Harley Benton D-120CE BK
£71
Including VAT; Excluding £8 shipping
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A playable electro-acoustic guitar straight out of the box for £58 - how can you go wrong?
SamD 11.11.2014
I set up budget guitars in my spare time and bought this acoustic as something of an experiment. About a year ago I bought another Harley Benton (a Les Paul gold top copy) which was pretty well made but also pretty badly set up. However, after fret-levelling, re-profiling and polishing and sorting out the action (bridge and nut) it now plays better than any other Les Paul copy I've had. On that basis I wanted to try out a HB acoustic to see if, for almost no money, I could end up with a decent instrument.

The D-120 came pretty well packed (a conventional guitar shaped box inside a large rectangular box) and felt very light. The first thing that greeted me on unwrapping was a 2mm chip to the top edge of the headstock; disappointing but for £58 not worth initiating a return for since I can drop a bit of black lacquer in there to fill anyway.

First impressions when unpacked were how light and how thin the construction of this guitar is (even by comparison with my 2002 Fender CD60). It's very black and very shiny but in patches the lacquer is so thin you can see the wood grain through it. It wouldn't take much to wear through to the wood sadly. A quick all-over check revealed a decent-looking instrument; 20 frets on a nice shaped neck, basic sealed tuners, lousy Chinese strings, a little EQ unit (9v battery supplied!) and a jackplug input socket that was loose. That is a REAL hassle on a guitar like this. Getting a hand or tool inside there to hold the internal part of the jack socket still while tightening down on the outside is going to be a challenge. Enough now to send back and request another one? Mmmm. Still no. It's too much hassle and I'm sure I can sort it out - but both this and the chipped headstock are basic quality control issues that should have been sorted and which could really spoil this guitar for someone without the experience and confidence to fix it themselves.

To my surprise the action on this guitar is not too bad straight out of the box. The tuners are 'all or nothing' and sticky but kind of work. The frets are awfully finished and scratchy as hell meaning string bends leave you wincing (but I can take care of that). But here's the thing: despite its several little faults, this thing is playable straight out of the box. It sounds pretty good acoustically and even better when plugged into my amp (which I have to say ISN'T a dedicated acoustic guitar amp).

So for £58 plus £10 postage what you get is a lightweight electro-acoustic guitar that plays better than almost anything else you're likely to find for so little money (apart from getting lucky and finding a second hand Fender or Vintage acoustic locally via eBay or Gumtree). This Harley Benton confirms my previous HB experience: these are great guitars IF you are able to put right the small niggling problems AND do some thorough set up work (including fret levelling & dressing). Otherwise this is still not a bad first guitar for a learner for almost no money - certainly far better than the all-too-common first 'acoustic' guitar that turns out to be an unplayable and cheap classical :-)
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TG
For the price .... almost perfect.
Terry's GG&G 04.10.2016
Almost no diffrent then 1 of the big boys 2nd tier brands enter level aj's.

Again mine arived in 5 days here in canada with my TE-52 well packed in aug 2016 from thomann.

At this price point you cant expect perfection & as in other reviews on it its true. Mine arived with bad frets, dirty fingerboard & the strings where also VERY discustingly dirty/coroated o.O ... QC check on mine was not great sorry to say.

That said IF you have the tools/supplies & knowledge a light fret job, cleaning of strings & fingerboard brought the guitar into great playability !!

That said:

Pro:
- Sound system is great & worth the cost itself !! Sounds great through my vypyr vip 2's acoustic patches.
- body materials seem solid & true making for nice acoustic voicing/output when given some tlc.

Con:
- small crack in binding on bottom left corner of fret board
- paint starting to show some flaws after this long
- plastic bridge saddle or saddle slot cut incorrectly but again doesnt affect playability.
- dirty fret board, bad fret job, frets to small (jumbo's would be great on this)
- dirty strings (once cleaned with string cleaner sounded/felt good)

Despite the con's (not worth attempting to return for new unit) ... this guitar is easy to play, nice voicing.

IF you got one with these without the cons or knew how to fix it yourself or for cheap its a great deal take it from me whoms a home player/hobbiest player !!

I must say, I would consider a higher tiered one after my experiences with this one.
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LV
Best Beginner Guitar
Liviu Vrabie 10.01.2021
After a lot of research I decided to go with this guitar as my first guitar. I am satisfied with this guitar and I enjoy playing it. Because of the pandemic and Christmas Rush the guitar came in 1 month. Overall it plays really well, but I have it is not perfect.

This is a very cheap guitar so for the price I am not expecting a very good sound but it is pretty good. I haven't tried to use it with an amp yet so I can't comment on that. The strings are pretty good but I would recommend changing them after 1-2 months, so when you buy the guitar buy it with 2 spare packs of strings.

The quality is not very good. From far away it looks perfect but if you look closely it has a lot of scratches that came from the factory. They are not very visible and they look like the guitar is dirty. The nut on the 3rd string is not cut properly but for a beginner it is all right. In the end I recommend this guitar for anybody who doesn't want to spend a lot of money because it is worth it.
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R
Great
Robert.s 16.02.2022
I'm happy with this guitar no complains
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AI
A good instrument for its price.
Anton Ibragimov 07.09.2021
At first, upon receipt, I was not particularly pleased with this guitar. I didn't like the sound. There were some minor bugs in the assembly.
But after changing the strings (they are thick from the factory) it got better. And the sound has become more pleasant and more comfortable for fingers.
Also, having looked at similar guitars in a music store (about the same price and more expensive), I was surprised that instruments that are also more expensive, have similar jambs as an assembly (somewhere there are paint spots, the neck-to-deck joint is not made neatly ). And some are worse.
So for its price it is quite a good product.
In the combo, the sound is normal. All electronics are working properly. You can also cut metal.
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D
Begginer/Budget Friendly
Damixrex 15.05.2022
Guitar survived transport despite having a hole punched in a box.
Plays smoothly, came with good strings, and a battery.
Paint was without any damages, and it was well protected by the box.
Came with allen wrench for neck tensioning,
Overall nice instrument.
Would recommend for begginers, and budget players.
I might buy another one for my dad, who wants to get back to playing,
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J
Excellent value for money
JackRC 17.05.2021
Great value for money, the electronics are nothing exceptional but work as they should - it's amazing to even get a decent built in preamp in a guitar at this price. Treble, Mid, Bass and Presence controls all work - cut and boost, the battery indicator is a nice touch, volume control can push pretty high if needed.

Electronics aside, the finish and feel of the body is good, a nice full sound out of this guitar (acoustically), tuners, headstock and neck are all good quality especially for this price, the only let down is the fingerboard isn't the best feeling, but the frets are acceptable no overhang and very little sharp edges.

Would recommend for any beginners - you wont get better then this for the price, and for anybody who doesn't primarily play guitar but would like one around for occasional use without breaking the bank.
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O
Bargain
Oreo 19.08.2020
This is my first acoustic, but not my first Harley Benton. I am a fan of the brand and expect low price, but with a few bits of personal preference in the setup.

Out of the box and tuned easily so off to a good start. I put a little more neck relief on it, felt there was a bit of choking. Think this is my preference/playing ability and not a problem at all with the guitar.

Tops of frets 14- 20 were very rough, but you cant access these as they are attached to body of guitar and the bottoms of these frets in the cut away are OK for smoothness.

Plugged this into my electric amp on clean and works well, but it gives a good sound on its own.

Some notes not in the description,
Comes with a new 9V D battery, take this out of plastic wrapper to make it work!
Comes with 2 pick guards, that are stick on, one tortoise shell the other black.
No cable
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J
Great guitar for beginners
J.S.B 25.12.2015
Well, to start off, I just want to say, to everybody, that this guitar for anyone, who is starting to play, learning just first things would be amazing.

I did first buy this guitar in the late 2012, and now after 6 years I can surely say what do I think about it.

1. There were some issues with the guitar, tho after just some polishing work at first it became a usual instrument that I picked up when got home after studies.
2. Tuning stability is fairly good, nothing to ride home about, but it works and you can have some fun with it for sure.
3.Sound is magnificent - I have played extremely expensive acoustics that just sound dull and doesn't have soul, for this instrument, playing it over these years - I have found the tone and versatility of it just brilliant.
4. I did add a pickguard to this guitar, as it didn't come with one when I bought it, but basicly - it has stood the test of time and I would recommend this to anyone who is learning to play guitar or is doing gigs and doesn't want to bring his 700 euro guitar with him :)

In the end I have to add, that in-built pickup system is OK at best, but I am not putting is down as this is after all under 100 euro guitar.
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VA
Solid 4 stars.
Volt Arachnids 19.05.2020
Got 2 of those. One for me, one for a friend as a gift.
Both arrived without a scratch on the finish.
They look better than some of my other higher priced guitars.
One of the guitars had slightly creame finish instead of white, but who cares with that price :D. I've gifted the better finished one to my friend, and he liked it.

Both of them came out of the box playable, but the fret ends were sharp. And by sharp I mean...well sandpaper scratches your fingers less. 15-20 minutes with a file and a bit of polishing sorthed this problem out on both of the guitars.
The tuners are not the best, but they do their job.
Changed the strings on both of them, as I was unlucky to break a string while tuning the firsth one for some reason, and the second one had rust spots on the strings.

Soundwise... they both sound great.
With Daddario EJ10 strings, In open D tuning, the sound is deep and swampy. In standard tuning, the highs are clear and punchy.

Overall, you will need to spend some time on finishing the frets probably, but otherwise, it's just a great bargain for the price.
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Harley Benton D-120CE BK