HardLuck Kings Guitars: Review (2023 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you’re interested in a Hardluck Kings Guitars review, you’ve come to the right post!

Brand Overview

For the past decade or so, we’ve seen those cheaper guitar brands get better.

There have been some of those “mysterious” cheap brands with pretty decent guitars.

Out of those, Harley Benton became the most famous, even getting into the “mainstream” of the guitar market.

HardLuck Kings are also one of the names that pop up, but they’re still not as widespread.

Additionally, people don’t usually have many sources to find out more about them other than random forum threads and Reddit posts.

So there’s always a bunch of questions about the brand.

This brand was officially founded back in 2010.

To my knowledge, the founder of the company is Mark Goldstein.

In the past, he’s also worked for Drum Workshop.

The company is in California, although they outsource their manufacturing overseas.

Although they’re now mostly getting famous for electric guitars, there are some basses to find in their arsenal.

For a while, they also had some acoustic guitars.

To my knowledge, they’re now doing electrics only.

It takes no more than a few glances to realize that these are copies of regular guitar models.

However, they do come with a few interesting twists, giving them a unique look.

So the designs are original and the overseas companies just put these ideas into work.

While they obviously resemble Les Pauls, Strats, and all the other classic models, Hardluck Kings guitar bodies can be slightly different.

In addition, they change their series once in a while so things are never boring with HardLuck Kings Guitars.

Some Guitar Models

As I already mentioned, the company is frequently making changes to their lines.

As of this writing, they have three main series to offer.

These are Series 26, Series 27, and Series 28.

At the moment, the Series 28 is still in the works but they’re accepting preorders.

Series 26

HardLuck Kings Southern Belle Monte Carlo Demo

Series 26 currently has just under 30 different models.

We could say that these are their “flagship” guitars as we can see some unique traits and features.

This is a collection of models that obviously copy Strats, Teles, SGs, Flying Vs, Thunderbirds, and Explorers.

You can also find Flying V, regular Fender-style, and even Thunderbird basses.

The cheapest Series 26 guitars are about $300, while the most expensive ones are around $700.

You can even find active-pickup guitars, as well as some triple-humbucker combos.

Body and neck materials are usually what you’d expect from models that they copy.

However, what’s interesting is that they come with walnut fingerboards.

Series 27

HardLuck Kings - Kustom Bossman 13 Right out of the box review

When it comes to Series 27, these are, on average, just slightly cheaper.

Once again, we’re looking at the same lines of classic models with a slightly different twist.

However, we have some interesting design traits within Series 27 as well.

As for the materials, we have pretty much the same deal.

It’s your regular mahogany for Gibson copies and alder for Fender copies.

Once again, we can also find walnut fingerboards.

But what I love about Series 27 is that they have some “thinline” T-style guitars in there.

A particularly interesting is the Cobra Bass that’s a 5-string Flying V-style instrument.

The prices here go from about $270 to $700 at the moment.

Series 28

I can’t say much about their Series 28 as they’re in the preorder status at the moment.

For the most part, these guitars also follow a similar pattern, bringing a collection of Fender and Gibson copies.

The main difference is that they come with some more affordable instruments, going below the $200 mark.

General Qualities

Over the past few years, I’ve heard some pretty bad things about HardLuck Kings Guitars.

Bear in mind that not all experiences were bad.

However, there have been some obvious inconsistencies.

One might get a pretty decent guitar, while another buyer might be dealing with a twisted neck.

However, from 2021 and onwards, there’ve been some noticeable changes.

I’m not saying that these are now guitars that incredibly outperform their price tags.

But the company has made some changes.

As a result, it seems that the overall quality has gotten better.

The finishes, for the most part, are pretty basic, although they do come with some interesting twists.

Those more expensive models are somewhat different.

The newest ones I’ve seen are pretty decent.

Nothing particularly exceptional, but they’re fine.

As far as electronics go, we have a huge variety of pickups and controls.

The quality of these electronics has been one of the issues that people have been complaining about in the past.

However, at this point, it’s another thing that seems to have changed.

Are HardLuck Kings Guitars Worth It?

It’s not easy to guarantee whether you should or shouldn’t purchase a lesser-known cheaper brand.

If we were talking about Harley Benton, who blew up in recent years, I’d absolutely advise you to get some of their stuff.

But as far as HardLuck Kings goes, I can’t guarantee anything.

I can say that there’s a high chance that you’ll get a decent guitar for the price.

Even if there were some minor issues, you couldn’t really complain at the price point.

Additionally, they could be interesting as a modding platform if you’re into that stuff.

But, in all honesty, I’d personally check out some of the other brands.

This is especially the case with more expensive models that get into higher-end Epiphone territories.

Until they win the market’s trust, I’d choose a brand with more credibility like Epiphone.

Hardluck Kings Guitars Review: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through Hardluck Kings guitars and whether this brand of instrument is for you!

And if you want to read more guitar brand reviews on this blog, then check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have more questions about this or another guitar-related topic!


9 Responses

  1. I have 6 of these guitars right now. I’ve purchased the latest one as of last year, and it was a series 28 preorder Les Paul copy with a maple fretboard. Out of all the guitars I’ve bought, the only major issue I have had was on the flying V I bought in ‘19; it came in with a damaged toggle switch. And all it took was an email with a picture, and they said “we’ve pulled your info, we’ve gotcha a new one shipped out, expect it in a few days.” Beyond that, for me, they have been phenomonal guitars that hold up to my more expensive Jacksons and the Gibsons that I’ve played. The only other issue is that most of my guitars have come in with minor defects, like they got a little too carried away with the sander on one of the frets, or a little bit of the black binding was rubbed off in one spot. As you said, for the price point, it’s not worth complaining about. But the other big stuff, I haven’t heard about, and I would like to think that it’s because they take care of their customer base when they do get those emails.

    1. Hi Cody,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! That’s great to hear you’ve had a good experience with the brand and sharing your experience is also super helpful for other readers of the blog!

    2. Those are some bad issues for guitar that cost as much as hlk do. There are better guitars for less than half as much.

  2. thelowmax says:

    I ordered a “showroom” model that had been in clearance or on sale for over a year. Everytime the price went down, the shipping cost went up making it cost more than the original cost. Finally bought it at $268 total ($79 for shipping?!). That was 3 weeks ago. When you buy it, they clearly state that the item will be shipped out in 30 to 45 days from purchase. If you order the “setup”, add an addition 30 days to that wait time. This is a showroom model (shouldnt it already be set up?). Why does it take so long to ship it out? Bought it 5/18/23. Wont expect it until 7/1/23. Why? Theres so much sketchiness to the way this company operates, from its lack of reviews, to the non transparency of manufacturing origins, I cant help but be suspicious but I look forward to reviewing the product, if it ever gets here.

    1. Hi there,

      I’m sorry you’ve had a weird experience with the brand. I don’t have any relationship with the company, so we report on the good and the bad. To that end, I’d love to know what you think of the instrument (if/when you get it) and how the whole process shakes out. And although floor models are usually set up, it might need to be re set up depending on how long it’s been on the floor. Sometimes those floor models get a lot of use and need some love before shipping out.

    2. Did you ever get it? Review? HLK is ultra sketchy…as bad as Sawtooth, maybe worse.

  3. HLK is a JOKE! Loooong “set up’ times. Guitar orders that take weeks…even for “in stock” and clearance items.
    The guitars themselves are just cheap imports of fairly low quality. Anyone who claims otherwise has never had a decent guitar to compare.

    For instance- the snakeskin model looks good on the page, but a member of the Budget Guitar Universe got one, and it looks like a cartoon from closer than 10 feet away.
    There are far better guitars, many for under $100!!!!
    Don’t be sucked in by the crappy auto wrap finishes.

  4. I bought a HLK Spider about three years ago new, I paid for the set-up only because I wanted to hit the stage sell we say pickin and strumming. That never happened because if that was their professional setup I would have to say the professional setup guy was off that day and they just found some guy on the streets to do it. Neck was off and the bridge was way off the strings were touching the pickups and the frets were so sharp you could have fileted a fish, once I took care of those issues the guitar played great with great tone and does all I ask it to do. However I will not be buying another oh yeah I also put a bone nut on it.. ithink I will go with Harvey Benton he’ll I have an old Samick Artist series Les Paul with Birdseye maple top that kicks butt I found that in a used store and it is really sweet.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Bob!

      It’s frustrating when a setup isn’t good (or, in your case, it sounds like it never happened!).

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