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Review: Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Let’s cut to the chase: the Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass isn’t just another bass. It’s your next step to bass greatness without selling a kidney.

In the world of strings and frets, finding a 5-string that doesn’t make your wallet weep while still delivering the goods is rare. But guess what? We’ve found a gem.

About Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK

Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass

Harley Benton is at it again, folks – delivering big on promises without the big price tag. This PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series is like a dream for players who crave that deep, rich bass without drowning in debt.

Starting with its basswood body and matte black finish, this bass is a looker and lighter than it looks, meaning you can jam all night without your shoulder screaming for mercy. The bolt-on maple neck and roseacer fretboard? Smooth as butter for those fast runs and comfy for hands of all sizes, thanks to that modern C neck profile.

Now, onto the heart of the beast: the J-style single coil and P-style split coil pickups. This duo is your ticket to tonal versatility, covering ground from jazz to metal with just a twist of the dual volume and single tone controls. And let’s not forget the PJ-style machine heads and black hardware – reliable, sturdy, and sharp as heck.

But here’s the thing – it’s not just about the specs. This bass is about how all these features come together to give you a playing experience that’s usually way pricier. It’s about feeling every note resonate against the basswood body and through your fingers.

What Makes It Good?

Why does the Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass grab your attention and refuse to let go? It’s not just one thing; it’s the entire package that comes together in a symphony of bass excellence.

First off, the tone versatility is a game-changer. With its J-style single coil at the bridge and P-style split coil in the middle, you’ve got a sonic palette that’s as broad as it is deep. Want to thump through a jazz gig? No problem. Need to growl over some heavy metal? You’ve got it. This bass covers your back across genres, making it a versatile beast for any player’s arsenal.

Then there’s the playability. The modern C neck profile is like a best friend to your hand, familiar and comfortable from the get-go. The action is set just right out of the box, minimizing the need for adjustments and letting you dive straight into the music. The roseacer fretboard is smooth under your fingers, making those long playing sessions or quick transitions seamless and fatigue-free.

Photo Credit: Thomann

Durability is another major win. The basswood body is not only light but tough, ready to withstand the rigors of the road or the studio. The black hardware and PJ-style machine heads don’t just add to its killer looks; they’re built to last, ensuring your bass stays in tune and in shape, gig after gig.

But what truly sets the PJ-5 SBK apart is the quality-to-price ratio. It’s astonishing how much bass you’re getting for your buck. This isn’t just a budget bass; it’s a quality instrument that happens to be affordable, proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great sound and a reliable instrument.

In essence, the Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass is a standout because it breaks the rules. It’s proof that quality, versatility, and playability can come without a hefty price tag, making it an invaluable addition to any bassist’s collection.

What Could Be Improved

Photo Credit: Thomann

While the Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass stands out for its many strengths, there’s always room for improvement, especially for those with a keen ear and an eye for detail. Let’s dive into some areas where this bass could level up:

  • Pickup Power: The stock pickups, while versatile, could pack a bit more punch. For players looking to dive deep into specific genres, especially those requiring a more pronounced tonal signature, upgrading to higher-output pickups could elevate the bass’s performance.
    • J-style single coil: Could benefit from a bit more clarity and high-end definition.
    • P-style split coil: A tighter low-end response would enhance its performance in genres like metal or funk.
  • Fretwork and Action: Out of the box, the action and fretwork are generally good, but perfectionists might find room for refinement. A professional setup could unlock even greater playability and comfort, especially for advanced techniques.
    • Fret ends: Some players may find them a bit sharp or uneven, affecting playability.
    • Action adjustment: While the factory setup is decent, fine-tuning could make this bass even more versatile and comfortable for various playing styles.
  • Nut Material: The standard nut does its job, but upgrading to a higher-quality material (e.g., bone or graphite) could improve tuning stability and overall tone.
  • Aesthetic Options: The matte black finish is sleek and universally appealing, but offering more color options could attract players looking for a visual match to their personal style.

Specs

SpecificationDetail
Type5-String Electric Bass
BodyBasswood
NeckBolt-on, Maple
FretboardRoseacer
Fretboard InlaysDot
Neck ProfileModern C
Truss RodDouble-Action
Nut Width45 mm
Scale Length864 mm
Frets20
PickupsJ-style single coil (bridge), P-style split coil (middle)
Controls2 x Volume, 1 x Tone
HardwareBlack
Machine HeadsPJ-style
Strings.045 – .130
ColourMatt Black
pros and cons of Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Versatile Tone: The combination of J-style and P-style pickups offers a wide tonal range, suitable for various genres.
  • Comfortable Playability: Modern C neck profile and smooth roseacer fretboard make for easy playing, even during long sessions.
  • Solid Build Quality: Basswood body and black hardware contribute to a robust build that can withstand the rigors of touring and studio work.
  • Great Value: Offers features and quality often found in more expensive models, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious players.
  • Lightweight Design: Easy on the shoulders, making it ideal for gigs and practices alike.

Cons:

  • Pickup Upgrades Desired: For those seeking specific tonal qualities, the stock pickups may fall short.
  • Action and Fretwork: Might require some tweaking or a professional setup to achieve optimal playability.
  • Limited Aesthetic Options: Currently available in matte black only, which might not suit everyone’s visual preferences.
  • Nut Material: Could be improved to enhance tuning stability and sustain.

Other Cool Basses

When it comes to Harley Benton, the PJ-5 SBK isn’t the only bass that deserves attention. Here are a couple more that stand out for their own reasons:

  • Harley Benton PB-20: This model is perfect for players who love the classic precision bass sound. It offers a straightforward, punchy tone ideal for rock and blues. Its simplicity and effectiveness make it a great choice for beginners and seasoned players looking for a reliable backup. Same with the JB-20.
  • Harley Benton HBZ-2005: For those seeking something more advanced, the HBZ-2005 steps up with active electronics and a modern, ergonomic design. This 5-string model is a powerhouse for genres that demand low-end clarity and versatility, like metal, jazz, and progressive rock.
harley benton pb-20 closeup photo

If you’re curious about more options and how these compare, check out my article on the 6 Best Harley Benton Basses for an in-depth look at what makes each model unique and how they might fit into your musical journey.

What I Like About Harley Bentons

Harley Benton has consistently impressed me with their commitment to quality at an accessible price point. I tested A LOT of their gear (you can see it all on my YouTube channel).

Here are a few highlights that make Harley Benton basses stand out:

  • Affordability: It’s incredible how Harley Benton manages to keep prices low while still delivering instruments that feel and sound great. This makes music more accessible to everyone, which is something I deeply appreciate.
  • Wide Range of Models: From vintage-inspired designs to modern, feature-packed models, there’s something for every taste and playing style. This variety ensures that players can find an instrument that truly resonates with them, both in sound and aesthetics.
  • Quality Components: Despite the affordable pricing, Harley Benton doesn’t skimp on components. From solid woods to reliable hardware, these basses are built to last and perform.
  • Community and Support: The brand has cultivated a strong community of players, and there’s a wealth of resources available for Harley Benton owners. Whether you’re looking for modding tips or advice on setups, there’s a supportive network of fellow musicians and the brand itself.

Final Thoughts

The Harley Benton PJ-5 SBK Deluxe Series 5-String Bass is more than just an instrument; it’s a testament to what’s possible when affordability meets quality. It offers a compelling choice for bassists of all levels, combining playability, versatility, and durability in a package that’s hard to beat for the price.

While it has its areas for improvement, the PJ-5 SBK provides a solid foundation that players can customize and grow with. Whether you’re just starting your musical journey or looking to add another bass to your collection without breaking the bank, the PJ-5 SBK is worth considering.

In the end, what I love about Harley Benton, and the PJ-5 SBK in particular, is that they democratize music. They prove that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a quality instrument that inspires you to play and create. And in a world where music is more important than ever, that’s something truly special.