After watching a number of YouTube videos raving about it, I purchased the Harley Benton G212 Vintage cabinet ( https://www.thomannmusic.com/harley_benton_g212_vintage.htm ) a 2X12 cabinet with 2 Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.
Before this purchase, I had 2 4X12 cabinets (from order of purchase): Crate Blue Voodoo BV412ST with Eminence 86-078-16 that is switchable between 4 or 16 Ohms. The other is a Mesa 4X12 with 4 Celestion Vintage 30s, running at 8 Ohms.
For break-in, I ran over 12 hours of “pink noise” through the cabinet, before playing through it at higher volumes.
I’ve had a few weeks with the cabinet, and I have to agree that not only is it a ridiculous value, it’s also a GREAT CABINET, at least for home use.
This past weekend, I had a friend come over, who has the same Mesa cabinet, and the main idea was to determine if I was going to keep the Blue Voodoo. Within 5 minutes, I knew the Blue Voodoo was going to be put on the market. It’s not because it’s a bad cabinet. To the contrary, it’s a really great cabinet. Built like a tank, sounds great, but it’s just a matter of taste. I play classic rock/hair metal style songs and that cab has served me well. But in comparison, it seems to have a lot more midrange than the others. It would probably be “the Holy Grail” cabinet for someone who plays heavier rock.
The rest of the hour and a half was doing a comparison between the Mesa and Harley Benton. At first, I fully believed this would be an unfair comparison, a $170 2X12 cabinet, vs an $750 4X12 cabinet. But, that was on paper.
First off, this is NOT a scientific comparison. It’s just 2 clowns in a room, listening to the cabinets. Take from it, what you will.
- Set Up -
The signal chain was simple:
Synergy (with Plexi and Grail modules) with an MXR EQ in the FX Loop => Seymour Duncan PowerStage 170 => Cabinet.
Each cabinet had a speaker cable, of the same brand and make, and I switched them at the PowerStage. I would turn off the PowerStage, swap the cables, and turn it back on.
- Sound Test -
During testing, as expected, the two sounded different. But to our amazement, each had it’s own distinct properties that we really liked. The Mesa had more lower end, but at times sounded a little “flubby” when the bass was pushed or the SAG was turned all the way up on the Synergy. The Harley Benton seemed to be more “in your face”, slightly brighter with tighter bottom end. There seemed to be more clarity in the HB than the Mesa, but that could be due to the fact that the HB had about 40 hours total play on it, and the Mesa has decades of break-in.
After about 45 minutes, I was switching so many times that the output jack for the Seymour Duncan PowerStage needed to be tightened because the nut came loose.
Each cabinet had it own characteristics that made it almost impossible to definiitively pick one over the other. In some riffs, we both liked the Mesa. In other riffs, we both liked the HB. In every case, we both chose the same cabinet. I don’t think there was one test where we chose different cabinets.
This was the case for both the Plexi and Grail modules. Adding more bass, via the MXR EQ showed the difference in ability to handle the lower end. At no time was there any “flubbiness” in the HB. But, like I mentioned before, this could be because the speaker age more than the cabinet.
- Quality -
From a quality standpoint, there is NO comparison between the 2 cabinets. Will the Mesa survive playing out constantly? Yes, it’s proven that already. Will the Harley Benton survive? I really don’t think so. It’s not built anywhere near as well as the Mesa. Considering the price point, how could it compare to the Mesa?
- Value -
On the other hand, is the Mesa approximately $600 better than the Harley Benton? I would have to say no. If you’re just looking for something for the home, the Harley Benton is a no brainer. If you constantly gig, and are looking at the HB for a gigging cabinet, you could, as long as you put some money into it to reinforce it.
For the money, I don’t think you can get a better cabinet. The speakers alone are worth more than I paid for the entire thing. I couldn’t be happier.