Harley Benton CST-24T Electric Guitar – The Best Inexpensive Guitar?

Harley Benton CST-24T Review Black Flame Electric Guitar Review

Harley Benton CST-24T Electric Guitar Review

Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar
Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar

is the Harley Benton CST-24T Worth It?

In a word, Yes.  This is the best inexpensive guitar I have ever played.  No kidding.  I must have tried 50 inexpensive guitars in the last few years and this is by far the best value for money.  Another thing that sets this guitar apart is how nice it is visually. The Harley Benton CST-24T is made in Vietnam and it far exceeded my expectations.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar will be perfect for anyone playing blues, rock, metal, and more.  The CST-24T is based on a PRS style guitar and can cover almost any genre of music.  If you can think of it, you can use this guitar to get it done.

Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar Pickups
Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar Pickups

The Pickups

One of the standout features of the Harley Benton CST-24T is the pickups.  They sound fat and creamy while still having plenty of top end on the tone.  The CST-24 bridge pickup is one of my favorite guitar pickups on any guitar I have ever played. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it is true.  These pickups hold their own and sound fatter than my PRS SE Custom 24.

The Neck Pickup is also very good.  It can hold as much gain as you can throw at it and also sounds very nice clean as well.  Another benefit of the pickups is you can split coil/coil tap them.  By pulling the volume control “up” engages the split coil mode.  This mode is pretty decent.  I never feel like any split coil nails the single coil tone on any guitar, but this is close.

I also noticed in split coil mode the buzz wasn’t as bad as I was first expecting.  When I record in my studio I have to be aware of single coil buzz and usually have to gate it out.  With the Harley Benton CST-24, it didn’t buzz as much as my Stratocaster for example. The lack of buzz usually means the pickups are slightly hotter or more overwound.

Body Fit and Finish

The finish on this guitar is a 10.  This is one of the nicest guitars I have ever seen in person.  I have picked up some USA-made PRS guitars and this is so close that it is insane! The finish on the Harley Benton CST-24T is called “black flame” and it’s the most impressive affordable guitar finish I have ever seen.  The neck has a high-gloss finish that doesn’t feel sticky either.

The Harley Benton CST-24T has a binding not only on the body but also on the neck.  This feature also increases the visual appeal of the instrument and makes it scream quality.  The frets were perfect on it as well and it plays great all the way up to the 24th fret.

Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar Headstock Body Finish
Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar Headstock Body Finish

Any Issues?

The only issue some people might have with the Harley Benton CST-24T is it is quite heavy.  If you’re looking for a lightweight guitar, this is not it.  The CST-24T weighs about as much as Mexico made Fender Telecaster.  While the guitar is heavy for its size, it does not weigh as much as my Les Paul.

Value for Money

If I had to recommend a dual humbucker guitar for someone at an affordable price this is the one. This is a much better guitar than anything I have seen from Squier and Fender (at the same price). It is also in a whole other league from other guitars in higher price ranges.

Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar
Harley Benton CST-24 Electric Guitar Headstock

How does the Harley Benton CST-24T compare with a PRS SE?

The Harley Benton CST-24T and PRS SE guitars are very, very comparable. There are a few main differences which come down in the end to what you like the best.  The PRS SE pickups have a more top end bite to them and don’t sound as fat. This is also true on the split coil mode.  I think the coil tapped mode on the CST-24 actually sounds better because it’s more full sounding.  The split coil on the PRS SE is its weak point and I have mentioned this before in my video review of it.

In terms of guitar weight, the PRS SE is a lighter guitar and I would instinctively reach for it over the Harley Benton given the choice for a long gig.  In terms of the visual aspect of the guitars, both look amazing. I would give the edge to the Harley Benton CST-24T in terms of the top.

The necks feel very similar as well but the PRS just feels that little bit nicer in the hand for me.  This is a subjective thing so it may vary from person to person depending on their preferences.

I am going to also give the PRS the slight edge on the Whammy bar.  The CST-24T requires some loosening of the springs to get it right but once you have it set up it works great.  The PRS SE feels a little nicer to use, but it’s all subjective.

Included Accessories

Included with the Harley Benton CST-24T are a whammy bar and Allen key for the truss rod. I would love it if even an inexpensive gig bag was included but that is it.

Specifications

  • Deluxe Series
  • Set-in mahogany neck (C-shape)
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Arched, flamed maple top
  • Fretboard: Jatoba
  • Radius: 350 mm
  • 24 Medium frets
  • Fretboard inlays: Pearloid Dots
  • Body and neck binding
  • Scale: 635 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Graphite Nut
  • Pickups: 2 Roswell HAF Alnico-5 humbuckers
  • Controls: 1 x Volume- and 1 x tone knob (push / pull: coil split)
  • Three-way switch
  • DLX chrome hardware
  • Wilkinson WVPC tremolo
  • DLX machine heads
  • Strings: D’Addario EXL-110 010-46
  • Colour: Black Flame

Pickup Alternatives

If you’re not into humbuckers and you want single coil tones then check out the Harley Benton CST-24T P90 version, it’s also fantastic. I haven’t played the P90 version but we were sent one to review and my friend Dr. Ric said it was simply a great guitar to play.  The P90 and the Humbucker versions are identical minus the pickups and some of the color options you can choose from.

Video Review

Overall Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I think this is the best affordable electric guitar I have ever played.  Where I live this is a lot less expensive than brands like Squier and Epiphone for example so keep that in mind.  The Harley Benton CST-24T stacks up very well against the PRS SE electric guitar which is a much more expensive guitar.

As of writing this article, I haven’t taken the guitar out to a gig but I would have no hesitations in doing so.  Once I get some live footage of this guitar at a gig I will also add it to this article.  This guitar is the best Harley Benton I have played personally and it’s way better than a lot of more expensive guitars.  If you’d love a PRS and you can’t afford a PRS SE, then check out the Harley Benton CST-24T. These guitars are available on Thomann and ship internationally.

If you are on even more of a budget then check out my full review of the Harley Benton TE-52.