Harley Benton CST-24HB Tortoise Flame

232

Electric Guitar

  • Design: Semi hollowbody with f-holes
  • Body: Mahogany (Swietenia Meliaceae)
  • Top: AAA Flamed maple
  • 3-Piece neck: Mahogany (Swietenia Meliaceae)
  • Neck attachment: Set-in
  • Fretboard: Roasted jatoba
  • Fretboard radius: 350 mm
  • Frets: 24 BlackSmith stainless steel
  • Scale: 635 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Fretboard inlays: Dot
  • Nut: Graphite
  • Body binding: Ivory-coloured
  • Pickups: 2 Roswell LAF AlNiCo-5-humbuckers
  • 3-Way switch
  • Controls: 1 Master Volume- and 1 Master tone with push/pull function for coil split
  • Hardware: DLX chrome
  • Bridge: DLX GTB wrapover
  • Machine heads: DLX die-cast
  • Colour: Tortoise Flame High-gloss
  • Suitable case available under Article Nr 129350 (not included)
available since June 2015
Item number 358494
sales unit 1 piece(s)
Body Mahogany
Top Maple
Neck Mahogany
Frets 24
Scale 635 mm
Pickups HH
Tremolo No
Incl. Case No
Incl. Bag No
$245
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Good if you can finish it off yourself
Mr Greggles 13.11.2018
I have made this into an excellent guitar and, if you have the ability, it is an excellent buy. If not it is a bit disappointing.

I have an HB Strat copy which cost a bit over £100. That has an excellent finish, a really good sound and is generally very good quality but needed a fret polish and a bit of setup. This cost very nearly £200. Again it has an excellent finish, a great sound, looks fantastic for the price and is mostly of very good quality. However it not so much of a bargain.

The problem is that although I'm fine with polishing the frets and doing a bit of setup I'm not so happy that, for quite a bit more money, I'm having to file and recrown some frets. When I first received it it was buzzing halfway up the fretboard. I let it settle for a few days and did a setup. The action was very low so raising it and tweaking the truss rod for a little more relief sorted out most of the buzzing. But the second and fifth fret were still causing problems and I had to do a bit of work on them.

The guitar looks great. OK, there isn't the depth to the veneer you would get on a PRS but I think it has some depth, so it's not a photo print. And as soon as you step back from it it looks amazing. The sound is warm and versatile, though the coil split doesn't add as much as I'd hoped and it doesn't have as much of a hollow body sounds as a 335. The tuners do the job, even if they don't feel particularly inspiring. All in all a great addition to my collection, now that the frets are sorted.

As I said, it is not a big deal if you have the skills and the tools but I could see it being a big problem for newer players. I guess the real problem is that my first experience with an HB was so good it set the bar very high. Having spent more money I didn't expect he quality to be worse. That said, now that it is sorted it looks, feels and plays brilliantly. I'm glad I bought it and would buy it again.

I just wanted to sound a word of warning to less-experienced users

LONGER TERM EXPERIENCE

I've had this for about ten months now. For most of that time I didn't use it. Every time I went to it it needed setting up again. It seemed that the wood needed to season a bit more. After about eight months (having tried it in between) it seemed that the neck had finally settled down. I have set it up and not needed to change it since.

I'm playing and recording with it now and It's a comfortable and versatile guitar. It's a great intermediate step between my big semiacoustic (Vintage VSA500) and my solid PRS SE II Santana. Very pleased with it now and intend to keep it and use it more.
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Girl, you got a beautiful body, but your nuts ugly.
jaytee123 23.03.2018
Pros: The Body and finish is beautiful. Flawless. The pickups are great clean...so-so with gain. The guitar sustains amazingly well.

Cons:, the bridge is missing the tiny hex screw that locks the bridge in place on the treble side.
Seeing the guitar came with Wilkinson Pickups and not Roswell as advertised, I think I got an older one with one of the first attempts at crafting roseacer...lots of dents in the treated wood at the 1st fret. numerous imperfections in shaping up the fretboard and at the base of it. Dry as a bone. A little fretboard treatment improved it, but the feel of it is like it is made of a plastic composite. Not sure how heat chemically changed maple in this fashion.
The nut was atrocious on the treble side. Looking down the fretboard from the bridge, It is sloped too low to the right, so much that whomever cut the nut just put a notch in the E string to barely hold in place. The B string was a little better, but not by much. The result? Sitar noise with open string because the slot could not be properly cut with so little material on the treble side. I was surprised this was present on a guitar that spent a week in quality check.

I DON'T want to send this back. I sent an email asking for them to send a new nut and a locking screw, and I would fix it myself. Still waiting for a simple response to this after a day.
In purchasing this guitar, I reminded them I am in the states and that I'm not expecting perfection for spending 264 dollars shipped but expect a playable guitar with a reasonable amount of flaws. I also said future purchases would be based on the quality. Sorry, I can't buy anymore sight unseen from Thomann after my experience. This guitar spent a WEEK in quality before leaving...and the nut is awful.
Hopefully, I am sent a nut and the tiny locking screw, so I dont have to go searching all over creation for the right size for both.

I'm sorry I had to post this review, I wanted so badly to post a five star, yet the nut almost had me giving this a two. I mean, this is the MOST BASIC QUALITY CHECK, NO?
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An amazingly good guitar
Roger6897 31.07.2015
I was once lucky enough to own a guitar very similar to this made by a well-known company in the USA. It cost me well over two thousand British Pounds - and I bought it secondhand! Unfortunately, due to financial circumstances, I had to part with it (in exchange for a much-needed car!) Now I have bought the Harley Benton CST-24 HB Tortoise Flame, it almost feels like I have my valuable guitar back - at a tiny fraction of the price. I won't say it plays as well as my old Hollowbody guitar because, in fact, my new Harley Benton CST-24HB actually plays BETTER. Straight from the box it was excellent and now, after a minor adjustment to one of the nut slots and the truss rod by my friendly luthier, I have a great-sounding, beautiful guitar with a superb action. It balances perfectly on a strap with no neck-dive (often a problem with semi-acoustic guitars). This time, no work at all was necessary on the frets - they are excellent. The Wilkinson pickups are becoming widely recognized as a very good humbucker and have the classic alnico humbucker sound (in fact I prefer them to the sound of the pickups of my American guitar). There are no unwanted noises or microphonic problems and, unusually for a cheap guitar, the master volume and tone controls function perfectly, with a smooth taper and no loss of treble when the volume is reduced. The tuners are excellent, the graphite nut is better and more elegantly shaped than the rather ugly one on my US guitar. Generally, the finish is top class, with a flame veneer top and bound F-holes (my US guitar had unbound F-holes). The main difference can be found inside - my US guitar had an arched flame maple back and the internal construction under the bridge was a work of art to rival a top class violin. The Harley Benton has a more typical central block construction and I must confess the internal finishing looks a bit rough if you look inside the F-holes with a torch and a magnifying glass. However - this is the important thing - this construction means it works better as a functional electric guitar at high volume. Interestingly, the acoustic sound is almost exactly the same despite the internal differences, so I wonder if all the craftsmanship of the US guitar was really necessary for any purpose other than to persuade overpaid guitar-fancying American dentists to part with more of their money. I am much more than happy with this guitar and I have already urged Thomann, bearing in mind the instrument's excellent acoustic character, to offer the same guitar with an adjustable bridge and piezo saddles. I am sure a lot of guitarists would find such a guitar extremely interesting if the price is right (which I am sure it would be with Harley Benton). Once again, I am astounded that a guitar of this quality can be done for this price. My local guitar shop proprietor and my friendly luthier both agree. In fact I had a bit of trouble retrieving it from my friend the luthier, who is a big fan of arch-top F-hole guitars and seems to particularly like playing this one! I am not at all surprised that the CST-24HB Tortoise Flame is out of stock until September and I urge anyone interested in this type of guitar to get hold of one as soon as they are available again. It is also available in cherry sunburst with "tree of life" fretboard inlay, but I think I prefer this finish and the interesting little cross-shaped fret markers. I have been playing guitar for nearly fifty years and back in 1980 I reviewed guitars professionally for a magazine. This is the second CST-24 I have bought from Thomann in less than a month. Harley Benton does it again!
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Tortoise Flame HB
Simon C 06.03.2018
I like my Tortoise Flame HB quite a lot..... Now.

I have to consider the affordable price of this guitar when I start to critique it, but was it value for money ? Having seen plenty of online reviews of this model and purchased other H B products, I knew there was an element of chance. So I'd hoped to get lucky.

The Pros. It looks great. Lots of comment online about the colour not following the Thomann catalogue too well and a few people being unhappy with instruments shipping brighter/lighter in colour than the photos. I was hoping for this ! The photos make the Tortoise Flame look a little sombre and muddy, I was hoping for something warmer, richer and that's what I got. I was once a professional photographer and I know how difficult some hues are to record, even in this digital age. It looks to me like Thomann have tried to address this issue, some of the detail shots look colour manipulated to correct. But for me, I am very happy with what has arrived. The flamed maple top is nice, not to strong and well "book-matched", so it does create the "illusion" of an old classical instrument, which I like.

It sounds nice, middle position gives a nice rich colourful tone. But sound is so objective, what amp, settings, strings, playing style. Plenty of range available with pick up selection and coil split. I'm no expert but very happy and I do think the semi hollow body has something quite different, to say my SG, so a nice addition to the collection. The fret board and neck are nice to play, I like the subtle decoration on the fret markers which have been reasonably well done. Machine heads feel fine, look good.

The Cons. On arrival I just got the sense this guitar was not brand new. Maybe it had been demo'd or something, very slight scuffs and traces of polish caked in corners, as if it's been re-buffed - badly. The neck pickup surround ring was cracked in several places, not sure if due to over-tightening or an impact. But I couldn't look at it while playing.

Thomann were as efficient as usual, very fast to send me out a replacement part - plus goodies, for my inconvenience. While changing this piece I did discover additional holes, failed attempts to get it right in the factory. You don't want to look to closely inside these instruments.

I was surprised how high the action was on arrival. My own past experience and comment from others suggests that Thomann inspect and set-up before shipping, I'm not convinced in this case despite the QI label. So as soon as I tried lowering the action I found why, 3rd fret very high. Someone down the line has set this guitar up to a point just before a fret buzz and left it at that with way too high an action. I don't think it should have been let through, even for ¤220. The fret was correctly pressed home so I got stuck in and "dressed" it level. Now after much tweaking of truss rod and bridge height I have achieved an action which for me is enjoyable to play. However the bridge is as low as possible on the high e side, so nothing left if I wanted further adjustment. Another shame is the cut on the end of the fret board between last fret and pick up, "chewed" I think would be a better description.

If I were the designer of this instrument, I would have sat with the prototype, played it, looked down and realised that the view into the lower "F" hole is seriously spoilt by the guts - back of the position switch and wiring. Not attractive and no attempt to disguise, spoils the classical instrument illusion. It would have been much more elegant looking into a dark empty void. Re-position the switch above and behind tone control or up on one of the wings, Les Paul style maybe. And If I ever want/need to service or change electrics, how does that work, there is no service cover on the rear. This is a point I was aware of before buying, but I am intrigued to know how it was assembled in the factory ?

To sum up. I am happy with this guitar (at this price), it's nice to play - now, and looks great from a distance (more than a couple of feet). Should I have had to put the time in sorting it out?* - no I don't think so. Did I get lucky ? - no not really. Will I buy further Harley Benton
instruments ? - yes, probably.

*I know that Thomann have a very fair and efficient returns policy. I could have declined and asked for another. But it is a bit of a hassle organising return shipping, you need patience whilst without your new "toy" and there is always an element of 'the better the devil you know'. So in this instance the tweaking was within my ability, I had the time, and now I like the end result.
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