HBL450 review by Harley Benton

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 6 (28 votes)
Harley Benton: HBL450

Price paid: € 150

Purchased from: thomann.de

Sound — 7
This guitar suits my needs, I play Rock, Metal, Punk and Hardcore (Metallica, Black Sabbath, Stiff Little Fingers, Biohazard and many others). It has a surprisingly good clean sound, really fat and defined, when used with distortion it sounds good, the pick-ups do a nice job, though they do not have the smoothness or aggression from the high pick-ups like Seymour Duncan or EMG, but again they won't let you down. I have a Vox VT30 amp at home and another small practice amp and I use this guitar with following pedals, Danelectro Cool Cat chorus, Joyo Flanger, T-Rex Tremonti Phaser and a booster from EHX. I've already tried the guitar with some better amps, Laney Lion Heart 20 and Orange Tinny Terror and my impression was the same (though it sounded much on these amps, as it was expected), nice clean sounds and good, but not amazing distorted/lead sounds. Overall a nice guitar to play where you can cover much ground with it.

Overall Impression — 8
As I said, I am more of rock player and this guitar suits my needs, it is a nice overall guitar. I have been playing for about 10 years and I own another guitar which I do not know its brand. To summarize, I am very pleased with this guitar and for the price I have paid there is nothing to complain about it. If it was stolen I would buy it again. If you are looking for a decent guitar without spending a fortune this one is a nice option, though I must highlight this not a Lag, Gibson or ESP guitar but again it costs about 10% of one of the high end guitars. Good value for the money.

Reliability & Durability — 7
The guitar seems to be really well built, it has way heavy and there is nothing shaking on it, the hardware is firmly attached to the body, so until now I had no problem at all, it holds well the tuning and the hardware seems reliable. I believe that this guitar can last for a good time. The strap buttons are average, not very good neither bad. I do not have a band, but if I had a band and I had to play live I would use the guitar. About the finishing it does not seem to be thin and it seems capable to handle some really heavy use.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar came with an acceptable setup, I just had to do some tweaking here and there to adjust to setup according my preferences, like lowering the action a little bit. The guitar has a small flaw on the nut but I was able to fix it and it does not bother me that much because later on I will replace the nut with a better. The other flaw was on the painting where I can see some areas on the back and near the neck joint that were painted in a rush and some flaws on painting are detected but not a deal breaker. The rest is alright, everything works well and does not have any problem.

Features — 8
No information about the year that it was made and neither about the place (but I believe that it was made in China). LP-style, mahogany body, flamed "AAA"-grade maple top, set-in mahogany neck, thomann C-shape, 628 mm scale, 43mm nut width, rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, MoP trapez fretboard inlays, body and neck binding, double action trussrod, 2x Wilkinson Alnico V MWCHB humbucker pickups, 3-way toggle, 2x volume control, 2x tone control, Kluson-style tuning machines, deluxe chrome hardware. This feature what I wanted/expected. So there is nothing more to say.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Let's not all pretend that we know what we're talking about when it comes to pickups and 'sound' -- It's all subjective and relative. For example, I firmly believe that Slash's signature sound is flat and not enough 'umph' .. but that's just me. This guitar is good enough for what you are paying for PARTICULARLY for beginners since they won't be able to tell the difference from a more expensive guitar, if this is in fact, their first instrument. I still don't see the value of spending 500 euros on pickups - If you want to get really in-depth; you'd still have to change the nut, the pots, the tuners, maybe even the bridge and still would get you somewhere close to a medium-range Les Paul and not a complete replacement to a Gibson USA made Les Paul. So if you really want to 'pimp' this guitar, you're better served saving up a little more and get a real Les Paul and leave this guitar as is: A practice guitar that you can take with you anywhere and if it gets dented or scratched or even stolen, it won't make a difference one iota.
    I've had one of these guitars for just over a year now. The body is one piece solid mahogany with a maple top. Looks gorgeous. Contrary to earlier comments I think the Wilkinson humbuckers compliment it perfectly. They have a slightly dirty but very thick sound. I liked the sound so much that I reworked my Squier Strat with a set of Wilkinson hot classic single coils. Wonderfully grungy. My band's guitar player (I'm the bassist) has a 1970's Gibson Les Paul - in his view this is the best copy he has played, albeit the Wilkinsons are not capable of being quite as rounded as the real thing. The only change I will make, when I can get around to it, is to replace the pots with better ones: some of the soldering is a bit dodgy. Other than that this is one of the bargains of our time.