We found the best Harley Benton Guitars for Metal that absolutely will not break the bank. But are they legit and worth it? Let’s take a look at the features you get for the price!
Let’s be real: nobody has time to read a 3000 word post. OK, some of us do. But not most people, so for this post here’s how it works:
- There’s quick-look section below which outlines our current top picks for the best Harley Benton guitars for metal.
- After this, you’ll find quick overview of each model, detailing why we choose it and why we think it is a good option.
There’s a TON more detail on each model further down, as well as how Harley Benton makes its guitars so cheaply, so if you want to go into exacting detail, you can do that too.
Savvy? Alrighty, let’s get to the meat and potatoes…
Best Harley Benton Guitars For Metal
Overview of Our Top Picks…
Harley Benton SC Custom VBK
The Harley Benton SC Custom VBK is a marvel in the guitar world, offering a harmonious blend of visual appeal and sonic excellence.
This guitar is a powerhouse, equipped with high-quality pickups that deliver a clear and powerful sound output, making it a prime choice for metal music enthusiasts.
The stunning vintage black finish enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of the guitar, making it a visual delight. The solid construction and versatile sound make it a reliable companion for musicians looking to explore different music landscapes.
Need more details? Read our review.
- Powerful Sound: Equipped with high-quality pickups for clear and powerful output.
- Striking Appearance: Stunning vintage black finish.
- Solid Build: Constructed with quality materials for durability.
- Versatile Tones: Suitable for exploring various music genres.
- Great Value: Offers premium features at an affordable price.
Harley Benton Fusion-T HT EMG
The Harley Benton Fusion-T HT EMG is a testament to quality and versatility in the world of guitars.
It features high-quality EMG pickups, ensuring a powerful and high-quality sound, suitable for a variety of music genres.
The attractive roasted finish is a visual treat, adding to the overall appeal of the guitar. The robust build of this guitar guarantees long-lasting performance, making it a value-for-money investment for musicians.
The wide range of sounds that this guitar can produce makes it a versatile choice for those looking to experiment with their music.
Need more details? Read our in-depth review
- Quality Pickups: Features high-quality EMG pickups for powerful sound.
- Attractive Design: Boasts a beautiful roasted finish.
- Durable Construction: Built to last with a robust structure.
- Value for Money: Offers excellent features at a reasonable price.
- Versatile Sound Range: Suitable for a wide array of music genres.
Harley Benton R-446 Graphite Metallic
The Harley Benton R-446 in Graphite Metallic is a standout choice for those seeking a blend of aesthetic appeal and sonic power.
This guitar boasts a sleek graphite metallic finish that is sure to turn heads. The sturdy construction ensures reliable performance and durability.
It’s versatile in tone, allowing musicians to explore a wide range of sounds, making it a suitable companion for various music genres, especially metal and its sub-genres.
The affordable pricing is the cherry on top, making it an accessible choice for budding musicians.
Need more details? Read our in-depth review
- Sleek Design: Eye-catching graphite metallic finish.
- Durable: Robust construction ensures longevity.
- Versatile: Offers a range of tones suitable for various genres.
- Affordable: Priced reasonably, offering great value.
- Reliable: Consistent and dependable performance.
Who The F&%K is Harley Benton Any Way!?
Harley Benton started out in a very unassuming way, as a “starter” house brand for Thomann Music in Germany.
The first models that were produced caught the attention of reviewers, and the quality seemed better than what you usually get from a “beginner” guitar.
Harley Benton started to roll with the good press coverage, and continued to make popular models. But the last two years it seems like the quality has only gone up.
The “Pro Series” expansion has been popular with guitarists all over the world. I have even seen a few in bigger studios!
There are plenty of people that put-down the brand, and import guitars in general. Harley Benton makes guitars that are “inspired” by more expensive, famous models.
This leaves a bad taste in some consumer’s mouths. But a lot of Harley Benton models are based on guitars that you simply cannot obtain on the used market, like the EX-84 Modern model.
But the consensus lately has been that most guitarists don’t care about the brand on the headstock as long as the guitar plays well.
There will always be Fender and Gibson purists, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But the reality is that not everyone can afford the big name brands. Budget guitars have risen in popularity, for a good reason.
Consumers dictate the market, and budget guitars are very popular.
We have talked a lot about how CNC machines make it possible to craft guitars in a consistent manner.
About 90% of making a guitar is routing and shaping the wood for necks and bodies, which the machines can do quickly and efficiently.
The “Big 3” companies use CNC machines, as well as the budget companies.
Making guitars by hand is still a respectful art, and there will always be custom luthiers that build everything by hand.
But even PRS uses machines in guitar production these days! The amount of attention a guitar gets from an actual human is what you pay for in some instances.
Choosing The Best Harley Benton Guitars For Metal
The 3 best Harley Benton guitars for Metal that we are checking out today are amazing quality first and foremost because of that technology.
CNC machines are accurate, and reduce labor costs.
Those savings get passed down to the consumer!
Harley Benton also does not advertise in a traditional way. This also adds to the savings for the company, that get passed down to you.
Advertisement is a big part of most brand’s budget, and Harley Benton does not advertise by sending out press releases or magazine ads.
These can make great beginner guitars, but they can also be amazing guitars at any level!
I have been playing for decades, and these are great guitars. Period.
I would totally record or gig with any of the guitars we picked today, albeit with a little setup and love.
We went through about 20 different guitars to find the 3 best Harley Benton guitars for Metal.
The features we looked had to suit us as Metal guitarists.
Features We Looked For
We wanted to find the guitars that would appeal to shredders, as well as guitarists that just want to write riffs. We had some strict parameters to find the best of the best:
- Budget territory: Under $500 including international shipping
- Slim, fast necks
- Flat radius
- Jumbo frets
- Great pickups for high gain applications
- Good, solid hardware
- Classic designs
- Easy to upgrade
- Versatile sound: Works for different genres of Metal
- Easy to setup and maintain (No floating bridges)
- Appeals to beginners and pros alike!
We sifted through a plethora of guitars to find the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal, and to be fair some models got really damn close to making the cut.
But these 3 fit every single parameter that we set. No matter what your budget is, or what kind of Metal you want to play… one of these will fit the bill!
We wanted to cover everything, from Doom to highly technical shredding.
It was tough to find 3 guitars that really worked for everything! We are going to start with the cheapest and move on to the two that are a little more expensive.
We already talked about the shipping process from Thomann, and how it only takes a week or so to get a guitar from Germany.
So let’s take a look at the gems we found, all under $500 even with international shipping!
In-Depth Reviews of The Top Picks
Harley Benton R-446: A Slick, Metal Machine!
This was the first guitar that really stood out when trying to find the best Harley Benton guitars for metal. The HB R-446 is part of the “Progressive” series and has a lot of really cool features at a price point that seems too low to be true. The low price almost scared me away, until I tried it out.
The Harley Benton R-446 looks fairly simple and straightforward upon first glance. But it has a few tricks under the hood that make this an absolute beast of a guitar. Let’s take a look at the features that make this guitar so awesome for those about to rock (We salute you!):
- Poplar Body (Metallic Finishes!)
- Unique Body Carve
- Bolt-On Construction
- Canadian Maple Neck
- White Neck Binding
- Amaranth Fretboard
- 24 Jumbo Frets
- 16” Radius
- 25.5 Scale
- Offset White Dot Inlays
- ABS Nut
- ARTEC Ceramic Humbuckers
- Single Volume/Single Tone
- 5-Way Switch
- Standard Style Fixed Bridge
Out Of The Box the guitar definitely needed a quick setup. But there were no sharp frets ends, and all of the frets were level. The nut was cut properly, and after a quick tune-up the guitar was ready to play. The binding on the neck was surprisingly well done for a guitar in this price point.
The Body is one of the main attractions on the Harley Benton R-446. This is definitely inspired by Schecter and Ibanez without copying either of those shapes. This looks very much like a Schecter C-1, but with a few more curves. The whole body is just dripping with metallic coolness!
But the body does not use the traditional carves that you would expect! It has a bevel on the back and front of the guitar that makes it appear to be a “carve top” in a lot of ways, but it isn’t. The bevel does feel awesome, and acts as a “tummy cut” on the back/arm rest on the front.
But the awesome part is the lower horn, that has a very intentional carve, that allows you to get your hand up to the upper frets, all the way up to the 24th fret! This is a feature that you usually see on much more expensive guitars, like a Charvel. You hand fits into the grooves really well to reach the upper frets.
The knobs and pickup switch are placed out of the way for anyone that plays palm mutes close to the bridge. You don’t have to worry about the knobs getting in the way, or accidentally hitting the pickup switch while strumming.
The Neck is what made us choose this guitar for one of the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal. This is a “Thin C” carve that every guitar company claims to use these days. The R-446 is definitely a thin C shape and the 16” radius is super flat. But the back of the neck never flattens out to a “D Shape” like some shred-style guitars.
This neck feels absolutely great, and to me it feels like a ESP-style neck, with a flatter Ibanez radius. This neck is perfect for riffing and shredding. “Effortless” is the best word I can come up with, when it comes to this neck. This would be a great beginner guitar for anyone that likes Metal since it is so easy to play. People with small hands will definitely appreciate the neck shape!
The Pickups are the secret weapon on the Harley Benton R-446, and a huge surprise at this price point. ARTEC makes some great budget pickups, and while these have the “look” of active pickups they are actually passive. The flat plastic covers just happen to look like an active pickup.
These are ceramic magnet humbuckers that are perfect for high gain tones, but the switch is a 5-way! This gives you 5 different pickup tones. The in-between positions are single coil sounds while the first, middle, and last positions are full on humbucker tomes. This gives you 5 totally different tones without using a coil-tap knob.
The pickups were the other main reason that we chose the R-446 as one of the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal. These actually sound pretty good, and have an interesting EQ curve that gives them a mid-scooped sound that’s popular with Metal guitarists. The single coil options sound great for clean tones, and ethereal effects-laden sounds you often hear in Prog-Metal.
The Hardware is the weak point on this guitar, mainly the tuners. The nut is plastic and the tuners are regular quality that you see on most budget guitars. The bridge is just fine, and needs no modification. But the tuners and the nut could definitely be better. This can be a cheap fix though!
Overall, for $133 plus $60 shipping, you will be hard pressed to find a guitar that competes with the Harley Benton R-446. This is a great beginner guitar, but as I also say about the lower priced Harley Benton guitars: The R-446 is a great mod platform for experienced guitarists. If you gave me $100 and a couple of hours, I could mod this guitar to be BEAST.
I would add locking tuners, and a TUSQ nut to this guitar to make it stage-worthy. The rest of the guitar already sounds great and plays well! We noodled with it on the BOSS Katana, and it really excelled with high gain tones. The mid-scooped pickups sound is perfect for Pantera tones.
The R-446 is one of the best Harley Benton Guitars for Metal because it was designed to be a slick, hard rocking machine. We wanted to include it for the guitarists that want a great platform for mods. The rest of the guitars on this list are ready right out of the box. The R-446 could be a great budget answer for a lot of guitarists that have the “know-how” to upgrade guitars.
Even without mods, the R-446 is still one of the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal. This would make a great first guitar for anyone that is ready to rock. The models with colors sell out quick, so if you want one, go ahead and order it! The Charcoal Black/Graphite model is almost always in stock.
Harley Benton SC Custom VBK (With Gig Bag)
The Harley Benton SC Custom might be double the price of the R-446, but the features reflect the price hike and then some. Like most Harley Benton models, the SC Custom blends a couple of really iconic guitars. This time, the guitar is a mish-mash of DNA from a Les Paul Custom, and an ESP Eclipse. But it isn’t really anything like either of those guitars.
There is a huge leap in quality when you get to the “Pro” level of Harley Benton guitars. These are next level when it comes to attention to detail and hardware. Harley Benton really packs a ton of features into these guitars, and it shows.
This is one of the best Harley Benton guitars for metal because of the blend of classic looks, with modern features. You will be hard-pressed to find a guitar with EMG pickups, and the bells and whistles that make this guitar stage ready for under $500. The features are all very familiar:
- Okume Body (African Mahogany)
- Nyatoh Neck (Eastern Mahogany)
- Jatoba Fretboard
- 22 Jumbo Frets
- Modern C Neck
- 24.75” Scale Length
- 14” Radius
- PPS Nut Material
- Pearloid Trapezoid Inlays
- Cream Binding
- EMG Retro-Active 70’s Pickups
- 3 Way Switch
- Two Volume/One Tone Control Layout
- Wilkinson LP17 TOM Bridge
- Wilkinson Schaller-Style Locking Tuners
- Gold Plated Hardware
- Thomann Deluxe Gig Bag
Out Of The Box the Harley Benton SC Custom didn’t need any tweaks at all to get ready to play. I literally just tuned it and plugged it up to play! This is the attention to detail I was talking about with the higher end Harley Benton guitars. I stretched the strings, and just tuned up!
The Body of the SC Custom is a little lighter than what you would expect from a single cut style guitar. The one we tried out weighed about 7.8 pounds, which is a relief for anyone that likes an LP style guitar! The matte paint with cream/ivory binding looks really classy, and there were no paint imperfections on the body.
There is a little bit of hazing when you look super close at the pin stripes of the triple binding. At first glance it looks like the binding is just a painted-on feature. But this is legit binding, at least on the outer rim of the body and the neck.
The body of the SC Custom is a little thinner than you would find on the Big-G single cut guitars. But it also has a belly cut in the back, and this makes it rest against the body comfortably. The neck joint/heel is almost non-existent, making it easy to reach the upper frets. The lower horn is also recessed further back than the “standard” single cut guitars.
The Neck is downright amazing, and the “Modern C” will feel very familiar to anyone that has ever played an ESP Eclipse, or Schecter Hellraiser. The matte finish makes the neck feel fast, and easy to play. The frets are large, making big bends effortless. This also adds to feel of this guitar being made to shred.
The binding up and down the neck gives this guitar a “classy” vibe. The construction adds a volute to the back of the headstock, which is something bigger brands could take notes about. This is the kind of neck that asks to be shredded on, and it just sings when playing solos. The sustain is substantial and SC Custom could easily rival an Epiphone.
The Pickups are EMG Retro-Active 70’s, and we have discussed them in detail before. Basically, they are active versions of the “70’s Sound” PAF that points at a particular player. I can think of a lot of guitarists that got started in the 70’s, but I am pretty sure these are based on EVH. The Retro-Active 70’s set boosts the mids, while also providing great bass response.
The Hardware is all Wilkinson name brand, and this is where Harley Benton quality goes way up from the cheaper models. The bridge feels solid, and all of the saddles will hold up over time. The locking tuners are something you might not know you need, but once you use locking tuners you never go back. It makes string changes a breeze and I can’t live without locking tuners these days.
We picked the SC Custom as one of the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal because it can do just about any type/genre of Metal. The Single Cut Custom look is most known for Doom metal, but with the features of this guitar you could play just about anything and sound great. It could just as well be a Metallica riffing machine, since James Hetfield has been known to use this style of guitar as well.
Overall, the Harley Benton SC Custom is an absolute monster of a guitar. It has just about every upgrade you could want, and it even comes with a gig bag for $369! This is a lot of guitar for the money, and I would totally gig this guitar. The SC Custom is one of the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal, Rock, or just about any genre!
Harley Benton Fusion-T HT EMG (With Gig Bag)
When it comes to the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal, the Fusion III HT might be the absolute BEST. Let’s not even factor in the amount of money this thing costs, this is just an amazing guitar. There is a “Strat” shape of this same model, but I picked the Tele style because you just don’t see enough Telecasters in Metal!
The Fusion-T HT has literally every upgrade that Harley Benton offers, and it shows. It is almost unbelievable the amount of guitar you get for under $400. In my opinion this is #1 in the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal. It has all the features you need:
- Ergonomic Nyatoh Body (Eastern Mahogany)
- Roasted Canadian Maple Neck
- Roasted Maple Fretboard
- Modern C Neck Carve
- 12” Radius
- Black Dot Inlays
- 24 Jumbo Stainless Steel Frets
- Graph Tech TUSQ Nut
- EMG Retro Active Hot 70 Humbuckers
- Single Volume/Tone Knobs
- 3 Way Switch
- Wilkinson Hipshot-Style Bridge
- Neck Heel Truss Rod Adjustment
- Matte Black Hardware
- Staggered Wilkinson Locking Tuners
- Deluxe Gig Bag
Out Of The Box the guitar was mostly set up. The low E string needed a little tweaking to get the intonation spot on. The string height was a little high too, but that’s an easy fix. There were no sharp fret ends on either side of the neck. Which is a plus, because stainless frets are hard to work on! I stretched the strings and tuned it up, and it was totally playable.
The Body is a Telecaster shape, but a little bit thinner, and it has a belly carve. The Mahogany style body is lightweight for what it is, and ours weighed 7.5 pounds on the scale. The lower horn has a carve that is perfect for reaching those higher frets, and the neck heel is also carved away. Upper fret access is ridiculously easy all the way up to the 24th.
The body of the Harley Benton Fusion III HT is slim and ergonomic, unlike a traditional T-style. The matte black paint looks amazing but it is a super thin coat. Like I accidently chipped it trying to get the cavity cover off on the back of the guitar to get to the wiring. The wiring was immaculate though!
The Neck is the absolute star of the show here, and I am pretty sure I will be buying this guitar. This is one of the most comfortable necks I have ever played, and the best comparison that I can think of is my Schecter Nick Johnston, which is twice the price of this guitar. The two necks are very similar in feel and construction.
The roasted Maple neck has a thin urethane coating to protect it, but it has the raw wood “feel”. This neck is fast, and the stainless steel frets make bends buttery smooth. The reverse headstock will give you extra room for tuning down, and the string trees are even upgraded! No bent steel cheap hardware here!
The Blacksmith Stainless Steel frets are an amazing feature at this price point. Stainless steel frets will outlive you in most cases, meaning you rarely have to do anything as far as maintenance. You can play hours a day and never need a fret job. Stainless frets is something you usually only see on high end guitars.
The Hardware is all Wilkinson and it feels absolutely solid. The bridge is a direct copy of a Hipshot, I checked side-by-side with the real deal. The knobs are the regular knurled dome style, and the 3 way switch is solid. The locking tuners are a huge plus, and Wilkinson makes a great set of tuners in my opinion.
The Pickups are one of the main reasons this is one of the best Harley Benton Guitars for Metal. We have talked about the EMG Hot 70’s pickups to death at this point. they sound great for everything, and the mid-boost works well for tuning down. I would love to put this guitar in Drop C!
The Harley Benton Fusion-T HT EMG is absolutely astonishing, and this is a guitar that plays well above the price point. Being completely honest, this feels like a mid-tier Schecter. Something like the Sun Valley Super Shredder feels just like this guitar, at more than double the price.
But I don’t just mean the features and build of the guitar when I compare it to a Schecter or Charvel. I mean the way it plays as well. If there was no brand name on the headstock I would think this is a much more expensive guitar. Blindfolded I would say it was a new Schecter model, and I think that speaks volumes when it comes to the best Harley Benton Guitars for Metal.
I was a little surprised at the thin paint, but this could be a blessing in disguise. I love when a guitar looks “worn in” but I am not that fond of relic jobs. This guitar could get a few dings in the paint, and look really cool. If you are into the relic look, it would be easy to do!
The Gig Bag that comes with these guitars is really nice, and rivals some of the more expensive brand’s offerings. I wouldn’t mind having a few Thomann brand gig bags myself! These are well padded, and they have room for pedals, picks, or sheet music.
Wrapping Up / Final Thoughts…
Finding the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal was no small task, but it was a fun one! I think we found some absolute gems. If we were not looking specifically for the best Harley Benton guitars for Metal, Thomann has a huge range of great guitars for any genre.
We are spending this whole month looking at Harley Benton guitars, and I absolutely cannot believe how much guitar you get for your money.
Some guitarists will have a “Headstock Shame” problem, and I feel bad for you!
“Headstock Shame” is when you don’t want to be seen playing a cheaper guitar on stage, like an Epiphone over a Gibson.
Which is funny to me, because the crowd absolutely does not care what guitar you are playing. They only care if you sound good and put on a great show!
I played a Squier on stage for years, and no one ever came up to me after the show and demeaned me for playing it. So why do we care about what the name on the headstock says?
I think we often attempt to impress other guitarists, and that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Because that’s the only people that are going to take your gear into account.
If you sound fantastic on stage, playing a guitar that you love, then who cares what you’re using? Jack White played plastic guitars from department stores for years and no one batted an eye.
Let me say it loud for those of you in the back: No one cares what you play. Expensive guitars and gear doesn’t impress real musicians, your playing does.
Technique, chops, and just plain old talent is what impresses other musicians. So if your ego absolutely needs that stroke, then get good.
So if you buy gear to impress other guitarists, none of the above best Harley Benton Guitars for Metal are going to appeal to you.
But if you dismiss them at first glance, you will be missing out. Don’t get me wrong; these are definitely budget guitars.
But I would play shows with all three of these guitars after spending a little time with them. It would take a lot for me to mod the R-446 for the stage.
But the other two? It would involve maybe an hour on my workbench to get them setup the way I like. Pair either of those guitars with my BOSS Katana and I would be set for the stage.
But these guitars are also great for beginners that want a great guitar without breaking the bank.
Harley Benton also appeals to the guitarist that might have a lot of experience, but is mainly a home player. No matter who you are, if you like Metal and play guitar, there’s something here for you!
We have one more series of Harley Benton guitars to check out this month, and I can’t wait to see what we have in store for us!
So far the quality has far outweighed the budget with every HB guitar we have tried.
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects at home in Georgia. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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