I got this as an exchange for a different guitar that had a couple of faults which I have to say was handled faultlessly by Thomann with minimal fuss. Emails were answered quickly and when I sent it back I got a credit to my account in under two weeks. Brilliant service. It Arrived about 7 days from order which considering the UK Christmas post is excellent. I also had the option of a bank transfer but decided it was safer to put the refund towards another guitar than have it fall into my girlfriends evil pre Christmas grasp. A girl can only have so many Yankee Candles.
T h e f I n I s h
If I was being fussy the flame maple cap is about 5mm off centre at the joint towards the back of the guitar. The joint is good and it doesn't bother me at all. The finish of the cap is flawless. No scratches or dents and it waxes up really nice. I have a mate who?s got the SC in paradise flame and it seems darker than this. The colour seems lighter than the pictures and could maybe be between paradise & lemon? I?m not sure but it?s a nice finish. I was told it was more like the Joe Perry Boneyard LP finish. I?ve seen the Epiphone version of that and it?s right. The binding is really good, body and neck, and again it has zero defects. Lines are straight with no bleed and it separates the flame top from the rest of the wood. Here?s where it gets saucy. The stain on the mahogany is absolutely beautiful. The colour is like a dark plum and again flawless. It?s thin enough to show the grain but I cant see a scarf joint anywhere. The body may be a two piece, I?m still searching for more joints. I?d be more than happy if this didn?t have the maple top and the back finish was all over, it?s that good.
H a r d w a r e
Everything is satin. Pups, knobs, strap buttons, tuners, and they all look the same. The finish on the bridge matches the controls which match the pups etc. Everything must be done in the same place. Tuning stability seems good from the Grover tuners and the bridge seems fine. The strings are clear of the back edge and it stays in tune after some serious bending. The control's are a bigger Ø than say a Tele with flat tops and a straight knurled band and are really responsive.
E l e c t r I c s
This is not an area I can really comment on as I know sod all about electrics but the pots are silent and turn smoothly the pick ups work. I took the cover plate off and as you would expect at this price the pots are the mini type but there is room for full size if you feel the need. Solder looks good and generally the wiring is very tidy. The cavity is not shielded but the back of the cover is. The three way switch seems strong enough for regular use and hits the three positions accurately.
P l a y a b I l I t y
Out of the box I tuned it and played it. Simple as that. I?ve got three Harley Benton's and they?ve needed minimal work, I have a Squier Deluxe that needed a lot more, but this one was fine. Intonation was spot on, no truss rod adjustment needed and the frets are perfect with no buzzing. On that subject the frets are really well finished. Crowned nicely and polished to a really good shine. The board needed oil but I expect that with any guitar and the strings were slightly tarnished but a rub with XLR8 brought them up fine.
S o u n d
The Rosswell pickups seem to do what a humbucker does. It?s early days but they seem pretty good. No unwanted noise and they sound as good as most Epiphones I?ve played. Coupled with the mahogany the sustain is really good. I?ve had it through a 5W tube amp and a little Peavey with more gain and it does what I want. I?ve not had effects through it yet. Playing Blues it can go from a creamy warm tone to dirty with a turn of the tone knob. Throw Floyd in the mix and it carries it, a shame my playing cannot. It?s capable of Rock / New Metal / Grunge type sounds but I?ve not pushed it yet.
S u m m a r y
This is my 4th Harley Benton, I?ve been buying them for over a year now, and it?s possibly the best one in terms of fit & finish. I own the ST-62, TE-20 P90 Conversion, PB-20 and the TE-90 FLT (Returned) and although they are all great in their own right I think this one has raised the bar. The satin hardware sets off the finish and the neck is really easy playing. Flatter and shallower than I?m used too but really smooth and quick. I love the Les Paul sound but I?m not a fan of the bulk & weight. This does just what I want in a more handle-able form. Quality wise maybe the slight off-set on the maple may upset someone, I?m OK with it. Other than that, two points that may be worth mentioning, and these are minor, is on mine the torque may have been high on the driver so the control cover was a little deformed, the screws just needed backing off and its straightened out. One other point is the truss rod cover should have three screws holding it. Mine had only one hole, again tightened down too much, which flipped the back up towards the strings. I just reversed it, problem solved. Seriously, as a closing comment, I find it hard to understand how a guitar can be made at this price point to this level of finish and playability. I now need one with P90?s maybe in an oiled walnut finish?