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I own a Harley Benton club

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

  1. I am missing in the list as a PJ74 and ubass owner :)
  2. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    I just want to add to my previous post that I ended up giving my PB-20 a complete fret levelling job and it's really nice now. There were a couple of buzzing frets that got too annoying for me. The fret work wasn't TOO bad though. Certainly better than the laughably poor Squier Bronco I also got at the same time. I've been buying cheap basses recently to practise my fret work skills so I'm actually relieved I found the HB to not be 100% perfect, lol.

    But even if the fretwork wasn't too bad the setup was still almost unbelievably poor. There's two things I just don't understand about the Harley Benton PB-20:

    1) The setup. It's so appallingly poor that it beggars belief.

    2) Why do they make it so chunky? Surely it wouldn't cost more to give the neck a slightly slimmer profile?

    It could have been an absolutely amazing beginners/entry level instrument if they had made it slightly less chunky and bothered to set it up at least half way decent. Sadly it's completely useless out of the box and far too big for children's hands. And just to be clear: I love chunky vintage style P-bass necks. The HB-20 is less wide than those but still feels considerably chunkier. It's the profile. It's too deep IMO and bordering on U rather than C-shape. Personally I'm also not a fan of such flat (12"?) fingerboards with chunky necks. Makes it feel even more sluggish IMO.

    The pickup, hardware etc. may not be top quality but they work fine. The setup and the neck profile however... that's where they blew it for me. The PB-20 is more like a pre-assembled parts bin for a tinkerer/modder with above average sized hands. But pretty good value at that!

    It was a fun experiment but I don't think I will buy another HB after this experience.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  3. MeLikeBass

    MeLikeBass Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2010
    Indianapolis, IN
    I am not a number! I AM A FREE MAN! .... but thx for the number :thumbsup:
    GKon and Gothic like this.
  4. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    The cheapest guitars usually have thick necks. I suspect it makes it possible to use cheaper wood that hasn't gone through a long drying process.

    Products at the lowest end of the price range are always at the limit of the acceptable. If they weren't, someone would make something cheaper. This applies to anything.
    RyoCanCan likes this.
  5. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Guess what, the absent set-up is part of the ridiculous price. Or maybe that thick neck wasn't stable enough to stay put so either string tension or humidity changes did the rest.
    You don't get what you don't pay for (the inverted statement is a trick to make inflated prices look good).

    By the way, early Fender necks were that thick. A 1951 or 52 Telecaster or P-Bass would be 24 to 25.4 mm thick at 1st and 12th frets, U-shaped. I wonder if that also was cheap wood, back then.
    kodiakblair and RyoCanCan like this.
  6. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Hm... I'm not so sure about this. Squiers don't have chunky necks. If anything they're thinner than more expensive Fender models. Actually, the chunkiest currently available Fender necks are the top-of-the-range American Originals, and before them the AVRIs (and also the corresponding vintage style MIM series, Vintera/Classic).

    The difference is of course that the AVRIs feel great because they have a nice profile whereas the HB PB-20 feels sluggish because it has a poorly designed neck profile IMO.

    It's more about design than just about being a thick neck. Thick necks can feel great. It's just a matter of programming the CNC machine for a better profile.

    But then again, even Squiers are considerably more expensive than these HBs so I guess you may be right when we enter the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel brands. Also, neck profile/thickness is obviously a matter of personal taste so others may like these HB necks better than me of course. In fact, I didn't dislike it THAT much once I'd done the necessary setup/repairs, just found it to be a weird choice for a beginner/entry level instrument.

    As for "at the limit of acceptable" I can assure you that the setup of my PB-20 wasn't anywhere close to being within that limit. The setup was... well, non-existent. Action at the 12th fret was around 1cm(!), pots weren't fastened, BRIDGE wasn't even fastened properly , etc, etc.
  7. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    A Squier Affinity is twice the price of a PB-20 and they produce massive quantities. Glarry guitars and basses, selling bellow a PB-20, also have thick necks. They could be made slimmer at no cost but I suppose they just wouldn't hold. This is a quality assurance decision at this point.

    I have several Harley Benton, all good (minus one) but none came from the sub-100€ range and I had to touch the frets on about half of them.
    The bad one is an older model (2005-10), a fretless bass that had a fretted nut cut, nonsensical electronics I re-wired a little and a shim in the neck that wanted another. It's good now. It has a thickish neck too (21 to 24 mm) and so does the 119€ ST-62 (23 to 24.5 mm). I read the 109€ PB-50 everyone here likes so much also has a thick one. There seems to be a pattern.
    RyoCanCan and S.F.Sorrow like this.
  8. The mind train

    The mind train

    Jul 15, 2018
    Seems you had much the same problems as I had with my Deko JB 75, but was actually sold as decorative unplayable.

    I agree that learning on repair and renovation skills on cheap guitars is a good way to go. I did my "apprenticeship" on beat up old kit from charity shops. But, one shouldn't have to do all that work on what is sold as a finished product.

    On the subject of Fender necks, my latest acquisition is a MiM Fender Active Precision Deluxe and I have been surprised at how slim the neck is. Very comfortable for my little hands.

    I did briefly consider buying a PB 20, but I won't now. In fact it's unlikely that I will buy anything else from Thomann. That's because it's highly likely that from next month things shipped from the EU to the UK will have big tarrifs slapped on
    S.F.Sorrow likes this.
  9. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Perhaps mine would have been re-listeed as Deko if I had returned if. But then again I've returned faulty basses to Thomann that have been immediately re-listed at full price, not even "customer return" (I know this because I got the last ones in stock of discontinued models and they miraculously re-appeared in stock the day after they received my returns). If it had happened ONCE it could have been a mistake but it has happened twice now. I've also THREE times received basses listed as brand new but full of dirty fingermarks, scratches, worn fretboards and clearly re-packaged (one of them was faulty too) so I'm pretty much done with buying guitars/basses from them now. They either have extremely poor routines for handling returned instruments or they deliberately try to re-sell returned gear as new.

    On the positive side their customer service is great and I've never had any problems getting a refund. But it's just too much hassle when there's a problem with about one out of three orders.
  10. The mind train

    The mind train

    Jul 15, 2018
    Fair comments
  11. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    That's why i jumped at getting my PB50 now...great bass and haven't had to do any set up, apart from tighten the tuner nuts if that counts. Even arrived in tune
    Volker Kirstein likes this.
  12. bpc


    Mar 29, 2016
    Central Scotland
    I like the chunkier necks. I've got lots of guitars with thin necks, the Ibanez 200 and the Daisy Rock have particularly thin necks. I prefer my HB450's which are chunkier than the PB20 I had. It's what I've got the most hours on so that may be why. I also have quite small hands but the thicker necks just seem more comfortable to me. My HBs all arrived in playable condition but I dislike rounds so they all got flats which needed some tweaking. The PB50 needed the nut slots dropped a little but it was playable out the box, just a little better now. Thomann are going to get things wrong sometimes due to their sheer size. I've been lucky with mine so far, four of them new.
    Volker Kirstein likes this.
  13. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    I don't judge an instrument by how it comes out of the box, only by how it ends up being after I'm done setting it up.
    My first experience with set-ups was with a quite wonky second hand Ibanez. It had a back bow and a dancing floating bridge. Good lesson :D
    Volker Kirstein, bpc and GKon like this.
  14. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    I totally agree. I've played very expensive basses at the music store that had a horrible setup. Doesn't mean it was a bad instrument.
    Volker Kirstein and bpc like this.
  15. HarveyRobertson

    HarveyRobertson Lowdown Showdown Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    Benton Kentucky
    #130 Checking in with a huge thank you and happy to be an HB Bass owner.. these instruments are every bit as good as the next. My PJ-75 is spot on against my Fender Deluxe Active Jazz V, only difference are electronics, these Roswell passive pickups are pretty damned good to be honest.
  16. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    You are on the list at #119 :thumbsup:
  17. 405BassGuy


    Jul 15, 2019
    HBO #135 saying thank you very much and I, too, am proud to be a part of this group!

    I recently began modifying my PB-50 to give it more of a retro look. So far I've only reshaped the headstock and sprayed the neck in a vintage amber lacquer. I'll be adding a clear lacquer to give it the glossy look in a few days.

    StewMac Vintage Amber Spray.jpg
  18. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    Oooh...good job on the re-shape:thumbsup: ! Care to share how you did it?
    (Considering it for my PB50 for the future)
    Volker Kirstein likes this.
  19. 405BassGuy


    Jul 15, 2019
    Thank you so much! I'll gladly share how I did it; however, I highly recommend using a jigsaw or some type of small power saw. :woot:

    After making a pattern from my '51 RI, I used a small handsaw to make the initial cuts (top 2 photos). I then used a 4 in 1 file to complete the reshaping (bottom left). Then I used sand paper for the final step (bottom right). The hardest part was making the initial cuts with the handsaw, which is why I recommend using a small power saw. Also, this was my first attempt at modifying one of my basses and it really did go pretty smoothly. Hope this helps.

  20. Same method. Tools - template,pencil,pullsaw,rasp and sand paper. IMG_20180318_121859.jpg IMG_20180318_115534.jpg

    Lined up tuners on template with pre-bored holes.

    Cut away excess with pullsaw before cleaning up with rasp and sandpaper.

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