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Review: Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany

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Today, we’re diving into the world of travel guitars, specifically focusing on the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany.

As someone who’s strummed hundreds of guitars, from vintage classics to modern masterpieces, I’ve developed a keen ear for what makes a guitar more than just a piece of wood and strings

In this article, I’ll dissect this compact yet charismatic instrument to give you the lowdown on its performance, style, and value.

TL;DR – What You Need To Know About This Guitar

  • Compact Size: Perfect for on-the-go musicians without compromising on sound.
  • Mahogany Body: Offers a warm, rich tone that’s typically found in more expensive guitars.
  • Value for Money: A wallet-friendly option for both beginners and experienced players.
  • Versatile Sound: Suitable for various music styles, making it a great all-rounder.

So let’s dive in and let’s see what exactly makes this axe so popular!


Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany review

About Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany

Out of my experience, I’ve learned that the essence of a good travel guitar lies in its ability to blend portability with quality sound. The Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany does just that.

Its mini travel grand symphony style is a nod to traditional craftsmanship, while the natural matte finish gives it a modern edge.


Body & Neck

When it comes to travel guitars, the body and neck are crucial for determining the instrument’s tone and playability. This model boasts a body crafted from selected mahogany, a wood revered for its rich, warm tonality and durability.

The natural matte finish isn’t just pleasing to the eye; it allows the wood to resonate freely, enhancing the overall sound quality. This guitar’s size may be compact, but don’t be fooled – it packs a punch in terms of volume and projection.

The neck, made of Okoume, complements the mahogany body beautifully. Okoume is known for its light weight and strength, making it an ideal choice for a travel guitar’s neck. It contributes to the instrument’s overall balance and comfort.

For those who want to read more about Okoume tonewood, I wrote an article about it.

The V profile of the neck is a classic design, preferred by many players for its ergonomic feel, especially when playing for extended periods. This is crucial for a travel guitar, as it needs to be comfortable to play, whether you’re lounging in your living room or jamming by a campfire.

The Amaranth fingerboard is a standout feature. This wood choice is not only visually striking but also offers a smooth, fast playing surface. The dot inlays are tastefully done, providing clear fret markers without being overly flashy.

With a 381 mm fretboard radius, this guitar strikes a sweet spot – it’s flat enough for easy chording but curved enough for comfortable string bending and soloing.

The scale length of 596 mm and nut width of 43 mm make this guitar accessible to a wide range of players. Whether you have large hands or are more petite, the dimensions of this guitar are designed to accommodate.

The 20 frets are well-finished, with no sharp edges, ensuring a comfortable playing experience up and down the neck.

Sound

The sound of a guitar is its soul, and the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany has a soul that sings with a warm, rich voice, thanks to its mahogany body. This wood is known for its ability to produce a sound that’s both deep and articulate.

What’s fascinating about this guitar is how it maintains a full-bodied tone despite its smaller size. It’s proof that good things indeed come in small packages.

The mini travel grand symphony style body contributes significantly to its sound profile. It offers a balanced tone, with enough low end to give it warmth and enough high end to keep it crisp and articulate.

This balance makes it an incredibly versatile instrument, suitable for a wide range of musical genres, from fingerstyle blues to strumming folk tunes.

This guitar responds well to both a light touch and more aggressive strumming, showcasing its dynamic range. The factory strings are decent, but swapping them for your preferred gauge can further enhance the sound.

In terms of volume, this guitar is surprisingly loud for its size. It projects well, making it ideal for impromptu acoustic sessions. The sustain is commendable, with notes ringing out clearly and evenly across the fretboard.

Here’s the sound demo.


Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Compact and Portable: Ideal for travel and on-the-go practice sessions.
  • Rich and Warm Tone: Thanks to the mahogany body.
  • Versatile: Suitable for various musical styles.
  • Affordable: Great value for its price.
  • Comfortable Neck Profile: The V-shaped neck is ergonomic and player-friendly.

Cons:

  • Limited Bass Response: Due to the smaller body size.
  • Factory Strings: Might need replacement for a better sound.
  • Fret Access: Upper fret access can be a bit limited.

What Could Be Better

what could be better

While the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany is a solid choice for a travel guitar, there’s always room for improvement. First, the upper fret access could be better. For those who like to venture into the higher register, this might be a slight hindrance. An improved cutaway design could solve this issue, providing easier access to the upper frets.

Another aspect is the bass response. While it’s understandably limited due to the smaller body, experimenting with the internal bracing could enhance the lower frequencies without compromising the guitar’s compact size. This tweak could elevate its sound profile, making it even more appealing to players who crave a bit more depth in their acoustic tone.

Lastly, while the included factory strings are adequate, offering a selection of string types as part of the purchase could be a nice touch. Different string types can dramatically change the sound and playability of a guitar, and giving players the option to choose at the point of purchase would add value to an already great instrument.


Would I Get It?

As an experienced guitarist who has played and tested countless instruments, would I add the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany to my collection? Absolutely, yes. Its compact size makes it a perfect companion for travel and spontaneous jam sessions. The rich and warm tone it produces, despite its smaller body, is impressive and satisfying.

This guitar is a fantastic option for both beginners and seasoned players. Its affordability makes it accessible, and its quality ensures that it’s not just a travel gimmick but a genuinely playable instrument. The comfortable V-shaped neck and the overall playability make it a joy to play, whether you’re practicing scales or strumming chords around a campfire.

For those looking for a budget-friendly, portable, and versatile acoustic guitar, the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany is definitely worth considering. It’s a testament to how far travel guitars have come in terms of quality and performance.

Alternative Option

When considering alternatives to the Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany, one notable mention is the Harley Benton CG-45. This guitar, also from Harley Benton’s lineup, is a bit cheaper and offers some different features that might appeal to different players.

harley benton cg-45 on guitar stand

This model falls under the Standard Series and sports a folk-style design. Like the GS-Travel Mahogany, it has a mahogany body, known for its warm and rich tonal characteristics. However, the CG-45 features X-Bracing, which is a traditional bracing pattern known for balancing strength and resonance, potentially offering a different sound characteristic.

The neck of the CG-45 is also made of mahogany, ensuring stability and a consistent tonal quality. The fretboard, however, is made of Roseacer (thermally treated maple wood). Roseacer is known for its durability and smooth playability, and the thermal treatment enhances these qualities.

harley benton cg-45 mahogany

In terms of aesthetics, the CG-45 features cream-coloured bindings on the body and neck, and an abalone rosette sticker, giving it a classic and elegant look. The neck profile is a modern C, which is a bit different from the V profile of the GS-Travel. The modern C profile is known for its comfort and versatility, suitable for a variety of playing styles.

With a scale of 650 mm and a nut width of 43 mm, the CG-45 is slightly larger than the GS-Travel, which might suit players looking for a more traditional size. It also comes with gold-coloured diecast machine heads and is strung with .10 – .47 strings, making it ready to play out of the box.

closeup photo of harley benton cg-45

The Harley Benton CG-45 is a great option for those who prefer a more traditional folk-style guitar and are looking for an affordable, quality instrument. Its different bracing pattern and fretboard material offer a unique playing experience compared to the GS-Travel Mahogany.

My Experience With Harley Benton Guitars

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of playing several Harley Benton guitars, and they’ve consistently impressed me with their quality and value. One thing I’ve noticed is the brand’s commitment to making guitars that are not only affordable but also play and sound great.

If you want to see all reviews of Harley Bentons that I had throughout the years, make sure to check out my YouTube channel.

me playing on harley benton guitar

Harley Benton guitars, including the GS-Travel Mahogany and the CG-45, are known for their thoughtful design and quality materials. The brand seems to understand what guitar players are looking for, whether they are beginners or seasoned musicians. They don’t cut corners on important aspects like build quality and playability, which is commendable in this price range.

My experiences have shown that Harley Benton guitars often punch above their weight in terms of sound quality and playability. I’ve used them in various settings, from quiet practice sessions at home to lively gatherings with friends. They’ve proven to be reliable, versatile, and enjoyable to play.

What stands out about Harley Benton is their ability to cater to different player needs. Whether you’re looking for a travel guitar like the GS-Travel Mahogany or a more traditional model like the CG-45, they have options that deliver on both quality and value. This inclusivity in their product range is something I deeply appreciate as a guitarist.

Final Thoughts

final thoughts on Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany

The Harley Benton GS-Travel Mahogany impresses as a compact, affordable travel guitar. Its mahogany body delivers a warm, rich tone uncommon in smaller guitars. Comfortable to play, with a thoughtful design, it’s ideal for musicians seeking portability without sacrificing sound quality.

While it has minor limitations like limited bass response, its overall value and performance make it a standout choice for guitarists of all levels. In short, it’s a top pick for anyone needing a reliable, high-quality travel guitar.

What do you guys think? Leave a comment down below!