MS15 Review

manufacturer: Harley Benton date: 01/14/2013 category: Electric Guitars
Harley Benton: MS15
It's an exact copy of the originalin shape and sound at a superprice, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, 3 single coil pickups, vintage type tremolo, 1 volume, 2 tone controls, 5-way switch, chrome hardware.
 Sound: 7.3
 Overall Impression: 7.7
 Reliability & Durability: 8
 Action, Fit & Finish: 6.9
 Features: 7.4
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (7) pictures (3) 11 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.4
MS15 Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 19, 2005
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 126

Purchased from: Thomann

Features: I bought this one a few months ago. It was included in a beginners set (MS15BK, small amp and gigbag). The guitar is a typical Strat-like one with 3 single coil pickups (passive electronics) and a standard bridge (I think it's called "Tune-O-Matic"). The neck is screwed. There are two tone-controls. However, one of them don't seem to make any sound differences. // 8

Sound: A five-way selector gives abilities to produce a lot of different sound-schemes from distortion-crying AC/DC to nice warm blues sounds. The pickups are ok, but sound a bit noisy when near any electronical source like a TV or computer monitor. But this is a single-coil typical problem I think. Using the standard strings delivered whith this guitar, it sounded a bit "muddy" and "dirty". I changed them and took a set of "Ernie Balls regulary slinky" instead. And it sounds great now! Really nice. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: I couldn't find any flaws yet. It's all set-up properly and clean. Well, the lacquer finish isn't that good. but you have to take a very close look to find anything like that what means: someone standing a few steps away wouldn't notice anything. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Well, I don't have this guitar that long, but it looks very solid and professionell to me. If I would have played that one at a music-store and would have seen that prize, I would have thought it might be a mistake of some employee or something like that. // 8

Overall Impression: I'm really impressed of that guitar. The MS15 proofed that good instruments don't need to cost a lot. I like that warm sound and the lightness of the guitars body. But you should change the strings and use another amp. The Benton one isn't that good. // 8

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overall: 9.2
MS15 Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 03, 2005
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 110.88

Purchased from: Thomann (

Features: This guitar was made in 2002 in Japan. It's a real Strat copy with three single coils. A 5 way Switch, 2 tone and 1 volume control. It also has a Vintage tremolo, which you should change, because you soon wil break the tremolo arm. The guitar omes without any accessoirs, but when you pay 40 euro more you will get an amp, a cord, picks etc. The neck is palisander and the body is ahorn (I don't know the english names). // 8

Sound: The sound is awesome! I play it through a Roland 30 Cube with the Metal Stack and it's just great with full gain you can create a Rammstein sound at lower gain (about 6 or 7) you can get the sound of the classic rockbands. Also clean this guitar sounds great. I always play my lead sounds with the bridge single coil and my solos with the neck single coil. You can also create the sound of Guns N'Roses Sweet Child O' Mine, when you turn the tone controls to 5 and use the neck pickup, or get an AC/DC sound by switching to the bridge pickup and middle pickup (make it a humbucker) turn up volume and tone. // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: The pickups were all set right. I play them like I got it. The tuners are awesome! You tune them use the tremolo bar and after 3 months they detune the first time. The only flaw was the broken tremolo bar, and the head of the 5 way Switch always flys of, but thats no problem I think. // 8

Reliability & Durability: I have dropped the guitar a hundred times and it still sounds good. it's a bit heavy and during a 1 or 2 hour live show you will get problems with your back. But I would play live shows with it cause it's just a great guitar. I always make great shows with the guitar, turn round my head or something. // 10

Overall Impression: Great! // 10

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overall: 6.6
MS15 Reviewed by: unregistered, on september 27, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 138.6

Features: Got this guitar nearly six months ago and played it since then almost every day. As already mentioned it has a Strat like body, 22 frets, 3 single coil pickups, a 5-way Switch, 2 tone and 1 volume control. The vintage tremolo works fine but as expected it detunes the guitar pretty fast. The tuning mechanics aren't very durable so you'll have to fine tune it very often. Unfortunately one of the tone controlls doesn't seem to work. // 6

Sound: I usually play metal/rock/punk and sometimes several other styles. With it's "out of the box" strings it really didn't handle any of that pretty good. Especially droped down tuning made this guitar sound very noisy and, well you know. After I installed some "Rider dropped D-Stings" everything sounds fine, could still be better but it's far better than with the Standard strings. And as with most single coil pickups don't dare to get too close to your amp or any other magnetic source. On a clean channel it sounds really nice and warm, the dissortion however is somewhat noisy no matter what you do with your tune and volume controlls. // 5

Action, Fit & Finish: Okay the finish really looks tasty. Mine doesn't have any flaws. The pickups were adjusted just as good as you can expect and everything else was alright. I took it out of the box and after some fine tuning it was ready for some action (besides the crappy strings mentioned above). The neck allows for some good playing, not as fast as on an Ibanez and not as straight to the spot like on a SG but it does the job quite well. // 8

Reliability & Durability: Well no matter how cheap it's price might be it sure can take a punch. I dropped it a few times and it still doesn't have any scratch. The tuning mechanics however do not look like they would last forever. The string strap also needed some adjustments (strap knobs were far too small). I usually use it for practise (you really can shred on it without being afraid of breaking something) and as a backup guitar. I doubt that I would use it as main guitar for gigs but I'm sure if I ever need a backup, that this guitar will do the job. // 8

Overall Impression: Well all in all it's a nice beginners and "have some fun without being afraid of breaking it" guitar. I really like how you can do a lot of nice stuff with it. Depending on what style of music you play you should consider changing it's strings. However it's no guitar for melodic, fast and or precise playing. The hardware just isn't good enough to handle every style of playing. If it would get stolen well I think I wouldn't buy it again. It's not good enough for that. If you can afford to spend a little more money, get yourself a cheap Epiphone that would give you far better hardware. // 6

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overall: 6.2
MS15 Reviewed by: noouch, on november 29, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 94.5

Purchased from: Thomann

Features: This is a pretty accurate Strat clone. It comes with three no-name single-coil pickups with a 5-way selector for switching configurations. It's a bit soft, but not mushy, you can still feel a pronounced 'click' when you switch. The body is maple, with a screwed-on rosewood neck. It's got a nice shiny black finish and a white pick guard (would have preferred white on white, but it wasn't in stock). The rest is what you would expect from a Strat clone: Strat-style tremolo, volume and two tone pots, slap some cheap tuners on it and call it done. // 7

Sound: I've only tried it with practice amps so far, and haven't really been disappointed. The pickups are a bit noisy as you would expect from single-coils, but two of the 5-way Switch positions seem to be with one of the two pickups' phase inverted, which cancels a lot of electrical noise. I haven't changed the strings yet, so I believe it could sound brighter, but the sound still has a bright, twangy attack to it. I guess it would be nice for funk or blues, although I don't really play those styles. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: One of the first things I did when I got this was properly set up the intonation, it was off quite a bit when I got it. The pickups and action didn't need any adjusting at all so far. The overall finish impression is slick, smooth and shiny, although the neck finish is a bit splotchy in some places, and the black body has a small white spot on the back side. A couple of screws around the pick guard have rough edges that are easily remedied with a steel file. // 5

Reliability & Durability: I haven't tried it Live, but it seems like it could withstand live playing just fine. Maybe not for years, but at least for enough gigs to make money to afford something better. If you do play it Live though, I'd suggest changing the strap buttons, the stock ones are a bit small and the strap has been said to slip off unexpectedly. If I played Live, this would be my backup at a gig, I don't think I'd be able to rely on it for everyday bashing and thrashing. One noteable flaw: You can't use the tremolo without the entire thing going out of tune. I removed the tremolo arm and haven't used it since. Even when the bridge was static, it took several weeks for the strings to fully settle, until then I had to tune it once every 30 minutes. // 6

Overall Impression: I mostly play music between classic rock and metal. I prefer my Ibanez RG321 for this, mostly because it's a bit lighter, nicer, and has jumbo frets (the Harley Benton's frets are a bit too thin for my admittedly rather sloppy playing style). I bought this as a cheap practice guitar for when I'm away from home, and it's done that duty quite well. I expected almost nothing from it, and only bought it because it was the cheapest damn guitar on the list, and I got more than I hoped for. If this were stolen or lost, I'd probably buy a different cheapo imitation with a fixed bridge and a nicer look to it (the black Strat body with white pick guard isn't that nice in my opinion), probably a HBS580WR or similar. I just wish it had bigger frets, and that the second tone pot actually had a more noticeable effect. // 6

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overall: 8.2
MS15 Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 15, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 79

Purchased from: Thomann Cyberstore (

Features: First of all I want to start off by saying that I have heard a lot of negative comments about the Harley Benton guitars from a lot of guitar players all around the world but we have been playing this guitar in our band for almost 6 years now and never had any major problems with it. This particular guitar features a bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fretboard holding the 22 medium sized frets. The body itself has the typical Strat style looks and is probably made out of plywood, no solid wood, which in this particular price category is understandable. The bridge is string through body with a Vintage style tremolo system which actually holds the tune pretty well if you do not overuse the tremolo. The tremolo itself is of pretty good quality for an instrument this cheap but again: do not overuse it. You most likely should not try anything even close to a divebomb because that would kill the tremolo (and the tremolo arm too). On the Harley Benton MS15BK we find 3 passive single coil pickups, which again are pretty good for a beginners guitar. We have 1 volume and 2 tone controls and a 5-way selector switch, which is pretty good because in position 2 and 4 the single coils act reverse wound, meaning that most of the single coil typical hum is eliminated to you get a mostly hum-free Strat sound. Again, for this price category, do not expect any high-end pickups, though Harley Benton produces their budget single-coils and humbuckers in cooperation with Shadow Electronics. // 8

Sound: Okay, we're getting down to what really matters when you get a guitar: the sound. For me as a friend of classic rock, 77'Punk and Indie the Harley Benton MS15BK has fullfilled the sound requirements entirely. I mostly play it with the bridge and middle pickup selected, giving it a nice and warm crunchy sound. But this selection is also being used for most of the clean sounds I need when recording. The only thing with the Harley Benton MS15BK is that you need the right amp and the right settings to really make it shine. I'm using it with a Line6 Spider III 15 and with this one it really sounds good. One thing I have to say goes out to the metal players. Save the money and get a guitar with humbuckers from a little higher price segment. You will not regret it because the single coil sound on this particular guitar becomes really muddy and unusable on high gain settings. // 7

Action, Fit & Finish: The finish was all good, no scratches and things. I only discovered 3 minor problems. The fretwire from 3rd to 5th fret was not filed that well, so I fixed that. The middle and neck pickups sounded a little too bassy for me so I lowered them a little bit, which fixed that problem and the third thing was the strings being set up a little too high for my playing style but again: no problem, just lowered them a bit on the bridge and everything was fine. Oh, before I forget, and this is IMPORTANT: DO NOT use the factory strings as they are crap. Better invest a tiny amount of money to get Ernie Ball Super Slinky strings or something like that. You will notice that better strings get you a better sound. And as a recommendation do not use any.10's or.11's on this guitar because I can guarantee you that the sound becomes too bassy very easy then. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This guitar definately is durable. It got dropped various times, it got stored in an ice cold cellar all winter long, we accidently dropped a full bottle of coke on it and it still works. I would say as long as you don't smash it on stage, it won't break. The hardware also seems quite durable. As I said in the beginnig, our band has been playing this guitar for almost 6 years now and be assured, we haven't treated it very well. The tremolo still works like a charm and the single coils sound like they did on the day we got it. I probably would have a backup guitar with me if I played live because you never know what could happen, though I guess it would withstand any gig without problems. // 9

Overall Impression: My overall impression of this guitar is very very positive. If it got stolen/lost, I'd probably buy it again because I love the fact that this one has a character. I've been playing a lot of original Gibsons and Fenders that my friends own and they all sounded perfectly sterile. This one hums a little bit here and there but I love it. To me it's a great beginners and practicing guitar. // 9

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overall: 8.6
MS15 Reviewed by: xlog, on october 04, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 98

Purchased from:

Features: I don't know which year it was made, it's certainly from Japan. Stratocaster with maple neck with rosewood fretboard, 22 frets, 3 passive single coil pickups, Vintage type tremolo, 1 volume & 2 tone controls, 5-way pickup selector switch, chrome hardware and it's black. I've bought it in a set with the amp Harley Benton 10G, a gigbag, strap, plectrums, and a cable. // 9

Sound: I've played many style through the 2 years learning guitar. It was my first guitar, I've bought a new one but it's still alive and it's an amazing guitar for a beginner. You can play Rock, Punk, also classic, and a little of blues. I've played it with the amp sold with it, sound kinda good but with a DigiTech RP155 it sound a lot of better. Clear sounds are bright, pure, rock is good also, the problem is the pickup which doesn't suit for metal it sound noisy but it's very good for a very low priced guitar. It sound good with all tuning Standard to Drop Bb maybe a little slack in the lowest Drop. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar is great to learn the guitar at your rhythm, the guitar fit any style. The jack input has a nut which doesn't stand in place, and the connection has broke up, 2 or 3 weld to fix the problem and all works perfectly, not hard to do at all. The bridge doesn't support .11 strings in Standard you need to add additional springs. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I've never played a gig with, but the guitar is very, very, very resistant it will last for at least 4years. It's a very good investment for a beginner but I think it will doesn't handle a gig, at high volume I think it will sound really too noisy. Overall the guitar is great nothing to say, it's ok to play with sitting or standing, maybe the guitar is a little too heavy. // 10

Overall Impression: I play a lot of metal, a little of rock and sometimes clear sounds. The guitar fit all the styles more or less easily. It sound bright in clear sound, a little noisy with rock, and a lot in metal but its great for a guitar like that. It never disappointed me in 2 years of playing, and I doesn't regret this guitar or brand which is very good for the price. This guitar has defaults certainly due to it's hardware and other stuff but who cares about that, for the price if your a beginner or looking for a guitar to train with and play in Drop etc, it's a very good choice. // 10

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overall: 5
MS15 Reviewed by: schmidigonzales, on january 14, 2013
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 100

Purchased from: Thomann

Features: This Strat-like guitar was made around 2002 most likely somewhere in Asia with 22 frets, three single coil pickups and a five way switch. It has some kind of Vintage tremolo. There is a volume control and two tone controls. Mine was all black with a white pickguard which was covered by a thin plastic film which is almost impossible to remove cleanly. The body is laminated while the neck is maple with a palisander fretboard. The neck is attached with 4 screws. It came in a bundle with bag, cable and Fender Frontman 10W Amp. // 6

Sound: The pickups are all *really* noise and sound very sterile. You can get interesting sounds out of this guitar but nothing that could described as warm or smooth. If you are using the combined positions of the pickup switch the sound a bit less noisy and more acceptable to play. The neck pickup is good for clean sounds while the bridge pickup would be great for solos but is so noisy that it's really hard to use. One of the two tone buttons doesn't make much difference, the other one does but there is no real warm setting. With a better amp the sound gets near to acceptable for the clean and the high-gain settings but you never get a good crunchy sound. // 4

Action, Fit & Finish: Mine came with a broken cable inside but a bit of soldering helped. In general you see that this one was produced cheap but things are working and it does have a decent look as long as you don't start disassembling - inside it looks pretty horrible. Forget about the tremolo though because it *will* destroy your tuning. In general it detunes rather fast while playing. Compared to my Yamaha Pacifica and some others (~300$ range) I played over time the playability isn't too bad but bending is definitely harder and I killed a couple of string while bending on this one. // 5

Reliability & Durability: This is not a guitar you would use on stage, well, maybe as backup if you have nothing else. Cabeling and soldering is rather weak and could cause problems. I had to fix mine once or quite (just using it for practicing). Mechanically it is rather impossible to destroy this thing as it is really solid. If have this for 10 years now without handling it very softly and there is not much of scratches you can see on it. You shouldn't open and close the screws to often though as they will become loose at some point. // 5

Overall Impression: This is a good starter guitar, not more, not less. I would probably buy one with a humbucker instead now to be able to play with more gain without the brutal noise of the cheap single-coils. But as this will be the first electric guitar for most people you never know it advance. If you stick to playing electric guitar you will get something around the 300$ (or more) range in two or three years and otherwise you didn't loose that much money. It's probably better to get one of these instead of spending 150-200$ for a guitar that won't bring you much further either. // 5

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