Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK review
Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK: what is it?
Harley BentonThe core business of is to make the unaffordable affordable. Sometimes that means taking an all-original pass to a new one. electric guitar or amplifier design. In others, he finds a classic and finds a way to make it for a price that can be modified by the beginner or the student.
The JB-75 and RB-414BK – are examples. Let’s take the JB-75 first. It’s a riff on the archetypal Jazz Bass and it’s one of thousands in the genre. We’ve seen them produced for the beginner market, and they’ve done well as well. It’s a snap for Harley Benton, and the JB-75 is part of a classic series that also includes Hohner and P-style basses.
It has a solid ash body with a bolt-on maple neck, which in this natural-finish model has a maple fingerboard with black block inlays. The Sunburst model has a pau ferro fingerboard but shares the same Roswell JBA Alnico 5 Vintage JB-Style single-coil pickups and passive control configuration (Vol/Vol/Tone). It looks like the room.
At first glance, the RB-414BK looks a bit more ambitious, with body shape, pickguard, controls and a silhouette that immediately recalls a Rickenbacker 4001. These days these are a bit less speckled because Harley Benton reminds us, was a bass guitar that straddled pop and rock in the ’60s, even going so far as to reference Mike Rutherford and Chris Squire in its promotional sizzle for the instrument.
Harley Benton brings up an interesting point, with Mike Rutherford a public endorser of entry level Squier Strats, maybe he too would be interested in a super affordable bass like this.
The RB-414BK has a mahogany body, set mahogany neck with an amaranth fingerboard. You may know amaranth by many names, most commonly Purpleheart, but in the post-CITES era of guitar and bass production, it’s proven more than passable in rosewood.
The neck and body are tied together, and with that white pickguard against the black body, the RB-414BK is a work of class. It has an Artec mini humbucker in the neck position and a single coil at the bridge, with two volume controls and two tone controls, and a three-way pickup selector controlling them. The single coil is covered with a chrome palm rest – not chrome covered plastic like the original vintage Rickys, but it looks authentic – while the sturdy looking bridge is easily adjustable.
Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK: performance and verdict
The JB-75 and RB-414BK nail the vibe. The JB-75 is on-the-money as a jazz-inspired four-string. It could be a beefy lunker of an instrument, its chunky American ash chassis requiring a decent padded strap for maximum comfort, fingerboard navigation is as easy as pie.
It’s fun, too, because the best jazz basses are, daring you to play more, and the tones are on point. The JB-75 handles all sorts of styles, which is what you’d expect from a beginner-priced bass. When you’re starting your bass career, you need an instrument that’s going to keep your options open.
• Squier Classic Vibe Sixties Jazz Bass
Unbeatable value and awesome retro feel and tone make this one of the best basses in years – headstock snobs be damned!
• Epiphone EB-3
We’re pleasantly surprised by the caliber of the EB-3 and amazed at the quality of bass Epiphone has delivered at this affordable price. For any newbie player or fans of that era, you really can’t go wrong at this price. Don’t forget to wear it low!
The hassle-free control set delivers sounds that can be used for pop, rock, blues and, as the styling might suggest, jazz, or just throw them in the melt pot and create your own.
The RB-414BK, on the other hand, is a real sonic monster, especially on this mini ‘bucker in the neck position. It’s got that thick, plump growl that made the Rickenbacker a natural ally of the fledgling rock scene. If it’s a bit overbearing – and on occasion it might – the single coil brings more definition in the upper mids and highs. You lose a bit of volume when you go through it, so be aware of that with your controls.
Alternatively, flip this switch to the middle position, plug it into an overdrive bass amp or via a fuzz pedal, and you’ll unlock animal beast mode. It’s a fun sound to conjure up on a Saturday night when the guitarist needs a bit more punch under his chords.
Sitting side by side, we think these would make a great couple for the budding Geddy Lee in your life. Take the RB-414BK for the early years up to Grace Under Pressure, swap it out for the JB-75 for the later Rush period. Construction-wise, these are impressive.
There could be a weird finish issue, especially on the RB-414BK, but maybe that’s to be expected at the price. For entry-level instruments, they have everything you need.
MusicRadar Verdict: Two classic designs remixed and served fresh for the beginner market, it’s hard not to love the JB-75 and RB-414BK. The former handles everything, while the latter is a rock beast that will level everything in front of it if your amp is up to it.
Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK: the web says
“The RB’s humbucker delivers punch that far exceeds expectations, delivering a satisfying richness that will have you singing riffs for hours…The JB-75 doesn’t mess around – we were reluctant to put it down. This is by no means a show-stopper, but it certainly knows what it can offer in terms of tone and playability. It’s practical, easy to navigate and solid”
Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK: hands-on demonstrations
Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK: Specifications
Harley Benton JB-75MN NA Vintage
- THE PRICE: €168 / $188
- MADE IN: China
- BODY: American ash
- NECK: Maple
- NECK JOINT: Bolt
- HIT: Maple, 20 frets
- COLLECTIONS: 2 Roswell JBA Alnico-5 single coils
- CONTROLS: 2 x volume, tone
- EQUIPMENT: Chromium
- CASE/BAG INCLUDED: No, but Thomann have a range of starter packs containing a practice bass amp, cable, strap, tuner and gig bag from £222 / €268 / $300
- LEFT-HANDED OPTION: Yes
Harley Benton RB-414BK Classic
- THE PRICE: £189 / €229 / $256
- MADE IN: China
- BODY: Mahogany
- NECK: Mahogany
- NECK JOINT: Bonded collar
- HIT: Amaranth, 22 frets
- COLLECTIONS: Mini-humbucker (neck) and single coil (bridge)
- CONTROLS: 2 x volume, 2 x tone, 3 position pickup switch
- EQUIPMENT: Chromium
- CASE/BAG INCLUDED: No
- LEFT-HANDED OPTION: Yes
- CONTACT: Harley Benton