Full Marks, Thomann
If only there had been guitars of this quality and price when I started playing over 40 (!) years ago. It's an absolutely stunning piece of kit. I honestly don't know how it's possible to sell them at this price.
With a bit of work, you can turn this into a guitar that, in my opinion, is the equal of similar models at over 10x the price. Thanks to modern production techniques, this is a precision manufactured instrument. The (heavy!) 45mm thick body, cavities and neck are perfectly cut and fit like a glove. However, it does need some human touches to really get it up to scratch. Namely:
3 or 4 of the frets did protrude from the neck sides and needed filing down flush. Nearly all the frets needed dressing properly at the ends with emery paper. 3 of the frets were ever-so-slightly high and needed filing down and re-crowning. All simple enough jobs - YouTube is your friend. I also oiled the neck with some Danish wood oil.
Next after a re-string with some quality strings (the originals weren't bad) I set the tremolo to float properly. The whole tremolo bridge works just fine and the plate, saddles and springs are all of a decent quality - perhaps the block could be upgraded, but no need especially. The tremolo arm does need bending up, off the strings, which I did using a vice. The tuners are well-made and do a quite satisfactory job. No complaints there. I then set the intonation and set the truss rod properly with feeler gauges. Just a quarter turn to the right. The pickup height was spot on,and I was ready to go.
So how does it sound? Just like it should! The pickups sound and feel authentic and don't lack any power or clarity. Yes, I have heard better, but not by much. The knobs,switch and the jack socket are all fine and well-earthed and there's no excessive, unwanted noise.
Conclusion: I was thinking of spending a lot of money on a Fender, but then, after reading a few reviews, I decided to take a chance - after all, I could always return it - thanks Thomann. Well, I wouldn't hesitate to buy one again or recommend one to anyone. Just spend a few hours setting it up properly and you will have yourself a fantastic guitar. The only negative I can report is a barely visible defect in the paintwork. For the record, whatever that's worth, I also own a Fender Telecaster and a Gibson SG. I thought I might sand off the Harley Benton logo, but now? No way! I use it live and people (guys!) have come up to me and said they couldn't believe it was really a Thomann copy, but there you go!