NGD & Initial Review: Harley-Benton RB-612CS

Blrfl

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Yer So Bad, Mr. Tambourine Man. You made me buy the Harley-Benton Rick clone. Here are my thoughts:

Design: This thing is like a cross between the Rickenbacker 620/12, 660/12 and 4001 bass because it has design elements from all three plus an F-hole like you'd find on some 300-series guitars from the 1960s. Unlike Rickies, the body on the RB-612CS is much smaller, like smaller than a Telecaster. Maybe Les Paul size. The headstock is pretty standard; I'm glad they didn't try to clone Rickenbacker's 12-string arrangement, 'cause I've never liked that.

Build: Very good... mostly. The finish is gorgeous, like the-manuracturer's-pictures-don't-do-it-justice gorgeous. The CS is a fireglow-like burst finish and it's also available in black. Mine has one small flaw in the binding around the F-hole that's difficult to spot from more than a foot away. The rest of the binding One review I read dinged the chrome's finish for being wavy; mine's not as good as on some of my other guitars, but it's good enough. The inside of the guitar is very rough and unfinished, although it's not noticeable unless you stick your fingers in the F-hole, and you're not doing that if I have anything to say about it. :) The one thing that lets the guitar down is the tuners, which are, unsurprisingly, cheap. Getting the guitar up to tune was an adventure, although it does seem to hold once you're there. But to end on a positive note, the fretwork is very good save a few that are very slightly rough but not rough enough to bother doing anything about.

Electronics: The pickups sound nice and jangly and will be tweaked a bit once the rest of the guitar is set up. The LP-style selector switch is very sold and feels better than some of the ones in my nicer guitars. The pots feel great and the tone controls are very usable. Last but not least, the output jack feels great.

Setup: Some reviewers said theirs was spot-on from the factory. Mine's awful. The action is crazy-high and the intonation on several strings was way off. I think they took too much slack out of the strings before shipping because the bridge had tipped a bit and was sitting on two of the four bolts that sit on the baseplate. That was easy to remedy; just slacked the strings some more and popped it back into place. Still, it doesn't sound very good at the moment, so it will get a soup-to-nuts setup once it's had some time to become acclimated to Chez Blrfl. All that said, it plays pretty well for where the action is even if the rest of it is out of whack.

TL;DR: This is a nice, compact, electric 12-string that ran US$316 to my door with a stand and leather strap. Build quality is mostly very good, setup wasn't. At a tenth the price of a Rick, there's lots of potential with a little bench time.

Edit: I'll post a follow-up after I've had a chance to do the full setup.
 
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Blrfl

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What’s does it look like?

I haven't taken any pictures of it yet save the position of the bridge when it arrived. Here's a photo stolen from Harley-Benton:
1662518507638.png
 

Blrfl

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Neck dive?

Yep. Not unexpected with a big headstock and a pile of tuners but manageable. A leather strap tames it a bit and most of the rest is countered where my right arm touches the lower bout.

How's the neck profile? One thing about Rics that has always turned me off towards them is their necks.

It's a C shape that continues into the binding. This probably isn't really the case, but it seems to hold the same shape all the way down to where the heel begins at the 17th fret. Current setup aside, it seems as easy to play pretty much anywhere on the neck. I'd call the thickness medium; it's not as skinny as my Legacy but doesn't stand out as being a baseball bat. My hands-on experience with Rics is zero, so there's no way I can make a comparison.
 

kaludjerko

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Yep. Not unexpected with a big headstock and a pile of tuners but manageable. A leather strap tames it a bit and most of the rest is countered where my right arm touches the lower bout.



It's a C shape that continues into the binding. This probably isn't really the case, but it seems to hold the same shape all the way down to where the heel begins at the 17th fret. Current setup aside, it seems as easy to play pretty much anywhere on the neck. I'd call the thickness medium; it's not as skinny as my Legacy but doesn't stand out as being a baseball bat. My hands-on experience with Rics is zero, so there's no way I can make a comparison.
Here are neck measurements from my specimen:

0 fret, width: 48.4mm
0 fret, thickness: 24.2mm

12 fret, width: 55.0mm
12 fret, thickness: 24.2mm

It is fairly thick and wide neck, which suits 12 string.
Actually, i got it to convert it to 6 string with large neck and it fits that bill nicely.
 

drmordo

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Yep. Not unexpected with a big headstock and a pile of tuners but manageable. A leather strap tames it a bit and most of the rest is countered where my right arm touches the lower bout.

If you replace the tuners, be sure to go with the lightest tuners you an find so you don't exacerbate the neck dive issue.

Thanks for the review, I toy with the idea of buying one of these from time to time.
 

Blrfl

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Thanks for the review, I toy with the idea of buying one of these from time to time.

More to come. Just got back from a week at the beach, so the guitar has had lots of time to acclimate to the house. I gave it a strum as I walked by it and it still sounds in tune, so that's a point in its favor.
 

Wallaby

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Very interesting, and attractive!

It makes me very curious about getting one - I love turning a guitar into a player, and if it sounds good after all is said and done it's fantastic :)

Must.... resist....
 

Blrfl

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Oh, ha... Sorry, I've been under the weather for the last week or so. Had this drafted and didn't post it yet; I was hoping to get a short sample recorded to go with it. There are plenty of those on YouTube. But anyway...

Setup went well. For the price, this is a really good guitar. I'm diggin' it. Further commentary:

Neck: Neck relief was pretty close to nonexistent; I like it that way and the truss rod went un-adjusted. Still not crazy about the tuners, but I think I'll learn to live with them. It takes some good motion on the buttons to get the string moving, but that could be the strings binding in the nut slots. On the whole, it does seem to hold tune reasonably well. Daily tune-up is about twice as bad as the average for my six-strings. :)

Bridge: The bridge is a six-saddle unit very similar to what you'd find on a 360/12 with the intonation adjustment screws facing the neck and the nuts facing the tailpiece The crazy-high action the guitar had when it arrived was dialed down to just before things got buzzy but I decided that I wanted it a hair higher than that. Despite having six saddles instead of 12, the intonation adjustment went fine and came out pretty close where there's a large difference between the gauges in each string pair. When setting the intonation, it's best to remove the cover from the bridge because the saddles need some guidance as you make changes. Getting the nuts lashed back down was an exercise because of their location under the strings as they head toward the tailpiece. I left them finger-tight and will keep an eye on them to make sure they stay that way.

Electronics and Pickups: Still like 'em and the volume and tone controls get a second mention for being very usable. The bridge pickup was lowered a bit to bring it to the same volume as the neck. There's a little imbalance between some of the strings that I'll fix later.

Cosmetics: It's still a gorgeous guitar. I did find another small flaw in the finish but, again, you really have to look for it and the whole package still punches well above its price point. Getting the protective film off the pickguard proved... um... stretchy. It looks like it goes between the upper and lower layers of the pickguard where they meet. I had to resort to a blade to get it cut off neatly. I ended up removing the knobs and the nut from the switch to get it all out.

Playing: Properly set up, this thing plays great. This is the first 12-string I've ever spent an extended amount of time playing, so I've been making adjustments to my technique to work with it. Neck dive is, as mentioned earlier, ever-present but can be tamed.
 

Troubleandahalf

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I just got mine as well. I see a lot of you are tempted, to that I can only say, get it.
I'm as happy with this purchase as I was when I got my CV, surprised and delighted.
I've never had or even really played a 12 string and I never dreamed in a million years that I'd get into such a good one at this price.
Very, very fun. Super gorgeous.
Stays in tune well. Repeat stays in tune well.
This is clearly a just do it situation.
 

Blrfl

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It took a month, but I finally got around to taking some pictures. Pardon the ones that show my family room. I was shooting some other stuff and got lazy. :)

P.S.: Still diggin' it. Even learned Hotel California.
 

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