Excellent value for money
WholeLottaHarley on 2021/01/09
In my opinion, value for money is the lens through which any Harley Benton guitar must be viewed, and the fact that we can even compare these guitars to others costing 10X as much and more is perhaps the best compliment I can give them.
I bought both the black and candy apple red versions of the ST-20 with the intention of swapping the necks to create a David Gilmour "black strat" clone with one of them, which worked out great, and gave me a gorgeous candy apple red version with a dark laurel neck as a bonus, at about $80 USD each.
Bottom line: The finish on both these "cheap" guitars is remarkable, and while glossy black always looks great, the sparkly candy apple red body is particularly stunning, and makes a great platform for upgrades.
The fret work does not quite measure up to more expensive Harley Bentons I own, but this was easily remedied with a bit of work, and for beginners, would be acceptable as-is. The laurel fretboard resembles a dark rosewood, and I wouldn't know it isn't.
The tuners are better than expected and functional, but not great, and the same would describe the pick-ups. I expected very little, but got more than that, and both would be acceptable to a beginner.
More experienced players may opt for upgrades of tuners and/or pick-ups, but both exceed what one would expect of an $80 guitar, and more experienced players probably aren't looking at $80 guitars anyway, unless they are interested in modding them like I did. These guitars are simply a bargain, and for beginners and those looking to expand their collection on a tight budget, I don't think you can do better than this.
Finally, kudos to Thomann for fast delivery to the US despite Covid. They have yet to disappoint me, and communication and order tracking has always been good.