I can't comment on the weight of a 7 string, or the resonator, as I haven't played them (or any other brands either).

    I will say that the 5 string version that I tried was lighter than the ESP LTD B-205 that I own. I can't say if they all weigh approximately the same or not.

    The p-basses that I have tried seemed to be around the same weight as Squiers that I have tried, and the J Basses were definitely lighter than my VM Jazz fretless. Again, this may vary from instrument to instrument.

    The nice thing is the return policy, you can try and return if it doesn't convince you.
  16. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Los Lunas, NM
    Where are you located?
  17. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Los Lunas, NM
    The reason I want to buy the kit is because I've been itching to "build" something from scratch. Otherwise, I would definitely
    buy the already made one for the same price.
  18. Hi Guys

    I think I've posted most of these before so I apologize to those that have seen them but if we group
    all our HBs here It'll help newcomers.

    This was my next HB. BZ 4000 NT
    The BZ range were the top end basses and come in 4,5,6 and 7 string versions.

    All active thru neck designs with ebonol fret boards myself and a few others pre-ordered them in August.
    These pictures were taken when it arrived which explains the label still on it. Mahogany,Ash and Sycamore
    body under a high gloss finish and no scrimping on the veneers.
    P8260027.jpg P8260029.jpg

    On another forum a 7 stringer owner complained of noisy electrics and rusty strings so I had cooper tape laid in to be sure.
    It wasn't needed,myself and the others all waiting on delivery reported no issues though one had a couple of marks like a
    hair had been in the finish.

    I was eager to try this one after the PB-50 and again wasn't disappointed. One night I put it head to head with my Cirrus,Millennium
    a Grind, 2 Vintage V100s and a Traben Neo. All similar basses with these exceptions,The Grind was passive,one of the Vintages a 5'er
    and the Traben and Millenniums were bolt-on necks.All were more expensive than the BZ but it held it's own,coming out ahead of the
    V1004SP. Of course it had new strings and I prefer the zingy tone to be muted but not only did it look the part it played it too.

    A friend with the 7 string now hopes Thomann will release a 9 String bass.

    At £190 these are incredible value and it's no surprise they've sold well.The bass player for the great Kate Bush tribute act Cloudbursting
    contacted me prior to buying his,roll on April when they play Glasgow,and no complaints from him either.

    I've a few HBs to post but I'll hang fire and let others post, particularly would like to hear from HBZ 2004 owners a massive seller for

    The Floor is yours Gentlemen.
    fermig, Ralf1e, Squittolo and 5 others like this.
  19. Sem Thewissen

    Sem Thewissen Guest

    Aug 18, 2011
    I seem to have major gas for the harley benton basses lately. I just love having multiple basses which all sound different (although I only have 3 basses atm). I just ordered a fretless 5 string acoustic bass but I'll probably order a few more in the comming months, the hollowbody ones look way too nice.
  20. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    That is a beautiful bass! I wish they would release something in a similar shape as a short scale for my modding project.