Harley Benton Slider II Vintage Series

6-String Lap Steel Guitar

Lap steel guitars have not been reserved for country musicians for quite some time now. Jimmy Page occasionally used a steel guitar and David Gilmour and Steve Howe usually prefer to slide with the board in front. And then there is David Lindley!

The Harley Benton Slider II offers everything you need for little money: the single coil pickup can be used with volume and tone controls to create a great variety of sounds.

  • Vintage series
  • Composite body and fretboard
  • Scale: 530 mm
  • Controls: Volume and Tone
  • Pickups: 1 Single coil
  • Colour: Metallic black
  • Slider and bag included
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  • A-6 Tuning
  • C-6 Tuning
  • Open-E Tuning

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Decent for the cheap price.

TrEr, 11.10.2017
I got this as an alternative to using a slide on a normal guitar for studio work. I'm not really a steel guitar player, just a regular guitar player that does a fair bit of slide work and wanted to expand my options with a lap steel.

Pros:

Well, mostly the price to be honest. It's certainly decent value for the money and can be upgraded without too much hassle. Apart from the tuners the build quality seems pretty decent and it sounds ok. The finish is good. If the poor quality strings are replaced it can absolutely be used stock if you spend some time setting it up properly. Pots feel reasonably smooth, no crackling.

So definitely useable but in my opinion it needs a few upgrades (which will easily double/triple the cost) for any serious work. It's great that a gig bag is included, even if it's not the best quality.

Cons:

-The included accessories are mostly poor quality. The slide just felt wrong to me so I got a Shubb SP2 instead and it's a lot better. And I really mean a LOT better! Also, the slide came in a small "fake wood" box with a lid and it literally fell apart the first time I opened it. Unbelievably poor quality, I don't understand why they even bothered including it. Just more garbage for the environment. The guitar cable... well, it works but probably not for long. It's the absolutely cheapest quality imaginable. Went straight into the bin. The gig bag is by far the best and most useful of the accessories but it's still of the cheapest quality.

-The tuners are absolute rubbish. I haven't had the time to change them yet but they will have to go. For the time being I just rubbed some graphite onto the nut slots and that helped a lot with otherwise poor tuning.

-The pickup is a cheap ceramic type and it sounds like a cheap ceramic type. To be fair it's not the absolutely worst I've heard but still very thin and harsh sounding. I replaced it with a Strat-sized P90 from Pete Biltoft and it's a HUGE improvement. The standard Strat size of the pickup means there's a lot of upgrades available, which is a big plus.

-The bridge... I probably won't bother changing it but it isn't very good to be honest.

-The strings... Wow, where do they find rubbish like this! They are just unbelievably poor. I think they may be the worst guitar strings I've ever had the misfortune of testing. Not a big deal to me, I'm using open E and the stock strings were much too thin gauge for this anyway. Before I tossed them I tested them briefly with C6 and they were still rubbish.

-There was some plastic junk around the screws on the pickguard. It looked a bit like the thin plastic film that new pickguards usually come with. It looked like someone had made a poor attempt at removing it, leaving stuff around the screws. Very messy, didn't look good but at least it wasn't too hard to get rid of. Not a big deal but it says a lot about the quality control (or lack thereof).

The verdict:

Obviously the price is the main attraction of this instrument. The absolute minimum investment to make it usable is to buy some better strings and spend some time setting it up properly. Personally I've changed the pickup, pots, tone cap and all wiring too. I will probably also change the tuners. With these modifications I will have a pretty nice instrument for a fair price. But the total cost including all mods will be almost triple the cost of the stock instrument.

Still good value I think and recommended for anyone with the basic skills necessary for the upgrades. If you're not into modding I would recommend moving up to something better.

Edit: I forgot to mention that when replacing the pots with better quality ones I had to drill larger holes in the metal pickguard (a 10mm drill bit was perfect for this). The stock pots are cheap quality miniature ones and the holes are too small for quality pots (the hole for the jack input was already 10mm though).

I also forgot to mention that the bridge was so unbelievably poorly set up that the instrument is close to useless without MAJOR adjustments. The intonation was so bad that any attempt at chord playing above the 3rd fret was hopelessly out of tune. Intonating a lap steel is far more difficult than a standard guitar. I spent more than 3 hours before I was satisfied. You MUST know how to do this to make this instrument even remotely playable. The height of the bridge was also extremely poorly set up. The saddle for the 4th string was set so much lower than the others than the slide missed it completely! And some of the saddles only rested on one leg, causing lots of rattle. Out of the box it sounded more like a sitar-guitar than a lapsteel!!! I think it's safe to say that the instrument was never properly adjusted at the factory. The bridge must have just been slapped on and sent on it's way.

In total I spent about 10 hours of work and 80 euros to make it ok (not including new tuners that I will also probably install at some point).
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Great Choice for a Beginner!

RainerMaria, 11.06.2017
I bought this as an introduction to slide guitar. I've always been curious and didn't have much money to spend on an experiment. This got solid reviews so I thought I'd give it a try. Without having any other experience with slide guitars, I can't really compare this to others. But it has worked well for me. The hardware and electronics all seem to work fine. (One small exception is that there is sometimes a slight buzzing on the 2nd string near the nut, but since I haven't changed strings yet, maybe this is something that will go away when I do. Anyway, when it's plugged in and I'm playing it, it doesn't seem to be a big problem.) There is some hum from the single coil pickup, which is to be expected. If I ever get proficient enough to justify it, I'll probably upgrade the single coil to a single coil-sized double coil pickup to solve the hum problem. But besides the hum, the pickup sounds good enough for me. All in all, for the price, and if you're a beginner just wanting to dabble in slide, I think this is an easy choice. (And it comes with all the accessories you need to get started, which is a nice bonus.)
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