An £85 short-scale S-style with a HSS pickup configuration, Harley Benton’s ST-Junior HSS SBK Standard Series might be the ultimate beginner electric guitar

Harley Benton Standard Series ST-Junior HSS SBK
(Image credit: Harley Benton)

As brand that specialises in budget gear it should come as no surprise that Harley Benton has one of the biggest ranges for young players just getting started on the electric guitar, but the newly launched ST-Junior HSS SBK Standard Series might just be the best of the bunch.

Let’s look at the evidence. What do we need from a beginner electric guitar? Firstly, we want it to be cheap, seriously. There is always the danger that the guitar gets cast aside for another more persuasive passion. Well, at £85, that’s pretty cheap.

We also want it to be accessible. Learning to play the guitar can be a painful process as you get used to the strings – and painful in later years when you find yourself browsing fuzz pedals on Reverb at 1am, but that’s another subject for another day. 

Going by its dimensions, this ST-Junior HSS SBK looks very approachable, with a short-scale measuring in at a very compact 19.3”, with a 42mm nut width and a 13.8” fingerboard radius.

And we definitely want it to cover as many styles as possible. Beginners can’t afford to specialise; they’ve got to build their musical vocabulary, which is why an HSS pickup configuration, with the bridge humbucker complemented by single-coils at the neck and middle position makes perfect sense, offering young players a wide spectrum of electric guitar tones to play with. 

Also, the S-style double-cutaway body (in this instance, solid poplar), with a bolt-on maple neck, is a time-honoured platform for aspiring players to clock up some chords on. The fingerboard is roseacer, a form of thermally treated maple we see on a number of Harley Benton guitars as a substitute for rosewood, and it has 21 frets. 

Harley Benton Standard Series ST-Junior HSS SBK

(Image credit: Harley Benton)

The pickups are controlled by a five-way blade selector switch, plus volume and tone dials. The ST-Junior HSS SBK is kitted out with a set of black die-cast sealed tuners, a six-saddle hard-tail bridge that’s strung through the body, and a tortoiseshell pickguard that looks brilliant against that satin Black finish.

And that’s that. The ultimate beginner electric guitar? Well, it has all the ingredients, but this is a crowded field, and there are a number of stellar instruments from Squier, Epiphone, Yamaha and more to contend with.

The ST-Junior HSS SBK at least gets itself in the conversation, and there will always be room on the market for a stylish little short-scale electric runaround that offers plenty change from 100 bucks. Yours for £85. You’ll find it at Thomann and more info over at 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.