Are the cheap Harley Benton guitars too good to be true?

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by Zalbu, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    I'm normally a superstrat guy but I want to branch out and pick up a Tele and possibly a SSS guitar, along with a 5 string bass and seven string, and I don't really want to spend more money than I have to if I end up not liking the specs or guitar. Last guitar I bought was a seven string with a 25.5 inch scale and Evertune, two specs that I couldn't get along with no matter how much I tried, and had to end up selling it.

    I'm going to spend a bit more money on the seven since Harley Benton doesn't really have many good sevens, but they have a truckload of Teles and Strats and other Fender and Gibson copies. And if I get a cheap guitar and it isn't firewood then I can always upgrade it with locking tuners and better pickups and things like that.

    Harley Benton guitars go for as low as €99 on Thomann, I haven't bought a new guitar since like 2013 and back then it was almost unthinkable to buy a guitar for less than about €5-600 unless you were shopping for firewood. But from what I've read the cheapo guitars are starting to become pretty good for the price since the automation process is becoming better and better and fewer lemons are leaving the factory.

    And yes, I know you can get good guitars for cheap from the big names when you buy used, but not as low as €99 and the used market where I live is small and I have this weird fascination with cheap guitars.

    I'll probably spend anywhere around €300 each on the guitars, but I'm interested to hear if anybody here have tried the guitars in the €100-250 range and if they're actually any good or not.
     
  2. ittoa666

    ittoa666 /)'3'(\

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    I’d assume that if Thoman sells them, they’re at least playable. I’d look into reviews on them before pulling the trigger
     
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  3. bouVIP

    bouVIP SS.org Regular

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    I have the like $200 fanfret 8 string. I was actually blown away at how good it was for the price. It was honestly on par build wise of the $600 Jackson fanfret 8 I played. Obviously the pickups and parts aren't the best, but the bridge on mine is fairly solid. Fretwork wasn't that bad either. The fret ends aren't perfectly smooth, but that's to be expected.

    Only complain is the roseacre fretboard feels really dry which should be fixed when I oil it.
     
  4. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd has left the building

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    I watched a guy play one of the fanned 8s in Guitar Center the other day. The finishes aren't great all the time, but he seemed to really enjoy playing it and I just kind of held it for a bit (didn't actually play it) and for what I found the prices out to be, they feel damn nice.
     
  5. Dekay82

    Dekay82 SS.org Regular

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    If you ask the youtubers that get them for free they're better than a Gibson R9 and will let you fuck Harley Benton's sister.
     
  6. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    Yup, that's a big reason for why I'm a bit skeptical of them, because of all the Youtube advertising of them. Same thing with Chapmans. But the Harley Bentons are so cheap that it doesn't really feel like there's much harm in trying, and I can always just donate it to some kid that wants to learn the guitar or something if it's not good enough for me.

    Side note, that's also a big reason for why I ended up buying an Evertune guitar even though I have no need for one when I don't play gigs and rarely record stuff. Still a bit annoyed for failing for all that marketing, but at least I could make some of the money back by selling it.
     
  7. Malevolent_Croatian

    Malevolent_Croatian SS.org Regular

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    Nope, they're great for the money. I have a DC-Custom and an SC-Custom, they both surprised the fuck out of me.
     
  8. zarg

    zarg SS.org Regular

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    I had quite a few of them (~10 guitars) and they are pretty awesome for the price. I was really impressed by the Fusion Pro which is just loaded with Features for only 300€. You see some minor cosmetic defects here and there, they might need a bit of fret polishing and setup but otherwise - great guitars! I suggest looking at the Fusion Pro Models, they're the first HBs to be manufactured in Indonesia while others are China/Vietnam and there is a perceivable quality difference.
    Now they are not a secret, overly amazing thing of wonders - just solid guitars for the money. Keep that in mind.
     
  9. mnemonic

    mnemonic Custom User Title

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    I got the dirt-cheap 5 string bass recently, I think it’s a good bass for the price. “For the price” is the important part here.

    If you’re happy to do some work on the instrument yourself, they’re a good buy. My bass had very sharp fret ends that needed to be filed down, it needed a full setup (action, neck relief adjustment, intonation, shimmed and drilled one saddle to fit a bigger low B, extra foam under the pickups since they were too low).

    But apart from that, it was structurally sound. No warped wood, loose frets, etc.

    Bare in mind I’m not a bass player so if I bought a guitar from them I might have more critiques (for the price I can’t imagine electronics or pickups will be anything special).

    If that sounds like work you don’t mind doing, then it’s a good buy. But if that’s too much for you, maybe look at a higher price range with better QC.
     
  10. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    Yup, I'm tempted to pick up one of the Fusion Pros because the specs and looks you get on it for €399 are nuts, but what's the trem like? I already have a HSH guitar with a trem and if I get another superstrat then I'd prefer for it to be a hardtail. Can you just remove the trem arm and it'll function the same as a hardtail? Because the trem seems to be a regular non-locking, string through body trem from what I can tell from the pictures.
     
  11. Richter

    Richter SS.org Regular

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    I had a Fusion HSH for a few weeks and the trem felt very stiff. Didn't play it much though
     
  12. Crundles

    Crundles SS.org Regular

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    From what friends of mine have gotten, the Fusion and CST (PRS clones) are genuinely good; the fan-frets are good for the money, but might require some fretwork, a nut and tuners change etc etc, generally perfectly playable even out of the box; the sevens are somewhat hit-and-miss, especially the cheapest possible one. Noone I know has gotten any of the more extreme, spiky shapes, so no feedback there.

    If you're in Europe, Thomann's customer service is pretty good, so if you get an firewood, you can just send it back and get another one until you like what you have.
     
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  13. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    Man, the more I look at the Fusions, the more tempted I get because they have exactly the specs and looks I want, like a Suhr or Tom Anderson but for a fifth of the price. But I'm not really a fan of owning multiple guitars that fulfills the same purpose since I already have a superstrat with a HSH and trem.

    Getting a hardtail CST and making it a pseudo-Mark Holcomb sig with Alphas and Omegas in it could be interesting as well, but the pickups costs more than the guitar and they're short scale.
     
  14. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Most of these cheaper guitars are quite good these days...with a caveat...

    Are you willing to put some more money in to let it play it’s best.

    Almost every guitar nowadays can get really good with a decent full setup. By full I mean fret leveling and replacement if necessary.

    The other thing is that most of these guitars are setup to play fine under normal circumstances. I just bought a cheaper guitar that’s about the same level of oem as the Harley Bentons.

    Played fine at around 2mm to 1.6mm action with some neck relief.

    Dead frets everywhere at my preferred setup of almost no relief and 1-1.25mm action.

    But if your standards aren’t so strict you’d never notice.
     
  15. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    My standards are very low now, I have about 2mm action on the high E at the first fret and 4mm at the 12th fret because if I try to straighten the neck any more I get an ungodly amount of fret buzz at fret 1-3. And even then it still feels great to play on by my standards.
     
  16. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Are you secretly an acoustic player. If you’re comfortable playing like that you should be fine on anything.
     
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  17. Zalbu

    Zalbu More time than skill

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    Nah, I've just been a bit too reckless with my guitar, letting it take one too many hits to the floor and been a bit too heavy handed when it comes to the setup. The weather here in Sweden doesn't do it any favors either, with warm summers and cold winters.

    That's another reason for why I want to get a cheap guitar, I don't want to feel like I have to treat it with silk gloves if I end up buying something expensive that will risk getting smashed up.
     
  18. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    With that seasonal changes you might want to try that fusion pro with the roasted maple neck. It is supposed to have more stability against seasonal changes.

    Today I'm looking like a Thomann representative... I'm not. I swear.

    I own a 7 string fannned fret I don't want anymore but I don't want sevens anymore so... It's a good guitar for the price. Mine got some bad frets. I leveled them a d played the hell out of it. Changed pickups and sounds massive now (blackout neck 81-7 bridge). Neck profile is comfortable even for a Strat neck style lover like I am.

    Good shit for the money and I am very very tempted in the Fusions...just waiting for a hard tail one.
     
  19. zarg

    zarg SS.org Regular

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    yes, its like a Strat Trem with nicer saddles (on your palm). You can simply deck it by getting the springs pretty tight and it wont move. That's actually how I set it up on mine. I had two Fusion Pros at once at some time and honestly can't tell you how good the trem works since I just hardtailed it right away.

    I attached some pictures of the ones I had for you to check out. I have a few more, shoot me a PM if you want to see a particular Part of the guitars. I'm actually really gassing for one again now after looking at the pictures. they both played so well, and the orange one was the one they used for the pictures on their website which is why I got this little booklet with it. On the action: I had about 1,5mm at the 12th on the low E and about 1,3mm on the high e with very little buzz

    cheers!
    IMG_20180812_142924.jpg IMG_20180726_185141.jpg IMG_20180726_185138.jpg IMG_20180925_180307.jpg
     
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  20. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    I see they still send the booklet with pics when you order the model they used for the site. ^^ (I have one for an Ibby bass)

    Just wanted to comment @Zalbu: sounds like maybe a nut change could help you. From what you describe it could very well be your nut is cut too low for the strings you are using.
     

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