I am putting my opinions here on top so you won't have to read all of the details. I find this guitar an incredible instrument that makes it a steal for the price. I thought I would be modding it but I don't think it needs anything, if I do it would just be an exercise to learn how to do it. I believe that this guitar is all most guitarists need (that does not mean I don't appreciate fine guitars, there is a pleasure of owning and playing one, I own several and have no plans on disposing of any but this guitar will do most everything the high dollar guitars will do) (I also believe that it's the guitarist and the electronics that make a guitar sound great). I am excited at the discovery of Harley Benton Guitars because now for the price of one high end instrument I can add a Telecaster type, a ES355 type, a Rickenbacker 612 type with cases to my collection that will do all I will ever need and still have a pile money left over if they need upgrading. I would suggest buying a case when you order because for the same shipping cost Thomann will ship more items, I don't know the quality of the HB case but I would be surprised if it does not match this guitars quality for the price (I am guessing one similar would be around $100 locally). I made the mistake of not getting a case with it because I didn't think I would need on, now I find myself shopping for one and kicking myself because for $46 you will not find a better price.
o Amazing guitar especially for the price.
o I can now have an example of most of the guitars I covet without going broke
? Cons all nit-picky!
o Pickups needed height adjustment
o Slight blemish on the body by the neck
o Action was high for my taste
o Wish I could have found these guitars earlier
? The buying experience was excellent, easy to purchase, fast shipping and perfect arrival. I did not have any problems so I don?t know about customer service.
? Appearance, beautiful guitar with one tiny flaw where the neck joins the body. This guitar has a very high-quality fit and finish that I find amazing.
? Mechanics, the guitar arrived playable out of the box only needing the pickup height adjustment, all hardware and electronics works.
Play-ability, this guitar plays and sounds great, I would not be ashamed to show up with it in any circumstance. Let the snobs laugh - if they want to worry about what somebody else plays, that is their problem!
? I could invest around $300 if I do the work myself for upgrade tuners, pickups, pots, switch, bridge and tail piece and it would probably improve it but is over doubling the price worth maybe a 5 - 10% improvement?
The Thomann Experience
I live in the Denver Colorado area and was concerned about the ordering and delivery process from Germany, I ordered it directly from Thomann payed by PayPal with no issues, it was ordered on Sunday and it arrived Monday of the next week with good tracking information the entire journey including customs in San Francisco and a date notification for delivery. It was delivered at the usual time by our normal US Post office person. It arrived packed very well in a larger box with it seemed like a mile of pillow padding, the smaller box that held the guitar was not damaged at all and the guitar was padded and wrapped with foam. The guitar showed no damage from shipping and was close to being in tune ? about ? a step flat across all the strings.
I could only find one 3/4 inch imperfection on the entire guitar, a flaw in the finish on the back on the body where the neck joins the body, I have seen worse on new $1000 plus instruments and you have to look hard to see it. The neck appears to be 3 pieces, the scarf, the neck itself and a piece to make it thicker where it joins the body. The inlay work is beautiful although the inlay material is not as high quality as you would find on more expensive instruments. The body looks like 3 pieces but had to tell because there is a mahogany veneer on the back that makes the body look solid. The face veneer grain is closely matched (I know some people don't care for it), it probably does not have the depth of a more expensive instrument, in my opinion it?s still spectacular looking; the binding is perfect around the body and the neck. It came with strap locks, these work perfectly HB must have heard the complaints on earlier models and replaced them with working units. The tuners are greenish and are copies of Gibson vintage keys, more on function in the mechanics part of this review. I could not find a serial number but on back of the head-stock its says SC-550 Deluxe Made in Viet Nam.
The neck is straight the fret work is great, all are level, smooth and no sprout?, the action was a little higher than I prefer but it was certainly playable out of the box.. I gave it a few days to acclimate to its new surroundings then changed the strings, I use EB Fat Top and Skinny Bottoms, so I had to reset the intonation on 3 of the strings but it was close. The tuners are adequate (not as smooth as the Grovers on most of my other guitars) and the guitar says in tune. The switch works fine with no noise or crackles, I took the Rhythm / Treble label off because I think it looks dorky and I wanted it to look cleaner -- I can remember the positions without having it written on the guitar. The pots are smooth and work flawlessly with no noise. The pickups are Roswells and were not adjusted to the correct distance form the strings (easy fix and the worst problem with the setup) after the adjustment the pickups sounded great and balanced especially for a $270 guitar. The Bridge and tail piece are Gibson copies, this guitar already has great sustain so I am not sure upgrades would make much difference.
This guitar plays as well as any other guitar I own, no hums or other noise, the neck feels great and it doesn't go out of tune. Its heavy and but it?s a Les Paul copy and that should be expected. I lowered the action, does not have any fret buzz and rings all the way up the neck, the sustain is incredible. The tone is all Les Paul and I am really enjoying exploring this particular sound that has been missing from my collection.