Harley Benton CST-24T Emerald Flame

Electric Guitar

  • Flame Deluxe series
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Arched top: Flamed maple
  • Set-in mahogany neck
  • Fretboard: Jatoba
  • Neck profile: C
  • Fretboard radius: 350 mm
  • 24 Frets
  • Fretboard inlays: Pearloid dots
  • Neck and body binding
  • Scale: 635 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Graphite nut
  • Pickup: 2 Roswell HAF AlNiCo-5 open coil humbuckers
  • 3-Way switch
  • 1 Volume and 1 tone control with push / pull function for coil split
  • DLX chrome hardware
  • Wilkinson tremolo WVPC
  • DLX machine heads
  • Colour: Emerald Flame
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Further Information

Colour Green
Soundboard Mahogany
Top Maple
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Roseacer
Frets 24
Scale 635 mm
Pickup System HH
Tremolo Vintage
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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122 Customer Ratings
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4.7 /5
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Stunning!!! Another HB Super-Duper-Bargain!
Cuztard Pi, 25.04.2017
Having just played this guitar at its 1st live gig and concluded to myself that it had been ?f***ing brilliant? I thought it deserved a review; so here goes:

A happy owner of 2 other Harley Bentons (an SC-Custom P90 Black & CST-24HB Tortoise Flame) (as well as owning many other more guitars from significantly more expensive brands) ... I'd been GAS'ing about getting a solid CST-24 with trem for quite some time. So when I finally got to see one "in the flesh" via the great video review that Cory Mura (thanks Cory!!) put up on YouTube, my mind was made up: the new Emerald Green CST-24T was the way to go!

And what a beautiful instrument it is! Let's face it, even until recently, one could only dream of buying a guitar with a custom colour like this that looked this good; never mind at this price!!

The original photos on the Thomann page did it a major disservice (hence my initial hesitation to buy) ... they've mostly fixed that now; their current photos are more accurate in terms of colour .. though still not 100% correct based on my guitar:

The top is a perfect, not-too-dark/not-too-light, real classy, deep, glossy emerald (with a well centred, perfectly book-matched, very pretty dark flame). The back, sides, lower cutaway and neck are a much darker green (not obvious from the Thomann photos) that shows off the mahogany grain very well under the transparent polished lacquer .. This contrasting use of different greens really sets off the top to look its best. ... mmmmm, GORGEOUS!! .. did I mention that ;-D

The body appears to be made of 2 (or possibly 3) sections and includes a belly-cut & lower cut-away shaping for easy top-fret access; everything appears to be very well done. The shaping and contouring of the body-top and the cut-away's is 'NICE' !

The neck also could possibly be a multi-piece laminate but it is well disguised under the dark green lacquer. The neck shape is quite different to my other HB CST24HB in that it feels somewhat thinner than the generally chunky-ish CST24HB (which is good news for the thumb-over folks out there) .. In any case, the neck is very comfortable. The position of the neck/body joint and the shaping of the lower cut-away certainly do give unrestricted access to those upper frets, even the 24th. Just be careful not to over-shoot by a few frets whilst playing and aiming for above the 12th fret .. it's easily done, trust me, I've been there .. whoops! LOL

The usual top notch service from Thomann, it arrived safe & sound in the UK 3 days after ordering, double boxed and well packed.

An excited check over happily found only a few very minor cosmetic issues with the finish here & there (only noticeable under very close scrutiny). Let's face it, at this price no-one should expect perfection, so a few minor, cosmetic-only issues are totally acceptable (and honestly folks, the few findings on mine are really very minor ... & totally forgotten about once you strap on this beauty).

Generally the as-received generic set-up was good and totally acceptable ... i.e. good to go:
- Strings (new) in OK condition (the odd small spot of corrosion here & there)
- Frets: 24 nicely polished & no sharp fret-ends. Not perfectly level but acceptable (see action details below).
- Fretboard: the usual 'dry' looking "roseacer" which actually has a nice grain-like appearance (it can be improved/darkened by application of a suitable wood treatment). Well fitted off-white pearloid dot markers & cream binding yield a tidy, attractive professional look to the instrument.
- Machine heads: no-name but work well, smooth & accurate to adjust.
- Nut: very well cut, with a low action at the 1st fret for all strings (~ 0.5mm clearance).
- String action: as received medium-low (see my set-up comments below)
- Controls/pots: smooth to turn; the push/pull switch on the tone control is easy to operate (see my set-up comments below). I love the master volume, master tone control layout of this guitar ... very practical!
- PU switch: OK. Note: The position of the switch takes a little bit of getting used to ... but it's fine after a bit of practise.
- Trem/Bridge: Excellent. It has a push in arm with friction positioning via a grub-screw. It came set-up floating (see my set-up comments below).
- Balances well on a strap; very comfortable to play; not heavy (~3.5kg); "ergonomic" is a good word for the overall design.
- Acoustic sound: bright with plenty of sustain (which bodes well for the electric sound)

To really get the best out of a HB, generally you do need to perform some set-up work & this was true here. However, to be fair, my experience, having now bought 3 HB's, is that Thomann do a pretty good job setting them up so that the out-of-the-box condition should be good enough for a beginner ... but I'm just too fussy I guess; plus I do enjoy getting to know the guitar a bit more intimately by doing a full set-up ... which for this guitar was:

Remove strings; polish frets (not much needed here); treat fretboard surface; put on new set of 9's; set nut action (no major change needed here); set neck relief & string action & bridge saddle radius (I got it down to a clean playing low action: 1mm on 1st & 1.5mm on 6th at 12th fret); adjust trem (floating with approx minor 3rd pull-up on G string; very stable tuning with firm trem action & the arm stays where it's put ... what a great trem system ... other brands should take note, this is how it should be done!!!!).

After doing this set-up, the guitar played (& looked) as good as one costing 3, 4, 5 times the price IMO.

Played through my amp, happy to say it sounded very good, at least in isolation in my back room playing by myself. The stock Wilkinson pick-ups are usually totally acceptable with no real need to be swapped out; & this is true here. With the controls on full, the tone is full but still bright & clear.

But ... the tone control just destroys the sound when fully rolled off (it has a 47nF cap in there, so that's why ... much too large IMO). The coil-split works OK on both PU's and yields a much thinner/quieter/hollow tone that I found out later (at the gig) is just too far away from the full humbucker sound to be really useful (hmm .. a mod is required there me-thinks (a la PRS!). Also, there is the expected drop off of treble as you turn down the volume ... so I did modify the circuit to address these points:
: Change the 47nF tone cap to a 15nF: now the tone control can be used throughout its full travel
: Change to 50's wiring (i.e. tone cct after the volume pot) with the addition of a tapered treble bleed ("Frank Falbo mod")(180pF). Now there is no loss of treble and the Vol control has a great taper that can easily clean up a dirty amp. Very Nice!
: Not done yet but next time under the hood: modify the push/pull switch cct to have a "partial" (= not full) coil split (by adding a low value (= 1k & 2k) resistor to ground on the split coil in each humbucker; this hopefully should improve the 2 coil-split sounds).
Note: the original wiring was acceptable & tidily done ... 'though the pots & switches are very cheap types (but work fine .. for now)

So having now played my 1st live gig with this guitar, which I find is the best test of what a guitar sounds like (i.e. playing in amongst drums, bass, etc) I can say: it did not disappoint. It played wonderfully, stayed in tune perfectly, sounded excellent and gave me all the sounds I wanted (though I didn't use the coil-split sound much for the reason mentioned above) .... & of course, it looked stunning!

OK, for the sake of balance, here are the few negatives I could think of:
- Cosmetic issues: 1cm thin crease in the veneer in the top cut-away; a few odd tiny speckles under the gloss coat here & there; slight gap under the pick-up rings; light scratch on the body-back; some 'sharpish' edges on the nut; cheap looking truss-rod cover.
- Frets: some minor levelling issues identified by a fret-rocker (but do not hinder getting a great low action)
- Electronics: very cheap (but still totally functional) components; too large value tone cap (47nF!); bog-standard electrical circuit used.

Sorry, that's all I could come up with on the negative side.

Conclusion:

Irrespective of price: What a Great Guitar! But at this price ... unbelievable!! 5 stars all 'round.

The bottom line: GET ONE!!
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Total
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excellent quality price compromise
michiak, 16.03.2021
at first I was skeptical like many about this brand, but thanks to the many positive reviews I decided to give it a try. i own gibson ls custom and prs custom 22 so i can get a clear comparison. the low price doesn't means: guitar for beginners, because it is not. I mean .. any guitar can be for beginners, but this model is a guitar model, period. it's not a clone, it may look alike, but it's totally different. I believe that the goal is in having hit the exact compromise between quality and price. we cannot expect the custom model quality, the resonance and the materials also. there are aesthetic and paint defects and many, inside it is roughly , there are detachable pieces of wood inside. the resonance is a bit stopped (some structural problems are present,obviously compared with a 2000euros and more guitar) but it recovers with the roswell alnico 5 pickups which are similar to the duncan jb-59. and above all the split coil feature is in line with the modern market.
but, if I think about 25 years ago when I started playing, with the few savings of a few occasions I was only able to afford an ibanez GIO (used) that I kept up to over my 18 years that gave me tendonitis. bolt-on neck that was double C in profile, which I'm still cursing. i'm seriously i hate low cost ibanez guitars.they are wrist-breaking guitars. in late '90 years there were no harley benton set-in in mahogany with thin neck, split humbuckers and with these various colored paint finishes, so the kids today who want to start have a great luck. really. besides adult people like me who already have high level models who want a guitar for free time and to leave in the car without anxiety, this model is centered. in short, a guitar for everyone at the correct price.
I personally bought it also as a hobby and have a little fun editing and experimenting. I performed a pickup change, I inserted two gibson 490r and 498t humbuckers that I had free, then all electronics changed, a quick setup, neck cleaning with lemon oil, string change, truss rod adjustment (it was slightly up-bow), intonation, and the guitar took a lot more sustain. the roswells are still great I put them on another mid level guitar with floyd rose and they sound really good for what they cost.
painful notes:
the whammy bar is unusable. it doesn't hold the tuning in any way .. I don't think it's a bridge problem, but maybe some mechanics, later I'll change them and let's see what happens.
the frets are not the best, they scratch a little, I have filed them a minimum and it goes better, these too can be changed and see what comes out.
the next goals for future models i think are to improve a minimum the finishes, the mechanics and the frets, with 30 euros more you could buy a real jewel.
for the moment i'm having fun with cst24-t, i can't upload a picture but it's very lovely to see this model with 490/498 gold pickups. thanks thomann.
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Good Guitar for the Money
Larry_A, 07.07.2020
If I could give 4.5 stars I would. It is a great guitar but it does have its flaws.

Pros: Great finish. Great value for a decent guitar. After some work (see below) I enjoy it immensely as the sound and playability are awesome.

Cons: Some setup was done before I received it (double octave was perfect at 24th fret) but the action was way too high for me so I lowered that a bit. The neck was dead straight with no relief so I loosened the truss rod a tiny amount also. There were some fret buzz issues that I had to sort out afterwards, but now the guitar plays well and I am pleased. I didn't like the tremolo much. I have seen pictures where people have simply removed the arm, but I also disabled the mechanism by wedging a smooth stone from the beach into the deep cavity area in the back. That in turn improved the un-amped resonance...I am happy with the result. Other issues are that the width of the nut is slightly less than the width of the adjoining neck so there are sharp ridges on either side, and the position of the neck and the bridge are just slightly off centre as evidence by the lay of the strings along the neck and the lean to the right of the bridge hardware.

Otherwise it is a good, inexpensive guitar. Weighed in at 7 lbs, 1 oz.

No doubt I will be buying another Harley Benton in the near future.
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Quality Control Lacking
sdotldot, 16.03.2021
This guitar was shipped half way across the world so it required a guitar set up. I did not dock marks for this.

Cons:
-Green paint overspray on the binding
-Vibrato claw was not installed correctly, claw was not straight
-Screws in vibrato was all different heights which caused tuning
stability issues.
-Fretboard stain/paint is also on the binding
-Binding near the 24th fret looks like someone took a rough file to
it.
-"Flame" top is really hard to see, the back of the guitar looks
much better.
-Makes a scratchy noise when bending the strings but not audible
through the amp.
-Assuming the cavities have shield paint but it does not cover the
whole area. Lots of places where the paint is thin or it's wood
showing.
-Vibrato arm likes to fall out when not in use

Pros:
-Most of my issues are cosmetics
-Very low action
-Tuning stability after adjust claw and vibrato screws
-Using the vibrato doesn't cause the guitar to detune
-High output pickups that are very clear sounding
-Very nice shade of green but the flame top doesn't come through
-There was an attempt at shielding the cavities and there's foil on
the back of the cover.
-No noticeable hum even in split coil mode.

Overall, I feel like I got a B-stock guitar shipped to me even though I paid for an A-stock. I like how it sounds and how it plays but I am undecided if I should return and try for a different one to see if I just got a bad one. I know it's only a $319 guitar but I have had a few cheaper guitars that had better quality paint/finish control. If you don't care about the flame top or paint overspray, get this guitar!
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