Harley Benton HBJ-25

5-String Banjo

  • Bluegrass Series
  • Body: Sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Blackwood (Pinus radiata)
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • 24 Brackets
  • 22 Frets
  • Head: Remo
  • Scale: 670 mm
  • Nut width: 29 mm
  • Corresponding replacement head available under Article Nr 156789 (not included)
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Audio Examples

 
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  • Classical
  • Melodic
  • Pop

Further Information

Number Of Strings 5
Body Sapele
Neck Nato
Frets 22
incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No
Pickup No

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447 Customer Ratings
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Absolutely amazing for the price!
Fabian VDE, 15.05.2020
Have had this for a week now.
Super enjoyable instrument!
I bought this because I'm really getting into indie folk, and wanted to have an actual banjo for recording my tracks instead of using a mandolin as some kind of high pitched banjo sounds. Wanted to be able to use it like Gregory Alan Isakov or Sons Of The East. Can't wait to actually be recording some songs or writing songs with it! It's fun to play, and transforms my "guitarist wants to write a song" into "songwriter writes a song" which is very good, because now I actually won't get lost in trying to solo over a backing track, if that makes sense. Anyways, short summary:

Pros: Price, quality, sound, finishing, looks. Flawless delivery!

Cons: Tuning stability, two very small dings, tad bit high action (not a big deal for this instrument), but still very playable,


As for the pros: The price is ridiculously good, and totally worth it! I've searched through the entire internet for an affordable 5-string banjo, and even used, and haven't found anything even remotely as affordable as this! The quality is remarkably good, fret ends are very smooth, flawless finish, nice smooth ebony fretboard! The sound is very authentic and exactly what I want a banjo to sound like (fun fact, the use of different strings and different frets, and different plucking places make the licks sound entirely different, even more so than on a guitar, I think)! Another thing I really like about it are the looks! The tuners look very cool with the open gears and a pearloid shiny MOP imitate material for the pegs, the chrome coloured hardware is all shiny and nice to look at, especially together with the flawless mahogany back and the black burst maple neck! The Harley Benton logo looks pretty cool, with a cool silvery shiny MOP imitate, and last but not least, the binding looks incredibly clean and solid! (double bound body and bound fretboard!)

As for the cons: I was very skeptical getting my first Harley Benton, and especially a banjo at such a low pricetag, and I immediately gave the instrument an inspection before I played it. The only things I found were: a very small scratch on the binding where the 5th string joins the fretboard and a small ding in the headstock, barely noticeable. The only thing that really annoys me at times, but am definetely willing to deal with, is the quite annoying tuning stability. Maybe because the nut is a tad bit high, I don't know. Action is not super low, but not ridiculously high, and I don't really think a super low action would fit this instrument anyways.

As for the delivery: Very easy and fool-proof (my first time ordering something from Thomann) ordering, flawless tracking of shipment and a lot of information! Very nicely packaged so it's safe and secure. Very decent wait time overall (1 week is a very good job considering that everyone orders stuff online now with the lockdown)!

Thanks to all at team Thomann for making this possible!

P.S.: sorry for the long review :p I'm just excited about this banjo :p
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Really, really good instrument
27.03.2015
Another absolute win from the Harley Benton team. I was put off buying a banjo for many years as everyone claims that to get a "good" one you have to spend £5-600+ and that was just too much for me merely to "test the water"...

However, I'm really glad I chanced this purchase. I figured it was so cheap that it wouldn't be a great loss if it turned out to be a piece of junk but, just.... WOW !

My friend has a banjo that he paid 800 euro for and I shall not name the manufacturer but it's made by one of the premier/big banjo producers and this banjo, in my opinion, plays and sounds just as good. It's crazy.

There is NOTHING low quality about this instrument to my eyes/ears. It really is a classy looking banjo and I would easily have expected to pay a lot more for this kind of sound and playability. It's a joy to play and sounds lovely.

It also looks very nice, with no part of it belying the cheap cost. The wood finish looks great, it's not "too heavy" but has a suitable weight to it and the remo head and tone ring look really "the part". It has the look of something that should be a lot more expensive. Tuning pegs are nice, not slack and they're responsive and easy to tune with. The neck is very nice, too, very fast and no quibbles whatsoever with fretting or any other usually problematic matters on lower end stringed equipment.

I've said it in other reviews but everything I have bought by Harley Benton is just great. I've seen them getting a lot of grief on forums etc but when I check the dates of these posts they're always from around 8 years ago so I can only presume that quality took a real jump forward. So, basically, don't let negative press fool you, these instruments are really great and are of astounding quality and playability considering the price.

I don't say that as a negative, either, like "well, it's great - CONSIDERING THE PRICE", as in if you pay a little you should expect to get something not so great. No, quite the opposite, I think in this case you pay a little and you get something that is comparable to instruments many times the cost.

For beginners and banjo afficionados alike this is a great instrument. I'm really glad I made this purchase and have no problem at all recommending it to others.
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Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed
O L SMITH, 20.01.2019
An issue was resolved over the initial purchase which was classified cosmetic and was settled to my TOTAL SATISFACTION.
The instrument being a HARLEY BENTON HBJ- 25
5 String 22Fret Banjo.
Value for money this instrument is remarkable for sound, quality of overall finish and playability. It performs as well as, and in some cases, better than instruments with a more expensive price tag.
Would suit most beginners and players to an intermediate standard of playing ability.
It is by nature an easy instrument to play in most Banjo styles, eg, Bluegrass, Clawhammer (Frailing) as well as using a plectrum.
It is versatile by the fact that it can be played with the Resonator attached or without the Resonator making it an Open Back instrument.
This instrument I bought is to be gifted to my Grandson as a Birthday present.
I know he will be absolutely thrilled when he receives it.
ANYBODY who is looking for a Banjo to buy new and you don't want to break the bank in doing so, then believe me you could not go past the HBJ-25.
It is ideal and looks and plays GREAT.
I would have NO HESITATIONS WHATSOEVER in recommending THOMANN for their SERVICE and CIVILITY that stick by their business PHILOSOPHY based on TOTAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION.
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Could this be the BEST banjo for the money?
PanosDaGreek, 30.04.2021
Probably Yes!*

If you are here for a longer read though, here follows the reason why!

SOUND

This is probably what you should care about the most since this is a ...musical instrument, right? And it is also this banjo's strongest asset: for the money, you would be hard pressed to find a better-sounding 5-stringer with a resonator. With a proper setup, it will sound bright but still warm, with a satisfactory note separation, yet very versatile in its application. I have used it to play Bluegrass, blues, reggae, Prog Rock and old school Rock 'N' Roll, and it didn't sound at all out of place in any of these contexts!

FEATURES

Bluegrass purists might wince at the absence of a tone ring (if you don't know what that is, don't worry- I didn't know either 9 months ago). At the same time, there is NO banjo on the market that I have found ANYWHERE else which features a tone ring at this low a price!

QUALITY

Upon arrival, there were no noticeable cosmetic defects, and there was absolutely no problem with its playability. The bridge was positioned at just the right spot on the head and the instrument was ready to play out of the box - after the mandatory tuning, of course.

In the nine months that I have been playing it almost on a daily basis (and treating it like a $3K-grade banjo because it is precious to me!) it keeps sounding better and better and seems durable enough for the money. I haven't dropped it once though, so don't take my word for it! Then again, instruments are not supposed to be dropped any way!

The only problem I discerned was that one of the two ends that you can attach a strap to keeps coming off every now and again, no matter how hard I re-fasten it every time that happens. That is easily fixed by attatching the problematic end of the strap on one of the hooks. My teacher says it's ok and shouldn't affect the head tension negatively to a great extent (which was my concern).

DELIVERY / CUSTOMER SERVICE

Thomann is simply the best!
Very supportive to all my inquiries from the start, they packed, shipped and delivered the product to me without the slightest of issues.

TOP TIPS for MAXIMUM PLAYABILITY:

- Tune it upon arrival (no brainer).

- Take off the resonator and tighten the head evenly to the desired level - or not. The banjo will be playable as it comes, but depending on the style you want to play, you might want to tighten the head to make it sound more 'Bluegrassy'. Never attempt this without consulting with your teacher or watching an instructional video first though- unless you are not a rookie like me! You don't want to break that banjo head on the frist day!

- Buy a plastic thumbpick and 2 metallic finger picks and keep the resonator on for 3-finger style (Scruggs style Bluegrass).

- Take the resonator off and use your bare fingers if interested in Clawhammer.

On the basis of the above, I am extremely enthusiastic about my purchase and still cannot believe the amazing value for money offered by Thomann's very own Harley Benton. Highly recommended as a beginner banjo!


*DISCLAIMER: Although I have experience with other instruments, this is the only banjo I have ever picked and I am in my 9th month of studying Bluegrass on it, so I am by no means an expert in this field*
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* The prices shown exclude VAT and are valid as long as stocks last. Please click here for international shipping rates. Goods subject to custom declaration; customer fees to be paid on delivery if applicable. We do not accept liability for typographical errors or inaccurate information of any kind. All invoices will be issued in USD.
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