Review: Harley Benton Single-P90 SC-Junior under $200 US

ChicknPickn

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That is one well written and detailed review. Thank you 🙏. I think the Korean, Asian and Indonesian guitars have sparked my interest. In addition the big boys are just too expensive. Having just purchased a Samick Greg Bennett Avion I am convinced you can get a guitar that offers solid construction and sound from those imports.
Thank you. I'm gearing up to review a Harley Benton dual-P90, PRS-inspired guitar. Even more impressive for the price than the Junior for those wanting the "modern/progressive" style of guitar. Still having a ball with the Junior. It has brought back the joy I used to feel when I picked up the "real thing" decades ago.
 
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StudentGuy

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The verdict? Once again, I come away thinking that imports are delivering greater value than they have a right to. When a guitar under $200 has this fine fit and finish, is aesthetically pleasing, and feels and sounds this good, it is a “shot over the bow” at guitars costing several times as much.
A point I attempted to make on a Fine Furniture as Guitar site (I'm being sardonic here, but) :)

I am by no means a "guitar tech" , but I gotten brave enough to install locking tuners, a really cool (but expensive) trem bridge, and to just fool around to fix things that don't require a soldering iron (or reading a schematic). I am up to 4 HB's now, 3 different types. My latest , a CST 24T P90... is a surprisingly good clone of a PRS SE CU24, for about 1/4 of the price.

BUT ... as was said by Phil McKnight (a guy I have mixed opinions about) ... The "problem" with guitars in this price range ... is consistency. Three of the 4 HB required no real re -work or fixing. But the CST 24 came out the box, cosmetically beautiful. BUT with a wonky mounted P90 in the neck position, due to an stripped head mounting screw. An "shallow" pilot hole made this screw bind "high", and it was chewed up by a worker with a power screwdriver, trying to set it home.

If I were a beginner, or someone afraid to "tinker", I would be demanding a return by Thomann. But diagnosing this as a simple fix (which I still managed to do a goofy thing to the guitar in the process :) .. I ordered some P90 screws from Philadelphia Luthier, and fixed it myself.

There were other tweaks I undertook. Installed locking tuners. "Jin Ho" brand ? (Noticed it cited on the HB web page) Found them on Amazon.
Good tuners. Do the job. Drop in fit (the stock tuners are Jin Ho on this CST)
Cost a fraction of PRS/Gotoh/or others ...

So after fiddling around as much as my limited skill set would allow... I have not only a good lookin' guitar, but one that plays as well and sounds better than others in the stable, costing several times as much ...
(Warning: Many find Harley Benton guitars addictive. 😀 Sometimes adding a second guitar to an order doesn’t raise the shipping charge. Just sayin’)
Yep. Found when ordering the CST 24, ordering the Thomann ABS case, added only $20 more dollars to shipping (total $100 US) making the case cost about $88 US, and well worth it. BTW there is conflicting info on the Thomann site abut this case fitting a CST ... But it does. Thomann customer service stated in an e-mail .. and I plunked it down in the case to confirm upon arrival. :)

My "Kool Aid" has about completely worn off ... Value , a combination of esthetics (lookin purty, playing well, having features the high priced spreads offer only for $2K or more) and a really cool price to begin with... Is what has me buzzin' now...
 
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StudentGuy

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I'm gearing up to review a Harley Benton dual-P90, PRS-inspired guitar.
H'mmm Sounds like my CST 24T P90 ??? :)

Bought mine in the Black Flame. But the Ocean Blue looks pretty cool too. I responded back to Thomann about the P90 screw issue... Hopefully mine was a one off. But again, not a difficult problem to fix ...
 

badscrew_projects

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This is my blue Harley Benton DC Jr. With fat neck
Yes, blue - initially it was. I’ve added comfort cuts, changed the bridge and and refinished it

A7F07D38-3296-4BB5-A9EB-29B1DD06D7E0.jpeg
 

jvin248

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...As a teen in the late seventies... single-P90 Les Paul Jr. as a beater ... I’d owned only humbucker-equipped guitars, and the Junior, in addition to feeling great in the hands, had something special about it. I knew nothing about the construction of various pickup types, but, unbeknownst to me, I was experiencing P90 love - - the fatness, grit, and growl of this early pickup design - - for the first time...

I went down the P90 rabbit hole for a while because they have that tone that's been stuck in my head for decades. Eventually I found that by taking a typical bridge Humbucker, rotating it 180deg, lowering the pickup and raising the screw poles 1/8-3/16ths -- I get that P90 tone out of a regular humbucker while retaining noise reduction.

A big part of the reason why this works is the centerline of the P90 pickup bobbin distance to the bridge is the same as the typical humbucker neck-side bobbin is at. Putting screw poles there allows increasing the output influence of that bobbin.

I'll also swap pots and caps sometimes to tweak too, but the main solution is rotating that bridge humbucker. Now every HH guitar I play regularly has been adjusted this way.


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badscrew_projects

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Ah, that would be another one. They also have one with per-string intonation adjusters. The quality is visibly better than the original.
Got it :)

I didn’t want an adjustable bridge at all. This one intonates perfectly by the way and I love how it’s a single piece of metal, feels great and sturdy, no protruding parts at all.
 

ChicknPickn

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Just as an update . . . .

This guitar has become one of the most-played in my fleet. What a little rocker! Comfy as can be. But - - I have a bad case of upgrade-itis. So rather than make changes to a guitar that is great as it is, I'm thinking of getting a second one and doing a few things to it. Not because I need to. But because I have to.
 

ChicknPickn

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Same here, thinking about adding a Firebird neck pickup into mine :D
That's the spirit! I'm thinking Kluson tuners, a different pickup (not that the Roswell isn't superb), and a MusicLily bridge that sets up a little lower than the one originally shipped. That's about it, I think.

Running this thing through a Big Muff Pi is just loads of fun. A tone Leslie West would approve of.

Said Leslie: "I never felt like I needed a two- or three-pickup guitar, because you can get a lot of tones out of a single pickup. If you’re in a room filled with gasoline, how many matches do you really need? One good one and a backup!”
 
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