Harley Benton SC-450Plus HB Vintage Series

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Electric Guitar

  • Vintage Series
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Arched top: AAA flamed maple
  • Set-in neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Pau Ferro
  • Fretboard inlays: Trapezoid
  • Neck profile: C
  • Radius: 350 mm
  • Cream-coloured bindings on the body and neck
  • 22 Medium jumbo frets
  • Scale: 628 mm
  • Nut width: 43 mm
  • Double action truss rod
  • Pickup: 2 Roswell LAF Alnico-5 vintage-style humbuckers
  • 3-Way pickup selector switch
  • 2 Volume controls with push/pull function for coil split
  • 2 Tone controls
  • Chrome-plated DLX hardware
  • DLX Tune-o-matic bridge
  • DLX Kluson-style machine heads
  • Ex-factory stringing: D'Addario EXL .010 - .046
  • Colour: Honey burst gloss
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Audio Examples

 
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  • Blues
  • Metal
  • Rock

Further Information

Colour Sunburst
Body Mahogany
Top Maple
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Pao Ferro
Frets 22
Scale 628 mm
Pickups HH
Tremolo None
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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202 Customer Ratings:
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I had high hopes and they were justified
LJ Dellar, 12.07.2020
I had heard great things about the SC-450 Plus from all around the internet and finally bit the bullet. I was concerned that there might be problems as the price was less than it costs me to make a guitar myself.

Delivery
After some issues with PayPal the order was successfully placed and arrived in about a week. Packed in two boxes with no obvious or hidden damage. Nice to see individual protection for the pickup selector switch. One of the little bags of silica gel had torn in the packing process, but caused no issues.

Fit and Finish
The finish is perfect. I held off reviewing this for three weeks expecting that I would find some scratch or flaw somewhere, but I really cannot find anything. Really, the (presumably polyurethane) finish has been exceptionally well applied. The same applies to the paint job over the flame maple veneer (or photo-transfer). The colour is definitely closer to cherryburst than honeyburst, which is great and exactly what I wanted. The frets are well-fitted and neatly finished at their ends, though a little more polish (or playing in) will make bends even easier. The setup is excellent, perfectly intonated and the action perhaps even a shade too low for me. I will fiddle with the bridge height/truss rod when I fit my preferred Super Slinkys (008s).

Pickups, Hardware and Sounds
I fully expected to be changing out the pickups for a set of Irongears almost as soon as this arrived, but the Wilkinson Roswell humbuckers fitted as standard are perfectly good. They are slightly higher output than I would normally choose, but they have great articulation and still sound fine when the push-pull pots are used to select single coil mode. The pickups are wired such that the middle position is out of phase.
The machines are fine and work well, though the green plastic buttons do not look particularly genuine, I do not feel any pressing urge to change them. The bridge and tailpiece are both perfectly fine and do a competent job. The nut is plastic and well-cut and fitted. I might change it for a bone or Tusq model eventually.

Cons
Very minor issues. I will be replacing the tone pots as they have ALL their effect at the very end of their travel. This issue also occurs on much more expensive guitars, to be fair.
Some people might not like the Rosacea fingerboard. It is very light and looks nothing like what you would find on a Gibson. I might try a few coats of light finishing oil if I can be bothered. However the neck is really lovely to play and the trapezoid markers are well cut and fitted.

Now I need an SG....
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Great design, build, & tone; iffy quality control
Lestercaster, 21.02.2019
This is a giggable LP tribute that's also a strong platform for electronics upgrades. I've ended up with 2 of these: #1 is a 2018 (blackwood fretboard) Honeyburst model, ordered new from Thomann. # 2 is a slightly earlier (rosewood fretboard) Vintage Burst, bought used from my guitar tech's store.

Here are my actual ratings, on a scale of 5. I'll average the 2 guitars, to provide a random sample of what you're likely to receive. Overall, my experience seems consistent with other reviewers':

5 for value and tone, especially at this price.

4.5 to 5 for design, basic build quality, and playability.

5++ for Thomann's responsiveness and service.

1.5 to 4.5 (yes, very wide range) for cosmetics and finish.

1.5 for quality control (QC).

The SC450+ is an affordable (obviously) LP copy that follows the classic vintage recipe, while adding some clever innovations.

The low price, iffy QC, and value are all real, and all share the same source: Thomann contracts directly with a factory in China, eliminating a wholesaler. So, for about half the price of (e.g.) an Epiphone LP, you get a vintage build recipe, better materials and components, and better ergonomics. You also get a combination of deep '50s neck, flush modern heel, and nice color schemes ? a combination that Gibson won't sell you at any price.

PRO'S:

The flush neck heel is brilliantly designed to solve the traditional LP problem of upper-fret access. Up to the 20th fret, access here is actually easier than on a Strat (because the heel is so sculpted). Up to the 22nd fret, it's still pretty easy. Better access than on a PRS Singlecut (SC/SE 245, etc.). Which is why I chose this.

The Roswell alnico 5 bridge pickup is wonderful. I swapped it for a Gibson Super '57 on my first SC450+, then found I missed it. (This is why I've kept my 2nd copy stock.) This pickup is bright without shrillness, and has body with no nasal honk. Surprisingly great tones, ranging from Allman Brothers to twang.

Split-coil sounds are very usable.

Full maple cap under the flame-maple veneer. (You can see the maple in the treble-side cutaway.)

Long-tenon neck joint, reputedly. (I haven't checked this, but the expected rich tone is definitely there.)

Weight is reasonable, around 9 lbs.

CON'S:

Cosmetic flaws are common (read on, and see other reviews).

Mahogany back on your copy might be anywhere from 2?4 pieces. (I've heard of, but not seen, 5. Mine are, respectively, 2 and 3 pieces.)

3-piece neck, counting a scarf joint and butt joint. (But this construction doesn't seem to degrade the tone.)

Neck binding runs fatter than Gibson spec, and looks plasticky.

NEUTRAL:

The Roswell neck pickup is punchy and entirely giggable, but a bit blunt. It's not muddy ? more like middy. Doesn't have the articulation of a good Gibson, PRS, or even Epi neck pickup. Fast attack from the alnico 5, which you might like for some styles.

Blackwood has replaced rosewood fretboards, to meet CITES export restrictions. Tonally, it's supposed to be very similar. But blackwood can have pronounced grain/color variations, which you might find either interesting or distracting. It also has an unusual feel, which takes a while to get used to: Strings slide around on it. If you've ever tried Ernie Ball's slippery Cobalt strings, regular strings feel like that on blackwood.

The fat neck binding on my Honeyburst copy developed some tiny cracks. I actually like the resulting, slightly distressed look. (Because I don't like plastic binding at all. I'd love a Harley Benton that omitted neck binding, as some LP Studio Deluxes and PRS Singlecuts/SC's do.)

By ordering one of these, you're taking a chance: You'll get a boxed copy that hasn't been inspected in Germany. Shipping to you is very inexpensive, because Thomann subsidizes it. Overseas return shipping is expensive. My experience has been that if you get a copy with problems, Thomann will offer you reasonable options for resolving it.

Here's what I actually got:

My Honeyburst copy sounds righteously full, and has great playability. (Low action with no buzzes.) The top has a pretty, faded-cherryburst finish, on a lightly flamed maple veneer. The back is 3-piece, cut so that the neck fits entirely into the middle piece. Both the back and neck are natural-finished mahogany, with faint grain. Setup was reasonably low and quite buzz-free, straight out of the box.

Problems? There's a sizable spraying blotch under the top's pretty finish, south of the bridge. There's another spraying blotch in the cutaway (which no one but me will see.) The blackwood fretboard has some pronounced color variations, fading to nearly bleached in some places. (The fretboard doesn't look at all bad, just unusual.) The neck binding is fat and also a bit uneven in width, tapering wider toward the upper frets. As mentioned above, it cracked slightly since arriving.

Thomann asked me to email them photos of the build flaws, then offered me the option of keeping the guitar for a partial refund. After staring at the guitar for a few days (and of course listening to it), I decided I could live with the cosmetic flaws, and took this option. I've since upgraded its pickups to a Gibson 57 Classic and Super '57. The guitar sounds nice, plays well, and has held stable action and tuning.

(Side notes: Thomann was outstandingly responsive, courteous, and helpful in resolving the cosmetic glitches, and also with an apparent wiring glitch that turned out to be a false alarm. I actually can't say enough good things about their customer service, and their English is better than most North Americans'. Also, the gummy coil-tap stickers that bothered some earlier SC450+ reviewers are gone. These are now PET stickers, which peel off easily and cleanly.)

My second SC450+ has a Vintage Burst top finish (2-color tobacco burst), over a lightly flamed veneer. Very elegant and classic look. One tiny blemish on the top, not sure if that's from the factory or the prior owner.

This copy also has a natural-finished mahogany back, but with nicely deep grain swirls. The back is 2 symmetrical pieces. (Unlike Epiphone/Gibson, Thomann doesn't veneer over back joins, so you can clearly see how many pieces are involved.)

As an older model, it's got a rosewood fretboard, with light grain and no cosmetic flaws. Same thick neck binding.

This copy required some setup to shake out some fret buzz. But I bought it used, so I can't blame Thomann for how its original owner adjusted or stored it. It set up fine, now plays well, and sounds robust and punchy with its stock pickups.

To sum up: You take pot luck when you order one of these, given the spotty QC. You might get anything from a near-perfect gem to a solid guitar with obvious cosmetic flaws. I can't say that you can't go wrong. But Thomann seems determined to ensure that you'll end up happy ? variously with a great guitar, a great deal, or a return. I'm doubly happy with two of them.
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The HB SC-450Plus Vintage Series Guitar
24.01.2016
So? I recently ordered my first HB guitars!

The Harley Benton SC-450Plus HB Vintage Series &
the Harley Benton SC-Custom Vintage Black

This review is looking at the SC-450Plus Vintage Series

First off? I have to admit that I was a little bit worried about making an order. I live all the way in the central US (Missouri), and I had no idea of how long it would take to get the guitars?nor, what kind of condition they would be in once I got them.

I placed the order on January 15th, and I received the guitars on January 23rd. From Germany, to the central US. In my opinion, that is pretty good time.

The guitars arrived with absolutely no damage. The large box carrying the equipment was full of those small packing air bags, which kept everything inside mint. The outside box did have a small bit of wear, but it wasn't anything at all substantial.

One reason I made the leap and ordered these guitars, was because I had reached a point in my playing where I was Stratocastered out. For years, that was what I played, and I had just reached a place to where I needed something different. I wanted something that could handle everything I've played in the past, but also something that would inspire me to go into a new direction.

The MWCHB alnico vintage-style humbucker pickups seem to be able to handle pretty much anything. I've played in choirs, at church, the blues, old fashioned rock, and really, just about everything in between. For the most part, Stratocasters get the job done, but I NEED something with a bit more edge. Both the SC-Custom and the SC-450Plus share the same pickups, and they more than meet that "dangerous" edge that I need from time to time in my playing. Single coils are nice, but they don't have that roar. With this, you are the king of the jungle!

The neck of the 450 is nice. I prefer it over the thinner neck of the SC-Custom. The frets are fine. No problem at all. The rosewood fretboard looked pretty. So far, I haven't had any tuning problems. I tuned it after receiving it, and it was only slightly sharp the next day. You have to remember though, this was after a lot of heavy playing!

The body of the 450 is solid. I'm guessing it weighs around 8 pounds? The neck is fixed onto the body tighter than the handle to an ax. No problems there.

I've seen some pictures of a few HB guitars where the flame top pieces don't match up very well. I've seen online one or two people complain about the ones they received. However, I can't do that with this. The pieces look fantastic together. In the right light, they look perfect. The right angle will show they aren't, but I'm not complaining at all!

To be honest, I find it hard to complain about anything. The only thing I wish would have been different is the pickguard. It's just a hard, blah piece of plastic. It doesn't really do anything for me..but it isn't a big deal. I could take it off if I wan't, but so far, I'm not planning on doing that.

Anyway, this guitar is amazing. It's worth the $150 or so price tag. You won't find ANYTHING nearly as good, for this price. More than likely, especially if you live in the US, you will have to pay 2..maybe 3.. times the price for something similar in quality.

These two guitars are the first of several I will be ordering. Thank you Harley Benton!
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Amazing!
Tideous, 21.10.2020
I've been playing over 30 years and have purchased 25 guitars and this is the best bang for the buck I've ever had. I was expecting to need to do some fret work and a complete setup, but none of that was needed. The frets were all level, smooth on top and sides, and ready for a final polishing. The neck is straight, C shaped and a chunky (which I wanted), no visible flaws in the fit and finish. The overall fit and finish of the guitar is beautiful. I can't find anything wrong with it. It has a nice solid weight to it and feels nice in any position. The only thing that isn't great are the pickups, but I almost always change those in my guitars anyway. They are fine for a new player or if you want to use this to practice, but they can't handle much distortion without getting a muffled sound. Their clean sound has too much of a hollow sound to it. But I didn't expect a guitar at such an incredibly low price to have great pickups anyway. All and all this is an amazing guitar at an amazing price. Congrats Harley Benton, you have a new customer that will be buying many more of your products.
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Show variations of this product
Harley Benton SC-450Plus HB Vintage Series
(202)
Harley Benton SC-450Plus HB Vintage Series

Electric Guitar Vintage Series, Body: Mahogany, Arched top: AAA flamed maple, Set-in neck: Mahogany, Fretboard: Pau Ferro, Fretboard inlays: Trapezoid, Neck profile: C, Radius: 350 mm,...

  • Colour: Sunburst
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Top: Maple
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Pao Ferro
  • Frets: 22
  • Scale: 628 mm
  • Pickups: HH
  • Tremolo: None
  • Incl. Case: No
  • Incl. Gigbag: No
Harley Benton SC-450Plus VB Vintage Series
(333)
Harley Benton SC-450Plus VB Vintage Series

Electric Guitar Vintage series, Body: Mahogany, Arched top: AAA flamed maple, Set-in neck: Mahogany, Fretboard: Pau Ferro, Fretboard inlays: Trapezoid, Neck profile: C, Fretboard radius: 350 mm,...

  • Colour: Sunburst
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Top: Maple
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Pao Ferro
  • Frets: 22
  • Scale: 628 mm
  • Pickups: HH
  • Tremolo: None
  • Incl. Case: No
  • Incl. Gigbag: No
$189 €159.48
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