Harley Benton Fretless Bass

JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
Purchased one of these a month or two back but returned it as the fretboard was very poor. I wanted to give it another try as I've been itching to try a short scale fretless and really like the idea of the Hofner version but as they're so pricey thought I'd test the water with this budget version to see if a hollow body violin can work as a fretless.

The fretboard on this new one is still a little rough but is much improved over the first, which had scratches through the finish. It only arrived today, so these are first impressions but I'm really pleased with it - the pickups sound remarkably nice - articulate describes them best. The general build quality (for a bass costing 140ukp) is fine and it's easy to play. The flats it ships with are a bit ropey so I'll probably invest in a set of Labella's but they're okay to test it out. It has a surprising amount of sustain for a hollow body violin style. My only criticism at present is that it feels a little lightweight compared to the Epiphone solid body violin I've been playing up to now. Lightweight isn't a bad thing but it feels a little flimsy in play as opposed to the solid response I get from the Epi.

HB seem to have gone part way to resolving the funky Hofner control panel - with both pickups 'On', you now get both pickups on but selecting an individual pickup gives the opposite turned on, so it's still confusing as hell. The D shape neck is broader than I remember the Hofner version being and is comfortable to play, tuners seem to work okay with a nice smooth action. The bridge is the usual Hofner style so critical intonation isn't likely but with a fretless I find that less of an issue, as long as you're aware of the variation, you can allow for it with your fretting.

I'm still uncertain as to whether the Hofner version would be a good buy; it may be that I'm happy to stick with this budget version for the foreseeable future.  :)


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Comments

  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    Interesting. It is a pity that @vale is not here to see it.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • darthed1981darthed1981 Frets: 2287
    No markers, you a violinist or something...?

    That's pretty brave!
    Warning: this post may contain overtly affectionate references to Mary Spender
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    No markers
    There might be positional dot or lines along the edge of the neck. Unfortunately, from the player's viewing angle, these of little help.

    Pitch accuracy is achieved through a combination of ear training and practice.

    Pitch inaccuracy can be disguised by a combination of wide up-and-down finger vibrato and a big dollop of chorus, flanger or a very short delay.


    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
    As @Funkfingers notes, it has dots along the fretboard edge at 3,5,7,9 and 12 etc. Most basses get a double dot at 12 but (possibly as a money saver?) they didn't bother on this model.

    I've just strung it up with a set of LaBella's and it's improved it enormously; the strings it shipped with were pretty poor so if you're thinking of one as a budget buy, definitely factor in some new strings. It plays really well now, I'm slightly amazed at how much new strings have improved it. The bridge fitting they use doesn't like the LaBella's slightly larger ball end than they use on the stock strings and so wouldn't sit flush in the tailpiece pocket, but rather poked out the end, until the strings were tuned to pitch, when with a loud thunk, the ball end gave way and was pulled properly into the pocket.

    I was keen to try a short scale fretless to hear how different it sounded and if it was easier to get correct pitch. Soundwise, it's not a lot different to my Epi solid violin (32.5 scale), just slightly less sustain (but not much in it) and it has a really pleasant tone. Getting accurate intonation seems a bit easier, it's definitely less of a stretch.
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  • darthed1981darthed1981 Frets: 2287
    Pitch inaccuracy can be disguised by a combination of wide up-and-down finger vibrato and a big dollop of chorus, flanger or a very short delay.


    I like your thinking.
    Warning: this post may contain overtly affectionate references to Mary Spender
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 2505
    Pitch inaccuracy can be disguised by a combination of wide up-and-down finger vibrato and a big dollop of chorus, flanger or a very short delay.


    I like your thinking.
    I've had a hi band flanger permanently turned on for the last 3 months. I didn't realise it could cure pitch problems but it certainly gives everything a smooth sheen.(a little bit 80's but not the whole jacket sleeves rolled up effect).
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 3401
    JezWynd said:
    I didn't realise it could cure pitch problems
    Not cure. Disguise. I chose my words very carefully. ;)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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