Harley Benton SC-550 ii gotoh PAF

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JamesC01JamesC01 Frets: 11
edited December 2023 in Guitar Reviews
I just got this guitar, and wanted to make a list of positives and negatives about it. This is what I came up with. It costed £280.

Positives:

-Looks quite beautiful
-Feels quite good to play, set up fairly well, easy to bend and play barre chords
-Sounds good
-Stainless steel frets that will last a long time and feel quite nice
-Mostly good tuners that seem to stay in tune (except for one)
-Lovely gloss finish
-Binding looks nice, not perfect, but acceptable for the price
-Lightweight, but not too light (lighter than a yamaha pacifica 112v)
-No sharp frets (apart from ones that are mildly sharp from frets 18-22 at the top of the neck, where you can't reach)
-Good intonation out of the box
-Pau ferro fingerboard looks quite nice, but could use some oil
-Switch and knobs feel decent
-Neck feels good

Negatives:

-Truss rod cover isn't tightened, and the screw head looks almost stripped (causes buzzing on certain notes) (easy fix)
-Inlays on headstock are off centre
-One tuner feels a bit loose in a certain range, making it easier to go out of tune when bending
-Could've probably put a graphtek on it for the price (they're only £13 RRP)
-One strap button is tilted a bit wrong, but feels strong
-Not the most comfortable to hold, digs into a bit (but that's just les pauls)
-Bridge pickup mount doesn't follow the arch correctly
-One of the screws on the electronics cover won't tighten properly after I undid it, but doesn't fall out
-Back of the guitar is stained darker than I would like, I was hoping for a more red-brown, rather than black
-Some frets look a little unpolished near the lower frets, where you're less likely to bend
  -The pickup switch is not centred properly
  -Fret dots are off-centre on some frets, but they're close enough

It's quite nice for the price. There's lots of little issues, but none of them really affect the playability, and most can be fixed, other than the headstock and fret dot inlays being off centre. I think it's probably good value for money, especially considering all of the extra things, like binding, flame maple veneer, etc. I will definitely be considering a Harley Benton as my next guitar, but I'd rather check out the cheaper ones, because the price of this guitar is definitely inflated due to the flame maple and binding, so if you aren't obsessed about looks, getting one without those can probably save you quite a bit of money. For example, the SC-DLX costs £60 less (£222), but has better bridge, better nut (graphtek tusq), but the finish is a simple solid colour. The cheaper telecasters look quite nice (TE-62) and if you replaced the tuners and maybe the switch (I've heard it's a bit flimsy), you'd probably have a really solid guitar for the price.

Overall, it's obviously not the same quality as something near £1000, and won't have the same level of quality control, but it seems like a solid guitar and I'm quite happy with it!

Here's some photos showing the guitar, and the off-centre headstock inlay and off-centre rhythm/treble pickup switch: https://imgur.com/a/cNFx2Z4
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Comments

  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 12070
    I've tried over 10 of their models
    The top of the cheap range, e.g. TE62 are not as well made as the sc550
    they all need a full setup, fret polishing etc, some you have to return for free replacement.

    Once setup though, they are as good as any cheap tele / strat
    I think they are a little heavier than usual though

    The CST24 are very good value, but almost all Harley Benton HB pickups are too mid-heavy on the  neck, too thin on the bridge
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  • Dave_McDave_Mc Frets: 2389
    The CST24 are very good value, but almost all Harley Benton HB pickups are too mid-heavy on the  neck, too thin on the bridge
    I'm thinking that's the Roswells? That's my experience too with them. They're pretty decent pickups, especially for cheap, and would work well individually with a different pickup in the other position- either a much fatter bridge pickup, or a much leaner neck pickup. Just together they're a bit mismatched for some reason, as you said.
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  • JamesC01 said:

    The cheaper telecasters look quite nice (TE-62) and if you replaced the tuners and maybe the switch (I've heard it's a bit flimsy), you'd probably have a really solid guitar for the price.
    I have one of their TE-52s, which I bought in 2021 for 136 quid (plus 8 quid to ship it). I immediately swapped the neck pick up for a PAF (had to rout out the cavity to do that), added copper shielding in the cavities, stuck some better tuners on it and refinished it in a worn green colour. It is now a better guitar than my early Nineties Fender Telecaster. The only downside to it is that it is pretty heavy for a Telecaster, other than that it's a great guitar which can be strung either toploaded or string through:

    https://i.imgur.com/nOhln0N.jpg
    My youtube music channel is here My youtube aviation channel is here
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  • PennPenn Frets: 662

    Looks good for the money to me. 
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