HB PB-20 SBK: 88 EUR, shipping to France included...?
I'm no stranger to the handy-work that's sometimes required to render new acquisitions playable, and honestly, I expected to spend some time with this baby...
Initial inspection after unpacking the instrument left me quite surprised though.
Neck relief: perfect.
Action: a little high for my taste, but already quite good.
Fret finish: not super-shiny & polished, but nothing wrong with it; smooth all the way through. No sharp edges along the neck. All good.
Fret board: some minor traces of white (dusty) residue, but easily removed with a brush/cloth.
The paint-job is a really nice - the satin finish looks killer, and I could not spot any imperfections.
The neck-joint is flawless - no gaps, rock-solid.
Closer inspection of the fretwork didn't reveal any issues. All well leveled.
After a little TLC & Wax for the fret board, I lowered the action to suit my preferences. No buzzing, no problem-spots/frets. Very comfortable now.
The hardware is OK. The tuners are a bit tough-going compared to more expensive parts, but a little grease here & there...problem solved.
A glance under the pick guard reveals some left-over saw-dust, but otherwise, things are in order.
Playability / Sound:
Played dry, it's present, good attack & bite. The vibration propagates nicely throughout body & neck, the sustain is good. No obvious dead spots.
The instrument is very light and quite well balanced, although - being very picky - a wee bit heavy on the head. Nothing serious though, and a good strap easily takes care of that.
Amplified, the sound is remarkably good. The pickup is not of the fattest order, but delivers good output & the dry characteristics of the instrument shine through quite well.
The tone control is efficient, and cuts the high frequencies without affecting the upper mid range bite; the sound remains present at all settings.
I replaced the stock-pickup with a spare EMG split-coil & pots I had in a drawer, and now this budget-beauty really sings! ;-)
Now let me repeat this: 88 EUR, shipping to France included!
I play Bass for more than 30 years, and spent considerable amounts for the majority of my instruments.
While I love them all dearly, and appreciiate each and every one of them for their qualities, I cannot help but be utterly gob-smacked by the value-for-money delivered in this case.
I owned instruments costing 10 times this price that were plagued by inexcusable quality control & manufacturing issues...or simply lousy design. It's amazing to see, that such a small price can get you an instrument, that is absolutely perfect for beginners, and - given the quality - well beyond that.