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, Treble, Mid, Bass
  • 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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67 Customer Ratings
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4.5 /5
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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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Nearly perfect!
silvansky, 13.08.2020
I decided to buy a bass to add it to my home recordings. Tired of synth basses. I am mainly a guitar player and the bass is what I need to fill my tracks' bottom.

So I decided to try out Harley Benton bass. Few hours of looking reviews, comparing different basses, 4 vs 5 strings, pickup combinations, etc... finally came up with this one. Two humbuckers with splitting option, onboard preamp and EQ, 5 strings, 24 frets — what else can I wish?

Yes, a playability, and that's what I got! I tried few other 5 string basses of my friends and they weren't as good in playability as this one! The neck is truly awesome! Fret job is just nice. You know, it could be better, but this is a bass guitar — no need to bend strings. ;)

Tuning stability is great, even after few days of not touching the guitar and then playing for an hour or two — it stays in tune, proved by tuner.

So, PROS:

• Playability is fantastic, super comfortably to play. Feels better in hands than basses 3-5 times more expensive.
• Features are great! 5-way switch with really different sounds in it! 4/5 positions of the switch is what I use all the time!
• Stays in tune. Really. Tuners are good, no trouble while tuning it.
• Active EQ onboard. Very helpful!
• Fret job is fine.
• Electronics made really good. I opened the guitar from the back and inside is a really good electronics, no flaws at all, soldering is really good.
• Good setup out of the box. Truss rod adjustment wasn't needed, I only did a little bit of intonation and string height adjustments.
• There was also cable included, but I do not really use it. Looks like the cheapest possible, but it is in — so counts as a con. ;)
• Six months of joy. Great! My tracks now have natural bass line!

Okay, let's dive into bad things. CONS:

• Pre amp catches radio sometimes. Especially when played with gain on. But not so loud as many others say. Gonna add a bypass switch for the preamp to get a cleaner sound when I want it.
• Cheap looking pickguard. But you can't tell it's cheap from two meters away.
• The cap of the 5-way switch was loosy and fell away when I got the guitar. A drop of glue — and it's in place again.
• Pots are not good leveled. If you look closer, they are at an some angle to the control plate. Not an issue at all, not everyone will even notice it.
• 5-th string is a bit loosy, but that's common for 5 string basses. Gonna change it to heavier gauge, I think.
• The sound is not as bright as I think it should. Maybe stock strings are bad, maybe I should try different pups. Am I the only person who plays stock string for a half year? =)

If you want to see the review video and hear LOTS of sound samples, search for this on youtube or google: oU0H6KrmBlA

***

So, would I buy this guitar again if I was a time traveller? Surely yes! It's great and really, REALLY pleasant to play!
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It was love at the first sight
Anton P e l, 03.09.2020
Let me start that I am a guitar player, but was always facinated with bass. I had seen and heard lots of cheep basses that were more expensive than this HB MM-85A (Cort, Ibanez, SX etc.) and this one beats them all with both price and sound.

I have not noticed and major flaws most people find in HB guitars, like not ideal fret job or woodwork. The battery was in a package and it serves well for well over 3 months with no need for replacement (keep in mind that I use this bass mostly to play at home or to record some demos on it).

The sound is fantastic. I was not expecting anything extraordinary, just wanted to try out MM-style bass as those are pretty rare in the place I live. And boy how satisfied I am with this one.

I have checked a nice demo of this bass in the video
>
And it gives the correct impression of the bass sound. I was affraid that due to the price it would be muffy and without sufficient low-end and those fears were BASSless (sorry for the pun).

The stock humbuckers are decent, the 3-way EQ provides versatility of tone, different pickup possitions change the overall tone up to the point what you can truely say that you have 5 different basses in 1 and that is exactly what I fell in love with in this bass.

The other day I have tried Yamaha TRBX and it felt miniscule in comparison to MM-85A. Their 5-way switch was only the variants of EQ and it made me even more happy that I went with Harley Benton MM-85A.

Might change pickups to new ones from a local brand. It proved a good strategy for my Harley Benton 8 string fanfret. So I anticipate even better sound on this guitar.

I could recomment it to anyone who is looking for a bass with tight budget.
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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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205 €
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