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Review: Harley Benton CG-45 – Extremely CHEAP Guitar!

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Today’s review is very special, because I’m going to tell you about the cheapest acoustic guitars that I ever had – the Harley Benton CG-45. I stumbled upon this model a few weeks ago and I immediately decided to get it. It turned out to be a great idea!

Harley Benton CG-45 offers an surprisingly good value for the money. As of today, it costs around $70 (plus shipping), so it’s ridiculously cheap. And honestly, this all-mahogany model proves that budget guitars can be very good these days.

Who knows, maybe this article will inspire you to add it to your own collection as well. All photos and demos below are mine, so you can be sure that I actually tested this guitar on my own. Let’s start with a quick sample!

About CG-45 And Why I Bought It

harley benton cg-45 laying on carpet

If it’s your first time on my blog, you have to know that I buy and sell a lot of gear. I’ve been testing a lot of electric guitars lately and I realized that it’s been a while since I bought an acoustic guitar.

And since I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a new Martin or Taylor, getting a cheap model from a lower shelf sounded like the best idea. So I opened up Thomann and I saw the affordable CG-45 which had pretty good reviews.

The rest is history – I decided to buy it and a few days later the courier arrived at my door. And trust me – I was very surprised when I took that guitar out of the box and I noticed how beautiful and well made it actually is.

harley benton cg-45 folk guitar closeup photo

Body & Neck

The CG-45 has an all-mahogany construction, which is very nice and lightweight. It’s a folk-style guitar, so it’s slightly smaller than regular dreadnought acoustic guitars. But don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t call it a tiny guitar either. It’s just a bit more compact.

The neck of that model feels very nice and it’s actually quite thin. I like thin necks, so for me it’s an advantage. But I assume that guitar players with large hands may actually not like it as much as I do. So if you prefer thicker necks, you may be a bit disappointed.

roseacer fretboard and strings

When it comes to the fretboard, it’s made of roseacer which is pretty common in guitars made by Harley Benton. It’s basically thermally treated maple wood. It feels good, but I have a feeling that it may require a bit of moisturizing, so it may be a good idea to apply some lemon oil on it. It’s not necessary though!

And as you can see on the photos, the guitar looks awesome too. That binding and all these tiny details are very cool. It’s just hard to believe that this guitar costs $70 – it definitely looks like a much more expensive instrument.

Build Quality

The overall build quality is very nice. I didn’t notice any major flaws here – I had no problems with intonation or buzzing strings. The fret edges are not sharp, so that’s definitely a good thing.

These issues are very common in cheap guitars but somehow it’s just not happening here. Maybe I was just lucky, who knows. But I’m very satisfied with the quality control of that model.

Playability

Same with the playability – it’s great! I love the feel of the satin finish on the neck of that guitar. It just makes you want to play more and more.

roseacer bridge

The tuning stability is also pretty good, although I have to admit that the tuners are pretty basic. But they do the job, and that’s what matters in the end, right?

Sound Demo

I’m sure that you opened this article not only to look at the photos, but you also want to hear how the CG-45 sounds. So if you have a few spare minutes, make sure to check out the full video review that I recorded a few days ago.

Sounds pretty good, right? If you enjoyed this vid, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel – it will help me reach more people!

Acoustic-Electric Version

What’s interesting, Harley Benton manufactures two different versions of the CG-45. Apart from the one that I bought, there’s also CG-45E, an acoustic-electric model which is a bit more expensive.

It’s basically the same guitar equipped with a preamp. This is a fantastic option for those who want to perform live or practice with an acoustic amplifier (such as Fender Acoustasonic 15).

Which one is better for you? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. I don’t play acoustic gigs, so having an acoustic-electric guitar is not necessary for me. But I’m sure that for some of you it may be a good idea to spend these 20 dollars more.

Full Specs

If you’re a guitar nerd like me, you probably want to know every little detail before making your purchase. Fair enough, I know how it feels! That’s why I created a table with all the most important details – feel free to check it out below.

BodyMahogany
NeckMahogany
FretboardRoseacer
BracingX-Bracing
Neck ProfileModern C
Frets20
Strings.010-.047
FinishNatural Matte
BridgeRoseacer
Made InChina

Disadvantages

Believe it or not but I really tried to think of disadvantages of that acoustic guitar but I just can’t find anything relevant. The CG-45 looks awesome, it sounds good and it’s extremely cheap. What’s there not to like?

cg-45 on guitar stand

The only thing that you can complain about is that it comes without an additional gig bag. It’s not a big deal though – most cheap guitars are usually sold without cases anyway.

So just keep in mind that you’ll have to buy either a soft case or a hardshell case. Depending on which one you choose, it will probably cost you some additional $20 or $50. So in the best case scenario, you’ll still pay less than $100 for that guitar. That’s still cheap.

Alternatives

I understand that you can never satisfy everyone and there will always be people who won’t be happy. So if you think that CG-45 is not for you, don’t worry – the market of acoustic-electric guitars is very saturated.

Firstly, I highly encourage you to check out the Harley Benton D-120CE. It’s an another very cheap guitar, but it’s slightly different than the one reviewed in today’s article. It’s not a folk guitar, so it’s slightly larger. As a result, it has a bit richer and louder tone.

I had the pleasure to record the video about D-120CE, so if you want to find out how it sounds, make sure to check out the video available on my YouTube channel.

Apart from these Harley Bentons, you can also check out Epiphone DR-100. This model was actually my first acoustic guitar! I bought it back in 2008 and I really enjoyed figuring out all the basics on that guitar. Maybe it’s not the best acoustic guitar in the world, but it’s definitely worth the money.

If you don’t necessarily need an acoustic guitar and you consider getting a classical guitar instead, choosing the Harley Benton CG-200 may also be a good idea too. Again, it’s the same story as before – cheap, well-made and good-sounding. So generally, it’s ideal for all beginners who are just staring out.

And for those who want to explore electric guitars instead, check out my article about 6 Best Squier Guitars – all of these models offer a fantastic value for the money.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Harley Benton CG-45 is a ridiculously good folk acoustic guitar. I hope that you took some time and you checked out my videos and samples. I think that this model proves that today’s guitarists have it very easy these days. I wish we had guitars like these back in 2008!

cg-45 body closeup

Thanks for checking out my review, hopefully it was helpful and you found what you were looking for. If you end up with getting this guitar for yourself, feel free to leave a comment under this article and share some of your thoughts with me and my readers.

Whether you decide to get the CG-45 or CG-45E, I’m sure that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I just don’t think that finding a better cheap guitar is possible. Well, I’m sure that there are other great models out there, but it will be hard to beat the one I bought. That’s what I’m sure of!