NBD: Harley Benton MP-5EB

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TawodiDalonige, Jul 9, 2022.

  1. Technically it’s not a NBD as I got this bass a couple weeks ago.

    First Impressions

    The bass was set up decently from the factory, which is always higher than I like. Fit and finish was…decent. IMO in excess of the price point. The weight is not terrible (I haven’t done an official weight check but it is inline with most of my 5 string Fender style basses.). The balance was decent and on my 3” wide strap I didn’t notice any excessive neck dive. The neck is satin finished and has a comfortable D shape. The fret ends were nicely finished with no fret sprout or sharp edges. The ebony fretboard is nice but it was dry and the neck had proper relief.

    Before I did any kind of setup or adjustments I wanted to do a sound check to establish a base line. The pickups are very warm, almost too warm. It lacked definition. Even when using the 2 band EQ it lacked the midrange punch that you would expect from a P/MM configuration. The treble side of the 2 band EQ was noisy. There was a noticeable hiss when turning it up and it’s overall effect on the sound left a lot to be desired. The bass side of the EQ just further exacerbated the boominess of the pickups. The stock D’Addario strings were garbage and the low B had a warble to it.


    I left the bass sitting in my music room to acclimate to the climate before I made any adjustments. I removed the stock strings and restrung with Ernie Ball Slinky strings (The regular Green pack.) The bridge and body have a string through option and that is how it was strung from the factory. However, the ferrule for the B string is slightly too small and it made removal of the B string difficult. The B from the EB set would not even go through the hole once it reached the winding at the ball end so I strung the B through the bridge instead. The neck required an ever so slight truss rod adjustment which was easily done at the wheel at the neck heel. I tried the bass acoustically and the warble on the B string was gone. With the new strings the pickups sounded better but still nowhere near what I wanted. I loosened the strings and removed the pickguard and electronics. The cavities were painted with shielding paint but I’ve never been a fan of it so I shielded both the P cavity and MM cavity with copper tape. The pickup foam has a spring in it but I installed a spring around each mounting screw to make pickup adjustments easier. Put it all back together, tuned it up, checked the neck relief again, and set the string height to 1.5mm. Adjusted the pickup heights to what looked good to my eye and plugged her up.

    The bass sounds MUCH better now. The pickups are more defined, the treble side of the preamp is now hiss free, and the tones are FAR more usable than they were before.

    Overall (TLDR)

    The Harley Benton MP-5EB seems to be a great value for the money. If you have the ability to do the work that I did on mine without shelling out money to a luthier than the value remains. The quality exceeds that of most basses that I’ve played in the sub $300 price point and if you wanted to modify it out it would be a great platform to do so. But as always this is just my opinion, YMMV.

  2. Looks like it has decent hardware for the money, too.
    Carvin/Kiesel (and others) use that same bridge on their J and P basses. Looks like a HipShot String tree (or a knock-off) and not that cheap 5¢ string-bar so many companies use. I like it.

    How are the tuning machines?
  3. The hardware definitely seems solid especially for the price point. Tuners seem solid. They’re smooth. As far as holding tune, it’s too early to determine as the strings are still new and I’ve made action adjustments but they seem to be solid.
  4. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I have the 4-string version of that bass and I agree with your assessment. I eventually replaced the pickups with Duncan's and the preamp with an Audere and it's a total keeper.

    CletusMarley likes this.
  5. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I forgot that I got a different pickguard for it as well.
  6. Played this at rehearsal last night and was VERY impressed with the sound. I ran it through my Line 6 Helix into the house system and it sounded fantastic.
  7. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    It's the same $30 Korean pot-metal bridge that tons of cheaper basses use.
  8. Not sure what your gripe is as it seems like a quality piece. As far as cheaper basses is concerned I’m not so sure I agree with that assessment as Maruszczyk and Kiesel also use it.
  9. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    It's a decent bridge, it just doesn't seem like a professional piece like a Hipshot or even Gotoh.

    I'm not at all disappointed to have it on my HB enhanced, but I think it's unacceptable paying over a grand for a bass to have this be the bridge they use. It's too obviously a cheaper bridge like a lot of them on Ebay or Amazon. Not refined enough for a +$1000 bass.
  10. B-Mac

    B-Mac Happiness is a warm puppy and a great bass Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member


    It must be HB buying week because you and @rtslinger and @bordinco90 all posted a HB NBD this week!

    I’m more and more impressed by HB with every TB HB NBD!
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2022
    JRA, bordinco90 and rtslinger like this.
  11. bordinco90


    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    Yeah my JB-40FL is awesome! I had to tweak the setup a little bit, but it plays and sounds amazing and not just for the price! Idk if you own a HB, but you should really check them out.
    B-Mac likes this.
  12. CletusMarley

    CletusMarley Knuckle Dragger Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2018
    I would love that with a J pickup in the neck. I'm so hesitant to route either of my J basses because they are perfect. I'm prob going to go with Warmoth.
  13. CletusMarley likes this.
  14. CletusMarley

    CletusMarley Knuckle Dragger Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2018
  15. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I've actually been thinking about getting a new pickguard made with a J in the same location as the neckmost P pickup and going with Delano's. The only thing that makes me hesitate on the swap is I'm not sure how different the Delano big pole J and P sound from each other (and especially in the mix).
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2022