Harley Benton - CST-24 Guitar Kit Build

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by ACD, May 14, 2020.

  1. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    Hi All,

    It's been a very long time since I've done a guitar refinish (for anyone who's interested the thread on my last build is here https://www.sevenstring.org/threads/ibanez-sz-refinish.274337/).

    This time around I've decided to go with a kit build and landed on the Harley Benton CST-24 kit:

    https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_electric_guitar_kit_cst_24.htm

    There's literally no reviews or posts on this specific kit that I found online so I thought that documenting my process (including any comments I have on the kit in general) might be helpful for someone who is considering one. You guys we're also very helpful last time around and I'm open to any and all comments, criticisms, and suggestions as I move through this process.

    For anyone who's wondering why I chose this specific kit, key reasons are as follows:

    1. I like the PRS guitar style but did not want a kit that had a rip-off headstock or bird inlays (ie: I was looking for something that had a PRS style but doesn't look like a total PRS Ripoff.
    2. I wanted a cheap kit that I can upgrade, learn more about setups etc., without worrying about destroying something more expensive.
    3. Recognizing that I'll probably end up having way more into this than its worth, my goal is to end up with a half decent player.

    The kit arrived today, more details to follow with my initial impressions in the next post!
     
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  2. NickS

    NickS Rocket Surgeon

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    Interesting, definitely cheap enough that I would probably not use any of the hardware or electronics and just use the body and neck. Do you know what wood the body is? Last time I checked "Solid Wood" is not actually a real species.....
     
  3. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    Some initial off the cuff comments on the kit right out of the box (I have not yet gone through the whole thing in detail so these are my initial impressions only):

    1. Overall the kit is well machined. Routing appears to be done well, no divots or deep machining marks, binding looks good. The quality of the workmanship out of the box (as it comes to the wood) exceeded my expectations.
    2. Note: this body comes with sanding sealer applied, so if you want to do a dye finish you will need to sand it back. I will be doing a black gloss finish on the top, and natural finish on the sides and back so I will not be sanding the sealer back.
    3. The neck comes with a thin layer of satin lacquer applied. This does not require any additional finishing and can be left as-is (as it comes to finishing). I liked the way it felt out of the box and will be leaving it as-is.
    4. The neck was straight out of the box, with no sharp frets. Frets will definitely need a polish, fingerboard is a little dry and will need some lemon oil.
    5. The fit of the neck into the neck pocked of the body appears to be spot on.
    6. The neck is made of maple. The Harley Benton body on the website is described as being made of wood (kind of suspect lol but I took a chance on it). I inquired with Harley Benton and they confirmed that the body is Poplar. I'm good with this.
    7. If you're planning on really playing this I think much of the hardware is likely throwaway (for a kit of this price this was my expectation). Pickups may be fine for you but at first blush the tuners at least don't seem serviceable. I plan on upgrading tuners (I have an old set from a PRS SE that I'll be using for now), pickups, electronics/pots/jack/wiring, nut (tusq), more on bridge below.
    8. The guitar is supposed to come with a one-piece wraparound bridge (non-inotatable). My kit, however, came with only the stoptail piece of a two-piece TOM style bridge (a packing error). I've e-mailed Thomann/Harley Benton about this so I'll see what they come back with. Ultimately I'll likely end up upgrading.
    9. The kit was packed well for shipping. This thing got bounced around a fair bit on its way to me in Canada and arrived in good shape.

    Other than the bridge issue, I'm pretty happy with the kit overall out of the box. Even with the $100CAD of duties and shipping I paid I would still consider this to be a great deal (and even more of a deal if you're buying one from Thomann in Europe. This is my first time ordering anything from Thomann and their customer service has been good so far so hopefully they will resolve the bridge issue (will let you guys know what happens). Pics right out of the box are attached.

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    Last edited: May 14, 2020
  4. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    Agreed. The body wood is Poplar. I have no idea why they don't specify on the website, I had to ask customer service.
     
  5. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

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    It lets them switch it to something else without having to update anything, and eliminates liability for mis-reporting the wood if they switched to, say, something local and plentiful that shares a lot of poplar's characteristics that the rest of the world may not have heard of. Also, at low price points, margin is slim, so if they can get a good deal on a shipment of alder vs poplar, or basswood, or something similar, they can use it rather than having to re-price, etc etc.
     
  6. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    [​IMG]I'm not sure if the images embedded above are showing up. If not (please let me know) and here are the links:

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    Last edited: May 14, 2020
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  7. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    That looks absolutely fantastic.
     
  8. Ivars V

    Ivars V SS.org Regular

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    My mate built their SG kit and was really impressed with it. Good luck on the project!
     
  9. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    I'm waiting on some supplies to get delivered to get started on the Body. Since the neck is already finished from the factory (In a way that I am happy with) I decided to get a head start on that today. Here's what I've done so far and a few comments:

    1. I replaced the plastic nut with a graphite Tusq nut. I'm a little concerned about buzzing near the nut as the nut slot was very deep. We'll see how things stand once I get the guitar set up and will adjust from there.
    2. The fret board was kind of dusty/dirty from the factory and there were some streaks/marks on the binding to clean Up. I've scraped the binding, cleaned/oiled the fret board and polished the frets. There appear to be a few minor blemishes and scratches on the fret board near where some of the inlays were installed. This is barely noticeable unless you're looking for it but I thought I would mention it nonetheless. I've posted before and after pictures.
    3. I've installed tuners. I had a set of tuners from a PRS SE leftover from an upgrade on another guitar so I have used those (the ones with the kit do not seem serviceable and I would strongly recommend upgrading them for anyone who is considering this kit). Leaving the truss rod cover off for now. I'm on the fence about replacing this with an aftermarket cover with some type of inlay on it.
    4. Once I installed the tuners I had some concerns about where the holes had been drilled as it looked like some of the strings might touch an adjacent tuner! I've sighted down the neck and while its tight I don't think this will be an issue (phew).

    Comments, questions, and suggestions all welcome! I'm still waiting to hear back from Thomann/Harley Benton on the bridge issue.

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    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  10. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    I double checked. The nut is definitely too low. I am going to shim and re-install.
     
  11. JimF

    JimF SS.org Regular

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    Following! Their kits are great value if they turn out playable, less than $100 for a bass! Cheaper than building it from scratch!
     
  12. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    I think the images aren't working for some reason. Trying again.

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  13. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    I've got some of my paint delivered, and the balance of my finishing supplies should be arriving on Friday. In the interim here's a rundown of what else I'm planning to add achieve here:
    - I'm going to go with a Dimarzio Super Distortion in the neck and an Air Norton in the Bridge. I'm usually a Duncan guy but thought I would try these out for this build. I haven't ordered electronics yet but will be including a coil tap as well.
    - I ordered a Gotoh wraparound bridge (510UB). Also on the bridge issue I've now heard back from Thomann. Due to the mistake in the order they've offered me a partial credit. Excellent customer service here and I am very happy. I was a little apprehensive originally about ordering from a European supplier but these guys have been awesome to deal with. Would order from them again without hesitation.
    - For the finish I'm planning on going with a gloss black top with natural back and neck. Here's an example of what I'm going for (except mine will be gloss instead of satin).

    [​IMG]


    As always any comments are welcome!
     
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  14. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    Yeah Thomann are stellar. Glad the bridge error got resolved and youre happy.

    This direction for the project is killer. I love the black/Natural combo you are aiming for !

    Look forward to seeing this progress dude.
     
  15. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    Cool, I've always been interested in these kits but I was always hesistant because the possibly (or likely) poor qaulity.

    Looking forward to see this thing become a guitar.
     
  16. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    a heads up too @ACD , I saw on an Harley Benton FB group that someone had an issue with their kit like this one, where the fretboard had been dyed black and it was not only badly done (streaky) but also coming off easy presumably with oil or any other fretboard maintenance product he used.

    Might have to somehow how seal the board to keep that stain on there if you too have some issues.
     
  17. JimF

    JimF SS.org Regular

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    Interestingly, I was researching their basses and people were consistently saying that with both the kits and the other HB instruments, they are significantly better than the price would suggest.

    Also, I LOVE that finish idea. Especially with the binding!
     
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  18. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the heads up on here. It's hard to tell but I wouldn't be surprised if the fret board is dyed (If it is dyed they did a pretty decent job on mine). When I cleaned it, I also used lemon oil on the board and didn't have any dye or other residue come off of it. I've also just checked again and rubbed it a few times with my hands and nothing is coming off. For the time being it looks like I'm not having this same issue but it is certainly something I will keep in mind as I move forward.
     
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  19. lewis

    lewis SS.org Regular

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    no problem mate

    glad yours is fine :)
     
  20. ACD

    ACD SS.org Regular

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    Some more updates! I've been working on the body this weekend. I've applied a primer coat using automotive filler primer. I applied 5-6 coats and then wet sanded the final coat with 320 grit. This primer did a great job of filling in the grain and providing a solid base for the gloss coat. I'm very happy with how this stage turned out and am hoping to start hitting the top with color tomorrow!

    This kit did have some very minor nicks in the top and a couple of very minor gaps in some places between the body and the binding. Again these were very small and easily dealt with for my purposes but may cause an issue for anyone who might be thinking of doing a clear top finish on this guitar kit.

    Ready for paint:
    [​IMG]

    Grain filled and primer complete:
    [​IMG]
     
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