Harley Benton’s mind is on the summer holidays already with the launch of the GS-Travel-E Bass – and you can choose all-mahogany or spruce-topped

Harley Benton GS-Travel-E Bass
(Image credit: Harley Benton)

Harley Benton has launched a pair of travel-friendly acoustic-electric bass guitars for the bassist who needs low-end on the go, and who is not wanting to blow all of their budget on it – the GS-Travel-E Bass, as ever from Harley Benton, is ridiculously affordable at £148.

And these acoustic bass guitars look very nice indeed. You have the option of an all-mahogany model, or a spruce-topped model, the latter with mahogany on the back and sides. Otherwise, these are all but identical, featuring a short 23.5” scale length and a body mini travel grand symphony body shape.

Never mind picking out James Jamerson’s My Girl bassline while soaking up the rays by the pool, these look similarly fun for at-home practice. But they’re also equipped for the state, with an onboard HB-03 pickup and preamp system, complete with an integrated chromatic tuner – the controls for which you will find mounted on the bass’s shoulder.

There is a bone nut and saddle, and for all the compact dimensions the 43mm nut width suggests that the 13.8” fingerboard won’t be too cramped. Black binding has been applied to the body and neck, matching the pickguard.

The okoume neck has a C shape as you might expect. These things are designed to be crowd-pleasing. From those pictures we could swear that agreeably rich-coloured fingerboard was rosewood but it is purple heart, which matches the bridge. It nonetheless looks the part and seats 20 frets that are marked out with 4mm dot inlays.

The tuners are listed as black Rising MB1070 deluxe die-cast tuners but look chrome, and that suits these natural wood finishes better. Sweetening the deal, these basses come in a gig bag. The question is which to choose?

Everyone will have their favourites in this age-old debate between all-mahogany and the spruce topped build, a debate that migrates to the bass clef from acoustic guitar circles.

The prevailing wisdom will tell us that the mahogany model will be deeper and warmer, the select spruce with a bit more upper-mid detail and top-end sheen. But there are many variables; do you play with a pick or with fingers? There may be so many variables – acoustic guitar amp, where you pick the bass – that you could simply pick the one that looks best.

But sticking to the prevailing wisdom we can imagine thumbing out the thick thumb of plummy-sounding soul lines on that mahogany-bodied model, and holding down precise eighth-note stabs on the spruce. 

The best way is to get your hands on one and see which agrees with you more – which is to say these are available now, you can find out more at Harley Benton, and you can pick ‘em up exclusively at Thomann for £148.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.