Harley Benton SC-550 II PAF


Electric Guitar

  • Deluxe Series
  • Chambered mahogany body
  • Modern weight-reduced milling
  • Curved AAA maple top
  • Set-in mahogany neck
  • Pau Ferro fingerboard
  • Pearloid trapezoid fingerboard inlays
  • Neck profile: '60s - thickness 1st fret: 20 mm - 12th fret: 22 mm
  • Scale: 628 mm (24.72")
  • Fretboard radius: 305 mm (12.00")
  • Nut width: 42 mm (1.65")
  • Graphite nut
  • 22 Blacksmith stainless steel frets
  • Pickups: 2 Tesla Opus-1 AlNiCo-5 humbuckers
  • 2 Volume and 2 tone controls
  • 3-Way pickup selector switch
  • DLX Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • DLX Kluson-style machine heads
  • DLX chrome hardware
  • Factory strings: D'Addarío EXL-110 .010 - .046
  • Colour: Paradise Amber Flame Gloss
available since June 2021
Item number 521048
sales unit 1 piece(s)
Color Amber
Body Mahogany
Top Maple, flamed
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Pao Ferro
Frets 22
Scale 628 mm
Pickups HH
Tremolo None
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No
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Superb 2022 Les Paul by Harley Benton (SC550ii) PAF
Supertaff 18.02.2022
All the recent positive reviews on Youtube did not prepare me for this beautiful instrument delivered to me today from the first factory batch of 2022. It looks sublime, is a joy to hold and was tuned and set up spot-on before delivery !!! The overall finish and workmanship is excellent. The lovely neck came with beautifully polished frets. The 3 way switch works well and feels solid. The volume controls do the job graduated evenly, and the tone pots equalise steadily all the way from closed to open. The Tesla pickups are well worth the upgrade HB installed on this mark ii of the popular SC550. The sounds through my old Zoom GFX-707, right through from clean to dirty, are breathtaking . I can't stop playing it. I actually shed a tear of joy (Welsh). Why the hell would you buy a Gibson when you can get this superb thing for less that £250?
Please thank your folks in Indonesia for me.


Awesome Guitar, but...
Axslinger 23.01.2023
I don't want to ramble. I purchased this guitar, one of HB's most expensive, expecting to have to fine-tune it. I'm skilled at doing my own set-ups, geometry, etc. I didn't expect a perfect guitar at this price point. I expected some finish issues, fret issues, tuner issues, possible pickup issues. Here's what I found when it arrived, most important to least, (at least for me):

1) I love the stainless frets and they were polished/finished pretty good except for 2 or 3 frets. They had obvious tool marks on the frets that caught the strings. I had to clean them up and polish them. While I was at it, I did some additional buffing on all the frets since I was already working on it. If not for those two frets or 3 frets, it would have been nearly ready to go.

2) Output balance was off between pickups. I assumed one of the pickups was bad and had planned on replacing them anyway. I put a pair of Gibson '57 Classic's in it, (two-wire, so the wiring was pretty much drop-in), but the neck put out nearly twice the power of the bridge pickup. It was odd. I had the the neck pickup below the surface and the bridge almost touching the strings and they still weren't balanced. "

Long story short, I did a complete rewire using standard H-H wiring with one toggle switch and everything balanced out and the TONE changed. I honestly don't know if they were drunk when they wired it or what but rewiring it turned into the guitar I expected!

3) I don't like, "Kluson" tuners, period. But, I figured, if I have to live with them, then I'm putting good ones on it. I installed Grover vintage-style, "Deluxe" tuners, simply because the gear ratio was higher. Did it matter? Not too much. The stock tuners were about the same.

Finish-wise, I only found one issue and it was hard to spot. When the light is shining just right on the neck, there's a fine line that runs from the back of the nut to the edge of the fingerboard, at a diagonal. It's just a finish crack and it took me a while to find it.

I would have given this 5 stars for sound if it had been wired correctly but I couldn't find a wiring diagram online that matched this mess. And when I rewired it to a more conventional H-H wiring, everything worked!

It was well worth the work and effort. I wouldn't change a thing. It's now my #1!


Very good and affordable starting point
MyNicknameMustBeAtLeastFiveCharactersLong 23.08.2021
I bought this guitar exactly month ago. Did not have any special expectations beside one - it will be a good base for modifications. Yes, I will pimp the guitar, and will complete this review after a while.

First impression
Once the guitar arrived, I unpacked it, tuned and simply plugged in. And there was the first surprise. I was able to play it without any additional set up. It was in-tune (someone set the intonation up it in the factory, or I was lucky to get one with bridge saddles in the right positions - I hope the first one). Anyway - it was feeling well, with no buzzing and with proper intonation. Nice.

The oryginal sound
The guitar sounds pretty well "from the wood" - before plugging in, and the sound is pretty balanced "horizontally and vertically" - across the strings and positions. The sustain thou could be better (I compared it to my old Ibanez AR300, as I do not own real Gibson).
While plugged in - it is nicely playable, with well balanced sound, but a bit "too dry" for me. That said - I am simply stating I do not like the Tesla pickups. As for budget guitar I will go rather for Toneriders (Thomann would probably easily make a proper deal with Tonerider to keep the cost down).

The look
That is a killer! This damn guitar looks like one that you spent five times more money on it.
On the one I have I spotted no finishing flaws.

Build quality
Surprisingly good, I love the steel frets and the way they are finished and polished. That is something you will get only in expensive guitars. No glue traces or gaps around the binding. Very well!
But there are three minuses I must point out:
- the biggest - a 3 millimetres gap between the neck and body (visible only after you remove the neck pickup). I filled it with epoxy, as I believe any gap there is reducing sustain),
- small scratches on the 20th, 21st and 22nd frets (like scratched with file). Thankfully only under E6 and A4 strings, so I am not really playing there,
- dirt dust in the cavities (not really visible, as those are covered with plastic plates

Summary (unmodified guitar)
If you want a Gibson, but cannot afford or won't buy original, SC-550 is really great starting guitar. Good sounding from wood, very acceptable factory setup, fantastically looking baby. I highly doubt you can buy anything better for less than 600 Euro. Especially with steel frets.

I will pimp my copy and complete this review in two weeks (still waiting for parts).

UPDATE 07.09.2021 - SC-550 pimping
As I planned, I pimped it, and will keep this guitar. I have fabulously sounding instrument, with great sustain, tuning stability and great playability. Well, and good look too ;-)

Pimping-up process:

I started with changing the bridge, by replacing the original one with TonePros LPCM02 C Tuneomatic Set Chrome (bought at Thomann). I replaced the bridge completely, with bushings. A magic happened. This bridge looks and weights basically the same as the original Harley Benton, but there was immediate sustain improvement. Plus the locking screws that keep the bridge and tailpiece in place, when you’re changing strings is great enhancement.

Having that, I decided to replace the whole electronics.
I put DiMarzio PAF 36 Anniversary set (in creme). Replaced pots with DiMarzio custom tapper pots for volume and DiMarzio push/pull pots for tone. Orange Sprague capacitors (well, I personally like them) and treble bleeds.
I also replaced the toggle switch - for Switchcraft one, and the jack socket for Pure Tone multi contact output jack.
The push/pull on tone potentiometers work as series/parallel switch. In total I have 8 different pickup combinations, all hum cancelling. Truly versatile guitar!

The last thing I replaced were the tuners. I managed to buy for good price a set of GOTOH SD90MG-T-SL looking tuners. They also fit perfectly the SC-550 II.

I also made, printed out and put *ugly* sticker on the headstock saying “Gibby” and replaced the cavity covers with ones in creme colour. Because of grip (the push/pull pots require good grip) I replaced the potentiometer knobs with Strat-like ones.

In total (the guitar + new parts) it was around 630 Euro, but there is no way you will buy that sounding guitar, with this quality hardware, and additionally steel frets for under 1000 Euro. Simply not possible. And then still, most probably you will want to change pickups at least (I do that on all my guitars always).
And - you do not have to spend the whole sum at once, you may do upgrades gradually.

Here are some pics:
time - the HB SC-550 II is great guitar to start (playing, learning to play, gigging). It is also fantastic base for upgrades.
If Thomann will have different product manager in the guitar department, they have the capacity to produce outstanding guitars, that can compete with the big brands. Some small details here and there only to change.
Well, maybe that person is just great product manager, but not musician ;-)

Anyway - go and buy one, if you want/need affordable, but very good Les Paul copy.


Still don't believe it.
audiomo music 14.07.2021
I have to say I am more than impressed with this instrument. The problem I have with lower end instruments is always in the neck, whether it's the frets being rough, the ends being rough, or the fingerboard not being the most finished... this is by far the best I've had in any guitar that isn't Japanese or American outside of the PRS SE line, at a third of the cost of one of those!

The tesla pickups are an improvement from the Roswells in this body style in my opinion, and I love the straight forward no nonsense from them... no coil split needed, they work perfect as is and even sound good clean.

The weight of the guitar is great at 8.3LBS or around 3.75KG, it's effortless to play and I am confident I could take this guitar out tonight and play a full performance with no worries or issues. Great job harley benton.

I made a full unboxing, inspection, and playthrough of this guitar on my youtube channel audiomo music if you are interested to see me go over the exact guitar I received. Thank you again for the great work everyone.