Harley Benton PB-20 BK Standard Series

Electric Bass

  • Body: Poplar
  • Bolt-on neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Amaranth
  • Dot-inlays
  • Neck profile: Modern C
  • 20 Frets
  • Scale: 864 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Dual action truss rod
  • 1 PB style pickup
  • 1 Volume knob and 1 tone knob
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Classic PB-Style machine heads
  • String thickness: 045 - 105
  • Colour: Black high gloss
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  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • Rhythm & Blues

Further Information

Colour Black
Soundboard Basswood
Neck Maple
Fretboard Amaranth
Frets 20
Scale Long Scale
Pickup System P
Elektronic Passive
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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341 written ratings Read all reviews
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Decent bass, excellent value but horribly set up!
TrEr, 20.09.2019
I got this bass mostly out of curiosity. I mean, how is it even possible to sell a decent bass at this price? I wasn't expecting much to be honest.

First impressions were poor. The bass was extremely poorly set up. By far the worst setup I have ever encountered in my 20 years as a bass player. The action was sky high and the truss rod was tightened too hard, creating a slight back bow.

Both pots were completely loose. When I turned the knobs the pots followed, obviously at the risk of breaking connections/wires inside the bass. The jack input was also loose.

The pickup height was set incorrectly. Both coils were set completely flat rather than angled to follow the fretboard radius as they should on a P-bass.

The stock strings are simply the worst bass strings I've ever had the misfortune of trying. And this is not just a matter of personal preference. It's a matter of these strings not having good enough magnetic properties to create even a halfway decent output signal. I changed to a set of cheap Rotosound Rotobass and the output got about ten times louder! If you get this bass, get rid of the stock strings ASAP. They are complete and utter garbage!

The tuning machines feel like they've got gravel in them. They do the job but they're as cheap as it gets and they may not last very long. One of mine has already developed more play than I like, meaning that if I tune down and then back up again I'll have to do 2-3 turns before it starts responding. And I've only owned the instrument for a couple of days!

The pickguard is not precisely cut. It is too tight around the neck heel and because of this it's bulging slightly upwards. It has cut into the finish on the side of the neck and the black layer of the pickguard has also discolored the finish here.

Not all of the screws securing the bridge were tightened properly. This caused a very tiny gap between the bridge and the body. Hardly noticable if it hadn't created a weird sympathetic ringing at some notes. Fastening the screws solved this problem but the screws were the cheap kind, made of soft metal so the heads partially stripped. I hope I will never need to touch them again. To be fair even the screws in expensive USA Fenders are similarly poor quality these days so I guess we can't reasonably expect more in an 80 Euro bass.

Then the good stuff:

It's actually a rather decent bass once it's set up properly. I loosened the truss rod almost half a turn, lowered the bridge saddles, adjusted the intonation, fastened the pots, adjusted the pickup height and suddenly I had a pretty decent instrument in my hands. The intonation still wasn't quite as low as I'd like though and the saddles couldn't go any lower.

I ended up having to shim the neck to get an acceptable (close to Fender spec) action. The tight fitting pickguard turned out to be a problem when removing the neck. I chipped the finish because of it. Oh, well, at least I won't have to worry about getting the first scratch on my new bass.

Now the bass felt pretty good but there was a buzz caused by a slightly high fret (8th fret). I levelled and re-crowned it. Now the bass plays very nicely. The buzz wasn't TOO bad though, I could easily have played the bass without performing this step. The fretwork was actually quite impressive for the price. The fret edges may be the smoothest I've seen in a sub 1000 Euro instrument. Very smooth.

The neck may be too chunky for some but it's actually not that far from a classic P-bass neck. At least the neck profile. The fingerboard profile is a different matter. Vintage P-bass is 7.25". Modern P-bass is 9.5". This one is flatter. Probably around 12". I'm not a big fan of flatter fingerboards on chunky necks but that's just my personal taste. Still, I think it's a bit strange that Thomann choose such a chunky neck for an instrument in this price range. It's not really suitable for small hands so not a great choice for children. Which is a shame as it's a decent entry level instrument at a fantastic price when set up correctly.

The pickup isn't particularly great though. I haven't had a look inside the bass yet but I'm assuming it's a cheap ceramic type. It works fine but has that scooped, hollow, "thin yet muddy" cheap pickup sound. It's far from the worst pickup I've heard but it doesn't have the classic P-bass lower mid punch when the tone is rolled back. Everything just turns to mud really fast. It does have a very high output for a passive pickup though (once the horribly weak stock strings are discarded).

An instrument in this price range can of course be a great modding platform if the important stuff like the neck/fretwork is decent quality. And it is. I will definitely upgrade all the electronics including the pickup. It should be a pretty good bass by then and at an almost unbelievably low price, even when I factor in the cost of a decent pickup + a couple of better pots.

I recommend this bass for anyone capable of performing a setup themselves. The electronics/pickup aren't the best and will benefit from an upgrade. The rest isn't as easily replaced because the parts aren't standard Fender sizes. Replacing hardware will require drilling new holes. Fender sized pickguards won't fit. Whether this makes it a good modding platform or not depends on how much work and effort you want to put into it I guess.

I do NOT recommend this bass if you do not have the necessary skills to perform a proper setup (but it's actually a great instrument to LEARN these things!).

Also NOT recommended if you have small hands or don't like chunky necks.

The bass comes with the necessary tools for adjustment and a rubbish cable that should be discarded immediately. No other accessories or documentation is included.

Good value but don't expect it to be playable out of the box.
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Total
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BANG for the buck!
21.02.2017
Little did I expect perfection from a bass guitar of this price!

I'm almost done with recording my upcoming album and the sound this bass makes, really sings!!

I must admit, I was indeed sceptical of how this would sound but now I realise for such a low price, this bass guitar is truly ahead of it's time - and that's all thanks to the legendary Musikhaus Thomann efficiency and quality!

At the risk of annoying customers: HOW CAN YOU SELL THIS FOR SUCH A GREAT PRICE?! It's worth more than I could put into words - and the bassist in my live touring band agrees!

The clarity and dynamics of every note is unbelievable and it's as if this beast of a bass is permanently EQ'd to perfection; there's the lows that can cause an earthquake, the mids that'll tear right through you and the high-end spank that you can slap with; oh and I forgot to mention, the setup of the Harley Benton PB-20 BK Standard Series is something I am in awe of!

Please, Thomann, PLEASE KEEP THE PRODUCTION OF THIS BASS GOING! :D

As a guitar player, I know what I'm looking at and through experience; I find that my eye is subconsciously trained to notice quality control, imperfections & shortcuts and yet, Musikhaus Thomann have perfected a wonderful instrument that is both versatile and incredibly musical, without ANY problems!

I promise you will not be disappointed in the slightest with this fine art of a bass guitar; you would be WRONG not to want one!!

By all means, test out and trial any bass guitar, and somehow you will find yourself running back to THIS bass guitar - it's truly a masterpiece!

Thank you, for such a wonderful instrument!!
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$82 €74.79
Plus $33 shipping

The price in USD is a guideline price only!

Available immediately
Available immediately

This item is in stock and can be dispatched immediately.

Standard Delivery Times
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