Price paid: £ 92
Purchased from: thomann.de
Features: This guitar was probably made around 2008/9, since I received it in late 2009. If wikipedia is to be believed, this guitar was made in china by the same manufacturer used by brands such as Ibanez, Epiphone and Peavey. It has 22 frets on a neck similar to that of an Ibanez wizard neck in design.
Overall it is a very good looking guitar, that suits a variety of heavy genres, in terms of its appearance, especially thrash metal. It is styled in the shape of a Jackson rr (and it has been mistaken for one by several people), and although its not a perfect match, it still has that evil appearance unique to offset v's.
The body is made of basswood and the bolt-on neck is made of maple, and it has a fixed tune-o-matic bridge. The two pick ups are perhaps its biggest weakness, being simple humbuckers that really don't want to growl. However, for 92, it is extremely good value for money. // 8
Sound: I play metal and rock, especially 1980s metal. This guitar certainly has the looks for metal, but unfortunately, not the greatest sound ever. I use it with both my Line 6 spider iv amp (which I hate), as well as my Line 6 pod ux1. For practicing and recording demos, its fine, since the pick ups can cope at lower volumes, but when it comes to playing live or at rehearsals, this guitar is not really quite good enough (especially if your drummer is incapable of playing at anything but as loud as he damned well can)
However, for beginners, this guitar would be ideal as the pickups are versatile and will cope with both clean tones as well as more distorted ones. I find adding a lot of gain also helps. Indeed, I accidently stumbled across a fantastic lead tone by turning up the gain and the volume on on of the channels on the spdier iv, and switching to the neck pickup and for a short while at least, it was my "dream tone", especially since it held out well at volume.
If you spent a fair bit on replacement pick ups, I'm sure the sound produced by this thing would be improved significantly, but the light woods used in making it are inevitably going to severely limit your levels of sound perfection. // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was set up perfectly when it arrived, with the action being exactly as I like it, suitable for reasonably fast intermediate level shredding. Whether or not this was just a stroke of luck remains to be seen, but if it wasn't, then this set up would probably suit the majority of guitarists. The only slight problem I had was a small chip at the bottom of the guitar, but it was barely noticeable and probably unavoidable considering it had travelled so far.
The guitar was overall very well made, and I have owned it for nearly a year now, and have never found any problems with it, despite very frequent use.
This guitar was intended to be an exciting looking back up to my Ibanez rg370dx, however, within a few weeks of owning it, it soon became my first choice guitar. It was so much better than the Ibanez it was hard to believe at first. The Harley Benton is extremely playable, and made to a similar Standard as the ibanez. Although it is almost 1/4 of the price of the ibanez, it is certainly not 1/4 of the guitar, in fact, I would be tempted to say it was the other way round. Indeed, when the Ibanez's edge iii floating tremolo system goes wrong (as it frequently does), I would say that the Harley Benton is without the better guitar. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I have used this guitar as my first choice guitar for several months now, taking it to live performances and band practices in preference to my Ibanez rg370dx, and it has certainly not let me down. Its remarkably tough, and I've certainly put it through the toughest of tests. Due to its low price, I was keen on using it as a stage guitar for really thrashing about...and it certainly is capable of surviving a bit of rough treatment.
The only problems I've ever had with the hardware was when I rather carelessly dropped it on a hard surface, causing the tone control to come off. Thanks to my rather hasty, inexperienced repair job, its never been sitting quite straight, but it still works fine. I've only ever broken 1 string on it, which is remarkable, considering I used to break strings at a shameful rate on my previous guitars. Recently, the input jack seems to be playing up, but this can be easily fixed by someone who has an idea what theyre doing.
I would take a back up to a gig, but only because I'm a bit paranoid about these things and will even take at least one back up guitar to band practices... this guitar has never let me down yet, despite some energetic performances (think of falling onto knees and rolling on back during solos, etc).
The finish has taking a bit of a battering on the corners, but I can't expect much different the way I've been playing it, and I'm sure a more sensible guitarist would find the finish lasts considerably longer. Overall, I find it to be a sturdy, tough guitar, more than capable of surviving surprisingly rough use. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall, I am stunned by this guitar's incredible value for money. 92 for something this good is frankly as good as it gets. I have heard other harley bentons are just as good value, and for anyone looking for either a beginner's guitar or a cheap, back up guitar, this guitar is ideal. Although you only pay 92 (and that includes shipping costs), you recieve a guitar which is easily as good as, if not noticeably better than guitars priced three or four times more.
For anyone into metal (especially thrash, but also other genres such as hard rock, hair metal and, if you must, nu-metal). I'm not sure if it will cope with anything heavier than drop C, but that doesnt't really bother me in particular. Obviously, being an offset v shape, its awkward to sit with, but I have coped so far.
Its versatile, and will cope with clean tones as well as more suitable distorted tones. It looks great and plays really well. What more could you ask for from a guitar which costs 92? // 10