Harley Benton CLB-10SE: What is it?
One of the fun things about Harley Benton’s ascent as purveyor of super-affordable gear is that now there are options for all kinds of instruments that we might otherwise have been written off as a luxury. Like this CLB-10SE bass guitar.
It’s an electro-acoustic bass with a piezo and a three-band EQ to make it serious enough as an instrument you might do a casual gig with or rehearse with some friends, and a short 23.5” scale that makes it the sort of thing you might throw in the car boot or lash to your backpack when travelling.
Of course, in doing so, one should always take good care as not to disturb what is a nice and clean natural finish, and the immaculate solid Sitka spruce top is deserving of the utmost respect. But there is something about instruments at this price that lend themselves to used and abused and loved all the more for it.
The spruce is complemented by a mahogany back and sides, fringed with classy herringbone binding is joined by a nyatoh neck that’s topped with a laurel 2o-fret fingerboard.
The preamp controls are mounted on a shoulder panel where you will find the three-band EQ and an onboard tuner. Everything you need.
Harley Benton CLB-10SE: Performance and verdict
With such a short-scale instrument, and such a small body, there are always going to be some concessions to tone. There are larger acoustic basses in the Harley Benton lineup that would be better suited to a serious evening of unplugged entertainment, with bigger, bolder sounds.
• Taylor GS Mini Bass
If you love the idea of a travel-friendly acoustic bass but seek a high-end alternative, the Taylor GS Mini Bass is a superb option.
• Harley Benton JB-75 and RB-414BK
Harley Benton's take on two of the most classic electric bass designs in history is well worth checking out if you are looking for entry-level bass for runaround low-end adventure.
But, as is so often the case with smaller-bodied acoustic instruments, the CLB-10SE might take you by surprise. There’s a throatiness in its upper registers. Plumminess in the low-end. That might be read as dull in some quarters but playing with a pick – or even just closer to the bridge – can brighten it up nicely.
Plugged in, the EQ does a lot of the heavy lifting. It might parp a little if you dial in too much low end but it’s nice to have too much on tap. You can always take some away.
This size of instrument is ideal for small hands and beginner players, a little cramped for the adults. That is always the way of it. No one is expecting it to perform as a regular-sized electric bass would.
The tuners could be upgraded. But what we are losing in terms of playability and immediate access to a certain type of sound is rewarded in kind with portability, and once more, because it bears repeating, a very attractive price tag that could make the CLB-10SE your first impulse purchase for the summer, for sitting in the dock of the bay, wasting time, noodling around on an idea that can be finessed once you’ve returned home.
MusicRadar verdict: The CLB-10SE is fun, affordable knockabout bass for players on the go, with onboard electronics making it the sort of thing you can take onstage, too.
Harley Benton CLB-10SE: The web says
"Clearly, this is a bass of convenience, and while it addresses the requirements of the travelling bassist, I’m not convinced that you would want to use it on a gig or session. However, it will perform well enough for a rehearsal or home practice, and will be a decent enough option for a beginner. At this price, we won’t complain about its flaws. You get what you pay for, right?"
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)
Harley Benton CLB-10SE: Specifications
- BODY: Mahogany back and sides, sitka spruce top
- NECK: Nyatoh, 23.5” scale
- NECK JOIN: Set neck
- NUT WIDTH: 43mm
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel
- FRETS: 20
- PICKUPS: Piezo pickup
- ELECTRONICS: Harley Benton HB-03 active three-band EQ preamp and tuner
- CONTROLS: Volume, bass, middle, treble, tuner, phase
- HARDWARE: Chrome hardware, laurel bridge, die-cast machine heads
- WEIGHT: 4.2 lbs
- LEFT-HAND AVAILABLE?: No
- CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED?: No
- CONTACT: Harley Benton (opens in new tab)