My first bass!

Hi all,

I’m a drummer who also plays a bit of keyboard. I want to learn bass as well since it seems like a cool instrument. However, I’ve got no clue which bass is good a which isn’t. I don’t want to spend too much money since I’m not sure whether I’ll keep myself motived to play; I will if I like the instrument. I found and add online of someone selling a Harley Benton PB-20 BK Standard Series along with an amp and a tuner for €150. Is this bass a good bass to start off with, or not?

Thanks in advance for anyone who’s willing to help me!


This is a Squier CV 70’s p bass.
It wasn’t my first bass, but it’s the bass I play every day. They are often offered at a discount too. It’s always my recommendation for a first bass.
But many will say, the best bass is the one you can play.


I don’t know enough about Harley Benton basses to say one way or another. The Yamaha TRBX 174 gets considerable attention as a good quality entry level bass. Some folks here have upgraded theirs with new pickups and hardware and use them as every day players.


I don’t have first hand experience, but I heard good things about Harley Benton as starter instruments.

A german site I go to for instrument test have tested the little more expensive Harley Benton SBX bass and say it is a decent instrument to start with. For reference, the test is in German language:

The only thing they don’t like is the weight, that is 4.5 kg.


Hi @Jonah1265, welcome to the forums! Nothing wrong with a Harley Benton as a beginner bass. Can’t comment on the price, as I don’t know what kind of amp and tuner they are throwing in. I got my own first bass, which was the exact same model as you mentioned, for €40 (pre-owned), but that was a steal.


Hi @Jonah1265 & welcome,

Go for it. $150 is fine for a starter pack like that. Try the bass and have a chat with the owner.

My checklist would be:

  • Do amp and bass work, i.e. turn on, play without too much hiss, noise and without any loose connections? (If you can’t play, let the owner demonstrate)
  • Any loose screws, joints, split wood?

Bonus list

  • Does the amp have a headphone out jack? (Great for practising)
  • Any goodies (strap, bag, a bass book, manuals, …)
  • Do you like the look of the bass?

Have fun trying it!


PS: Check out Gear | for some more info for beginners. This might be a good second step after you decide to go for it for a while.


Thanks y’all for the reply’s! I’ll have a closer look at each and every individual one.


Re Harley Benton, I just watched this today:

Seems really amazing how much bang-for-the-buck they make available.

One thing I want to add to the discussion is this: can you get it set up as you like? Here is my example:

As my main bass I got a Ray34. Since I had never done a real setup, I was kinda frightened to touch the neck. But I also wanted a ringing-free sound without too much action.

As a project bass I got a used Squier Jazz. Today I switched out the bridge on that one, which meant I had to do a complete setup. And I did my first neck-adjustment. I tried a bit back and fourth and in the end got it all kinda okay-ish, but too much action for my taste and wasn‘t able to get it lower without constant ringing. I will have to bring that to a real pro to see if there is maybe sth wrong with the neck or frets.

Armed with the experience from the Squier though I turned to the Ray34 and with some tiny adjustments it is now perfectly set up.

My point is that how it can be set up makes a real difference in how it feels to play it, and that can make all the difference if you‘re having fun playing it.

If I wouldn‘t want to learn setting up myself, I would definitely invest the money to have someone do that for me. A bad setup can be much more frustrating than not having perfectly sounding pickups when starting out imo. An instrument that was really cheap but which cannot be set up the way you like it might backfire every single time you pick it up to play :slight_smile:

Learning to do a setup, change strings, adjust the truss I would tackle. Super easy and save some money. I knew nothing when I started to play bass, so been there not long ago and really recommend this.

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It’s extremely easy and everyone should learn it, IMO. You will be able to do a better job for yourself than many “pros” would.

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It’s one of those things where you learn it and say “that’s it? that’s all there is?”

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Eric, in your experience, does it make sense to buy a cheaper bass and upgrade it spending more money, or would it be better to get a higher level instrument in the first place?


Cheaper first for the simple reason that you won’t know what you actually like in an instrument until you get some time and experience with them. You will almost assuredly trade away from your first instrument, and likely sooner than you think, regardless of how much you spend on it. Might as well go for a high quality but inexpensive instrument.

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“Cheaper first for the simple reason that you won’t know what you actually like in an instrument until you get some time and experience with them.”

Yep, this is the best advice. From there you can decide whether to upgrade or get something else.

As for which is better, that comes back to you. If you like working on stuff maybe upgrades are a good way to go.

I started with a very inexpensive instrument and later I paid a lot more and got exactly what I wanted. I still have the inexpensive bass and it still gets used regularly.

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You have been given some solid advice. As far high level instrument to start, we are living in the golden age of instruments, with modern manufacturing techniques you can get a good instrument cheaply. Not like it was in the old days.

As long as it stays in tune, doesn’t have frets that poke you, and can take a setup so it’s easy to play your good to go. Even inexpensive instruments are quite solid these days.


This :arrow_up: is part of why it’s so hard to make reccomendations for questions like this.

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