Finally after some contemplating, I decided to purchase the Harley Benton TE-80 guitar which looks as a quite good copy of the Prince telecaster. There are some “unboxing videos” of this guitar on youtube and the reviews are not that bad. So why not take a chance for 190 euros?
Harley Benton is not a very familiar name. In fact it is a brand run by one of the biggest online music stores: Thomann. It’s a German online store so when you are living outside of the EU, their products may become quite expensive because of taxes and shipping costs.
The guitars are probably made in China, maybe Indonesia. That should not be an issue. Some quite nice guitars may come from these countries, of course -especially for that price- it’s never going to match a high-end guitar. But it should be playable and with a few modifications and upgrades
The guitar was delivered within a week after my online purchase and my first impression was quite positive. Let’s look at some points:
- The guitar is heavy, about kg.
- The maple flamed top looks very nice. It’s not a photo-finish (it has a nice ‘depth’ to it which a photo-finish doesn’t have) but a veneer, probably 0.6 mm thick (standard veneer thickness). It also has some knots which gives it some character. Although when buying in a shop, I would look for the guitar with a perfect top.
- The body consists of 4 pieces of woord. Doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The back also has a veneer, sadly it isn’t a flamed maple veneer as on the top.
- Hardware looks and feels OK. Nothing special.
- The nut is made from cheap plastic, need to be replaced asap.
- Neck has a nice satin finish. Really nice. In the beginning I thought the frets were a little too high for my taste but after picking it up for a second time it felt more comfortable. I also like the neck shape.
- Equipped with d’Addario strings! Nicely in tune and intonated.
Overall, a nice guitar considering it’s price. But there is one drawback (which can be fixed), the frets are not finished well. The fret ends stick out and that hurts your fingers. A guitar like that would never be able to pass quality control. For me it’s a 15 minute job to fix it, especially when I combine it with a nut replacement and an overall fret levelling. But a guitar in this state should never be shipped to a customer.
Everybody Always wants to know what the pick-ups sound like. They are Wilkinson pick-ups, I am not too excited about them but I am going to replace them anyway.
Sorry Thomann, the guitar in this state is a fail. Maybe it slipped through QC. But with nicely rounded frets I would really recommend this guitar, also for beginners.
- New (bone) nut
- Fret levelling
- Fret ends rounding
- Pickguard replacement for a more authentic look