I'd been thinking about getting one of these for some time, always been a bit of a Prince nut, and spurred on by the total lack of bad reviews I bit the bullet and ordered. I'm glad I did ... This is probably the best bang for your buck that I've ever seen, and just so you know, I'm a trained luthier. I did 3 years at MANchester College of Arts and Technology so I sort of know what I'm talking about. I have to say that ideally I'd like to sit down with 10 of 20 of these and compare them. A bit of internet research seems to indicate that Harley Benton Guitars are made by Saein Guitars who market as Shine but I also have a Harley Benton MS-60 Mustang-ish copy and they don't feel like the same factory to me but really that's just a guess. The body on this thing is great ... a bit on the heavy side but it is a solid Ash 2 piece with a maple veneer on the top with a Walnut centre stripe. The neck is more C than D. Maple with a skunk stripe but it is a 2 piece (separate fretboard) though this makes no difference at all to the tone or playability and from more than 2 feet away you couldn't tell. The frets are fairly level and even (I had a bit of a buzz on the top E string at the 10th fret but a single tap with my fretting hammer cured it completely. The pickups are Wilkinson Strat type alnico V's which I've never used before, good output, really chimey and give a Stratty-ish quack with the selector switch in the centre position. I have to say at this point that if you want a traditional Tele sound then don't buy this guitar, it is what it is, and that's more of a Tele/Strat hybrid than a Tele. The pots are little 16mm things and I can't see the impedance marked on them but I suspect 500k (I will measure the values when I restring it) and the cap is the cheapest green poly that money can buy. Cap makes no difference at all other than altering the rate of treble cut when the tone control is turned but I am going to try some full size 250k pots because I'm a bit analy retentive. No one will be able to hear the difference at the moment but in a years time they may be less crackly and a bit warmer sounding but unless you buy 2 guitars and set one up with 500k and one with 250k no one would be able to remember any difference. I own a 59 Gretsch, a 62 Danelectro, an ex Jo Strummer/Kate Korris mid 70's SG, a late 50's Burns Vista sonic and a late 50's Framus Grand Star as well as assorted far eastern hacks .... and since I got this guitar it's the only one I've played.
If you're thinking about purchasing this guitar, do it now before they sell out! I took a chance on this, not expecting much above having a beginner-level guitar that I could mod and mess around with a little bit, but the body alone is worth the price!
Since it arrived I've changed out the strings, masked off the neck and polished the frets with some 0000 steel wool (they were pretty grubby), shimmed the neck heel to even out the action at the higher frets, and shielded the cavities with some copper tape. The guitar is now extremely quiet, even on the bridge pickup setting in front of a PC. I haven't changed any of the electronics, I might in a couple of years depending on how the existing circuit holds up, but even if I do I'll be looking to retain the pickups as they sound great. The last piece of the puzzle is installing a "Madcat" pickguard from Scratch-It, its a pity Thomann don't include one instead of the "mother of bacon" guard it comes with!
In summary, this guitar is an absolute steal! BUY ONE!
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