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Harley Benton R-458BK Fanfret

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understand what you're buying
Doug L., 10.01.2021
Use Case:
I would consider this guitar a novelty for an intermediate player. I personally wouldn't give one of these to a beginner because it will give them false impressions of how an 8 string/multiscale instrument can be utilized. I think it would mislead a beginner in their early learnings. I believe anyone who considers themselves proficient at playing guitar would laugh at the quality of the instrument, and happily invest the few hundred extra to buy into multiscale/8 strings at a level with more reliable hardware and construction. That leaves a small window, in my opinion, of this being appropriate only for intermediate players that have no reason to buy an instrument with these features but want to try it out.

It would generally apply to anyone that this is an excellent feature set for the price, but I would highly recommend that if you're a beginner looking for a new guitar to buy something that's known to be reliable and quality built. In the long run it will serve you better than this. Advanced/professional players looking for a deal, this is probably going to need a full hardware/electronics upgrade(pending preference and ears..) and a setup at the end of it all so put aside a few extra hundred if you really think you want this...or check out established manufactures offerings in the same price range and have a more sound investment...

My purchase:
My example showed up in a timely manner even with them constantly being out of stock. Packaging was on par with most guitar shipments in my experience. Out of the box there was small cosmetic blemishes to the paint on the body and the headstock. One of the height adjustment screws on one of the saddles was mangled for some reason. Besides the bare metal being unsightly on a black saddle/instrument, it was just broken hardware on a brand new instrument. The nut is not shaped to the neck. Not sure if they're just mass manufactured and no one takes the 5 minutes to file them to shape or if my example is just a lemon. None of the frets were seated completely/correctly along the entire neck. The neck pocket wasn't cut well. Fair bit of play on either side left by an uneven cut, presumably by a dull bit. Both potentiometers on had bent shafts on arrival. One of the knobs had an anodizing(or whatever the process may be) error and was just silver across a significant section of it. None of the string ferrules are secured in the body in any fashion. They fall out as soon as string tension is released.

All of that said, the fretwork was rather impressive for an instrument in this price range and the setup out of the box isn't bad. As others noted, there is little to no fret-bite, the edges of the fretboard have a small roll and were dressed very nicely for this price range. Given the issues with the neck pocket, nut and damaged saddle, they somehow managed to get the strings on straight and get a respectably low action out of it. However, my example arrived with dead strings and frets that needed to be cleaned. Appeared as if it had been sitting around for sometime. Makes me wonder about the stocking issues they 'seem' to have.... The neck has a very comfortable 'slim D' style carve. Very reminiscent of an ibanez or a legator but with just a bit more shoulder meat. All of the listed specs are true in my findings. Wood, measurements, construction, etc. For my expectations the tuners aren't going to cut it but I'm sure some people would say ''they're fine." I imagine a gentle fingered bedroom player might get away with using the tuners but I like to chug/bend/squeal and these things tuners cant take it. The bridge seems functional for now but I can tell you its made from pretty cheap alloy looking at my damaged saddle..time will tell how it stands up. Not looking forward to dealing with upgrading the individual bridge pieces(praying they copied someone's screw pattern). I think others have covered the pickups pretty well but I'll chip in that with enough equipment/tone shaping options, I think the pickups can be usable enough to noodle *while you wait for fluences to show up* lol..

Customer service:
The issues I had with my example were eventually addressed by thomann after a very lengthy email conversation and several phone calls. They offered to engage in a return/exchange process but they also confirmed my shipment was not b-stock and didnt seem to think the damage or hardware issues were irregular or anything to worry about. It took a significant amount of contact to get in touch with someone who understood the issues.

Pros:
-feature set at price point(that's why we're all here GASing right?)
-acceptable upgrade platform if that's your thing

Cons:
-poor construction
-damaged on arrival
-lack luster, low quality hardware
-obvious QC issues

Conclusion:
While I imagine this review sounds fairly negative. I will add that I have already purchased another one(but the white with maple fretboard). I am curious to further assess the variation in QC and will update my review (and/or amend a note to the review on the listing for the white model) once it arrives.

I wish to make it clear that I am only satisfied with the product and have purchased another one because I am capable of doing the work to it myself and because I have reasonable expectations for the limitations of the instrument. Also, the second one is for a relative that is also capable of doing the work himself and has reasonable expectations for the instrument. For the money, its a multiscale neck and a body already punched out for you and the quality is just good enough that if you know how to put the work into it, it can be an acceptable practice instrument or multiscale/8 string entry point.

All of this is my opinion and surely there's variation in units. Please take it all with a grain of salt.

TL;DR If the money isn't a thing to you, this things pretty cool for small bucks. If this purchase needs to make sense and be a sound investment, keep shopping. Its a fun novelty instrument and can be a passable practice instrument with a good bit of work.
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For a great value introduction to 8-string fan fret guitars, this is unbeatable.
Spankplanker, 07.06.2020
I bought this guitar mostly for fun, but also to experiment with extended range tunings, during the Covid-19 lockdown for £138 inc shipping. It took a while to get here, but I wasn't disappointed!

Having read the other reviews here and from watching demos on You-Tube, I was expecting to have issues with pickups, frets and tuners, but it I may have got lucky with 2 out of 3.
Mine was almost playable, right out of the box (nearly in tune!) with only an adjustment to the intonation on 1 string and tightening the tuners required to get up and running.

Starting at the top:

Headstock
The pearlescent Harley Benton logo has been moved in-between the 4-a-side tuners; an improvement from previous models, where it was stuck at the very end.
The tuners are unbranded and non-locking but once tightened up should function well enough. Considering it's a fixed bridge guitar, you wouldn't expect tuning stability issues, but all the strings are angled at the nut and this caused my D string to stick slightly, so mine will need re-filed. (While I'm at it I may just replace it for a black graphite type nut, as the white one looks a bit out of place)
The strings that came on the guitar are pretty decent, although they are lighter than the 10s mentioned in the specification

Neck
The C-profile is comfortable with a fast non-stick, satin finish and a tidy scarf joint between the 1st and 3rd frets. Slight neck-relief helps with bends and stops the F# string from rattling off the frets. The fingerboard is excellent, but a little dry and will need oiled, with offset dot-markers (3 at the 24th fret but only 1 at the 12th). On my example, the fret-ends had been well filed, with no sharp edges and the frets were well levelled for a low, buzz-free action, without any dead spots.
On the down side however, after levelling, the frets have not been crowned or polished, leaving them feeling pretty rough and scratchy on the strings.

Body
The neck/body joint is tight and well constructed with 5 bolts and a rounded heel. Access to the top frets is unrestricted and comfortable.
The black gloss finish was pretty good, although I had a couple of tiny dents and scratches and you can make out a bit of orange peel if you hold it to the light.

Pick-ups/Electronics
A lot of people complained of muddy sounding pick-ups with this guitar. Looks like it has been addressed by ditching the pre-amp and going passive, because my example sounds great, on both clean and hi-gain settings.
The huge shielded control cavity seems empty considering it now only houses 1 500K volume, 1 tone control and 1 three-way selector, but I suppose it keeps the weight down and maybe adds some resonance.
I've yet to remove the pups, so I don't know if there's a connection available for a coil-tap, but if so, I'd change out the 3-way switch for a 5-way.

Bridge
On this guitar there are 8 individual bridges, each with their own intonation and string height adjustment. They are well rounded and comfortable for palm muting. Strings are routed through body and the ferrules are all standard guitar-string size, so if you want to use bass strings for the F# and B, you'll need to get do some modification.

All-in-all for the price, this a suprisingly playable guitar which could easily be made gig-able by tweaking the frets, nut and tuners. I know a lot of people are buying this as a cheap alternative to Ibanez/Jackson/Schecter and adding in custom pick-ups, which often cost more than the guitar itself. This might not be necessary any more to get a decent sound. Without the active electronics muddying everything up, with a bit of tweaking of your amp's EQ settings, this beast is capable of suprising tonal variety, from djent to djazz!
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Does it Djent
Dozbert, 25.03.2019
I?m working on a prog metal project for a friend and having read a few reviews of the Harley Benton R-458BK 8 string fanfret I decided to give one a go. So, to the unboxing. This guitar had travelled over 750 miles and straight out of the box it was almost in tune which was a remarkable thing in itself. The body was VERY shined and free of dents, blemishes and scratches. The finish on the back of the neck is very good too. As others have pointed out the fingerboard was bone dry but a couple of coats of oil and it?s all OK now. The neck is straight in all the right places and the intonation spot on. Just as good as you would get/expect on a guitar at three times the cost.

On to the hardware. Some reviewers had the saddles as being very sharp. As I tend to rest my hand on the bridge this was or slight concern but, HB seem to have listened and the saddles are now rounded and as smooth as a cashmere cod piece and very well made. The tuners are smooth in operation and hold there tuning very well. I bought this with a spare set of strings expecting them to be really poor, just bits of wire but how wrong was I. The supplied strings are of excellent quality, probably better than the ones I bought. So far so good!!!

Electronics. Pots and switches are smooth in operation and quiet. The pickups are active and? guess what??? They even supply it with a 9v battery. The battery sits in a secure enclosure not a lousy clip that I was expecting. Sound wise, the pickups are good and a decent range of sounds can be achieved with switching and dealing the tone knob.

OK, here?s the slightly negative bit that you were all probably waiting for. It has been observed by others that the frets are sharp and poorly finished on these guitars (probably true on other HB?s too). I experienced a slightly less that smooth finish in ONLY the top four frets (close to pickups) of the neck. It?s only a slight thing and can easily be remedied and only occurs high up the neck. I?m assuming the finishings done once the neck is attached to the body and access is limited due to the cutaways. It isn?t enough to put me off it as every other part of this guitar?s quality are WAY above the price you pay.

So in short, If you want to try an 8 string do not hesitate to give this one a go. at about £130 it is worth way more than the cost and is well worth getting. If you?ve never played a fanfret before it only took me about 15 mins to get used to. As I?d never played a eight string well, that will take a fair bit longer to get used to.

Finally, does it Djent??? Damn right it does!!!
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It's under € 200... BUT
7/8 of the time, 01.06.2020
Not a bad guitar for a first time 8 stringer, but there are some serious flaws.
First the bad:
1. Several people have mentioned the pickups being garbage, and they are totally garbage. They have a bad buzz/hum when the guitar is not being played or when long-sustained notes are played. Anything low-low mid volume that you want to play will have this buzz/hum present. Luckily, EMG makes several 8 string pickups that easily fit this guitar, but for a pair it costs more than the guitar.
2. The tuners are bad! They don't wind up smoothly and evenly. Also, they lose tune easily with the thicker strings.
3. Here's the big one: the guitar I was sent has a raised fret on the 16th fret and it could've been easily caught in the inspection that Harley Benton claims was done. It causes a nasty fret buzz sound on most of the strings from the 13th fret to the 15th. I can see the raised fret looking down the neck and I wish so badly that somebody would've caught that before sending it to me, because i have to exchange it and hope that the next one doesn't have the fretbuzz.

The good:
1. It's an insanely good deal for the money and I have no clue how they make a profit!? for the neck and body alone, It would be worth the same price. Adding a set of high quality tuners and pickups would cost 2x the guitar, making it something that could be played at shows, band practice and on basic recordings.
2. The neck and body feel great, very smooth and easy to play. I've played mostly 7 strings and 8 string guitars, this one fit right in with any of them. The fanned fretboard is smoothly playable and the fret edges were fantastic. My only complaint was the raised fret and hopefully an exchange will fix this.
3. It's easy to set the guitar up to the right levels. Dialing in the specific adjustments took very little time. I like to try different tunings and string gauges, so this easy adjustment is important.

My advice: This guitar is excellent if you're new-intermediate and want to test the waters with 8 string. If you're a regular player-professional then be prepared for some disappointment and/or after-market work.
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Excellent entry point to the world of extended range Guitars
Trubshaw, 05.05.2021
This was bought for my son who had a 6 string (Ibanez) and a 7 string (PRS), but he wanted to try an 8 string. This version had good reviews since the active pickups were dropped and passive were specified by Thomann. The guitar is well finished and set up for the price, much better than some from Ibanez I've had recently that had to go back because of the literally razor sharp fret ends. Not this Harley Benton R-458BK Fanfret. More than acceptable. The playability is good and the neck is very smooth which helps as it is about the width of a motorway - including the hard shoulders. My son loves it and had no complaints until he plugged it in - which bizarrely was quite a while after he got it. The guitar is quite resonant and for practice my son doesn't generally plug it in. But when we did we noticed that the high E string was a lot quieter than the rest. We have assumed that this is because the pickup doesn't quite sit underneath that string far enough. Because it's a fan fret? This is only noticeable when playing clean without compression - then you can hear the odd balance. When played filthy and with lots of compression (normal mode for an 8-string), it isn't a problem. No other problems, tuners are OK and tuning was maintained much better after fitting new Elixirs. Overall very pleased and the value for money is astonishing. We are planning on fitting a set of Tosin Abasi Fishman Fluence (yes, I know, much more than the price of the guitar but still cheap overall), so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Other people have commented favourably. Go for it: Not much to lose, so much to gain.
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Beat expectations!
zadtheinhaler, 17.08.2020
Not only did it arrive pretty much exactly as it indicated on the website , but it got here to Canada in perfect shape!

While it did require a slight intonation and general setup tweak, it was more-or-less ready to rock out of the box.

Some have slagged the pickups and tuners, but I have found that for the price point, this is a stellar deal. The pickups aren't muddy, and while the tuners aren't ideal, they're not as sloppy as some would have you believe.

The fretwork is good, and I haven't encountered any fret-out anywhere on the neck. While I didn't require a lot of time to get accustomed to the fanfrets, the flat D-shape on the neck does take some time if you're more accustomed to baseball bat necks over Ibanez Wizard-style necks.

For anyone getting into 8-string/multiscale instruments, it's hard to find a better deal than this.
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The best multiscale 8 for under a grand
William Kroeker, 26.04.2019
Bought this instrument about a month ago and I could not be happier with my purchase. I was initially in the market for an 8 string and also multiscale to get my feet wet with both but wasn't exactly comfortable spending 600~700 for a comparable jackson that I may not gel with, so I looked around for potential harley bentons and spotted this immediately. I figured since it was much more affordable why not try it. Probably the better decision, turns out the overall build quality is on par with our other guitarists' EC258, if not slightly better. The stock pickups were substantially worse, but I already had a set of fishman stephen carpenter sig pickups ready to drop in and it was an easy wiring job. What I was not expecting was for everything else to be solid; bought locking tuners thinking the stock ones would be really bad but turns out they hold tune extremely well and don't jump, something that the other guitarist's ESP struggles with heavily at 3 times the price. All in all, I would absolutely recommend this instrument for anyone interested in multiscales or 8s, just get a set of pickups and you're set!
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Fantastic for the price!
thefrenchwickler, 15.08.2021
The guitar plays and sounds great! A fun and affordable way to get into extended range playing. It did show up with a ding at the pointy part of the headstock, and the string ferrules don't stay in the body when you change the strings. Had to file/drill out the hole in the F# tuner because it wouldn't fit the low string in the set of GHS Boomers I purchased. Other than those few small things, I'm completely satisfied and the guitar sounds better than some of my other more expensive ones. Thanks Harley Benton!
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Surprisingly Good for the Price
Kusabibi, 10.07.2021
After having the guitar for about a week. I decided to replace the strings with better ones and I concluded that I might not need to replace the pickups afterall. Most people would say the tone is muddy and compared to my EMG,s they're not so bad at all. You might need to do a bit of tweaking in your amp settings, but you can definitely get a good tone out of it as is.

I only had to do pretty minor setup to get this thing going and the fretwork is very good. No sharp ends. Reasonably low action too out of the box. One thing I might consider replacing are the tuners though, but for the price, it's a solid guitar especially for those starting out with 8 strings
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overall nice experience
Stan Starush, 22.02.2021
Long time I wanted to try 8 string and fanfret guitar, but can't afford it. With this budget model I get both of these things. Had a 6 and 7 strings guitars. I like the fanfret thing, but realized that 8 string it's a little too much for me. The guitar have a nice build, not bad furniture, only weekly pickups, but it can be replace.
Now I'd ordered the same model but with 7 strings.
Here is some playthrough with this model:
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Very nice for the price
Davix2301, 10.06.2020
I bought this guitar in June 2019, so I guess this year's version could be different.
Tuning pegs suck, 2 of them are a bit loose too, neck feels great, frets could use a bit of filing but they are ok. bridge is nice, perfect intonation from the factory, stock strings are absolutely unusable, throw them in the trash as soon as you get the guitar.
Pickups are ok, not great, not bad, a bit muddy (I like them, for black and doom metal they fit quite well, not much for a tight sounding tone though). Pickups are active and slanted, because of the fan fret, keep this in mind if you want to change pickups (active should all be fine, but you will need slanted passives for sure), with an included 9v. Stock nut is a bit too large and could scratch your hand.

It's a great guitar for modding, change the pickups, the tuning pegs and maybe the saddles and you have a killer guitar for a great price. The fretboard's wood looks absolutely gorgeous (Purpleheart wood), but it was very dry from factory.

Just don't buy it you don't plan on modding, unless you want to tune every 15 min of playing.
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it's a reasonable starter guitar
doomdood, 19.05.2021
this is okay for beginning to learn how to play an 8 string guitar, and don't get me wrong it does sound pretty good for the price.

but the hum of the pickups and overall quality of the tuning heads isn't really worth it if you're looking to use this for long term use.

the tuning heads themselves go out of tune very quickly, i find myself having to re-tune the bottom string to F# quite a lot when i'm recording with this.

it is a very nice looking guitar, but just doesn't operate quite as well as i would have hoped, which should be expected of such an inexpensive product.
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A Perfect Low Budget 8string Guitar
MItch BoE, 31.03.2020
If you want to transition form a 6-7string to an 8string i think its a great budget guitar. Avg sound and total quality but for the price its an amazing guitar, probably even better than most 400-500eu guitars. A good idea would be to immediately buy a fretwrap to kill as much noise as possible and change the pickups after a while cuz i find them a bit noisy but as i said for the price paid you can't ask for more, they already give you more than what you paid for.
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Fantastic deal
Aleksei T., 02.05.2021
This guitar is perfrect for any casual guitar player wanting to travel into djent territory without breaking the bank. The fact that it is multiscale is a big plus as well.
However, if one desires to get most out of this instrument, there are a couple of things to consider. First, the guitar will definitely benefit from a visit to a luthier for proper set up upon arrival. Second, the humbucker pickups on this instrument are strictly subpar and need to be replaced if more serious applications for the guitar are considered other than casual playing. If this is done, the sound and quality ratings get +1 star instantly.
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Sounds good, doesn't quite arrive ready to play
Bindo, 06.04.2019
I ordered this and after a weeks wait it came with at least 4 frets that hadn't just popped out but the fret was actually broken off from the tang / fret anchor on the high e string causing horrible buzzing for the top 3 strings, something that should have been caught before shipping. The tang / anchors were incredibly thin, thinner than an Ibanez Gio or any of my other guitars.

That aside the guitar sounded pretty good, a little muddy in the low end. I actually like the 'smoother' sound of the higher strings.

The build quality was ok but it did not come ready to play. The fret board was visibly dry and the frets were unpolished or not well sanded so bending and vibrato created scratchy sounds. Tuners and saddles were okay but the nut didn't look cleanly glued and it seemed almost as if the fret board had been sanded to slope down on the high e string.

Overall I would go with something else unless you're okay with the possibility of having to wait to return it and get a replacement. The fret problem is also a major concern for longevity.
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best multiscale for this price
SamaelLeSinistre, 02.01.2020
I have an 8-string Ibanez RG8, I decided to purchase it to try the multiscale fretboard.

I'm totally satisfied with this guitar. Feels comfortable to play it, no real issues with the build. The neck is a bit thicker than I'm used to with my other guitars (especially the Ibanez) but really good.

The only downside of this instrument is the useless original pickups.
From the A string down to the F#, nothing is clear enough, even the power chords are overwhelmed by the bass range of the pickups.
However, with a quick pickup swap, you can easily solve this issue.

For this price, I think it was the best choice to try the multiscale 8 string world. Would buy it again.
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Good First Fan 8
Elliot C., 11.07.2020
This be a very good introduction to fan fret 8 strings. Only complaint is the stock pick ups. Very muddy.
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good luck hearing the entire range
A Djentleman, 17.11.2018
For the price, really, I couldn't ask for very much more. Thing plays better than I was expecting, tuning stability is deceptively good, pots are quiet, neck has zero dead spots, etc.
Basically, the thing is great EXCEPT for the fact that, for whatever reason, the pickups frequency response is pretty much zero in the high end. Mushy, muddy tone down low on the 7th and 8th string (again, better than i was expecting for under 200$), and you cant even hear the 1st string about 80% of the time you're playing it. No clue if i got bad pickups or not, but damn did that kill my enjoyment of it. Could always drop new pickups in it, but this thing being routed slanted and for soapbars leaves me very little choice in what i can put in there, all of which being more expensive than the rest of the guitar.
In short, it's good for the price, and for once, a HB sounds like its price.
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I use this guitar as is
XoddamNoche, 30.12.2020
I'm a pro guitarist go by Xoddamnoch I play Metal & Rock. I normally use Schecter gitfiddles(guitars) But i wanted to try Harley Benton And not for nothing this guitar is very impressive. Harley Benton if they keep it up they will be the next Schecter so get while they are still affordable these cats are on to something. Chris Maddox,
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A truly amazing guitar
AntonyUK, 02.06.2020
I purchased this guitar because I wanted to try out a 8 string and fanfare guitar. Coming in at < £160 this is the absolute cheapest one I could find.

The build quality and playability for this price is just amazing. Yes, the pickups aren't amazing, but they are more than sufficient for messing around with 8 strings. From my short time with it, I have no complaints with what this guitar provides.

Alas, after spending a weekend with it, I decided to return it. For the sole reason of that I just don't thing 8 strings are for me. I'll just keep to 6 & 7 strings. It probably does not help that I'm not really into djenty music. Because yes. It does (from my attempt).

I highly recommend getting this guitar if you are curious in trying a 8 string. Because if it is for you, then you have a truly amazing guitar at this end of the budget scale.
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Amazing instrument
DarrylA, 03.04.2020
It is truly beyond me how Thomann can sell this guitar at this price. It's solid as a rock. The workmanship is superb. The materials are very good. And it plays extremely well right out of the box. I would happily recommend the guitar to anyone. Thanks for making it available!
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Thought it would be worst.
n3_cvnt, 21.07.2020
I am very pleasantly surprised by the build quality. Everything is top notch for the price. I still don’t believe.
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Great first 8 string
Lordcrumb, 02.05.2020
I wanted to try out 8 strings without it being too expensive so thought i
Would give this guitar a go and i couldnt be happier with the guitar....
Aside from dead strings when it arrived and could do with some higher
Output pickups but a great introduction to 8 string for anybody thinking
About it
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Absurd for the money
Doctopus, 18.05.2020
This is an exceptional guitar for the money, and if you're curious about eight strings you should absolutely get this one.

The quality control on this guitar was quite good - a couple of small rough marks on the back, but otherwise the setup and intonation was very good, given how cheap it is and how far it flew to Australia!

The weak parts of this guitar are the pickups, the tuners, and the fretboard. The pickups are quite iffy, but for a practice instrument they're definitely serviceable. The tuners are pretty unstable and they slip/stick a bit. The fretboard feels a bit rough and cheap too.

But these downsides pale in comparison to what you're getting for the price: this guitar comes in at under half the price of the next-cheapest 8 string (including shipping!), it has fanned frets, and it feels good and easy to play. If you replaced the tuners and the pickups, this thing could probably even be stage-worthy.
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acoustic guy, 24.04.2018
more than i expected for the price
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Harley Benton R-458BK Fanfret

198 €
Including VAT; Excluding 20 € shipping
In stock within 1-2 weeks
In stock within 1-2 weeks

This item is expected back in stock soon and can then be shipped immediately.

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