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Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

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Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby Chet Leeway » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:52 am

I've had a Harley Benton (Thomann's own brand) Music Man bass clone for about ten years, for home recording only. I've never noticed much/any difference to the sound when adjusting the tone controls, but it's a £100 bass, so ok (not really, but...). But today I couldn't even adjust the volume, and the other two pots definintely have no effect at all. The instrument is too cheap to take to a technician, so I opened it up myself, but there were no obvious issues. Soldering and wiring looked fine. And none of the pots have ever been noisy. I'm stumped. Any ideas? (Apart from putting "Bass guitar" at the top of my wishlist.)
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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby ef37a » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:13 am

If you are stuck at max volume you must I think have lost the connection from the earthy end of the pot to earth.

Looking at the pot from the rear the tag left of centre should go to common earth. Might just be bent over and soldered to the pot can (a deplorable practice but 100 quid bass!) and that could have come 'unstuck'.

Do you have a testmeter that can make continuity checks? If not, get one!

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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby Wonks » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:33 am

Or at least take a picture of the control cavity for us so we can see for ourselves. (And you'll have to host it elsewhere and link to it here as SOS doesn't do any photo hosting).

ef37a's idea seems most likely, though if the tone pots also don't work then it's more likely a common ground connection that's not working. But that would normally mean no pickup sound as well (depending on where the pickup grounds are soldered to), so photo/photos would help us to understand what's going on.
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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby Wonks » Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:46 am

Is this the MB-4 with the two volume (one for each half of the split coil) and a common tone control? Or another version?

I'm just wondering if they are using the control plate for a ground path so haven't linked the rear of the pots directly. Loose nuts or corrosion may be giving a high enough impedance to still let some signal through but stop the controls working effectively. I'd pull the knobs off the pots and loosen all the nuts to look for any corrosion or dirt under the washers and on the top of the pots. Clean up any gunk, then tighten up all the nuts on the pots and the output jack. This may restore a full ground path and you get more volume and your controls back. If not, it's a good idea to do it anyway.
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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby Chet Leeway » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:01 pm

Thanks for the replies. I'll dig out my testmeter, tools and cleaning stuff and see what I can achieve. I came across a website for HB owners/enthusiasts, so that may may be a helpful ressource as well. I'll post pictures here if I need further help. Thanks again.
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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby BigRedX » Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:25 pm

If the electrics are anything like those on the two Harley Benton guitars I have owned, you are best off removing them all and replacing with decent ones i.e. pots from CTS or Alpha etc.
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Re: Harley Benton Music Man bass clone - pots do nothing

Postby Chet Leeway » Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:06 pm

It turns out one of the wires had an intermittent failure, despite everything looking fine on the surface. I've probably moved it about too much at some point when tightening the input jack. Soldered on a new one and everything seems to work fine. The pot adjustments have only subtle effects on the signal, but it seems normal.

> BigRedX
Some of the wires look flimsy, but overall I'm not too worried about the electronics after having looked at the insides of this cheapo instrument. I may replace them at some point just for gaining a bit of experience that sort of thing, but for the moment the bass works OK for the purpose.
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