Cost: $184.00, from Thomannmusic.com
Overview and Final Score: 8.0
If you grew up a fan of The Clash like I did than a Les Paul Doublecut Junior with one dog ear P90 is like the holy grail of guitars. I even tried to turn my very nice, double P90 Les Paul Special into one with a decent amount of success (I always missed the double horn look though).
So needless to say, I was pretty pumped when Harley Benton announced they would be releasing a super affordable, sub-$200 version of the classic guitar model. The Mahogany body is paired with a set-in Mahogany neck and Amaranth fretboard that feels slim and comfortable. A single Roswell P90D Alnico-5 dog ear provides that classic, single pickup appearance that many have come to know and love. One important caveat though, the TV Yellow they advertise is almost more of a mustard color, which looks great, but simply isn’t that same, classic Gibson yellow you may be looking for.
Other great features on the Harley Benton DC-Junior include 22 medium-jumbo frets, simple volume and tone knobs, and the classic wrap-around style bridge. The C-shaped neck profile features simple dot inlays and the whole thing comes strung with some quality D’Addario EXL110’s.
Right off the bat one weird thing stuck out to me: this guitar sounds great but it sounds a lot like the bridge pickup of a Fender Telecaster. Now, that’s certainly a compliment as it sounded like a really nice Fender Telecaster, but the P90 has a surprising amount of slap and spank, making it excellent for chick-n-picking and country music. Even better, you could really shape the sound with the volume and tone pots, which had shockingly good sweep for such an affordable guitar.
While I was overall super impressed with the tones and sounds of the Harley Benton DC-Junior, I was also a bit disappointed that it didn’t really sound like that mid-heavy tone that made Les Paul Juniors so popular. The tones became a lot more rounder once I layered on the right amounts of distortion and overdrive and rolled the tone knob down. It just took some finding to get a real “authentic” DC Junior tone. However, did the guitar sound great? Hell yes and it’s a joy to play, so I can’t really knock it too much, just don’t expect this to replace a real deal Gibson.
The slim Mahogany neck on this DC Junior is crazy comfortable and really fast. Those medium jumbo frets feel great, and the setup and action was great right out of the box. Overall, the playability is top shelf, only held back a little by the okay tuners. The tuning stability was by no means bad, but I have the say the tuners are probably the only weak spot in my mind. If you were to upgrade these to some type of locking tuners or more traditional Grovers, you’d have one hell of a guitar that sounds way closer to being $500+ than $100+. But, the DC-Junior has a fast, slim neck and the wrap around tail piece gives the strings a distinctly different feel, almost slinkier, than my Gibson Les Paul with the stop bar tailpiece set up.
Finish & Construction: 8
I had to take a few points off here mainly for false advertising. It’s not TV Yellow, it’s Dirty Mustard (which they even say once you read the guitar’s specs). Really it’s not a big deal, and I mostly knocked a little something off for the lower quality tuners used to cut costs. But overall, this guitar is about $180 and feels great, don’t over think it. Pretty much all the construction and wiring seems to be in great shape. Another obvious issue is that like with many big single coils/P90’s, this guitar has a ton of buzz. It’s not a deal breaker, and it’s even common on many Gibson’s with P90s, but it is something to consider.
For just under $200 the Harley Benton DC-Junior is a steal. This guitar is comfortable, fun, and looks great. Even better, it’s so lightweight I can’t wait to use it in a live setting. While the sounds may stray a bit from the traditional Les Paul DC-JR expectations, it still sounds like a well above average guitar for barely more than a Squier Affinity Series model. I’m very pleased to be adding this to my collection, and I would argue that upgraded tuners and maybe a Seymour Duncan P90 would have this rivaling a newer Gibson Les Paul DC (just not a vintage one). I love this guitar, plain and simple.