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 Post subject: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 11th, 2023, 10:55 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2008, 7:46 am
Posts: 3848
Location: West Orange, NJ
It's been a long time since a review was posted in this section.

I had been drooling over this bass for months after seeing/hearing various online YouTube reviews and demos. Harley Benton, as many of you know, is a highly regarded low end option for the European market, noted for their surprising level of quality and bang for the buck. They can be ordered through Thomann in Germany, who I'd never dealt with before. Every time I checked their website, the bass was sold out, with more to arrive in, "8-12 weeks". Well, they arrived just when I was checking again, so I took the plunge. This bass is part of their Enhanced series commemorating their 25th anniversary, and is a limited series I believe.

I ordered the bass on 10/1/23 and had it in my hands on 10/9/23. Pretty fast coming from Germany. Came with a very nice gig bag, adjustment tools, free sticker, 25th anniversary keychain, and a free download of Native Instruments Guitar Rig 7 LE, all for $444US (came to $523.33 shipped)

Build: Superb. Finish is gorgeous, and the dark roasted neck is beautiful with excellent fretwork (no sharp edges), no visible gaps in neck joining, no finish inconsistencies. Hardware is better than solid, with a nice solid mass bridge and hardware. Came perfectly set up from Thomann too. No intonation or action setup requirements on my part. There are so many little appointments to this bass that contribute to it's overall aesthetic and functionality (like a very nice, solid string retainer or the glow in the dark side markers, for example). Rating: 10

Playability:
Smooth and nearly effortless for me. The J-like nut width and feel are familiar and comfortable for me, but the 14" fingerboard radius is quite unique comparatively to a standard Fender J and confirms that this bass begs to be slapped, which is easier to do with this radius than, say, 7.25", which is what I'm used to. Satin finish feels like a dream and it's easy to fly around on the fretboard. Action is nice and low but with nice, taut tension and no flabbiness of strings (why is it this can vary so greatly from bass to bass despite having the same scale length? I hate flabby action!). Bass balances beautifully on a strap with no apparent neck dive, and comes in at a very manageable 8.13lbs overall. Deep cutaway allows for easy access to upper frets. Sustain for days, and harmonics ring out clear and true, even in those difficult to conjure positions. (I really believe the zero fret helps contribute to this as well as overall consistent feel). No fret buzz or fretting out anywhere up the neck despite reasonably low action, and even detuned to D holds tightness. Rating: 10

Sound:
WOW! These Roswell pickups are truly wonderful. Crisp, clean and punchy as hell. Dead quiet too. These PUPs are very powerful, however (even in passive mode), and I found I had to reduce the output to about 50-70% to avoid clipping my amp. Bridge pickup is obviously Stingray-inspired and totally gets you there, while the middle pickup is a reverse single coil P and, IMO, much more useful than a standard P, given the reverse configuration, which keeps the consistency of output and tone from string to string more even and when blended with the bridge PUP. With the blend knob of both PUPs in the middle position, the sound does lean more on the side of the bridge, but luckily can be adjusted gradually and incrementally for more neck PUP sound blended in (Unlike other basses I've encountered with a single blend knob, where each PUP is either all on/off and fully blended with no minor adjustment capabilities). While the preamp is only 2 band, it actually functions as it should. Bass and treble can be rolled off or increased with gradual adjustments, and I found the taper on all pots to be smooth and functioning as they should. (You should never need to turn either fully on, there's more than enough there). One caveat about the knobs/pots, however (and really this is a consistent problem with many left handed instruments) is the direction they turn. I've played lefty basses with righty pots so often now that I honestly don't know what is and isn't correct anymore, but the pots are configured as follows:

Volume: turn counter-clockwise to increase
Blend: turn clockwise for neck only; turn counterclockwise for bridge only. Honestly, this feels reversed, as I would instinctively turn a knob towards the bridge PUP if I wanted bridge only, and visa versa for neck only.
Bass: turn knob counter-clockwise to increase
Treble: turn counter-clockwise to increase

The other nitpickey comment I'll make is when in passive mode, you only have volume control. No tone control at all.

Rating 9. I'm deducting a point for the lack of tone control in passive mode, the lack of a midtone control, and what feels like the lack of logical pot control on the blend knob, but truthfully, this is an amazing sounding bass and you might not miss any of those options found on other basses.

Verdict:
I'm calling it right here and right now. This is absolutely THE BEST bang for the buck bass I've ever played on a sub-$500 instrument. Through the roof sound, playability, crazy good quality, attention to detail, appointments, and top shelf customer service from Thomann. You Europeans are spoiled. I've actually heard a few comments about this bass being too expensive for a Harley Benton when they're usually offering basses for under $200. Are you kidding me? :lol: This bass absolutely smokes offerings from anybody in this price range, destroys Fender's much higher priced MIM offerings, and I would rank this bass easily better than basses I've played well past the $1000 range. I'm a long-time fanboy of Sire basses and my main gigging bass has been my Sire V7 vintage for the past 5 years. Yes, Sire offers great bang for the buck too, but they've crept up in price over the years and do come with their idiosyncrasies. While the Sire preamp is more versatile, this Harley Benton is simply a better made, better sounding bass right out of the gate. (I always seem to wrestle with getting the V7 to sound punchy, especially when the strings start dying, and the neck can be temperamental).

Overall: 10. BUY this bass while they're still available. You won't be disappointed.

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Specs:
25th Anniversary model with matching gig bag and lanyard card
Body: Alder with recessed side jack input
Bolt-on neck with six-screw joint: Roasted Canadian hard rock maple
Fingerboard: Roasted Canadian hard rock maple with satin finish. Has easy neck adjustment via the rotary Allen wrench neck wheel like a Stingray at the heel of the neck
Black-coloured block fingerboard inlays
Luminescent side dots
Neck profile: Modern C
Scale length: 864 mm (34")
Fingerboard radius: 355.6 mm (14")
Nut width: 39 mm (1.54")
Black zero fret TUSQ XL nut
22 medium Blacksmith stainless steel frets
Pickups: Roswell MFR4 ferrite "Stingray-style" humbucker (bridge) and Roswell PM-4 ferrite reverse P split coil (middle)
Preamp: 9v, Roswell GMA2 active/passive two-band EQ (bass, treble)
Volume control with push/pull active/passive function
Treble, bass, and balance controls
Three-ply black pickguard
WSC SK4 bridge (string thru or top load)
WSC JB45 machine heads
Chrome hardware
Strings: D’Addario EXL155SL .045 - .105
Finish: Firemist Satin
Harley Benton 25th Anniversary electric bass gig bag

25th Anniversary model gig bag
Padding: 20 mm high-density foam
Durable outer layer made from weather-proof and stain-resistant Cordura 600-denier nylon
Soft, shock-proof plush lining
Secure, padded neck support
Additional reinforcement to protect the machine heads and bridge
Three storage compartments
Ergonomic padded handle on the side
Conveniently placed handle on the front
Ergonomic padded shoulder straps
Industrial-quality zippers
Wall hanging loop
Colour: Black
Harley Benton 25th Anniversary lanyard card

Lanyard keychain with carabiner clip
Includes "Celebrating 25th Anniversary" card

Thomann link:
https://www.thomannmusic.com/harley_benton_enhanced_25th_lh_firemist.htm?gclid=Cj0KCQjwj5mpBhDJARIsAOVjBdqB0USwYiRKc89XJYv3YAOQwF27pVDBuiXhPkVfv1BkievUbK0oh44aAlhxEALw_wcB

Sound demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPLz0o0uri0


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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 11th, 2023, 11:37 am 
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Joined: August 1st, 2015, 6:36 pm
Posts: 2934
Location: Cambridge, MA
Great review and a great looking bass! Thanks for writing it up.


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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 13th, 2023, 1:12 am 
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Joined: January 9th, 2009, 1:34 am
Posts: 2146
Location: The Netherlands
I've been looking at these 25th anniversary models, the gold looks amazing. I'm particularly drawn to their Jazzmaster-inspired guitar model with P90's. Value for mo ey is crazy, I haven't seen any other offerings with this good a finish and a roasted neck at this price point.

I have one of their PB Shorty models that I picked up (barely) used for a mere €50 and it's a fun bass to play. Not nearly as good as your Enhanced, the fretwork isn't very good and the tuners can hardly handle the string tension of a 30" low E, but with a tiny bit of work it plays nicely and sounds like you expect from a shortscale P :)

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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 13th, 2023, 3:50 am 
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Joined: November 26th, 2008, 6:14 am
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Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Great looking bass, and great review! For about $526, you can't go wrong....

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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 13th, 2023, 6:47 pm 
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Joined: November 20th, 2008, 7:01 am
Posts: 310
REALLY great review, PJ- we need more like this!
That bass looks every bit as nice as the premium for the price Sire line of basses.
Good Luck with that nice instrument!


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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 14th, 2023, 9:17 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2008, 7:46 am
Posts: 3848
Location: West Orange, NJ
I took it out last night for it's first gig. Outstanding. Punchy and clear with a solid, full fundamental, and cuts right through the mix. Got lots of compliments from my bandmates and audience members. I'm loving this bass. :) As I mentioned in my review, it is VERY loud and powerful, and I was clipping the board's input so I had to dial the bass back to about 50% output and drop the gain input on my channel to about 75% what I normally hit the board with on my Sire. It could also be my Hartke HD500 too, since it has no -10db option for active basses on it and I was going DI into the board. I'll have to try it next with my bigger Darkglass rig. But so far, so excellent.


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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 14th, 2023, 10:16 am 
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Location: Huntsville, AL
Cool bass, Peter. Reminds me of a Sandberg. Glad you’re into it. Very tempting!

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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 14th, 2023, 11:20 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2008, 7:46 am
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Location: West Orange, NJ
Matt R. wrote:
Cool bass, Peter. Reminds me of a Sandberg. Glad you’re into it. Very tempting!


I think it's supposed to be based on a Sandberg California style bass


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 Post subject: Re: Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Anniversary
PostPosted: October 15th, 2023, 2:51 am 
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It copies the ESP / LTD AP4.

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