“Designed for players who demand a rock solid instrument”: Harley Benton unveils the SC-Custom III, aggressively priced singlecut electrics with stainless steel frets as standard, and plenty of spec options

Harley Benton SC-Custom III
(Image credit: Harley Benton)

Harley Benton has announced a comprehensive refresh of its flagship single-cut series, presenting its third generation SC-Custom III with stainless steel frets as standard, and with a suite of spec options that could well position it as one of the best electric guitars under 500 bucks on the market. 

This launch might be based around the brand’s familiar single-cut format, an LP-inspired six-string with a 3x3 headstock, 24.72” scale length, each with a solid meranthi body and glued-in meranthi neck, with roasted jatoba fingerboards and stainless steel frets as standard, but there is something for everyone here.

The SC-Custom III P-90, for instance, comes straight of out the old-school with a pair of Tesla TM P90B Alnico-5 pickups for “a fat, yet articulate tone” with plenty of bite. With the gold hardware and the Gloss Black finish, cream binding tying it all together, it really does pull off that budget Custom look. 

Then you have something like the SC-Custom III FR, which might be dressed similarly but has been fitted with a Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking vibrato, the sort of iconoclastic feature that Alex Lifeson might dig. Or take a look at the SC-Custom III Active VBK, which houses a pair of Tesla TM AH-5 Active humbuckers at the neck and the bridge positions. 

Finished in Vintage Black Satin and White, this could be a pinch-hitter for James Hetfield-style metal guitar chug. That is certainly the inspiration behind the design; well, that and shred. 

This has a full 24 fret fingerboard, and when you consider the necks on these SC-Custom IIIs are fairly slim, measuring just 20mm deep at the first fret, that all makes for a viable platform for high-performance guitar hi-jinks. 

Harley Benton SC-Custom III

Harley Benton SC-Custom III Active  (Image credit: Harley Benton)

And there are some models that split the difference, existing somewhere between the circa ’54 inspirations and the souped-up high-output, high-gain era. 

That’s where the core model, the SC-Custom III, comes in, with some classic, some flashy finish options and a Tesla TM VR-Nitro Alnico-5 humbucker pairing that can be coil-tapped for some single-coil tones.

All of these Harley Benton guitars have three-way pickup selectors, independent volume controls for each pickup, and a master tone knob. Fingerboards have a 350mm radius. Besides the Floyd-equipped model, all feature the WSC TOM-style bridge.

The SC-Custom III is offered in Vintage Black Satin, Lemon Flame, Ocean Flame, Purple Burst, Desert Burst, Satin Paradise, and Gold Top. There is a left-handed version in Vintage Black Satin. The SC-Custom III FR is available in Vintage Black. 

Harley Benton SC-Custom III

(Image credit: Harley Benton)

These are available now, exclusively through Thomann, and they are priced from $269 to $399. For more details, head over to Harley Benton.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.