Harley Benton Custom Line CLA-15MCE

Steel-String Guitar with Pickup

  • Design: Auditorium 000-14 with cutaway
  • Top: Solid mahogany
  • Scalloped X-bracing
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ovangkol
  • Fretboard inlays: Snowflakes
  • Dovetail construction
  • Neck profile: Modified oval C
  • Body binding: Wooden
  • Scale: 643 mm
  • Nut width: 43 mm
  • 20 Frets
  • Nut: Bone
  • Bridge: Pau Ferro with compensated saddle
  • Machine heads: DLX diecast chrome
  • Fishman Presys-II preamp system with built-in tuner
  • D'Addario XTAPB1253 Light strings, .012 - .053 (Article Nr 471307)
  • Colour: Vintage Sunburst Satin
  • Matching case available under Article Nr 208576 (not included)
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Audio Examples

 
0:00
  • Country
  • Country Pickup
  • Picking
  • Picking Pickup
  • Strumming
  • Strumming Pickup

Further Information

Model 000
Top massive mahogny
Back and Sides Mahogany
Cutaway Yes
Fretboard Pau Ferro
Nut width in mm 43,00 mm
Frets 20
Pickup Yes
Colour Natural
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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Our most popular O/OO/OOO Acoustic Guitars
212 Customer Ratings
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
4.8 /5
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  • quality
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features
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quality
Hard to believe...
buddhuu, 10.05.2017
This is very much a first impression as the guitar only arrived today, but I am blown away. It is great.

I've been playing since 1972. My last full-size acoustic was a Taylor, and I've been doing instrument repairs and setups for years - so I have a little knowledge of guitars.

Recently I bought another HB guitar: a cheap short scale thing called a Custom Line CLGS-10S Travel. I got it as a travel/beater/campfire guitar and I was surprised how good it was for a cheap guitar. So, when I found I needed a decent, but inexpensive, electro-acoustic for my band I thought I'd try a slightly higher-level HB.

The reviews of the Harley Benton Custom Line CLA-15MCE were excellent, and the few YouTube videos also looked great. The guitar is pretty low-priced, so I went for it. Thomann are always great about returns, so I had little to lose.

Forget that. No way am I returning this thing.

I think the body is a little shallower than the Martin model that obviously inspired this guitar and the unplugged volume is a little lower - but not much. This is an average volume acoustic guitar. That is the only average thing about it.

The fit and finish are, as far as I can see, absolutely excellent. The neck relief and action have been set up perfectly and there is even a battery installed in the preamp/tuner. The tuners are of very good quality: smooth and stable. Intonation seems spot on right up the neck.

The fret job is neat and well finished, without sharp ends. This is the first acoustic guitar I've had that I have not felt the urge to improve the string height at the nut. Whoever set this guitar up obviously checked and adjusted the nut slots to perfection. Thank you, Thomann setup person, whoever you are - I hope they're paying you enough because you've done a great job. I've had guitars with setups as good as this but I don't recall any better. I'm delighted.

The frets are smooth, not raspy like on many inexpensive guitars. I will polish them a little more, but only because I like a real, glassy mirror finish on my frets and these are just a tiny bit below that level of polish.
The fretboard is not actually dry, but it looks as if it will benefit from a light oiling, which I will do tomorrow.

Plugged in, the Fishman pickup and tuner work great. The sound is standard undersaddle piezo. I'm a bit odd because I prefer magnetic soundhole pickups rather than piezos, but this one sounds a lot better than many of its species. Perfectly acceptable and I'll be happy enough to gig it.

Visually, this is a beautiful guitar. The solid mahogany is made from a nice piece of wood. Actually, it looks like it may be a two piece top, but that's no problem. I've seen very high end guitars deliberately made with two piece tops for the book-matching effect they allow.

The acoustic tone is very nice. The strings are still a bit fresh and metallic yet for me to fully hear what it will sound like when they settle down, but it sounds fine already and the tone will get even better when that new-string bright twang wears off.

So, absolutely full marks, Thomann. This is extraordinary value for money. I couldn't be happier.


EDIT: I've now had the guitar for a few days. The strings have settled and I've had a chance to use the HB at a pub gig.

A bandmate who plays a Martin 000-15 is staggered by the quality and volume of the Harley Benton. I didn't think it was that loud, but comparing side-by-side it is as loud as his Martin.

I already gave this guitar top marks. If I could give it more stars I would.

I'm going to buy the dreadnought version as soon as it's back in stock next month. If you're not a logo snob then these guitars are just too good to miss.
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This is a lovely sweet wee guitar, well set up out of the box
Eugene M., 29.01.2019
I have several acoustics, mostly Canadian like Seagull, Simon & Patrick, La Patrie, Faith, Wasburn but have had many more including Martins, Taylors etc. I think right out of the box and tuned up this is a beaut.
I nearly bought the guitar it is a copy of a few years ago while working in a music shop but can't remember why I didn't so when I saw the HB one I decided to give it a try with the intention of stringing it for Nashville tuning, but after my initial test I may leave the tuning as is and even get another one of these for nashville tuning as it is a lovely player and I can see myself gigging it a lot.

I had no doubt the quality would be good as I bought a Harley Benton PRS 24 electric copy in green a while back and though it need fret dressing and setup it plays as good if not better than some of my more expensive guitars (lovely neck which allows lower action when setting it up than some).

This is a great acoustic guitar for fingerstyle (thumb pick or thumb) cause it's more middy than a dreadnought, projects more mids with less low end and not as jingly / toppy as some due to the woods used if you get me, it's nice and mellow. Strummed it is the same, more focused. I imagine while recording with a nice condenser like a Rode NT5 or 55 or a stereo pair it would record really well on account of it's nice focused projection. It would be a great wee guitar if you play in a band and you need a guitar to sit nice in the mix without competing with some of the bass guitar's area of the frequency spectrum but you could stand up solo and gig with it no bother, it won't be as full sounding as a jumbo or dreadnought for strumming (it is a different sound) but will be better for finger picking. If you play with a person who plays a jumbo or dreadnought in an acoustic band one of these for your end of things would be a good option, good for acoustic lead.

I used the built in tuner and checked it against the one I use in studio and live a lot and it is spot on. Didn't record with the fishman pickup or run through a PA yet but I'd say it will be grand, I will know soon and will add that end of my findings.

The way I look at HB instruments is they are good value. If there is a very obvious problem send it back and try another. You WILL get a good one. I had a Gibson here that was the worst instrument I ever had (from another online supplier) so all companies get it wrong sometimes or let one slip through the net.

This acoustic is fine as it is but I will probably lemoil the fingerboard and smooth the fret edges a wee bit when I do first string change but I do these things - setups etc on a very regular basis and have the tools to do so, but believe me it's fine as it is, I could take it to a gig right now (I only took it out of the box 3 hours ago) . I only intend doing a wee bit of work on it as I have the means at my disposal and would tweak a big brand a bit to for my liking the same way. The reason I say this is if you did happen to get one with the odd sharp fret etc, but otherwise the guitar is great it is worth taking it to a local repair guy or some person guy who plays in a band etc you know who can do it for you.... you will end up with an even nicer playing experience.........but........I would be very happy to take this one out and gig it right now if a gig came in.... it's ready to play like........ Try one!
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A great guitar for the money!
Achilleas Moraitis, 03.03.2017
I am a gigging musician and during the winter months I work mostly at bars with small or no stage in place. I, therefore, needed a guitar that would be smaller and lighter than my main guitar for ease of transport and that could take some abuse without me worrying too much about scratching the finish etc. I decided the Harley Benton CLA-15MCE was the right guitar for me: priced competitively and low enough that should anything irreparable happen to it (there are loads of drunk people stumbling around a musician's gear at bars after all) I wouldn't lose an expensive instrument. I did not expect anything spectacular when played unamplified but I was very wrong, I have in fact used this guitar to record with in a couple of albums where the tone and projection of a rosewood B/S dreadnought was not appropriate. As far as the build quality goes I found no flaws whatsoever, it is very clear to me that the people at Thomann take their job very seriously, as a matter of fact the guitar was tuned one step down when it arrived, a very safe practice to insure the neck is not strained during transport. The onboard Fishman pickup/preamp deliver a very useable and pleasant sound that can be used equally well when gigging solo or with a band.

Pros:
- Price
- Build quality
- Onboard pickup/preamp system by Fishman

Cons:
Didn't really find any, for this kind of money you can do much worse. You'll be hard pressed to find more guitar for your money.

Update: After approximately 2 years of regular use the Fishman preamp started acting up. I narrowed it down to the tuner button, it was staying engaged and thus the sound was cutting in and out. I contacted Thomann about it, they sent me a replacement unit right away free of charge (the guitar was still under warranty). A year and a half later the new preamp is going strong, I probably just had a defective unit.
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Impressive
Stone Age, 12.05.2020
I bought the Custom Line as a general 'pick up and play' guitar. I did not expect too much, taking into account the price but I was very pleasantly surprised! It has a big sound for a smallish guitar and I have to say, compares very favourably with my Taylor Baby 2. When it arrived, securely boxed as with all my other Thomann purchases, I tweaked the action a little as I prefer it really low. With the included Fishman internal pick up, I now use this guitar for studio work which I did not expect to be doing! All in all a great guitar at a remarkable price. Highly recommended
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