After almost a year of playing on my acoustic guitar, I have decided to switch to electric guitar. It was year 2018. After a long pick, I finally decided to buy a Les Paul type guitar produced by Epiphone, and I haven’t regretted my decision for a single day. As time passed my collection grew a little with additional guitars, some were DIY guitars, some produced by Harley Benton.
Epiphone Les Paul
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop PRO (2017) is a wonderful guitar. The body and neck are made of mahogany, and the guitar is covered with a flame maple veneer and painted with classic Heritage Cherry Sunburst (50’s style). The neck profile is 1960’s Slim-Taper D profile. The guitar is equipped with Grover Rotomatics 102 tuning machines and custom hand-wound Slug PAF style Alnico V Humbucker Set #003 (8.3KΩ bridge and 7.3 KΩ neck, Alnico V charged to specific levels). The guitar was originally equipped with ProBucker-2 and ProBucker-3 pickups.
I have upgraded this guitar with bone nut, Gotoh GE104B bridge (with Göldo Bridge Adapter M4/M8 conversion posts to ABR-1 bridge), Gotoh GE101A aluminum tailpiece, changed switch washer (one with gold letters), switch tip (amber), truss-rod cover and knobs (gold), leveled the frets and did a full guitar setup. I have also done a completely new wiring in 50’s style with Mallory Mustard 22nF capacitors and changed a switch to Hosco YM-T20.
Harley Benton SC-450 Plus
The Harley Benton SC-450 Plus (2019) is a Les Paul vintage-style guitar that has a three-piece mahogany body and neck with a thick maple top covered by AAA flamed maple veneer. It is painted with a nice Lemon Drop high-gloss finish. The neck has a comfortable C profile and the neck joint is shaped for easy access to higher frets. The guitar is equipped with custom hand-wound Slug PAF style Alnico V Humbucker Set #002 (8.3KΩ bridge and 7.2KΩ neck, Alnico V charged to specific levels). The guitar was originally equipped with Roswell LAF-B and LAF-N AlNiCo-5 humbuckers.
The guitar, when received, was a well payable instrument for the price with acceptable hardware, but in the end, I have decided to fully upgrade the guitar. I upgraded the guitar with bone nut, Gotoh GE104B bridge (with M4/M8 brass conversion posts), Gotoh GE101A aluminum tailpiece, Kluson Vintage Style Tulip 3L/3R N M33VC tuning machines and Nickel Gotoh EP-B3 Strap Lock. Surprisingly, there was a quite unusual spacing between the bridge and tailpiece posts. The measurements were ~72 mm for the bridge (metric standard is 74 mm) and ~80,5 mm for the tailpiece (metric standard is 82 mm) so fitting replacement hardware required a few mm of filing on new parts. The plastic parts were not matching in color very well, so I have replaced the switch washer (with gold letters), knobs (gold), switch tip (amber), truss-rod cover, pickguard, jackplate, and pickup rings with matching set in cream color. The original bridge pickup ring was using nonstandard mounting screw spacing, so I have decided to plug the original screw holes and re-drill a new for replacement pickup ring. Same with weirdly shaped jack plate. I have also leveled the frets, seated loose bridge and tailpiece bushings, did a full guitar setup, and changed the wiring to a 50’s style with Mallory Mustard 22nF capacitors and Hosco YM-T20 switch. The result is an really amazing guitar.
Harley Benton TE-52
The Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series (2018) guitar is replica of 52’s Telecaster and despite the guitar low price it is surprisingly well made. The body is made of two piece of American ash and neck (C profile) of Canadian maple. The guitar was upgraded with VTONE VT-50s pickups (bridge – 7,2 kOhm, neck- 7,6 kOhm). The guitar was originally equipped with Roswell TEA Alnico vintage TE style pickups (TEA-N-CR and TEA-B) and Kluson style machine heads.
I have upgraded the guitar with bone nut and Wilkinson WTB bridge with brass saddles and replaced tuning machines with Kluson MC6LN’s. The string trees was changed to round vintage style and I have used proper 3-position pickup selector. The hardware was changed to nickel version. I have also replaced the wiring and used new 24mm potentiometers, cloth covered wire and Tesla TC217 47nF capacitor.
Harley Benton ST-90SA
The Harley Benton ST-90SA Swamp Ash DLX Series (2022) guitar is a well made Stratocaster replica. The body is made of three piece of Swamp ash and neck of Canadian maple (C profile). The guitar was upgraded with VTONE VS-60s Classic pickups (bridge – 7,4 kOhm, middle – 6,4 kOhm, neck- 6,4 kOhm). The guitar was originally equipped with Roswell STA SC Modern Alnico V style pickups (STA-N, STA-C and STA-B).
I have upgraded the guitar with bone nut, Harley Benton ST-Style Tremolo and replaced tuning machines with Kluson MC6LN’s. The string trees was changed to Gotoh RG15/RG30. I have replaced the wiring with cloth covered wires, used proper 5-position pickup selector, new 24mm potentiometers and Tesla TC207 22nF capacitor. The pickguard, backplate was changed to better looking tortoise version and the pickup covers and knobs to less white parchmnet color.
Harley Benton HB-35
The Harley Benton HB-35 (2019) is a ES-335 semi-hollow vintage-style guitar that has a maple body and neck with mahogany sustain block. It is painted with a stunning Cherry high-gloss finish. The neck has a comfortable C profile with dot fretboard inlays. The guitar is equipped with custom hand-wound Slug PAF style Alnico V Humbucker Set #004 (8.2KΩ bridge and 7.6 KΩ neck, Alnico V charged to specific levels).
The guitar, as received, is an amazing instrument with a surprisingly good hardware. The only issue wit this guitar I had was a loose bushing on one side of the tailpiece and small crack at the neck join. After verification, that the crack is only in surface lacquer and the neck is stable I have decided to upgraded the guitar with bone nut, Gotoh GE104B bridge (with M4/M8 brass conversion posts), Gotoh GE101A aluminum tailpiece and Guyker Vintage 135 tuning machines. (Originally it was Sung-il BM 003 bridge and Sung-il TS 001 tailpiece). I have removed the weird looking pickguard. I have also replaced the knobs (black), truss-rod cover, leveled the frets, better seated tailpiece bushings, did a full guitar setup, and replaced the wiring with 50’s style with Tesla TC207 22nF capacitors and Hosco YM-T20 switch. Fitting the wires back to the guitar was a pain, but it was well worth the while.
Bugera G5 Infinium & Blackstar Fly 3
As a main amplifier I’m using a Bugera G5 Infinium. It is a hand-built 5-Watt Class-A amplifier driven by ECC83 and 12BH7 tubes. The amp is great for home practice. It is connected to a DIY cabinet with Celestion Eight-15 speaker.
As a portable amp I have bought a BlackStar Fly 3 Vintage. I’m using the Blackstar usually as a quite good computer stereo speakers (with extension cabinet). Big plus is, that I can play almost anywhere I want.
I have several pedals in my collection. The Azor Looper pedal was a choice aimed for a better practice. I have also built DIY replica of Electro-Harmonix LPB-1. I have bought a replica of Fulltone’s OCD – Obsessive overdrive because I liked the sound and KOKKO’s Compressor for a more focused guitar output.