First impression - WOW
If I had not read about Harley Benton I would think this guitar would be much more expensive than what it actually. My wife was angry at me for spending 1000€ on a guitar that i cannot really play well xD It looked stunning straight out of the box.
The guitar, made in Vietnam, came in a double packaging, and had a quality review by Mr. 1804.
After carefully looking at it I found some cosmetic imperfections. Some minor dirty binding on the headstock. One fret that is not perfectly alligned with the neck edge. There is some glue residue at the junction of neck and body. There is one dot with a different color on the headstock. Please mind that I was actively searching for these.
After plugging it in and messing around, I really liked it. I am used to a superstrat body (Ibanez RG350DX), so it felt weird at first but still confortable.
+ The weight must be around 3.5kg, it is really light. I had an epiphone standard before and it was heavier than this Harley Benton. The neck is not sticky like my old epiphone, and seems more or less the same thickness as my Ibanez RG350DX, making it good for for some faster riffing or shredding.
+ Talking about shredding, there is a nice slope where the neck meets the body, to have easier access to these frets. Cant really understand why fender/squier and epiphone/gibson don't do this on their lower end guitars.
+ I am far from being a pro, but this guitar is very playble straight out of the box. After about 90 mins playing with it, doing some bends, it stayed nicely in tune (needed only a minor adjustment). I did notice in the beginning it was difficult to do bends and it also felt it was scratching the frets, but I wiped the guitar neck with a cloth and it passed.
+ Action was set at 2mm in the 6th string and 1,5mm on the 1st string. I used a string action gauge, also from Harley Benton for the measurement. I did not check string per string, but feels ok. I lowered it a bit more to see if there was any fret buzz, there was not, and raised it back to "factory settings".
+ Tone wise is very nice. The push-pull split works good. Volume and tone knobs work as they should, not as "on/off". Had to tweak a bit my amp (Katana 50 Mk2) to suit better the sound, but I can already see I can go from a classic Metallica thrasher sound to BB King blues to clean campfire chords.
+The volume and tone push pull work nicely. No rattles on the knobs or selectors.
- One of the screws on the bridge pickup scratches my hand when I palm mute.
- Strap locks are ugly and rattle a lot. I knew I should have bought different ones.
Two weeks after (unfortunately only 4 playing sessions)
+ Still very stable with tuning. Currently working on some bends and the tuning stays fairly in place.
+ I got used to the shape, feels very confortable in my hands and I can easilly switch from Heavy Metal to hard rock to blues.
+ Feels and sounds so much better than my old epiphone Standard (2016). The Epi costs more than double. There is absolutely no reason to buy the Epi.
+ Great sustain
- I almost dropped the guitar. Locking pins did not lock on the only time I actually used them, and the neck just took a nose dive. I'm lucky for my ninja reflexes or I would have to send the guitar back with a broken neck/headstock. I was going to change them anyway, but I got really scared. I changed them now for standard Ibanez strap pins and noticed the original screw is thinner than the Harley Benton pin. Going to order some ernie ball strap locks that have never failed me.
Great guitar, extremely playable, very cheap and much better when compared to the direct competitor. Has some minor imperfections that I don't really care about.
Crap strap lock.
I was a bit skeptical, but the quality from Thomann and Harley Benton was delivered. If you're looking for a good guitar to start out or a more intermediate one, look no further. Get an SC Custom II.
Due to this, I am already eyeing an acoustic Harley Benton guitar and, maybe I will get a V or an Explorer (or both :) )