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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760 Customer Ratings
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4.3 /5
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Decent but problematic
Antonis Y., 22.11.2019
Let me preface the whole review by saying that, unless you can do a few jobs/repairs on the instrument yourself, get something that might have better quality control. I've been playing and setting up instruments for some odd 20 years now and I can certainly do most repairs and boy, this instrument needed quite a lot.

Starting off, the bass isn't bad. Right off the bat I checked if the truss rod was working and the truss rod nut was ok and not stripped, since I had that happen and you're going to have a bad day with that!
Everything seemed fine as far as first impressions go.

Now the cons/bad stuff/repairs that needed to be done, and let's start from the easier stuff.

First off, the strings that come stock are just plain horrible and don't do justice to the instrument. Better strings right away will definitely help.

Second, the pickup. This a ceramic split coil, not wound too hot but is quite harsh and very modern sounding. Bad thing is, it is too mid scooped and won't get the traditional P tone. However, that said, the bass is controlled and doesn't muddy up the sound and, while the treble is really harsh, it can be tamed to a beautiful result. Still, with the mids virtually non-existent, I will be changing the pickup as soon as possible. It's certainly not bad but it's not the classic P tone.

Another problem with the pickup is that it's completely anemic. Even when put the closest it can get to the strings, it's still very, very weak. And if you get it too close to the strings you get spikes/artifacts on every attack, which isn't really usable. To remedy that, until I can change it, I added ceramic bar magnets underneath the pickups. That, at least, gave it the much needed volume. But I will certainly be changing the pickup in the future.

As a little note, the pickup's screwed very wonky in there and the holes are kinda misaligned.

While speaking of the pickup, the cavity seems to be painted with some black paint. At first I thought it was conductive but, after checking with a multimeter for continuity, it is not. Which is weird, because there is a screw under there that's grounded to the back of a pot. Apparently they thought it was conductive but it certainly doesn't give any continuity readings whatsoever, I checked every spot in there.

I also found a few dents and chips on the bass.

A small detail. The fretboard was very dry. It immediately needed some lemon oil, which it soaked up very fast. Keep that in mind.

For the more bad stuff now. When trying to set it up, I found the neck pocket's too deep and needed a shim. When I removed the neck to install a shim, I found a small shim already there and a spot in the neck pocket where it was over-routed. You could clearly even make out the size of the router head used. That was certainly bad.

The neck screws were also misaligned but thankfully, this doesn't seem to affect anything and the neck and bridge are all aligned fine. No need to fill and redrill, thankfully.

The nut also was very crudely cut and the slots needed to be rounded with a small file and some graphite put in there for the strings not to bind.

Apart from that, the pickguard and the neck pocket were too tight towards the top, which made deep indentations in the neck, right below the fretboard. This is just bad quality control, instruments with flaws like that shouldn't make it out of the factory, considering there are people who can't do these jobs themselves and they can get costly, or even worse, they won't be ever discovered and you'll be playing a very badly set up instrument.

Now for the pros.

I got this bass expecting to have to do a fretjob. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. After going at it with a straight edge and a fret rocker, there are no high frets. They frets aren't crowned that well but they're ok. There was also no fret sprout.

The finish, apart from some paint chipping and dents under the pickguard and around the neck pocket was fine.

The fretboard, while very dry, has a very nice grain on it. After oiling, it shows a lot better and it's quite beautiful. I don't know what kind of amaranth wood this is (amaranth is purpleheart but this was too dark) but it's nice.

The tuners work fine, although they had some kind of plastic residue stuck and I had to disassemble them and grease them for them not to bind.
The nut, while badly cut, was at least cut with the right height. Although this, after putting a shim in the neck pocket.

All in all, it's the cheapest instrument you can get and if you can do these repairs (if they are indeed reparable) then you get a nice enough instrument. If I was buying again, I'd wait until I had more money and buy something better myself.
After repairing all the aforementioned, the bass does play really well but again, it needed a lot of work to get there and, considering the price, I doubt many newbies can do these repairs.
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Total
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great bass for the price.
JakeC, 31.05.2021
Okay quality is the best quality at this pricing.

Good: PRICE, build quality, Durability, Sound quality, Weight and weight balance, PRICE!!
Great for rock and band music.

Bad: cheap P bass can never bring sophisticated bass sound, therefore not ideal for a bass solo music.
It needs some setup work out of the box.

Over 15 years of bass playing life and experiencing almost every known basses except ridiculous looking ones taught me this; there are good cheap instruments.
Cheap things give you an instant doubt. It's bad. It's never durable. It never serves the serious purpose. This bass isn't one of them disappointments.
This is well built under the right amount of quality control. P bass always gives you its inherent simplicity that allows(or forces) you to concentrate on the music, so all you need is the bass itself and its toughness as a structure. This Harley Benton bass will give you what you expect from a simple P bass.
If you expect a miracle work, you will OBVIOUSLY be disappointed. Especially for pickups, since they are the same as any microphones that can be made good or bad by using all kinds of different material and in different configuration, which requires investment to come to the reality, which a cheap instrument can't get. This instrument gives an OKAY P BASS sound. It's not horrible. But it's not great either. It's acceptable. For the price, THIS SOUNDS GREAT.
One tricky thing about any cheap instrument is the initial setup. Just like any cheap instrument, this doesn't come with an almost perfect setup. Mine did have some buggery sharp fret edges that needs sanding down, just like the other buyers or this same instrument from here. and you will likely to need the trussrod adjustment, which is a relatively simple task, and the bridge saddle height adjustment, which can be time consuming. trossrod wrench and the bridge saddle wrench come with the instrument, so I just set up the instrument to the string height to the point it won't give me any annoying string buzz.

Remember. It's a P bass with a cheap pickup. You should know it will give hum noise. If you are an experienced musician, you know you can't complain about this not being suitable for playing a bass solo song. You are not paying a Fodera money. not even a Musicman bass money.
Okay quality is the best quality at this pricing.
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Everything I hoped for.
A from NC, USA, 28.04.2021
Getting back in to playing bass after an 8 year bass. Delivered to NC, USA in 4 days. The finish was great, obviously needed a setup. The only odd thing is that all the pickup screws were loose to the point of falling out. Luckily none were lost in shipping.
I didn't even plug it in as it was received. I immediately shielded the full cavity and pickguard, replaced all the wiring with an upgrade kit, put in a SD Quarter Pounder P/U, and a set of good flat wound strings.
After a good setup (complete setup - Truss Rod, string height, intonation, pickup height)-- This thing plays and sounds as good as any factory $700+ instrument.
I'm ordering a JB model today, and will be trying out their amps too. I'm now a HUGE HB fan!
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For what it's worth
Dan Y, 07.05.2021
Now, I haven't really played bass, since I'm more of a guitar player, but hear me out.
For it's price, you get your money's worth and more. I can't find anything wrong with this bass guitar. Came with a free cable, in case the bass player didn't realize he needed one (that was a joke). But therein, as I said, the bass is bare-bones - and there's nothing wrong with that.

Let me just say, 20 years ago, you couldn't get a bass like this for less than 150€. So if you're in the need for a standard bass or perhaps a platform for modding, look no further than this no-nonsense Benton.
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