Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Review & Prices

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Review
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  • From Harley Benton's 2020 Custom Line series
  • Made in China
  • 12 strings
  • 25"'' scale
  • 15.748" Fretboard Radius
  • Spruce top
  • Mahogany back
  • Mahogany sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Ovangkol fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Fishman Presys-II system with built-in tuner (Preamp/Active)
  • Ovangkol bridge
  • Acoustic C Shape Set neck
  • 20 Medium frets
  • Gold-plated DLX die-cast machine heads tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 77
Sound 83
Build quality 69
Value for money 86
Overall Score 76
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Electronics
  • Bone Saddle
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in China
  • Laminated Top Wood
  • Laminated Side Wood
  • Laminated Back Wood
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $600, which means that the Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT is around 60% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 12 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in China.

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Videos

Harley Benton - Custom Line - CLJ-412E NT - Presentation -
Harley Benton - NO TALKING - CLJ-412E - Just Playing -
Harley Benton Custom Line CLJ-412E NT - Sound Demo (no talking)
TOP 10 ACOUSTIC 12 STRING GUITAR SONGS | Harley Benton CLJ-412E NT
Harley Benton CLJ-412e 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Harley Benton 12 String Second Look - Custom Line CLJ-412E NT
Harley Benton Acoustics Review - CLD-41S / CLJ-412E / CLP-15ME
Harley Benton Custom Line Clj-412E NT
Harley Benton - custom line - CLJ-412E NT
Harley Benton Jumbo 12 string acoustic CJL-412E NT, review
More Videos

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Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT meets 3 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not recommended for complete beginners. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Soft Strings
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's construction is balanced for most hand sizes.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's 25" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Scale Length Comparison
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale found in most PRS guitars, and it's right between the length of most Stratocasters and Les Pauls.

The scale length will affect the separation of the frets, the string tension, and even the tone of the guitar. The longer the scale, the more separated the frets are, which makes it a bit harder to move fast on the fretboard. Also, the higher tension of the strings will make them feel stiffer, so bending will require more strength. However, a longer scale also allows you to lower the action of the strings and make them closer to the fretboard, which makes them easier to press. Finally, the tone will also sound brighter with a longer scale.

A 25'' scale makes all of this feel right between a Stratocaster (longer scale) and a Les Paul (shorter scale).

Don't forget that you can also affect the tension of the strings by changing your string gauge.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Neck Profile
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT has a 15.748" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's fretboard radius compared to others

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.89'' Nut Width
15.748'' Fretboard Radius
25'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.811'' Nut Width
15.75'' Fretboard Radius
25.512'' Scale Length
D Neck Profile
1.875'' Nut Width
14.96'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.89'' Nut Width
16'' Fretboard Radius
25.5'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.89'' Nut Width
14'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Nut Width
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Nut Width

The Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT has a nut width of 48mm (1.89''). This is considered a wide width for a 12-string guitar. It gives your fingers the extra space you need to play without muting accidentally, but this also makes bar chords harder to perform, especially if you have small hands.

Frets

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT Fret Size Comparison
Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 80
Chord Playability 70
Solo Playability 80
Playability 77

Tone Analysis

The type of wood and even the shape of the body will have a lot of influence in the final tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's we'll talk about what kind of tone you can expect from its specs.

Wood

Spruce wood pattern used for guitar building
Spruce Top
Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Back, Sides, Neck
Ovangkol wood pattern used for guitar building
Ovangkol Fretboard

Spruce Top: This wood has a light color with tight grain patterns. It's very stiff but relatively light. It's known for producing a well-rounded tone with a broad dynamic range.

Mahogany Back, Sides and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Ovangkol Fretboard: It's a beautiful wood that's popular for acoustic guitars. Its tone sits somewhere between rosewood and mahogany, meaning it has a punchy low-end and nice mid-range.

More made with the same wood:

Pickups

This guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Fishman. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

Sound Score

Sustain 75
Versatility 85
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 83

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT is made in China. So you can expect lower build quality when compared to others made in Korea, Japan or the United States. Guitars made in this country are meant for mass production, which translates into less attention to detail and quality control. This doesn't mean the product is made poorly at all. Chinese products have a bad reputation since long ago, but they've definitely improved a lot the last few years.

Still, remember that we're taking about Harley Benton here, which is a brand with good renown. They know how to use cheap labor in this country without sacrificing too much quality. So you shouldn't end up receiving a useless or ugly instrument.

Bridge

Ovangkol: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT has a Bone nut. This material is one of the highest quality you can get. It provides excellent sustain and tune stability if cut well. The only disadvantage is that it's an organic material, so it's not consistent. Two different bone nuts, even if made from the same bone, will probably sound slightly different. However, bear in mind that this is only relevant when playing open strings.

More with the same nut material:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 66
Features 85
Quality Control 55
Build Quality 69

All Specs

Harley Benton CL CLJ-412E NT
General
Brand: Harley Benton
Year: 2020
Configuration:
Strings: 12
Made in: China
Series: Custom Line
Colors: Natural
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Spruce
Bridge: Ovangkol
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Gold-plated DLX die-cast machine heads
Fretboard: Ovangkol
Neck Material: Mahogany
Decoration: Pearloid Square
Scale Size: 25"
Shape: Acoustic C Shape
Frets: 20 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 15.748"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 48mm (1.89'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: Fishman Presys-II system with built-in tuner (Preamp / Active)

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