Short scale decision made: Harley Benton MV-4MSB Gotoh! But how to mod?

After everybody and a kite has convinced me not to purchase a Mike Kerr Jaguar Bass, I am thinking about a Harley Benton MV-4MSB Gotoh (which will be available in April again, according to Thomann).

Yes, this is a cheap bass - but the German reviews are raving, and I saw some Youtube videos about mods that make this bass truly great. And I love modding stuff!

So, this is a good video about it, with a guy that has a very funny east-German accent (“Don’t mention the war!” :-))

Don’t be mislead by the title - he likes it very much, EXCEPT the fact that there is no pickup selector to disable the shitty bridge pickup. Other Youtube videos (ie LowEndLobster) suggest that nobody likes the bridge pickup.

So my plan is:

  • replace the pickups
  • install a pickup selector / blend control
  • Replace the bridge with a Fender Highmass - just cause I like how it looks. I am open to suggestions though.
  • Install a Hipshot Bass Extender.
  • Install an ABM Adjustable Nut. I really want it, so don’t try to convince me otherwise :slight_smile:


  • What great and cheap pickups would you advise?
  • Should I go active?
  • What solution for a pickup selector?
  • Anything else I should modify (except strings - that needs to wait)?

I’d first play that bass for a couple of weeks before doing any mods. You’ll need to know what you like and don’t like about the bass then you can mod it.

If you are up for a fun mod of Mustang why not mustang bridge, and make it a string through.

You can go active but don’t have to I’d stick with 2 knobs config it’s more retro that way. I’d put the stacked knob (concentric knob) with volume/ tone, volume/ tone a la, Bobby Vega’s special.

That you will have to check if the tuner share the same shape. I don’t know you’ll use it twice a year, 4 time on the first year, :joy:

It depends If you want to go nuts then get a new pickguard and go with the mustang pickups. Lola and Chris Novak would be my first choice. Mustang pickup offers very unique voice, really cool nasally mid.

If you are going for conventional then Seymore Duncan Quater pounder set would be my for choice. Larger diameter of the magnet pole piece would yield awesome attack which would make the already thumpy short scale thumper, :joy: better yet check out Delano PMVC 4 FE/M2 and Jmvc to match, the company is in your neck of the wood. I love this pickups I put it on quite a few of my basses.

You can but you don’t need to if you do then route a bathtub cavity under the pickguard then if you want to add a Xpure for even more awesomeness running 18V from just one 9V you can.

Stacked knob unless you are going for active/passive then just stacked knobs and a switch.

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Personally, I really like Dimarzio pickups. Depending on what you are looking for sound-wise they have PJ sets for both their Relentless and 60’s series pickups. On my Fender Mustang PJ I went with the Dimarzio Split P and Ultra Jazz J. The Fender came with a selector switch but I had it changed out for a blend knob because that’s what I prefer. Either solution is fine, it just comes down to personal preference.
On a side note I have a Harley Benton JP-45OP and it is a great instrument. I had the pickups in it replaced with the Relentless PJ set and it sounds awesome. Harley Benton’s are usually very good instruments with a build quality that is way above their price point.


Hmmmmm … I haven’t thought about that one. I have that on my ESP and I love it! Need to check how to drill and what the consequence for bridge position and string length is…

By the way - I was waiting for you to answer and was not disappointed :slight_smile:

I will check your answer and match it with an actual shopping list to look at prices and availability.

About the Hipshot Bass Extender: I really use it every day as I have an EADG / Drop D playlist for practicing and can switch back & forth effortlessly without the need to retune. I love it!

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So, that strange LoweEndLobster guy on Youtube has also chosen the DiMarzio Relentless PJ Pickups. I need to compare @Al1885 's options with this one. So much choice!

Skip the beginning if you do not want to feel sorry for the guy!

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Oh yeah, second the Relentless. Very hot but awesome tone. Now you can get them as a set can’t go wrong.

This is awesome. It’s definitely not for me. I have that on a few but I rather drop tune myself and/ or just play the 5 string. I’m a fan of soft tension but somehow it just doesn’t feel good for me.

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I use my relentless the same way Billy Sheehan uses it, as a ramp. That’s how it’s designed to have the radius on the pickup cover.

This one is with the custom EMG passive Riptide jazz pickup to match the intensity of the relentless. Still all passive.


I don’t own a 5 string and please don’t mention this to me, so I won’t want one :slight_smile:

This is my daily playlist - I try to play about 10-15 songs from this selection (I’m still a beginner, obviously). You see that it has a wild EADG / Drop D mix…

Dead Souls Nine Inch Nails [EADG][Optimized - same string].song
Dead Souls ^Nine Inch Nails [EADG]Original].song
House of the Rising Sun ^ The Animals [EADG].song
I Scare Myself Thomas Dolby [EADG][Optimized].song
Pretty Songs ^ Bob Vylan [EADG][Optimized].song
Pretty Songs ^ Bob Vylan [EADG][Original].song
Renegades of Funk ^Rage against the Machine [Drop D].song
So Far Away ^ Dire Straits [EADG].song
Suck ^ Nine Inch nails [Drop D].song
Suck ^ Nine Inch nails [Drop D][Opimized].song
Tuyo (Extended) ^ Rodrigo Amarante [EADG][Optimized].song
Tuyo (Extended) ^ Rodrigo Amarante [EADG][Original].song
Tuyo (Narcos) ^ Rodrigo Amarante [EADG][Original].song
You and your Friend ^ Dire Straits [EADG].song
03 GREAT\Disconnect ^ Rollins Band [EADG].song
03 GREAT\Killer ^ Seal [Drop D].song
03 GREAT\She Drives Me Crazy (V3) ^ Fine Young Cannibals [Drop D].song
03 GREAT\Tainted Love Where Did Our Love Go ^ Soft Cell [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\A Message to You Rudy ^ The Specials [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Angry Chair ^Alice in Chains [Drop D].song
04 EXCELLENT\Asking For It ^ Hole [Drop D].song
04 EXCELLENT\Be yourself ^ Audioslave [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Down by the Water ^ PJ Harvey [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Love Hurts ^ Incubus [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\My Favourite Game ^ Cardigans [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Release ^ Pearl Jam [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Swallowed ^ Bush [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\This is Love ^ PJ Harvey [EADG].song
04 EXCELLENT\Would ^ Alice in Chains [Drop D].song
04 EXCELLENT\You Make Me Feel ^ Archive [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST!Manic Street Preachers Motorcycle Emptiness [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Another Brick in the Wall ^ Pink Floyd [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Ava Adore (V1) ^ Smashing Pumpkins [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Creep ^ Stone Temple Pilots [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Dead and Bloated ^ Stone temple Pilots [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Doll Parts ^ Hole [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Empty ^ Garbage [Drop D][Optimized - VAR 2].song
42 PLAYLIST\Empty ^ Garbage [Drop D][Optimized - VAR 3].song
42 PLAYLIST\Empty ^ Garbage [Drop D][Optimized].song
42 PLAYLIST\Empty ^ Garbage [Drop D][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\Hey ^ Pixies [EADG][Optimized].song
42 PLAYLIST\Hey ^ Pixies [EADG][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\I think I’m Paranoid ^ Garbage [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Karma Police ^ Radiohead [EADG][Optimized].song
42 PLAYLIST\Karma Police ^ Radiohead [EADG][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\Love Rears Its Ugly Head ^ Living Colour [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Only Happy When it Rains ^ Garbage [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Post Blue ^ Placebo [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Rooster ^Alice in Chains [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Seven Nation Army ^ White Stripes [EADG][Optimized].song
42 PLAYLIST\Seven Nation Army ^ White Stripes [EADG][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\Silence Is Golden ^ Garbage [Drop D][Issue@end].song
42 PLAYLIST\So Good ^ Lisp [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Song 2 ^ Blur [Drop D].song
42 PLAYLIST\Today ^ Smashing Pumpkins [EADG][Optimized][SLIDE!].song
42 PLAYLIST\Today ^ Smashing Pumpkins [EADG][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\Where is my mind ^ Pixies [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Where The Wild Roses Grow (V1) ^ Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue [EADG][Optimized].song
42 PLAYLIST\Where The Wild Roses Grow (V1) ^ Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue [EADG][Original].song
42 PLAYLIST\White Flag ^ Dido [EADG].song
42 PLAYLIST\Zombie ^ The Cranberries [EADG].song

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That is one nice bass - don’t wanna know what it is though!!! ^^

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Fender Aerodyne, I have a few but unlike @John_E I only have 3 of one color, :joy:
So I make one a Fretless, one with Maple neck and one original with rosewood fingerboard, this way I can tell them apart, ha ah.


I will ignore this reply :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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Permission Granted :laughing:

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If you are into modding why not mod yourself a killer bass even a short scale.

Like this short scale Joe Dart JR, no knobs.

Or this classic one knob. Joe Dart

I sold one of my kidney and bought a Joe Dart II then made my own (Sterling)Joe Dart for less than $400

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Hmmm … remember, I live in Germany and not in “the land of the free”. That means: many products you have are really hard to get here. I really love Europe, but this is the one thing I envy you guys for in the US (and the great nature you have!!!).

I just googled the DiMarzio Relentless PJ, for example, and my usuual soucres don’t have it.

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No one can buy Joe Dart JR right now only 50 were made. Unless of course you are willing to pay double and get it from Reverb. :joy:

But you can certainly buy a Sterling Short scale in whatever color used for around 350-400 dollars then repaint to Olympic white, and custom order the gold pickguard. Add Delano white pickup and you are gold.

For the Joe Dart, even cheaper but a bit harder to come by Sterling SB4 you can find one for about $200 then strip the paint to natural, white Delano pickup and one knob.

I have a few SB4 I’m stockpiling so Joe Dart III is my next project

This will be a fun one for sure.

Tooo maaaaannnnyyyyyyyyy iiiiideaaaaaaaas :slight_smile:
I feel lost now!

Let’s try to focus on a bass that costs me 300€ max (so I can invest in upgrades) and be available in Europe too (otherwise I need to move to the US - and I am too afraid of getting shot for being obnoxious!).

So the Harley Benton MV-4MSB fits those criteria, and I would only change my opinion if there are very good reasons. Knowing you, @Al1885, you will find at least 20 alternatives that are better suited :slight_smile:

As long as the Harley Benton is the undisputed king of my decision making process, I would analyze all modding options that are great/cheap. The input I had up to now is very helpful - I might need to see what the Europe market will get me.

Again, according to Fox News we live in Communism and don’t have much choice ^^


Some thoughts

  • I love Mustang bridges, one of my favorites. String through, solid, have nothing bad to say about them

  • I love Fender HiMass bridges too, nothing bad to say about them either. WOuld probably prefer a Mustang bridge between the two

  • I have a Novak pickup in one of my Mustangs. It sounds really good

  • DiMarzio Relentless are nice pickups, so are DiMarzio Sixties. But for a PJ I actually prefer the DiMarzio DP126 set. I put a set in my mustang and it’s a banger.

  • I agree with @Al1885 on the concentric knobs. I did this to my mustang, each pickup has a tone/volume concentric pot and it’s a really sweet setup. Really the way to go.

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I’d get this to start if you want the mustang style bass.

I’d get this and the drop tuner then call it a day may be do the JMJ relic. I had a Lola pickup on my Squier mustang and it’s pretty awesome but having said that. Blindfold me and I won’t be able to tell the difference between those and the American performer mustang except when the playing stop as my Squier had a little hum, :joy:

I’ve got one of these with a Novak pickup and a Stellartone tone pot and it really, really sounds good. My only other mod will be to install a thumbrest, I don’t have any hum, YMMV

I have a player mustang too, would probably just get the Squier if I had a do over

So, @Al1885 has already convinced me about the String through. Just need to think about the complications (Bridge position, where to drill the string through holes, string length).

The DiMarzio DP126 set is available in Germany for an OK price. So that would be a great choice…

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