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Harley Benton CST-24HB TOL Tobacco Flame

128

Electric Guitar

  • Chambered body
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Top: Flamed maple
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Neck attachment: Set-in
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro
  • Neck profile: C
  • Fretboard radius: 350 mm
  • Frets: 24 Medium
  • Scale: 635 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Body binding: Ivory-coloured
  • Fretboard inlays: Tree-of-Life design, mother-of-pearl
  • Nut: ABS
  • Pickups: 2 Roswell LAF AlNiCo-5 humbuckers
  • 3-Way switch
  • Controls: Master volume, master tone with push/pull-function for coil split
  • Hardware: Deluxe chrome
  • Bridge: Wraparound
  • Machine heads: Deluxe diecast
  • Colour: Tobacco Sunburst High-Gloss
Body Mahogany
Top Maple
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Pau Ferro
Frets 24
Scale 635 mm
Pickups HH
Tremolo No
Incl. Case No
Incl. Bag No
available since August 2014
Item number 339364
$266
The shipping costs are calculated on the checkout page.
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Available immediately

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38 Sales Rank
L
Embarrassingly Good
Lestercaster 13.05.2020
Judging by my 3/2020 purchase, this is a great value, and a beautifully built instrument. Of the 4–5 semihollow guitars I've owned, this is the only one I've really loved, and wanted to play all the time.

Like the U.S.-made guitar that inspired it, it has nice acoustic chime, especially on chords, but also enough sustain on single-note lines to satisfy a solidbody player like me. Just don't expect this comfortable, compact body to sound as deep as a larger, more cumbersome ES-335–style guitar.

A few details I couldn't verify from other reviews: The top is nicely arched (not beveled), with arched fingers extending to the horns. The flame-maple veneer on my copy is almost bookmatched. The mahogany back also has some nice figuring under the deep stain, also almost bookmatched.

It looks like a 2-piece back, and I assume that both the back and the maple top are solid/carved wood. From another review, I learned that the center block and the mahogany rims are separate pieces of wood. So this is assembled like a 335, but (presumably) from solid wood pieces.

The neck is 3 pieces of mahogany, joined lengthwise, and stamped "Made in Vietnam." Given those details, and the improved quality control this copy suggests, I'm guessing that Thomann is now building them in the same Vietnamese factory that ESP uses for its LTD range. (I've played 5–6 EC-256's, including the one I own, and the build quality has been beautifully consistent across all of them.)

Unlike some reviews I've seen of earlier builds, the tree-of-life inlays on my copy are perfectly cut. They offer just stunning decoration and workmanship, especially this price. The only downside is that the jatoba fretboard is inherently duller in color than rosewood, so the inlays have less contrast here than they would have against rosewood. (Rosewood is finally exempted from CITES export restrictions, so maybe Thomann will switch to rosewood some day?)

The splittable Roswell LAF pickups are very high-quality for this price range. They're voiced for Les Pauls – so candidly, they don't sound as optimal on this semihollow as on my Harley Benton SC-450Plus (where they really shine). But they sound good enough that most purchasers will have no reason to replace them. The single-coil tones are surprisingly robust and viable, with a bit of gain. As with my SC-450Plus, this guitar's setup was perfect right out of the box.

The only problem with my copy was that the D string arrived buzzing like a sitar, along its entire length. Even the open string buzzed – which implied an incompletely cut slot at the wraparound bridge. Which is odd, because Thomann presumably inspected my B-Stock (returned) guitar before reselling it to me, yet somehow missed this.

Thomann says they've shipped me a replacement bridge, which is taking forever to arrive in the U.S. (As an alternative, they also offered to reimburse me for a repair by my luthier.) In the meantime, I've basically removed the buzz by deepening the bridge slot with a nail file.

A couple of final tips: The bridge's fixed intonation sounds fine, but you can buy a fully adjustable 6-saddle wraparound bridge at quite low cost. (The stock bridge appears to be a Wilkinson, and you can find Wilkinson as well as no-name options.) Also, if you buy a B-Stock copy, you're getting an extra level of inspection in Germany. They obviously missed my bridge's problem, but I'm confident Thomann wouldn't resell an instrument with serious cosmetic flaws (which have been a QC problem on past Harley Bentons shipped from China). Enjoy this axe!
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SF
Worth the Wait - Beautiful Guitar
Scott Fortlynne 05.03.2021
When I received the guitar from the post office, the box was was nearly folded in half. Taco'd. My heart sank. I was sure everything inside was damaged. That fear was relieved when I cut through the many layers of post office tape and got into the box. The cardboard guitar box was setting on top of the Gator hard-case and had an extra layer of paper stuffing which protected the guitar from the extreme damage on the outside. Whew! Close call! Not sure why they didn't place the guitar inside the guitar case for shipping... maybe if you order you can request it. But anyway, back to the guitar.

The first thing you notice is the tree inlay. It is beautiful. I read some reviews on earlier models which said that theirs was not very good quality up close. Well, the one I got is almost flawless. I think they are only available on the Tobacco flame model, hopefully they can expand to other models and colors because they are amazing. The inlays are completely flat against the fretboard and look great. You would have to use a magnifying glass to find any flaws, and then, you would have to be very picky. The tag on the back of the headstock indicates that mine was made in Indonesia (if that matters) I bet it would be hard to find a fretboard with this style and quality for less than the price of this entire guitar! The neck feels very comfortable, and the jumbo frets give everything a solid and precise feel. The fit and finish of the body is great. Again, very pretty. You can see a few wires through the bottom 'f' hole, but again, I am not too concerned with that - just stick a finger in there and push them out of the way.

The sound you get from the CST is great. Action very low. Lower than my tele, which just had a pro set up. Easy The bridge is kind of weird. Only 2 strings are intonate-able. Strings stay in tune. Again. I haven't done anything to set up this guitar, and probably won't need to. We'll see how it handles the climate change after a few months, but the build quality is so high, I don't expect anything drastic.

The short and long of it is: Want a semi-hollow body PRS-style guitar? Have about $250 to spare? Get one! (or 2!)
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CD
Go and get it
Crazy Dutchman 02.08.2020
I was a in doubt for a very long time what guitar to order. I am playing for 45 years and needed a new guitar after a long pause....
For a long time I have ignored the HB guitars, since i have seen too many cheap copies, a waste of time and money. Till I discovered all the reviews of HB guitars and got blown away. I like jazz, blues and rock, so for the price decided to give it a try.
I opened the box and was surprised by the looks of this guitar. This one has the tree of life on the neck, it is amazing. There were no glue residues on the neck, very well done.
Playability was not great, but the neck was straight, 2 screw to adjest and it was playable. I brought it to a luthier and after that it had a perfect action.
The sounds on this guitar are amazing, since it has split coil. I can easily play John Mayer sounds on the neck pickup in single coil but also very good jazz and blues sounds.
This is an awesome guitar (for the money) if you are into blues, jazz and 70s rock.
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Really good for the price
blob3 20.11.2019
Summary

If you want a good cheap guitar, this is probably one of the best you can get.

About me

I've been playing guitar for a few years now. Apart from the CST-24HB TOL I own a Fender Blacktop HH stratocaster, to which I will be making comparisons in this review. I've also played/tried several other guitars in the past (mostly strats).

Order & Delivery:

Before ordering this guitar, I was torn between the CST-24HB TOL and the Ibanez AS53-TF, so I sent an email to Thomann to ask some questions about the guitars which were not answered by the product page. I did not get a reply to this email, which was a bit of a letdown, but in the end I decided to get the CST-24HB TOL. The delivery of the guitar took about a week, which was fair, considering there was a weekend and a holiday in between. The guitar came really well packed, with the guitar's own box inside another larger box.

Features & Quality

Overall:
This guitar definitely has the looks. If you ever wandered into a guitar shop and realized that all the cool looking guitars cost a fortune, then this is a nice alternative.
Balance:
Due to the hollow body, the guitar is light, but also quite top heavy, which felt different compared to the blacktop which is like a massive chunk of wood.
Color & Design:
The guitar looks good, both up close and at a distance. The tree-of-life inlay doesn't looks as amazing as I thought, but it looks decent.
Scratches & Imperfections:
Nope, not on the one I received.
Headstock:
It doesn't look bad, but I feel like this is the part I like the least, maybe I'm just too accustomed to strats.
Tuners:
In the past I've owned a similarly priced Squier Affinity strat, which had to be tuned often. This is not the case for this guitar, as it seems to hold the tuning alright. It should be noted that I'm not super bothered by the strings being slightly out of tune so I generally don't tune the guitar if it's still more or less correct.
Nut:
Seems a bit cheap compared to the blacktop, but I don't know much about nuts so take that with a grain of salt.
Neck:
The web page says its a c profile neck, I guess it is. It is quite a lot thicker than the blacktop strat, which I think has a modern c profile neck. I can't compare, but I'd also be inclined to say that it's a bit thicker than a normal Fender c profile neck. It's not chunky though.
Fretboard:
Decent, the inlays are fitted well into the fretboard.
Frets:
These feel cheap. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's like the metal feels cheap and prone to decay? There are no sharp frets and they seem to be well leveled. There is no fret buzzing.
Action:
On my blacktop strat, I have the action set really low, so I'd say the action was normal? I plan on lowering it and might update the review if there are problems.
Electronics:
Seem mostly okay, although some things should be noted. One knob was a bit loose and needed to be tightened. The pickup switch feels cheap and wobbles around a bit when moved. The cables and electronics are visible through the f-holes, although it doesn't bother me.
Bridge:
Seems okay.

Sound

The pickups sound good for the price. The coil split works. I often noodle while unplugged, and it has more volume than a normal electric guitar, although it doesn't replace an acoustic.
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