HBL450 review by Harley Benton

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 5
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 7.6 Good
  • Users' score: 6 (28 votes)
Harley Benton: HBL450

Price paid: $ 160

Purchased from: jofogas.hu

Sound — 6
It sounds okay, without amp it's pretty well sounding. I only noticed some fret buzz on the 1st and 3rd frets of the low E string, but with some adjustments it can be corrigated. As for the amplified sound... Well the pickups just flat out suck. On clean tone it has a "kssh"-like sound wich is not that bad, it can't even be heard when you're strumming chords. The distortion is a-s... It has a loud and annoying "hkzzz" sound and even when playing it's bad. I got myself a noise gate to prevent this noise but that only made it worse. The pickup noise was gone but when I want to bend a string it frets out during the middle of the bend. Without the noise gate it's not a problem 'cus then I can bend well but with noise gate vibrato and bending... Forget them! So just choose your poison. I give it a 6 'cus if you replace the pickups it sounds actually pretty nice.

Overall Impression — 8
I normally play Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal, and I have to tell you: This is a very good choise for those who play heavy music (like rock, metal or powerballad). Also I tried playing blues and it's good for that too. The clean tone & the overdriven sounds are great, I'd recommend it for everyone that is into heavy music or blues. As I said, I own this guitar now for 8+ months and it's pretty good. I really had no other problem than the buzzing of the pickups. If it was stolen from me I'd rather buy an Epiphone Les Paul Special II (wich is about the same price category). I only chose this guitar 'cus I wanted a practise guitar fast and cheap. This really does the job. I just wish it had a better set of pickups. I give it an overall rating of 8. Remember, it's a cheap Les Paul copy so I won't handle it like it was the original.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar does stand live playing pretty well after replacing the pickups. I have played it live with my band and it was pretty good, even though I brought a backup, just in case it f--ks up during a solo or something. The hardware is not the best but it stands well enough. For some reason the tuners feel like they want to break while I'm tuning but that's probably only me again. To tell you the truth I wouldn't use it on a gig without backup. I always say I need backup not only with this guitar but even with more decent guitars. As for the finish, it's good. While we were playing live someone threw a coin at it and the finishing didn't even get scratched. I also dropped it once but it stood it. There still are no problems with the look and I own this guitar for 8+ months now. I'll give this a 10. It's flawless.

Action, Fit & Finish — 5
The guitar wasn't really set up well, even though I think it was tuned (to 2 step down tuning). The original strings were really stiff and not that good. When I bought the guitar I instantly went to the closest music store to buy a set of strings 'cus I felt that these string won't last long. It turns out I was right, I tuned the guitar to E standard, started playing and at the 2nd bend the B string broke and cut my right arm. I replaced the whole set of strings with D'Addario 10-52 gauge heavy bottom strings. Now it's awesome. As for the pickup state... All the volume knobs were set to 0 (wich means the pickups were muted). I cranked up both pickups to ~3 but still no sound came out of my amp. I found out that under ~5 the pickups are muted. This is not good. That's just cheap knobs. I'll have to replace them in the near future. I'll give it an overall 5, the factory setup was heavily flawed and really bad.

Features — 9
I found this guitar to be pretty good as far as construction goes. Rosewood fingerboard, maple neck... It's all good. I found it a bit heavy but that's probably only me. As for the electronics - it has two metal covered humbuckers (more about them in "sound") and non-locking tuners. The intonation is okay, but the low E and the B strings are always a bit detuned, doesn't matter how many times you tune them, they're always a bit sharp. Considering that this is a really cheap guitar, featurewise I give it a 9, only 'cus of the bad pickups.

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