You may have seen my two-star review of the SC-JR SST LTD (Sliver Sparkle) entitled "Dreadful Quality Control On What Could've Been a Great Value." wherein I described the myriad, avoidable problems -- even for a slab-body value-priced guitar. Please keep in mind, that aside from a dreadfully crooked tuner to which the QC hangtag was affixed, the noted the "the rest is considered to be normal for this guitar at this price range" for what I pointed out.
If you've read that review, some of the below will be familiar as the guitars were in the same order.
While this guitar did not have as many immediately noticeable issues, it has significant problems that I discovered after spending a few days with the guitar. At a glance and upon initial inspection it was in beautiful shape, but then it became clear the there were problems, some which should have been noticed by Thomann.
To Thomann's credit, they offered a discount after I highlighted the first two problems below, which were frustrating although not as severer the SC-JR.
The guitar initially appeared so nice in a way that was so close to meeting the expectation for the Harley Benton brand I've read about. Just some areas of slight variance in the finish under the clear coat that are not surprising for this kind of finish, and glossy overspray on the fingerboard.
That said, here are those two functional functional defects that I noticed quickly, which I let them know I'd need to have addressed to have a properly functional and playable instrument, which it was not out of the box:
1. Completely Loose Bridge Post Bushings: The bushings for the bridge posts arrived completely loose to the point that they were leaning forward and lifted out of the body of guitar with ease. They were not secure at all. The guitar was left to acclimate for ~24 hours in a humidity and temperature-monitored environment before opening.
Sometimes this happens on expensive guitars is quick job to remedy -- It's concerning however considering this is a 2021 release and brings into question whether Thomann keeps its guitars is properly humidified storage. After all, they note on their fancy inspection tag that "constant and proper maintenance is imperative in order to preserve the value, appearance, and functionality of the instrument. Please only use suitable cleaning agents make sure the instrument is stored at an appropriate humidity level."
2. Inadequate Crowning of Frets Under High-e String: The crown of most of the frets under the e-string wasn't polished up properly and you can see the string is having to ride against scuffing. It's more visible than the other guitar from this order albeit not as intrusive when playing, but it's the same issue and it's obvious the polishing-stage post-crowning happened too quickly and didn't bring the frets to an adequate smoothness. This is not about visual shine, this is about basic functional crowns for frets.
Okay, so what else happened after all that. Let me tell you dear reader, if it weren't for being an international order near the holidays where return shipping would be incredibly high, this guitar totally deserves to go back like the other one. More time with this guitar revealed more issues.
3. Fingerboard Radius Did Not Match Description (Mismatched to Bridge): You see how this guitar is described as having a 12" radius fretboard? The guitar I received has a rounder 9.5" radius, but the wraparound bridge is still 12." That brings a host of problematic considerations or is a desirable fluke depending on what you're going for. That said: not as described. How did this get missed‽
4. Lopsided Nut Slot: Upon removing the nut, imagine my surprise to find that the treble side of the nut slot base was the mahogany of the neck, which transitions in a slope to become a thin remaining veneer of the Amaranth on the bass side. Now, the slot was level with the fingerboard, but how it was cut at this angle is perplexing to cause this. As you might expect, that thin layer of Amarath was ready to chip up and has to be addressed.
As a side note, I'm really glad this model didn't have the economy "rolled edges" like . It cheapened the other guitar.
Things for you to consider, dear reader.
Things for Thomann to consider about its quality control standards aligned with its value proposition.