Explores the possibilities: Harley Benton HB-20
As one of the best-selling entry-level electric bass models on the market, the Harley Benton HB-20 has probably seen many of you through the early stages of your musical journey. Offering unbeatable value for money, the HB-20 delivers everything a beginner in the world of four-string needs: robust single-coil pickups that deliver decent bass crunch, solid hardware, and ease of use.
But as with any piece of beginner gear, there are some things that even the great Harley Benton HB-20 can’t do as well. For example, the electronics could be improved, the finish leaves something to be desired, and the material quality of the pots could also be higher quality. But only perfection makes an instrument truly personal. So this workshop shows you how to turn your Harley Benton HB-20 into a real sonic wonder with a few clever replacement parts.
The machine heads
The tuners are an essential component of any electric bass, they have the task of maintaining the tuning. The original machine heads of the Harley Benton HB-20 are free of annoying play, but they react rather sluggishly to actuation and the stability could be better. Replacing the tuners with higher-quality alternatives is therefore often one of the first measures for improvement. Products from Schaller or Gotoh offer reliable quality here. They are precisely manufactured, have no superfluous play and respond very directly to actuation. They also have a higher tuning stability, which means that your bass stays in tune longer and requires less re-tuning work from you.
Gotoh has a variety of bass machine heads in their lineup, but especially for our project, the GB7 model is a recommended choice. These models score with their small size, stability, and ability to keep in tune even under punishing conditions.
The bridge, also called the bridge, serves to fix the strings and has a direct influence on the sound transmission and sustain of the instrument. The bridge of the Harley Benton HB-20 is quite simple and standardized. Upgrading to a higher quality bridge can do wonders for the sound. A Hipshot KickAss bass bridge, for example, offers premium quality and durability. It is made of sturdy, resonant material and ensures optimal vibration transmission of the strings, which noticeably improves the basic sound. In addition, it has a strong effect on sustain and resonance, which positively influence the overall playing feel.
As a bridge replacement, we recommend the “Leo Quan Badass Bass II”. With its special design that focuses on stronger pressure transmission, it delivers a significant sound boost and more harmonics. The clear tone makes every note played more defined, and the possible fine adjustments offer additional customization options.
The pickups are the heart of your bass. They pick up the vibrations generated by the strings and convert them into electrical signals as electromagnetic transducers. The pickups of the Harley Benton HB-20 do a decent job, but have a rather mediocre sound quality. An upgrade definitely makes sense here. Pickups from Seymour Duncan or DiMarzio are known for delivering a clear, strong and well-defined tone. The sound improvement is enormous and offers additional sound variety. Your bass will thus not only play in a higher league, but also open up new creative possibilities for you.
Pickups are always a matter of taste and there are different preferences. For our particular case, the Seymour Duncan SPB-3 model is an excellent choice. The SPB-3 pickups are known for having a particularly powerful output while producing a warm, full sound. They deliver a classic, vintage bass sound, with a strong presence in the lower midrange.
The simple pots, i.e. the rotary controls for volume and tone on the Harley Benton HB-20, do their job, but they are not robust enough and often show negligence in terms of fine tuning. Upgrading to CTS pots makes sense here. They are of high quality, offer higher resistance values and the sound control becomes much more dynamic and sensitive. This offers more leeway for individual sound adjustments.
CTS pots are considered a safe choice for potentiometers. They are known for their quality and durability. CTS’s high performance pots provide low noise, smooth control and last much longer than standard models. For extra clever features, you can opt for the CTS “Push/Pull” pots, which allow for a number of additional switching options on top of their basic functions.
The Harley Benton HB-20 is a solid bass, but it still has a lot of potential for improvement. With the aforementioned replacement parts, you can get the best out of your instrument and significantly increase the overall sound, playability and longevity. So take advantage of the hidden potential and turn your Harley Benton HB-20 into your personal music star! It may sound like an investment at first, but the end result will definitely be worth it. Bring the slumbering lion in your bass to life!