New Toy • New Sound

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

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

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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.

HBO850-01

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

HBO850-02

HBO850-03

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

HBO850-04

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

HBO850-06

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.

HBO850-07

Looking through one of the sound-holes.

HBO850-08

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.

HBO850-09

The onboard amplifier runs on a 9-volt battery.

HBO850-10

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

HBO850-11

HBO850-12

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

HBO850-20

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

HBO850-21

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.

HBO850-19

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.

HBO850-22

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

HBO850-05

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.

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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.

HBO850-15

HBO850-18

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.

HBO850-14

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.

HBO850-16

HBO850-17

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

HBO850-13

 

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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  1. I hope you make much beautiful music with your new guitar!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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