Harley Benton Bass Guitars - Any good?

So after going back and doing a little multi track project this week Madman’s New Diary Chapter One - Amazing (over BT) I’ve been mulling over adding a Bass to the stable. My missus might be very accommodating but this might be pushing things a bit too far.

So I thought a budget Bass may be a possibility. So have been browsing the Thomann catalogue. Not having a blue guitar in the stable, this one piqued my interest.

For those familiar with the expression, I am after a Ronseal job (it does exactly what it says on the tin!). Its unlikely to ever be hammered but would expand what I could add to projects.
I know HB have some good support here from members but I am always a bit wary of the cheap end of the scale but hey my Fender Affinity is still with me after 27 years !!

Thoughts and input appreciated. Its my 45th wedding anniversary in just over a week and the Thomann turnaround would be perfect. And she does keep asking if I want anything.

Thanks in anticipation.



I’ve not touched or seen this bass, but had a look at some places I trust for reviews.

Bottom line: these are great value for money, perfectly playable and sound pretty good. If you want something cheap for recording or practice, they are fine.

They are also probably OK for gigging, but if you ever get to the point where you are doing bass gigs, you would probably upgrade to something better anyway.

At that price point you can expect some sharp fret ends and it needing a bit of a set up. The tuners are, reportedly a bit cheap and flimsy, but they do the job. You could always replace them in the future if you felt you needed to.

The neck is also quite thick. This isn’t a quality complaint, but more of an observation. As with 6-string guitars, some people prefer thick necks, others don’t. YMMV.

I’ve heard the blue looks great.

To my mind, it’s worth a go.

What are you looking to plug it into?



Keith thanks for the input. Quick reply was out walking the dog in the rain. I will most likely use it for direct input into reaper and use one of the base models within waves GTR tool rack. Failing that I’ll plug it into the mustang 3 should I want to push it through some speakers IEM speakers. Back to the car but will follow up later cheers

Ignore IEM my voice to text wobble

I’ve only had one guitar from Thomann which was a telecaster. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it and it plays absolutely fine. It doesn’t have the finish of my PRS but that was 8 times more expensive. The switch gear is fine, the tuners are fine…I suspect the PUPs could be better but it’s absolutely playable.

Out of choice I would have one of these Harley Benton MM-84A SB Deluxe Series – Thomann UK
It’s their tribute to the Music man Stingray bass, and it’s pretty impressive!
I nearly did but had to send it back because I couldn’t play it, they didn’t have a inexpensive short scale one so that’s how I ended up with a Uke bass, which is ok but not quite the same.

I have a Harley Benton JB-75MN SB Vintage Series and it is the only bass guitar I own. I have used it for both, live and studio work and it serves me well. Keep in mind, I am not primarily a bass guitarist. Nobody ever complained that it would sound bad. But again, there was also no other bass around to compare it with :stuck_out_tongue:

So I can highly recommend it if you just want to have a bit of fun without pushing the budget too far and getting TheMadLady angry!

Thanks for the feedback guys. I guess I just wanted to confirm what people having been saying here for years about HB quality, which is always mainly positive. In the end I went for the one in the original link. Haven’t got any blue guitars in the stable but something about that colour drew me in.

@DarrellW I actually looked at that one but wanted to steer away from Sunburst but I was almost taken to this one before settling on the blue one.

As to the missus, she was 100% for it, as she loves the sound of a bass over anything else (ha wait till she hear me playing one !!). Told me to go spend £250-300 but I decided to keep the budget down on this one. Only down side, was she said blue would not go in the “music room”. My response was, it would go with the blue Chinese characters that have been on the unit for 10 years and both JamMan and Zoom Multistomp are blue (both sit on the PC side table) and nothing has been said about then. Before pushing my luck further, I hit the purchase button and its winging its way across the border!

HB Bass n Bag


Well now there’s been some developments !! I spent most of Friday bouncing bewteen pictures of the Blue JB 20 and the more Madmanesque B-450. After a number of hours and watching a couple of reviews on YouTube, I realised I may have made a mistake. But with Thomann’s 30 Day (no quibble) Money Back Guarantee I knew I had it covered. I just needed to explain the boo boo to my good lady.

Well that’s more you !! was the first thing she said, followed by it matched the “music room” decor. So I was given orders to go down and get it ordered asap so it arrived for our anniversary. PayPal x 4 payments on each taking the burden off the bank balance, while things were sorted. But here is the rub !! When I mentioned sending the Blue one back, all hell broke loose and I was told to check it out as well and keep them both if I wanted !! Guess that is what 30 months of isolation and a retail therapy freeze, does to someone who has only been out once a month to the doctors !! So looks like I may now have two Basses. But boy they both look cool.

Now this has become my biggest concern after doing a bit more research. The JB is passive but the B-450 is Active/Passive. As I say the plan is to either record DI and use a Bass amp plugin in Reaper or for practice use headphones on the Audio Interface, with a stubby cable plugged into the Mustang IIIs headphone socket. As far as I know this should stop me blowing the speakers out, Active or Passive. I won’t be gigging with the Bas either or no plans to.

When I do play through the amp and pull the headphone cable, I don’t think I have had it above 1.7 to 2.0 on the Master Volume for fear of a double glazing bill. So I suspect all will be safe but I’d be interested in @Majik Keith’s take on this set up. Or should I be looking at a bespoke Bass amp ? And if so, can I get a blue one :rofl:

Well this story certainly took an unexpected turn! I have used my bass on a guitar amp before and nothing to my knowledge blew up but I will let some of our residential bassist to say more on this one.

Congratulations on your successful GAS day!

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You should be fine. Active will normally give a higher output, so you may need to turn the input level down a bit on your AI if you go direct to it. If you go via the Mustang, you may also need to adjust the levels slightly, but it shouldn’t be too drastic. Fundamentally, an active bass pickup is very similar to an electro-acoustic pickup (which are normally active).

Basically, bass amps are just guitar amps with a different frequency response, so the Mustang should work fine. It may not be optimal for tone because the EQ is designed for guitar, but it may be possible to tweak the amp models to make it more appropriate. I don’t know the Mustang, but a lot of the Boss modelling stuff (like the GT-1, Pocket GT, GX100, etc.) has a “Full Range” amp model that can be used for bass. I think the Mustang has “Studio Preamp” which may do the same.

It’s far more common for bass guitar players to either DI or to use very neutral amps. I think most bass players use solid state amps, and many of the well regarded bass amps on the market are Class D “digital” amps.

The other thing to be aware of, but not to fret (pun intended) too much about it that the speakers in guitar amps and bass amps are generally different, because they are designed to operate at different frequency ranges. On a modelling amp, which tend to have more “full range” speakers, this shouldn’t be such an issue.

If you run a bass through a traditional guitar amp at high volumes, it is theoretically possible that the speaker will be damaged. That shouldn’t impact you.

My feeling is you don’t need a bass amp and, subject to a little tweaking, either your DI with some plugins, or your Mustang will do the job. However, you may want a bass amp. :wink:



Thank you Keith, I appreciate your expertise and experience. The speaker factor was the main worry, as I believe it has something to do with them being different shapes or size depths (not diameter) and that the lower bass frequency will possible destroy a guitar “cone” so to speak. I also came across a YT vid covering the subject and the guy used a compression pedal between the “active” bass and the guitar amp. But I would also have the option to by pass the pre-amp on the B-450 if I am using the Mustang or as you say just dial down the levels. As I have Waves GTR Tool Rack which runs at “desktop” level and not just in Reaper, which has several Bass Amp models, it would also seem like a good idea to practice through that. Especially as I will be using that as a plugin anyway. So that could be the better solution, as everything is plumbed in ready to go in the “studio”, so just use the AI(s) !! Sorted

Can you play a bass through a guitar amp?

Enjoying some Stu Hamm tutorials on Truefire this afternoon. Its certainly got me looking forward to playing them ! Thx again.

I’ve seen videos where they’ve run a bass tone through a guitar amp for long periods at high volumes and it’s caused speaker damage, but that was at high volumes.

2 mins and 47s is the key statement.

I would say “loud” is anything over 7 on the master volume. If you regularly need it this loud (which you shouldn’t for home use) then get a dedicated bass amp. But for volumes less than 4-5 on the master volume, you should be fine. The video you linked give great advice.

Ultimately, using a guitar amp for bass is a little bit of a compromise, but it’s a perfectly workable compromise.



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Yes, kinda put my mind at rest to some degree but asking experienced folks here was the icing on the cake. Once again thanks for the advice.



Nice one Toby, looks like you’ve hit the jackpot! Nice bass :+1::metal:

Cheers D. Early days but finding my way. Impressed with the HB quality. :+1:

I have a Harley Benton lefty bass for the company band. I don’t play it a lot but it does the job. Tuners not completely flimsy as on other cheap basses. Playability “ok”; sound “ok”. Nothing too inspiring but solid and most of all; pretty stable actually

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I’ve searched out this thread as I’ve started to think about a bass guitar.
@TheMadman_tobyjenner how have you settled down with yours?
@Majik I tend to get on better with a slender neck as far as 6 strings go. Do you know the entry level choices available with not too chunky a neck?
I’d probably use it in a location where it would be very convenient to use it through my Street Cube, which may not be ideal but the initial intended use only requires something very basic.
Edit: I’ve also thought about an acoustic bass, even though everyone tells me they are not a great alternative.


Very early days as I have been busy with some Blues tutorials, prepping and organising OM IX but I never planned to rush. I got some learning material from Truefire and wanted to establish a solid finger walking technique using Index and middle, focusing on straight beats 1/4 & 1/8s. Now its 16th and triplets which I am finding a little harder. Taking some of the advice from Keith here on fretting has been really useful but my focus will be getting the picking and timing on point before I start exploring further. As to the 2 models they both feel good in my hands and if anything good for the old finger stretching exercises ! :rofl:

Hope that helps.



In my, limited, experience the Yamaha and Ibanez necks aren’t too chunky. I don’t know about the HB ones.

If you aren’t sure I would recommend trying some out in a store.

Also bear in mind the way you use a bass is different from how a lot of people hold their electric guitar neck, that is, they hold it like a baseball bat, with some people wrapping the thumb over to fret or mute the lower strings.

That’s fine for electric, especially as it allows you to support bending.

But you normally play bass guitar a bit more classically, with the thumb behind the neck.