OK, I'm not an expert guitarist and can't really tell you much about how this plays as I'd decided to return it before it actually arrived - I really ought to have bought a strat or a tele in the first place. However, I can comment on the actual workmanship of the guitar as I'd seen a review from someone who had bought a turkey and thought that the guitar didn't deserve to be overlooked based on the small number of English language reviews. Basically, this is a copy of a 1950s gold top Les Paul, which was in turn based on a railway sleeper so, yes, it's really heavy. This is good for tone, but your average beginner (like me) is just going to be put off using it - buy a strat or an Epiphone Special. If you are a more advanced guitarist who wants the tone that you get from a big LP, this is a really good buy, especially if you don't mind doing a little bit of setup work. The finish was pretty good - a nice copper-colour matt finish to the top and a matt rusty-brown to the back. I would have preferred a satin or a gloss finish myself and I think the finish will wear quite quick, but it will look good when it does. The neck is chunky - more 50s than 60s - but correct for the type. I think the frets needed some work - they were a bit rough and I think that there was a bit of buzzing around fret 5 caused by an uneven fret. Nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of wet'n'dry paper. Otherwise the frets looked pretty level. Other reviewers have commented on the fretboards being dirty on HB LP models and this was the case here - invest in some fretboard oil to share the postage cost. I never thought I would have strong feelings about guitar strings before but even I noticed how unpleasant these were. Thomann are a cheap place to buy Ernie Balls or D'Addarios from, so take advantage when you order, since it won't cost you any more to post them. I can't really speak for the pickups as I didn't test them out very much. They sounded fine, but you can't stop thinking about the Wilkinson pups you get in the 450 model, which is worth the upgrade, and you would get better strings as well. Another comparison you have to think of is the similar P90 model. I had though that they were the same model with different pickups but they aren't - the P90 gives you niceties like fretboard binding for another couple of euros. Again, if you aren't used to the weight of an LP you might be in for a shock. If you are used to LPs and want to upgrade the pickups yourself (Bare Knuckles?) this would be an absolute steal. Just doing the maths, adding a set of really good pickups would probably still cost less than an equivalent Epiphone, you'd just have to put up with the odd blemishes. Treat it as a bit of a project and it's a bargain........until you look at the P90 version or the 450....
Needs lots of modifications - buy a SC-450 / 550 instead
Johnny D, 28.11.2016
HB SC-400 GT
Neutral Finish - Top is not smoothly finished Pickups - not wax potted Controls - Pots, Switch and Knobs Nut - Plastic
Cons Fret finish Bad Fretboard due to fret work (fretwork was the downfall of this guitar)
This is my 3rd Harley Benton, and was purchased with the plan to gut it and use the body / neck as a base to for complete modification. Keep that in mind.
Ordering and shipping from Thomann was flawless. However US customs held the order for a week, then charged a US duty fee. This is stated on the Thomann website, so don't get upset IF it happens to your US order. This is the first time I've been hit with the US customs duty, so I feel fortunate.
The guitar arrived in good shape, no damage and is as described on the Thomann website. The Gold Top is really more of a Copper color, but does resemble the images on Thomann's website. So, don't expect a "Gold" gold top. The dull / matte finish on the back and neck looks and feels really nice, it does show fingerprints and sweat a great deal. The Copper top color is a rather rough finish to the touch. In my case the finish of the top doesn't matter as will be sanded and recolored.
The plastic volume and tone knobs do their job, but are really cheap in appearance. This should not be a surprise as this is a very low-cost guitar. The pots function well, smooth and decent response. They are very small in diameter. They've already been pulled from the guitar, not because they don't work, just because I have better full-size replacements ready to go in.
The pickups have fair sound, and as delivered were NOT wax potted, so you can get microphonic noise quite easily. Again, not a problem for me, I have different pickups for it anyway. The 3-way switch is a very low-cost box switch. It does not appear to be the same switch used in my SC-450Plus VB. This switch works, and that's about it. Not smooth nor quiet. Again, no surprise a very low-cost guitar.
The strings go without saying, but I?ll say it anyway. They have to be replaced as soon as you are done with the initial unboxing excitement. The action was set very high as received, not a problem, and with the action lowered the guitar played well - with exception.
Here's the problem, even thought the frets we incredibly level, they lacked proper crown and finish. And if that were the only problem, I'd be set. Unfortunately the fret ends were beveled back too far, and cause fretting issued on the high "e" string. The extreme angle of the fret bevel allowed/caused the "e" string to easily go off the neck when fretted. NOT GOOD.
The nut is a pre-slotted plastic variety, and works well for what it is. It had one little drop of glue holding it in place and came off with a light tap. A new nut will be easy to install.
The fingerboard and inlay finish was actually very good. The fingerboard radius is 12". The inlays are nicely fit and finished.
The vintage style tuners look like the same used on the SC 450Plus, but don't feel as smooth. Not sure if they are a lower quality look-alike version, or just a bad set. They don't all feel the same, some turn easier than others, some bind. I have ordered replacements tuners.
The Bridge and tailpiece appear to be the same as the SC-450. The posts are a bit loose, but don't cause any issues and can be addressed rather easily. I may or may not replace them. Some people really complain about the deep cut bridge saddles, but I'm finding no real reason to discard them for the depth of the string groove. The bigger issue is the slop in the posts as I mentioned before, and that can be fixed. The tailpiece is grounded to a control pot, that's a good thing. One issue with the TOM style bridge is the Saddle Retainer Springs don't properly sit in the Bridge Screw groove. This is a design/production issue, common to most/all HB TOM bridges I believe. Can be fixed, or replaced. I'm fixing this one for now, may replace in the future if the need arises.
In hind site, I should have purchased another SC-450 for ± $20 more, overall the 450 is a better guitar, even though they share many of the same components.
For my purposes this guitar will be fine in the end, as I already have all the upgrade components, and have made many modifications to the body, fingerboard, and peg head.
If you are looking for a First guitar, spend a couple more dollars/euros, and get the SC-450Plus. It is worth a little extra, but realize the frets will still need to be cleaned and polished, the fingerboard will need to be cleaned, and you will need new strings.
I have modified nearly every part of this guitar at this point, and that was the reason I had originally purchased this guitar. As delivered, the guitar was not really playable due to the fret issue, please keep that in mind. If I would have intended to plug-n-play, I would have had to send it back to Thomann.
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