Harley Benton MM-85A SB Deluxe Series

Electric Bass

  • Body design: 5-String
  • Deluxe Series
  • Body: Basswood
  • Top: Flamed maple
  • Bolt-on neck: Canadian maple
  • Neck profile: D
  • Fretboard: Maple
  • Fretboard radius: 350 mm (13.78")
  • 24 Frets
  • Scale: 864 mm (34")
  • Nut width: 45 mm (1.77")
  • Double action truss rod
  • Pickups: 2 x Roswell MFR5 MM Big Pole MM-Style humbuckers with coil split and active preamp
  • Controls: Volume, Balance, Bass, Höhen
  • 5-Way pickup switch
  • Hardware: DLX chrome
  • Machine heads: DLX Vintage-style
  • Bridge: DLX diecast
  • Strings: D'Addario EXL .045 - .130
  • Colour: 3-Tone Sunburst (high-gloss)

Further Information

Colour Sunburst
Soundboard Basswood, Maple Top
Neck Maple
Fretboard Maple
Frets 24
Scale Long Scale
Pickup System HH
Elektronic Active
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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Harley Benton MM-85A SB Deluxe Series + Harley Benton HB-20B +
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starting from $228
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52 Customer Ratings:
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
4.5 /5
  • features
  • sound
  • quality
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features
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Amazing bang for the buck
Bob in California, 17.03.2019
I received my MM-85A a couple of weeks ago. Shipping from Europe to California took two weeks between DHL, customs and the USPS. The bass was double boxed with bags of air filling the empty space in the outer box. The outer box had taken a beating and was even a little damp from recent rainstorms but the inner box and bass were undamaged.

The bass came with truss rod and bridge adjustment tools and a very thin 3-meter instrument cable. Strings were set at maximum height, probably because there was no relief in the neck?it was perfectly flat. Even with strings up high, there was fret buzz so a quick adjustment of the truss rod to add some relief took care of the buzz. The pickups were screwed down as far as they would go, and I prefer them closer to the strings, so I raised them. I had to add a bit of foam underneath each pickup to provide lift because the existing blocks of foam had been compressed so much they didn?t spring back. Intonation was decent and required only small adjustments. Notes on the lower frets were stretching sharp on the B and E strings so I filed the nut a little to bring the strings down closer to the frets to avoid stretching. I probably still need to file the slots a little bit more but it?s best to take these adjustments slowly and see how the bass plays.

The neck is a little thicker than I?m used to (a D profile and my other basses are shallow C's) but my fretting hand adapted immediately and the neck feels very comfortable. The bass weighs about 9.5 pounds, not my lightest nor heaviest bass; it?s right in the middle. There is some neck dive but a 2.5 inch wide suede strap stops it from diving.

The fret work is beautiful, perfectly beveled and comfortable up and down the neck. There are no dead spots. The finish is satin and very smooth. It?s a wonderful neck, held on with six screws.

The glossy poly finish on the body is well done. The bass looks really nice. I prefer it without a pickguard and the pickup routes are neat and tight enough around the pickups that I can leave it off. However, I had to loosen a few of the neck screws to get the pickguard out from under the end of the neck, which clamps down on top of it.

The 5-way pickup selector switch has three humbucking combinations and two that hum. Study the graphic PDF on the product page (under Free Downloads ? Specs) and you?ll see that one of the switch positions combines the two south coils, which have the same polarity, so they hum. The other switch position is the south coil on the bridge pickup only, so it hums as well. The three humbucking combinations are what you?d expect?bridge only, neck only and both humbuckers.

I wanted to get rid of the two humming combinations and instead have combinations of the outer coils and the inner coils. I unsoldered the connections on the switch and tested which terminals were active in each switch position using a multimeter. The active terminals did not match up with diagrams I've seen on the internet for four other types of 5-way switches, so there is variability among similar-looking switches and you cannot follow a diagram you find on the internet. The diagram I drew up showed me that I could have each of the combinations I wanted, but they would be in a unique position on the switch that I would need to become familiar with. That's no problem; I can already switch to whichever combination quickly in mid-song. The order of combinations on my particular switch (starting from the position closest to the bridge pickup is: (1) outer coils; (2) neck HB; (3) bridge HB; (4) both HBs; and (5) inner coils. There might be other ways to wire these five combinations but I'm fine with this order. There is no hum in any position. :)

The other modification I did was to bypass the preamp. I?m not fond of batteries in basses that can die on the gig (it?s happened to me with a brand new battery). I left the existing wiring harness in place and simply replaced the volume pot, with output from the pickup selector switch going directly to the new pot and from there to the output jack. (The original volume pot is laying inside the control cavity, still connected to everything except the selector switch.) I could put it all back to stock in a few minutes but why? I have plenty of tone controls on my amp and it's the coil switching that makes this bass sound unique.

So how does it sound? Great! :) The pickups have a very even, strong sound from lows to highs with a lot of midrange, more than my other basses. With my other basses, particularly the jazzes, I boost midrange on the amplifier but with this bass I can leave the midrange flat, or boost it if I need more cut. Perfect! It?s going on its first gig tonight. :) The five coil combinations produce the sounds you'd expect. Solo the neck and it's like a precision on steroids. The inner coils are like a precision with pickups a little closer to the bridge. The outer coils are like a jazz bass. Solo the bridge for a more trebly sound. Combine all coils for a very even balanced sound.

I can strongly recommend this bass as it comes from the factory if you don?t mind the single coil hum or are only interested in the three humbucking combinations. From the factory, I give it four stars, deducting one star for the hum, the quirky pickguard clamped under the neck, and the excessively long fretboard that comes too close to the neck pickup (so you can?t get your finger in there to pluck if you're a slapper; I don't slap so it's no problem for me except that it looks strange). With the simple mods I made, it?s a five-star bass for me. The super reasonable price was just icing on the cake. Well done and thank you, Thomann.

Edit after 9+ months: I finally bought an Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray HH and can now comment on the similarities in tone between my Stingray and this Harley Benton bass. The Harley Benton delivers 95% of the sound of the Musicman at 10% of the cost. This is absolutely amazing. I'm glad I took the plunge to order the Harley Benton, and I'm keeping both basses since it's useful to have a less expensive bass to keep at rehearsals or to use when you don't want to take out your expensive bass. I like the Harley Benton more and more over time. Go ahead, get one--you won't regret it. -Bob
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A dream come true
JotaEme, 18.01.2019
I've had this bass for more than a year, and played it during rehearsals and in around 30 gigs. After detecting a little failure in one of the pickups a few months ago, Thomann decided to replace the whole instrument by a new one, that I finally received yesterday.

I've played bass for over 20 years, and had a few... This is one of cheapest I've ever had, and probably the best in sound. Simply you can't get anything better for the price if you like the MusicMan sound.
This beast gets really close to it. I can't still believe it! (and I have basses 5 times more expensive than this).

Pros:

-As beautiful as the original MusicMan stingray 5 HH.

-Super clean sound.

-The tone is balanced and powerful, with rich bass, punchy mids and sharp treble.

-Good strings from factory! (D'addario EXL)

-Decent settings from factory (but still needs some intonation work)

-Well finished (I'd say, better that the previous one I had from 2017, it seems this batch passed more strict quality controls)

-24 fret, which I personally like and use (specially for tapping)

-Price!!!

-The sound (yes, again!)

--

Cons:

-the neck pickup is so close to the neck ending that it's harder to play "slap", you can't insert your finger in the gap easily. You need to readapt your technique a bit.

-It's a bit heavy.

-The headstock could be smaller.

--

Neutral:

-The neck is thicker than in most basses I've owned. I'm fine with it, but maybe other musicians can find it strange / uncomfortable.

To me this instrument is a dream come true. Thanks, Thomann!
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Pure Music Man Copy
19.03.2016
Hello!

I bought this bass a few days ago after having a 3 year break from bands and music. This was merely an interesting choice since it came out as a MM copy. It does not disappoint although it is not a perfect representation of a bass guitar.

Features - Do not get me wrong, this is heavy machinery, the all maple build is indeed something one might want to pick up. The neck of the bass is very thick and you really feel like you are in control of it, very much like the real Music Man product.

With the maple fretboard to accompany it it is not only a wonderful piece, but it produces a powerful sound. Even if you get to play it without an amp is makes enough noise for practice.

Build Quality - Not the best, but definitely sturdy. The nut is a bit troublesome, it looks like it's not properly fit at 90 degrees, but then again even the strings don't perfectly align with the pole pieces of the pick-ups. I do not think this is a deal breaker since it does not really make any difference in tone, so far at least, I had no problem with it.
You might want to adjust this if you want low action with no fret buzz and it is doable, lovely instrument. The electronics look good, very tidy inside of it, the knobs work perfectly, though you might want to screw them in a little bit more. The tuning machines work perfectly and seem really sturdy.
The bridge.. fully adjustable, not my favourite type of bridge and I'm thinking to make a little investment and get a different type of bridge. Also consider getting a new nut if you don't find yours good and want to get a really good action set-up. But let me tell you, the strings fit perfectly within it.
Its not ultra polished like a more expensive bass, but the essence is there, and the important bits are well put together. The 19th fret on the G and A string wasn't perfectly slotted but nothing that can't be fixed at home, Consider a fret polisher as well? I think this goes for every instrument.

SOUND - Oh my, where do I even start, the tone of this.. It is a pure monster. I wanted to record a little bit but the Active EQ is so strong I had to turn the knobs to the lowest position and only give it some volume. It bites and growls like nothing I ever had, Not BTBs not the Yamaha RBX775. I think this is really close to what a Music Man is really intended to be.

For 150 pounds this is a great investment, if you are a beginner or a professional player you could use it in any imaginable way. Lately Harley has produced some great instruments, so don't be afraid to get one! This thing was perfectly playable out of the box, you just need to tune it and you're set. But as a more experienced player I really had to spend time wit it and adjust it to my preferences.

Have one!
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Great deal
Vittorio G, 15.02.2020
Love this bass, great price and outstanding quality for the money, versatile, plays well, after a setup it seems to have a more expensive instrument in your hand, amazing flamed maple top and 24 frets to play. Only downside it's hard to find the right spec data.
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$182 €167.23
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