If you’re on the hunt for an electric guitar that seamlessly blends vintage aesthetics, modern functionality, and affordability, you’ve come to the right place!
The Harley Benton SC-450Plus, part of their Vintage Series, is a guitar that has piqued the interest of many musicians, including seasoned players like myself.
In this comprehensive review, I’ll take you on a journey through every aspect of the SC-450Plus, sharing my experiences and insights.
Before we dive deep into the world of the Harley Benton SC-450Plus, here are some key takeaways:
- The SC-450Plus is a vintage-inspired gem, meticulously crafted with a mahogany body and AAA flamed maple arched top, all wrapped in a stunning Vintage Burst high-gloss finish.
- Its glued-in okoume neck boasts a comfortable C-shaped profile, 22 medium jumbo frets on a laurel fingerboard, and exquisite trapeze inlays, making it a joy to play.
- With two Roswell LAF Alnico-5 vintage-style humbuckers and versatile electronics, this guitar offers a wide tonal palette, enhanced by coil-split functionality for added versatility.
- The hardware, including the DLX Tune-O-Matic bridge and DLX Kluson style machine heads, not only adds to the guitar’s aesthetics but also ensures stable tuning and intonation.
- Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first guitar or an experienced player seeking an affordable addition to your collection, the SC-450Plus is a worthy contender.
Now, let’s dissect this vintage masterpiece, starting with its origin and build.
About Harley Benton SC-450Plus
The Harley Benton SC-450Plus is not just another electric guitar; it’s a testament to the brand’s dedication to providing quality instruments that won’t break the bank. Hailing from the Vintage Series, this guitar is designed to capture the essence of classic guitars while offering modern features that cater to today’s players.
First impressions matter, and the SC-450Plus certainly knows how to make a striking one. The AAA flamed maple arched top, paired with a high-gloss Vintage Burst finish, immediately evokes the allure of iconic vintage guitars. This is a guitar that demands attention, not only for its sound but for its visual charm.
Body & Neck
The body is crafted from mahogany, a tonewood revered for its warm and resonant properties. Combined with the arched top, it not only ensures durability but also delivers a rich and full-bodied tone. The cream bindings on the body accentuate the guitar’s contours and add a touch of elegance.
Moving to the neck, the choice of okoume is a masterstroke. This glued-in neck features a comfortable C-shaped profile, which feels like a natural extension of your hand. The 22 medium jumbo frets on the laurel fingerboard provide a smooth playing surface, allowing for effortless string bending and chord transitions. Trapeze inlays on the fingerboard add a vintage touch, and the cream bindings along the neck edges showcase the attention to detail in its construction.
The combination of the mahogany body and okoume neck creates a harmonious balance, ensuring that the SC-450Plus not only looks great but also feels comfortable and familiar when you pick it up to play.
For those who love the technical details, here’s a quick rundown of the key specifications of that axe:
|AAA Flamed Maple
|305 mm (12″)
|Cream on Body and Neck
|22 Medium Jumbo
|2 Roswell LAF Alnico-5 Humbuckers
|Pickup Selector Switch
|2 with Push/Pull for Coil Split
|DLX Kluson Style
|.010 – .046
|Vintage Burst, High-Gloss
Now that we’ve explored the guitar’s foundation, it’s time to delve into its hardware and electronics in the next sections.
Here’s a really good sound demo that will show you how good this guitar actually is.
Hardware can make or break a guitar, and the Harley Benton SC-450Plus has certainly nailed it in this department. The combination of vintage-inspired design elements and modern functionality ensures that this guitar not only looks great but also performs at its best.
Chrome-Plated DLX Hardware
One of the first things you’ll notice about the SC-450Plus is its chrome-plated DLX hardware. From the DLX Tune-O-Matic bridge to the DLX Kluson style machine heads, every component adds to the guitar’s aesthetic appeal while serving a crucial functional role.
DLX Tune-O-Matic Bridge
The DLX Tune-O-Matic bridge is a classic choice known for its stability and intonation accuracy. Whether you’re bending notes, strumming chords, or shredding solos, this bridge ensures that your guitar stays in tune and your intonation remains spot-on. It’s a solid foundation that every guitarist can appreciate.
DLX Kluson Style Machine Heads
The machine heads, styled after Kluson tuners, not only add a vintage touch but also provide smooth and precise tuning adjustments. There’s nothing worse than dealing with tuners that won’t hold their position, but this axe won’t let you down in this regard. It’s a testament to the attention to detail that Harley Benton has put into this guitar’s construction.
A guitar’s electronics play a significant role in shaping its sound, and the SC-450Plus comes equipped with a setup that doesn’t disappoint.
Roswell LAF Alnico-5 Humbuckers
At the heart of the SC-450Plus are two Roswell LAF Alnico-5 vintage-style humbuckers. These pickups are designed to deliver classic, warm tones reminiscent of iconic guitars from the past. Whether you’re diving into bluesy licks or rocking out with some heavy distortion, these pickups provide the sonic versatility that every guitarist craves.
3-Way Pickup Selector Switch
The 3-way pickup selector switch allows you to seamlessly transition between the neck and bridge pickups, as well as a balanced combination of both. This versatility ensures that you can explore a wide range of tonal options, from the mellow and smooth tones of the neck pickup to the bright and punchy sounds of the bridge pickup.
Push/Pull Function for Coil Split
Here’s where the SC-450Plus goes beyond the ordinary. The volume controls are equipped with a push/pull function for coil splitting. This feature transforms the humbuckers into single-coil pickups, expanding the tonal palette even further. It’s like having two guitars in one, allowing you to explore a plethora of sonic textures.
The two tone controls offer additional sonic shaping capabilities. Whether you want to add some warmth or dial in some brightness, these controls provide the fine-tuning needed to match your playing style and musical genre.
In summary, the combination of the Roswell pickups, 3-way pickup selector switch, push/pull coil-splitting, and tone controls make the SC-450Plus a versatile instrument that can handle a wide variety of playing styles and musical genres. Whether you’re into blues, rock, jazz, or anything in between, this guitar has you covered.
Playability and Setup
One of the most crucial aspects of any guitar is how it feels when you pick it up and start playing. The SC-450Plus doesn’t disappoint in this department, offering a superb playing experience right out of the box.
Comfortable Neck Profile
The okoume neck with its C-shaped profile is a joy to play. It strikes the perfect balance between thickness and comfort, allowing your hand to effortlessly glide up and down the fretboard. Whether you’re playing intricate solos or complex chords, this neck profile ensures that your playing experience is smooth and enjoyable.
The laurel fingerboard adds to the overall playability of the SC-450Plus. With a 305mm (12″) fretboard radius and 22 medium jumbo frets, this guitar is designed for precision. Bending notes and performing vibrato is a breeze, and the fretwork is clean and well-executed, ensuring that each note rings out with clarity.
Straight out of the box, the SC-450Plus comes with a factory setup that’s commendable. The action is comfortable, allowing for easy fretting and chord changes. The intonation is also well-adjusted, ensuring that your notes are in tune all the way up and down the fretboard.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced guitarist, the SC-450Plus offers a playing experience that encourages you to explore your musical creativity. It’s a guitar that feels like an old friend from the moment you pick it up, and that’s something every player can appreciate.
Pros and Cons
As with any guitar, there are certain aspects that shine, and others that might not align with every player’s preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of the Harley Benton SC-450Plus:
- Vintage Aesthetics: This guitar oozes vintage charm with its AAA flamed maple arched top and Vintage Burst finish.
- Quality Build: Crafted from mahogany and okoume, this guitar boasts a solid and well-constructed body and neck.
- Versatile Electronics: The Roswell LAF Alnico-5 humbuckers, 3-way pickup selector switch, coil-splitting, and tone controls provide a wide range of tonal options.
- Reliable Hardware: The DLX Tune-O-Matic bridge and DLX Kluson style machine heads ensure stable tuning and intonation.
- Affordability: It’s a budget-friendly guitar that doesn’t compromise on quality or features.
- Limited Color Options: While the Vintage Burst finish is stunning, some players might desire more color variety.
- Neck Profile: The C-shaped neck profile might not suit players who prefer thinner or thicker necks.
- Gig Bag Is Not Included
Maintaining your guitar is crucial to ensure it stays in optimal playing condition and continues to deliver the tone and performance you love. This guitar, like any other instrument, requires some basic care and attention.
Regular cleaning is essential to keep your SC-450Plus looking its best. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe down the body, neck, and fretboard after each playing session. This helps remove sweat, fingerprints, and dirt that can accumulate over time. If your guitar has a high-gloss finish like the Vintage Burst, be sure to use a guitar polish suitable for such finishes to maintain its shine.
Changing your guitar strings when they start to lose their brightness and intonation is crucial. The factory strings on the SC-450Plus are .010 – .046 gauge, but feel free to experiment with different string brands and gauges to find the sound and feel that suits your playing style best. When changing strings, clean the fretboard and oil it if necessary to prevent any wood drying out.
Truss Rod Adjustment
The double action truss rod on the SC-450Plus allows for neck adjustments to achieve the optimal neck relief. If you’re not comfortable making these adjustments yourself, it’s best to have a professional luthier or technician do it for you. Proper neck relief is essential for maintaining playability and preventing fret buzz.
Checking and adjusting the intonation is another critical aspect of guitar maintenance. Proper intonation ensures that your guitar plays in tune across the entire fretboard. To do this, compare the open string pitch with the 12th fret harmonic pitch and adjust the saddle position accordingly. Again, if you’re not confident in doing this yourself, seek professional assistance.
Periodically, check and tighten the hardware on your SC-450Plus. This includes the screws on the pickguard, tuners, bridge, and any other components. Loose hardware can lead to unwanted rattles and can affect the guitar’s overall performance.
To keep your guitar looking its best, consider investing in a high-quality guitar polish and a microfiber cloth. This will help maintain the finish and keep your SC-450Plus looking showroom-ready.
With proper care and maintenance, this Harley Benton model will continue to deliver its exceptional performance and stay with you on your musical journey for years to come.
My Experience With Harley Benton Guitars
Having played various guitars from Harley Benton, I can confidently say that the SC-450Plus lives up to the brand’s reputation for delivering exceptional value. The Vintage Series, in particular, showcases Harley Benton’s commitment to providing affordable instruments without compromising on quality or playability.
Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate Harley Benton for consistently offering guitars that punch above their weight class. The SC-450Plus is no exception. Its vintage-inspired design, combined with modern features, makes it a reliable workhorse suitable for both stage and studio.
The tonal versatility of the SC-450Plus, thanks to its Roswell pickups and coil-splitting functionality, is a game-changer for players who want to explore a wide range of genres. From blues to rock to jazz, this guitar adapts effortlessly to your musical preferences.
As an experienced guitarist, I’ve found that the SC-450Plus offers a comfortable playing experience, whether I’m performing intricate solos or strumming chords for hours on end. The neck profile and fretwork make it a joy to play, and the factory setup ensures that it’s ready to go from day one.
I recently tested a really cool Les Paul from Harley Benton that also deserves a lot of recognition. It’s the Harley Benton SC-1000.
This one is slightly different – it has golden hardware and active pickups. It’s based on the famous ESP LTD guitar which is often used for shredding.
And just like the 450, the SC-1000 is also really affordable. I was very impressed by its quality so I’m pretty sure that a lot of you will enjoy it as well.
Alternatively, you can also check out the Harley Benton SC-550. This is an excellent budget Les Paul which I also bought a few months ago. I also recorded a video review of that model so if you want you can check it out on my YouTube channel called Best Guitars Now.
For me, the SC-550 had a very similar quality than a high quality Epiphone Les Paul. And bear in mind that the HB was a few times cheaper!
In this extensive review, we’ve delved deep into the world of the Harley Benton SC-450Plus, a vintage-inspired masterpiece that seamlessly combines classic aesthetics with modern functionality. From its mahogany body to the versatile Roswell pickups, every component contributes to a guitar that’s not only pleasing to the eye but a joy to play.
Whether you’re a beginner embarking on your musical journey or a seasoned guitarist looking for an affordable addition to your collection, the SC-450Plus is a solid choice. It’s a true workhorse that pays homage to the classics while offering the flexibility needed for contemporary musical exploration.