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NAMM 2024: Harley Benton launches the PB-Shorty SBK, a 30” scale bass for beginners inspired by a low-end classic – and it costs just £103

 Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK.
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK.

NAMM 2024: NAMM 2024: Budget gear titan Harley Benton has been doing Harley Benton things again and has gone and extended its entry-level Standard Series with a very smart – and cheap – bass guitar that’s spec’d up for beginners and small hands.

The PB-Shorty SBK is one of those instruments where you do not need a degree in bassology to tell where the design influence came from. Indeed the clue is in the name. PB? Okay. But as variants on the Precision Bass paradigm go, this is as user-friendly and affordable as they come.

Available now exclusively via Thomann, for the modest sum of £103, the PB-Shorty SBK has a 30” short-scale, a maple neck that joins the body with a four-bolt joint, and a body carved from poplar.

The single split-coil pickup keeps offers a similar setup as the bass’s inspiration, and you’ve got volume and tone controls to dial in a sound. This should handle a wide range of genres, as any self-respecting beginner’s instrument should.

Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK

And it’s neck won’t be scaring anyone off. Satin-smooth, it is filed down to a crowd-pleasing Modern C profile, which will err on the slim side.

At this price you won’t expect a rosewood fingerboard but amaranth – also known as purpleheart – is an adequate substitute, particularly on a beginner model. Said fingerboard has dot inlays, 19 frets, and a 13.8” radius.

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Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK

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Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK

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Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK

Elsewhere, you’ve got the clover-style open-gear tuners, an über-tactile Satin Black finish, and while this is 2024 this is no retro reproduction the tortoiseshell pickguard gives it a nice vintage-modern vibe.

Indeed, this model is very much the four-string sibling of the ST-Junior HSS SBK, which is similarly dressed in Satin Black with tortoiseshell ‘guard, with a short scale (in this instance 19.3”) making it another valid option for young players.

Similarly, this Harley Benton guitar's HSS pickup configuration would be able to get a grip of most musical genres. At the time of its launch in December last year, we wondered whether it was the ultimate beginner guitar. You could ask the same of the PB-Shorty SBK, though the competition, for both starter basses and guitars, is steep.

Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK
Harley Benton PB-Shorty SBK

The PB-Shorty SBK is available now, priced £103. See Harley Benton for more pics and specs, and pop over to Thomann if you fancy picking one up. The ST-Junior HSS SBK is priced £85, and you can read more about that here.

Bass players with a little more in the piggy bank might be interested in the MV-4MSB Gotoh short-scale basses, which Harley Benton launched in November 2022. Gotoh hardware for €288 / £199? Not bad.