TE-20 Standard Review

manufacturer: Harley Benton date: 01/25/2013 category: Electric Guitars
Harley Benton: TE-20 Standard
Telecaster replica with bolt-on neck, basswood body and C-Shape maple neck with a 22 fret rosewood fretboard.
 Sound: 5
 Overall Impression: 7
 Reliability & Durability: 7
 Action, Fit & Finish: 4
 Features: 6
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
review (1) pictures (2) 2 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 5.8
TE-20 Standard Reviewed by: MattiLeeDane, on january 25, 2013
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 69

Purchased from: thomann.de

Features: Telecaster replica with bolt-on neck, basswood body and C-Shape maple neck with a 22 fret rosewood fretboard. It has the classic Telecaster bridge with an angled single coil mic, along with the also ordinary lipstick-style mic in the neck position. It's got volume and tone controls, and 3-way switch. The hardware is chrome with diecast tuners. It came with 09-042 strings attached, and nothing else apart from ludicrous amounts of bubble wrap. I bought this guitar around 2008 and it seems to be another model than the current one, but the name is the same. The only discernible difference is that instead of the input jack being placed on the curve of the body like usual, my model has the body shaped with a corner, and the input jack gets it's own flat surface. It serves no real purpose and doesn't look very aesthetically pleasing, but at least they changed it back to the standard shape with the newer versions. // 6

Sound: I play and record several different styles of music for fun, but my main style and what I play in the band is Sleaze, which is a mixture of punk and glam, and in my case also heavier modern rock such as Nickelback and Papa Roach. There really isn't a big demand for amazing, sculpted sound in this genre so you can get away with using cheap stuff. Using the bridge mic I can get a real chunky tone as long as the distortion is kept under control. Too much and nary a iota of character comes through. The neck mic sounds like playing through bacon grease but works with solos and leads below the 12th fret, and the middle position has a bright yet full tone that sadly only really comes through when it's on it's own, with no other instruments. Due to my limited budget I mainly use TH2 Overloud for amp simulation and a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB interface, and the guitar works well with the sounds I use, but then again with enough fiddling you could make anything sound halfway decent. The mics are rather noisy on their own but it's not horrible unless you're really cranking it, in which case you'd probably be using a noise gate anyway. The guitar really doesn't have a very personal sound, but is usable as a short term solution, a practice guitar or just something cheaper than your main one to leave at the rehearsal space. Sound wise, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who can afford better, though. // 5

Action, Fit & Finish: Boy howdy was I disappointed when this one arrived. The strings were, I kid you not, almost 3/4 of an inch above the neck. Even with everything turned way up you could barely hear the damn thing, and when you did, the intonation was so off that you couldn't tell what you were playing. It was completely unusable. I was still pretty new to the technicalities of guitars, and had an amazing Epiphone SG and a shitty Silvertone Strat at the time, so it wasn't a huge loss for me and I never bothered looking into fixing it. I used it to experiment with the parts and learn about what NOT to do with a guitar though, until finally I put it away in a closet and thought no more of it until just the other day, when I decided that I'd gotten good enough to give it another go. I fixed it up to the best of my ability and now it plays as good as it's ever going to. The truss rod was all the way over clockwise, and the strings were a mess to get the action right on. The intonation took a while but it worked out, though if you play hard enough the E string screw actually moves over and you gotta stop and fix it. Looks-wise, there were no noteworthy flaws when I got it. I mean, the looks themselves -were- reason I bought it in the first place, after all. That and the price. Again, don't buy this if you can afford better, unless you want a cheap axe to mess around with without risking a big monetary loss. // 4

Reliability & Durability: The best part about this guitar is that it's built like a tank, it's taken all kinds of abuse from my side (being picked apart and put back together sloppily, moved across the country, thrown across the room in frustration etc.) and it holds up fairly well. Once you get it in tune, it stays there until your strap falls off because guitar makers keep insisting on making those smooth cone strap buttons that are completely useless. On with straploks, on with life. The only thing I'd be worried about are the electronics, but I haven't had any problems with them. I did re-solder the whole thing though, just to be safe. Didn't help the humming mics, hmm. The only reason I bring it as backup only is that I'm addicted to my Squier Showmaster, which sadly is the best guitar in my scarce collection but far from the best one I've played over an extended period of time, otherwise I could picture myself using it alongside my Epiphone Les Paul. The durability really is this guitar's only strong point without modifications. // 7

Overall Impression: Like I said before, in Sleaze it's not super important that the guitars sound unique as long as they don't sound like crap, and this guitar pulls through, of only by a hair. I've been playing for about 7 years in a wide variety of bands and styles, with varying gear. If for some reason someone would steal this hunk of junk I'd replace it with a better Telecaster, probably an ESP. I would cry a little though. I will admit that I've grown fond of it, and I play it a lot for the same reason that you eat too much sweets. You know you shouldn't, but sometimes you just can't help yourself. Looking back, I probably should have saved my money and bought a better one, but then I'd lose the DIY feel of learning by trial and error. It's something I can recommend to novice players out there; Don't pick apart your best guitar, buy a Harley Benton instead. Best case scenario: You learn something and you get a usable backup axe, worst case: you get to stay warm this winter. (I've rated this guitar with fairly okay numbers, but keep in mind that this is compared to other guitars in the same price range, NOT Gibsons and Fenders.)

// 7

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