Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

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Roger
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Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby Roger » Sun May 24, 2020 11:00 pm

A few years ago I had a really nice Crafter D8 acoustic guitar, but had to sell it due to a frozen shoulder which made it difficult to play; I needed to find something smaller. So I had a conversation with Gordon via his forum. As we know he has used several smaller guitars for both live performance and recording over the years. He kindly recommended the Vintage LH-VTG100N travel guitar which he was using on stage at the time (fitted with a Fishman pick up). I love this guitar and still have it so I was looking for something of a similar size with a pick up, but not another spruce top. I found that Adam Black made a Taylor GS Mini copy, but with no pick up (at the time of buying) and then came across the Thomann site and this guitar. For just over £100 I thought I’d take a punt!

When the guitar arrived by UPS it was very well packaged. After unpacking the guitar came with a decent gig bag, a cheapish jack lead (but still a nice touch) and of course the truss rod allen key.

Onto the guitar as it came out of the box. Positives were it wasn’t damaged, came with decent bronze strings (unusual for a budget guitar to come with good strings) and is a really nice looking guitar. Minor downsides were I think this should have been a B stock model and said so to Thomann, but I didn’t ask for a price adjustment because the guitar is such good value for money anyway! The issues were white tape marks on the body, a few dings and the tuners were a bit skew. Also, the finish of the bridge is poor, but will be easily rectified when I change strings.

How did it play out of the box. Well as I hoped the size was ideal for me, although it is towards the large size for a travel guitar - it's certainly larger than my Vintage. However, this means that the neck dimensions make it easy to play as opposed to a smaller guitar. I found the arched back and v-neck comfortable, and the action good for me, although it’s always good to let the guitar to acclimatise to its new home before making a judgement. The intonation is also good. I found the fret finish to be a bit rough, but again fairly minor and what you usually get with a budget guitar.

Onto how it sounds. Well for such an inexpensive guitar I think it has an excellent tone and is quite loud for its size. Of course it sounds different to my spruce topped Vintage guitar, but then you would expect that being mahogany. The Bellcat AP-55 Active Powerjack is a bonus and while the guitar has no onboard controls I bought a Behringer V-Tone ADI21 preamp which inexpensive and works well, particularly to eliminate some of the piezo harshness. I can get some really nice tones using the Beringher and a Roland Microcube GX, particularly with chorus.

So what is my overall verdict? Well I absouluty love this guitar and try to play it most days. Everything about it is ideal for me and I’d be just as happy if I’d have paid a lot more for it! Would I make any changes? Well probably a more robust pick guard if I was gigging, and possibly a new pins, bone saddle and nut. Again all minor improvements to what is a really enjoyable guitar to play.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/index.html

https://www.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton ... hogany.htm

It's also available right handed :wink: with or without a pick up. There is also a R/H version with a spruce top (again electro).
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby GORDON » Mon May 25, 2020 2:47 pm

I have always had a soft spot for CRAFTER GUITARS,very underrated.G.

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Roger
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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby Roger » Mon May 25, 2020 8:29 pm

Hi G,

The Crafter was a very nice guitar:

http://www.crafterguitars.uk.com/guitars/8-series/

I got it for a steal on ebay for £80 including a Ritter gig bag. Althought it was second hand it really was as new with no dings or scratches. The only issue was that it was very badly set up, but for £40 that was sorted.

I thought the build quality and finish were very impressive, and it had a nice bright sound, but if truth be told I've never been 100% happy with a dreadnought or jumbo, so when the frozen shoulder arrived it sadly had to go. I traded it in for my Vintage travel guitar (Music Room gave me £80 for it!) which although has a different sound is just as impressive in it's own way and of course a lot easier for me to play.

I haven't really explored what Crafter do in terms of smaller guitars, but at the moment I'm more than happy with the Vintage Travel and now have the Harley Benton.

Best to you both,

Roger
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby BRC » Wed May 27, 2020 12:36 pm

Roger,

Many thanks for the heads-up on the Harley Benton GS Travel Guitar.

I have bought quite a few items from Thomann over the years and, overall, very pleased with quality and price. My youngest son has his 50th birthday coming up next month - sounds odd saying that - and has started to learn to play properly. At the moment he has a stratocaster copy guitar but wants to try acoustic. I loaned him a travel guitar I bought a few years back but feel he would be happier with a bigger, though not full size, acoustic. My guitars are all full size - and I am keeping them!

There are enough cheap guitars about, though most of the emphasis is on 'cheap and it shows it'. The information you have given has encouraged me to follow up and buy one - the spruce top - and see how he gets along with it. It seems to have a lot going for it from the details you have given and, as you would expect, I have followed up with viewing/listening to videos available on YouTube.

There is always an issue of 'taste and fancy' about any instrument - or said another way 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. However, having the opinion of a player is far more important than that of a salesman (I make an exception to that for the legendary Jim Gretty who sold me two guitars at Frank Hessey's, Liverpool, back in the 1960s, as he fitted both categories). You have also indicated that you can also change various parts to suit individually as needed or, dare I say, want to! The integral structure of the instrument has to be right to make any alterations/upgrades and your comments have been very encouraging - well enough for me to splash the cash (credit card actually for anything over £100) of £97 plus £8 delivery = £105.

Any setting up will be done by me, as with all guitars and other instruments I have had over the years (well maybe not the trumpet, but then that was 58 years ago and then I was concentrating on being able to blow the trumpet rather than blow my own trumpet).

I shall update with my view/comments in due course.

Thanks again Roger for a much appreciated review. A ray or two of light in dark times.

Kind regards
Brad

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Roger
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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby Roger » Thu May 28, 2020 12:06 am

Hi Brad,

Thank you for your kind words. These are dark times indeed and for me having some sort of structure and enjoying what I have always enjoyed (ie all things guitar!) is very important. I'm also finding that not planning too far ahead and taking things as they come a good coping strategy for me, as well as controlling things that I'm able to such as social distancing and regular hand washing.

Yes please let us all know how you get on with the Harley Benton. For the price I found mine hard to fault, particularly as you get the guitar, piezo with jack socket and gig bag. I'm finding that the GS Mini design is perfect for me and I really enjoy playing it!

Re you youngest I think it's never too late to take up the guitar. Due to various circumstances I sold all of my gear in 1986. Fast forward to 2003 - I rediscovered Gordon's music and a year later my partner very kindly bought me an old s/h Hondo classical guitar (I was 46 then). Happy times.

Take care and stay safe,

Roger
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

BRC
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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby BRC » Wed Jun 03, 2020 12:58 pm

Roger et al (no not ‘You Can Call Me Al),

The Harley Benton GS -E Spruce guitar arrived yesterday at 18:18, duly unpacked (carefully) examined and tuned up, I gave it a quick work out.

The tone is very good for an instrument of this size, though anyone expecting deep bass would be disappointed. That is not a negative but a simple caution for anyone who has expectations that would be difficult to meet of any non-amplified small guitar. It has a very good mid range sound with plenty of resonance from the guitar body, which I found very acceptable - my wife also though it had a good tone. The fitted strings are good, though I will probably fit Elixir light before handing over to my son, although not essential - just my preference.

Having given the workout I though it made sense to test the pickup performance. That was interesting as I found the battery clip and cabling hanging loose near the sound hole, but couldn’t see a battery holder. Nonetheless, I carefully connected a PP3 battery and plugged in to my Zoom GX1ON. I bought the Zoom for portable use and practice and now used to some of its more peculiar preset sounds. That all sounded good, even though there is no pre-amp or other pickup controls. I shall see what my son wants to do about that once he has the guitar.

Satisfied that this was indeed a more than capable guitar, belying its relatively inexpensive price tag, I decided to put it in its Included gig bag. The gig bag seems well made, possibly could be a little bit more padded, but that is nitpicking. Perfectly serviceable and better than many I have seen for much more expensive guitars. Before doing this I thought I should have a better look inside the guitar - I had to fish out my PP3 battery anyway - and found a couple of surprises. First, the battery pouch. That was tucked-up Internal against the neck joint- the Guitars’s, not mine - and strings will have to be slackened off considerably to access that (a later job). Second, there is no bracing on the back - yes, on the belly, but not the back. That prompted me to look up more detail on the Taylor GS Mini and, sure enough, that is how that is also constructed. That indicates to me that the back is more than probably a laminate to give it the structural strength. Fascinating, and fills in a knowledge gap.

Having rested the instrument over night to acclimatise it, I decided to do a further detailed check in view of your comments on some of the ‘faults’ you found. My overall examination found nothing unacceptable, though I might look to change the nut at sometime once my son has used it. The frets are neatly finished, smooth and seem acceptable. The tuners seemed just fine, bridge and saddle better than could be expected at this price, finish - front, back and sides - very good, with no blemishes - okay some fingerprints from me, but easily polished off.

I did my pound coin test at the 12th fret and it did need some adjustment - almost a quarter turn to tighten on the truss rod. That was more to my liking, giving a very easy action. More adjustment may be necessary after it has fully acclimatised and my son has used it for a while and then I can set it up to his preference.

My summary - for now - this is an amazing guitar for the price and, dare I say, at twice the price. Bearing in mind the Taylor GS mini is around 6 to 7 times the price I think this is an excellent way to see if you would like to learn to play guitar, This is a pretty good instrument to start with and even, maybe, stay with for a long while. Experienced guitarists would also find this a great travel guitar at a price that doesn’t cause anxiety at the stress and strains of travelling - the instrument that is! Great new and no need to worry about the probable dings that will occur - to paraphrase Cat Stevens (as was) ‘The First Ding Is The Deepest’.

Thank you again, Roger, for drawing my attention to this guitar.

Kind regards
Brad

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Roger
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Re: Thomann/Harley Benton L/H GS Travel Guitar

Postby Roger » Wed Jun 03, 2020 11:25 pm

Hi Brad,

Very pleased to hear that all is good with the new guitar! I must have been lucky as when mine arrived a battery was already installed. I think what I'll do in the future is change the battery every time I change strings. What you say about the lack of bracing on the back of the guitar is interesting - I thought that it might have something to do with it having an arched back, but hopefully someone with more knowledge than me will be able to comment.

As you would expect I guess the spruce top on your guitar gives it a brighter sound than mine with the mahogany top. The spruce wasn't available as a L/H, but then I have the Vintage Travel guitar with a spruce top and wanted a variation anyway. While I'm fairly set in my ways with electric guitar strings (Ernie Ball Super or Extra Slinky) I've never arrived at an ideal set of acoustic strings for me and so intend to experiment.

All in all I couldn't be more pleased with the GS Travel Mini - the design and dimensions suit me fine and it's one of those guitars that just by picking it up puts a smile on my face!

Best to you Brad,

Roger
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human


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