GREAT The biggest surprise on this guitar is how good the pickups sound. I've previously used Seymour Duncan, Dimazio, Kent Armstrong etc as well as countless OEM rubbish and these Wilkinsons are of Seymour Duncan quality. Proper alnico slugs, quiet, nicely bright and clear but with a dark poke when needed. Hank Marvin to Yngwie at the flick of a dirt pedal. No need to upgrade!
The Trem is also a quality Wilkinson unit with a HUGE inertia block. Very solid sound, returns to pitch every time (once I'd set it up, see below). Wish the grub screws had smoother tops, though!
The body is solid basswood as advertised, not plywood as is common at entry-level price. Well finished with high quality routing that fit the pickups snuggly - i.e. no horrible 'swimming pool' gap under the pickguard! Rosewood laminate looks great in the flesh and the headstock is immaculate.
GOOD The tuners work and look ok. Electrics are all 250k pots, no noise and smooth travel. Tone pots are the usual exponential taper so only really work over a small part of their travel, which is normal but could be upgraded. Neck is a chunky thick-ish D profile with big frets. Didn't hold its tuning AT ALL at first, but settled down once I stretched the brand new strings.
Action as supplied was stupidly high, brought it down (using supplied tools) to almost fret-level and there's no buzz at all. Very impressive.
BAD Action as supplied is absurdly high (as above), trem screwed back tight against the body. Easy enough to adjust it all so it plays beautifully, though, so I've this is your first guitar then look on YouTube on how to do basic setups to get the best out of it. Fret board was dry and some ugly dye spillage was visible. I removed the strings and rubbed it down lightly, then applied Lemon Oil for a smoother, uniform appearance. Still has the 'open' texture of rosewood but no longer feels like I'm playing on a stick I just picked up in a forest.
UGLY Frets had slightly sharp ends in the upper octave, I fixed it with a small file, didn't take much work. Worse is that the frets don't feel like they've been crowned completely, leaving a very 'scratchy' feel when bending strings. I don't have a crowning file so I'm going to play it for a few months to see if it fixes itself. Real shame, but not a deal breaker.
Whereas the hardware is mostly of decent quality, the jackplate has some bubbling on the chrome plating - yuk!
SUMMING UP The high quality of the pickups, trem and body/neck materials mean that this guitar sound amazing - easily as good as Mex Fenders costing several times the asking price.
The poor finish to the frets is a disappointment and, initially, makes it feel like the entry-level guitar it is. With an hours work, however, it's starting to play and feel much more like a decent instrument.
It's now hanging on my wall between a Gibson Les Paul and a high-end Ibanez and its currently my guitar of choice, just because it sounds EXACTLY like a great Strat should sound. I don't care about the name on the headstock.
Upgrade-wise: I might get a Teflon-type nut and some roller string trees to help with the tuning (ok as is, but I like using the trem). I'll replace the tone controls with a master tone pot using a spare Fender Delta Tone I've got laying around, just to open them out a bit. Maybe add an active boost on the other pot. And I've already replaced the big chrome scratchplate screws with small-head black ones, just to make it look that tiny bit more badass. And I need to change that crappy bubbled jackplate for a black one.
I'm probably being hard on a £125 guitar here - it sounds like a £600 guitar and soon it'll play like one!
Harley Benton ST-70 Rosewood Deluxe Series (Very Impressed)
Having looked at all the Harley Benton strats here at Thomann I opted for this model because it had Wilkinson Alnico vintage ST-style singlecoil pickups and a Wilkinson tremolo.
Having paid only £106 for the guitar i am so glad i bought it. It only took 3 days to arrive here in the UK and it was well packaged. It came with a guitar lead and allen keys and tremolo arm. As this model was only released in Feb 2015, it had no review's or ratings. I presume i must have been the first person to have purchased this model.
There were no flaws on the guitar at all and the finish was a perfect natural (hi-gloss) very impressed! The protective sticky plastic was a bit tricky to remove from around the pickguard and pickup's but having removed the volume and 2 tone nobs made things easier. It already had a nice low action straight out of the box and i am pleased to say i had no fret buzz whatsoever. I did need to tune it myself but it was pretty well tuned out of the box.
I have two Les Paul guitar's already and bought this Harley Benton Strat ONLY to play "The Shadows" music so i wanted a good reliable tremolo which seem's to work very well indeed and appear's to stay in tune so far.
The Wilkinson pickup's have a nice warm tone and don't sound cheap and nasty. For the price this guitar is well worth the money! I could not be happier! Good quality Guitar! I hope this review is of some help for anyone else thinking of buying this model and i am astonished that i have guitar of this quality for £106 I have bought £400 guitars and the HB ST-70 is up there with them and just as good when comparing sound and quality.
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