Harley Benton D-120CE BK

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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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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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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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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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Pas mal pour le prix
Ninsix, 08.05.2021
La guitare dans l'ensemble n'est pas mauvaise, surtout vu le prix. Somme toute une guitare assez basique. Cependant les cordes appliqué de base sur la guitare sont vraiment mauvaise et le manche n'est pas très bien réglé. J'ai très vite changé pour des cordes plus light. J'ai du aussi ajusté le manche rien de très compliqué.
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Best quality-price combo
Lea Rodrigo, 12.06.2021
The guitar's quality for the price is really good. Totally worth to buy
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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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johnggk, 09.12.2020
Realy good for the price. I took it as a beginner and i was not very gentle with it. I have it almost 3 years and i am really happy. If you want a guitar affordable that sounds good, then thats the best option.
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Zamówiłem jako B-stock
LaMaska, 26.03.2021
Niestety źle zbudowany instrument, nie stroił już od 3 progu
Dlatego był b-stock:P
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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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Very satisfied with the purchase
Music.al, 23.01.2021
A very nice guitar, well built and very enjoyable.
I totally recommend it!
*****
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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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Good value
VIvianC, 23.04.2020
This is not the best acoustic guitar you're going to find out there but it's a pretty decent instrument and it also looks good. For the money you pay for it, it has a good quality
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Zumbat@yandex.ru
Zumbat, 27.10.2020
An inexpensive guitar. For this price, it is not better to find. Frets stick out a little. I'll probably replace the strings soon. The strings seemed to be in use.
There are small scratches on the guitar body.
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Beatyful sound
18.09.2014
Very good basic half acoustic quitar with nice features, onlu minus is quitar mic, pick poor treble sounds, but it have been in hard use for couple years now and nothing problems shows up
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Harley Benton D-120ce BK
Ann B., 26.01.2018
For the money you cant go wrong
Guitar played straight out of the box
No sharp fret ends tuning was fine
Not sure about the eq had one of these went dead during a session and it wasnt the battery but you get what you pay for
i also bought the epiphone pr 150 na a bit more money but a much nicer guitar to feel and play id stick with the epiphone if i had to chose between the 2 guitars for home use
Update after a few months use ..H/Benton D-120ce truss rod has become loose over time if you turn the allen key you can feel it flopping around ..needed a fret level and fret polish the ultimate gripe after all adjustments .bridge / frets /neck will not stay in tune harmonics are out at 12 fret i think the saddle bridge is slightly off
Update on Epiphone No fret level needed reduced the saddle in height for player comfort No other issues with this guitar conclusion EPIPHONE was better built from day one
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Great guitar. worth the pick up.
LorcanMul, 14.01.2021
I've been learning guitar for the past few weeks on a classical guitar decided to pick up an acoustic. Seen this one and its reviews and they don't lie. Great quality, looks lovely. I don't know a lot of cons about guitars yet but I can for sure tell this guitar is worth it for learners or experienced guitarists. For the price to performance you can not go wrong. Fast shipping, came early then expected too overall happy :) 10/10 would recommend.
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For the money, this is great.
Aloo Gobi, 09.03.2021
Purchased on a whim, when I needed an acoustic I could bring on the road and DI for two songs in the set. Met every expectation.

Easy to play, sounds a lot better than you'd expect for the price. The fret edges were fine, the action was good. Played right out of the box. I knew when buying it that I wasn't going to be getting anything amazing but for two songs a night that require an acoustic, this is more than fine.
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Street-cool
Admar, 17.10.2020
Cool looking guitar that is good for learning or to take to the beach ( no need to worry about scratches or the cold weather)
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Incredible guitar, for the price point.
aristotelis_, 17.04.2020
It is true you will be hard pressed to find a better guitar under 200 euro. If you also invest on taking this guitar to a shop to give it a nice full setup, you will end up with a very very playable guitar, having spent less than 150 euros.

The only negative comment I can make, is that there is great variance among these guitars (my brother and I got one each, and they were quite different). This is expected, as one of the main reasons this guitar is so cheap, is I assume the reduced costs of excessive human quality control. However, this can be made up for with a nice setup, as I mentioned in the first paragraph:)
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not bad at all
Brianvorst, 08.04.2019
for this price I can recommend this guitar.
I bought this for a little bit extra practice when I dont feel like setting up my electric guitar. stays in tune pretty well and sounds just fine.

after a short period the jack output stopped working so I couldn't use it more than once, hense the 2 star for quality. the one time it did use it, it sounded good!
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Wish I'd spent more...
14.03.2014
The guitar sounds okay for the most part when played acoustically, but the pickup is not very good quality. I think it would have perhaps been wiser to spend the money on a nicer guitar without a pickup, and then either buy a separate pickup or simply mic it up when required. The guitar is quite difficult and uncomfortable to play. The action is set very high, and it doesn't appear to be adjustable. You might be tempted to think this is an okay guitar for a beginner's first guitar, but please don't make the same mistake I did! It has somewhat discouraged me from playing it, at least until I buy a better guitar. This purchase has also rather put me off the Harley Benton brand.
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Just amazingly surprised!
Leon Eugene L., 29.04.2020
A gift for my niece, and as soon as I opened the box, which by the way arrived earlier than scheduled, visually checked the right components and level of handcrafting. Pretty decent! really. I never even bothered to correct the height of the strings, except for the filing of the metal fret tips which were a bit sharp. The sound is just great, specially for its price. I had it checked by my niece and she says the strings are okay, so the Daddario EJ16 she'll keep as replacements. Now the guitar on the stand is complimenting her room. I really praise Thomann for such level of professionalism, and you guys just live up to your already big reputation. Indeed, music is not just for the professionals, but also for the young generation who truly need to be inspired... And the way to do that is to never ever disappoint them.
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Idéale comme première arme
25.01.2016
Etant déjà possesseur d'une guitare électrique et ayant décidé de me mettre sérieusement à l'apprentissage de la guitare, j'ai commencé à chercher une gratte dans mon budget. Je suis tombé sous le charme de la forme / couleur de celle-ci et me suis dit que pour le prix, "je verrais bien". Et bien je n'en suis pas du tout déçu !

Au déballage :
Aucun défaut, une fois accordée, le son est très correct. L'accordage tient bien, pas de souci. Très agréable à jouer.

Après quelques heures :
Cordes vraiment nulles, à changer d'urgence...
Frettes un peu rugueuses
Bois de la touche à l'aspect "sec"

=> Quelques heures de travail pour remplacer les cordes par d'autres, meilleures. J'en ai profité pour huiler la touche et repolir les frettes au "polish metal" classique.

Elle est maintenant au top ! Je joue tous les jours. Merci Thomann !
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A surprisingly good guitar
MrPowell, 28.08.2020
I didn't anticipate much at this price point, but this is quite a good guitar.

My only real critiques are with the bridge of the guitar, and the bridge pins.

The bridge is a less refined, and seemingly softer piece of wood. It seems to have been rather rough cut, and could use some love from a cabinet scraper. The holes for the bridge pin aren't the cleanest work, and the wood here is pretty soft.

Some of the bridge pins seem to have been forced in a little too far, which considering the soft wood, and the cheap bridge pins, makes them rather hard to get back out again.

I've yet to plug it in to a PA system, so I can't speak to the amplification, but acoustically the guitar sounds great. Fit and finish are surprisingly decent, and it was set up fairly well when it made it to me.
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Harley Benton D-120CE BK

€79
Including VAT; Excluding €15 shipping
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