New Toy • New Sound

I got another toy yesterday – an Acoustic-Electric Guitar from Harley Benton.

This is my second acoustic guitar. The first one is a Yamaha that I bought in mid 1980. Can’t recall the exact model but should be a low cost Gibson Hummingbird copy. I had lots of fun and great moments with it. Anyway, I gave it to my niece many years ago.

In my good old days as a teenager, Ovation guitars with their extraordinary shape and sound-holes design, are one of those guitars that I always dreamt of. Now, after nearly 40 years, my dream almost comes true. Well not exactly, just another low cost copy!

While surfing the net on Harley Benton guitars, I came across the HBO-850NT, a copy of the Ovation round back guitar, probably the Celebrity series of guitars.

Built with laminated soundboard, ABS plastic (vs synthetic fibre in the case of Ovation) super shallow round-back bowl and a bunch of small sound holes instead of the traditional big sound hole, the guitar looks great to me – both aesthetically and financially. 🤣

As said, the use of small sound-holes in the upper chamber of the guitar help to yield a greater volume and at the same time, reduce the feedback.

I ordered the guitar via the German musical equipment retailer Thomann’s  online shop.  Within two days, the guitar was delivered to me via UPS. Given such a shipment response, I don’t see any need to take the costly expedite delivery.

Online ordering via the Thomann GmbH

Online ordering via the Thomann GmbH


As usual, unboxing is a must …

All the items including the guitar are delivered in one big cartoon box.

I like the slogan – “Music Is Our Passion“. It is also my passion.


Another big box containing the guitar. Can anyone tell me what “Roseacher FB” means?



Finally, here comes the sleeping beauty. Isn’t she lovely?


Guitar headstock with the Harley Benton (HB) logo. I should remove the protective film before taking the shot.


The die-cast machine heads looked solid. I have also ordered another set of machine heads from Harley Benton to repair my Line 6 Variax.


Looking through one of the sound-holes.


HBO-850NT is equipped with an active pickup, or to be exact, piezo pickup, suitable for recording or stage playing. It includes a Master volume, 3-band Equalizer plus a battery check button at the bottom right corner.


The onboard amplifier runs on a 9-volt battery.


Battery is also included in the package and let see if it is working.



The line output jack is at the bottom side of the bowl.


I used a standard mono guitar cable to connect to my Line 6 Spider amplifier.


So far so good. Right? Except one!

I have no idea on which brand of acoustic strings is used for the guitar. Seems like the quality is not good and when I tuned the guitar, the lowest e-string just broke.


I went through the specification and found that the guitar was delivered with set of Gauge .011/.052 acoustic guitar strings. The damaged one is the .011 string.

Luckily I have one pack of Dunlop Super Bright electric guitar strings (Gauge: 9/42) with me. Although electric guitar string is not supposed to be used for acoustic guitar, this served as a temporary fix.


After replacing with the second of the set (Gauge 11), the HBO-850NT is now ready for testing.


Let check if it actual sounds ok.


Picking via Microphone

Picking via Line Out

Strumming via Microphone

Strumming via Microphone


After few hours of playing, I still can’t get used to playing this round back guitar while placing it on my leg. It just keep sliding away very easily. May be using a guitar strap will help.


Any imperfection? YES.


Firstly the build quality is something that needed to be improved.

Some dents are found on the soundboard and around the headstock.



The plastic surfaces around the strap pins are not properly clean up. There are plastic pieces left behind the two holes where the drilling were made.


Binding for the fret board is not well made and somehow the surface turned a little bit yellow. Also the edge of the frets are quite coarse and further polishing is recommended.



Lastly, the inside of the bowl needed to be clean up as well. It took me quite a while to remove those dirts.



Overall, build quality of the HBO-850NT is average while materials used are quite flimsy and looked a little bit downgraded.

However, at slightly below HKD 700, the HBO-850NT does it job without any major issues. You just can’t compare it with the genuine Ovation guitars (even those low end models) , those guitars will cost you a fortune!

Given that I bought my first Yamaha acoustic guitar for around HKD 500 nearly 40 years ago, the HBO-850NT definitely meets all my expectation.

May be I should consider some DIY works to enhance the playability of the guitar in the near future. Stay tuned!


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