Are Harley Benton Guitars Good?
Harley Benton is a very viable guitar brand for beginners and more advanced players. I have been in a fortunate position to be able to test a lot of guitars over the years and I have also tested a number of Harley Benton Guitars. In terms of their price point, there’s not much else that compares with them in terms of quality. Harley Benton guitars come from a German guitar company called Thomann. These guitars are German designed and made in Indonesia and China.
What makes Harley Benton a good beginners guitar?
One thing that makes Harley Benton great for beginners is because they play well straight out of the box. Many inexpensive guitars fall victim to looking good but not always feeling good to play. The Harley Benton guitars are easy guitars to play and will be a great beginners guitar.
Comparable guitars in a brand like Squier would be the Classic Vibe Series. These Classic Vibes (where I live) are so much more expensive and funnily enough, are not any better. While Squier has the parent company of Fender doesn’t mean it’s a better instrument. Comparing them side by side both play great, both look cool, but both are very different in terms of price.
If you are a beginner and if you’re looking for a Telecaster guitar the Harley Benton TE-52 is about as affordable as you will find. It’s not only affordable but it’s great. I actually prefer this guitar over the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Telecaster which I owned. The neck is better, the pickups are just as nice, and it’s less expensive.
Are Harley Benton Guitars good for experienced players?
Absolutely! So the first thing to know about me, I am not a brand snob. I like anything that sounds good and plays well. If it doesn’t tick those two boxes I don’t want to use it. I have recently had a chance to play and own a lot of higher end guitars and the Harley Benton CST-24T guitars are as nice as anything out there. This is a guitar I can take to gigs, use to track guitar on an album, and leave in the car and not fear that if it gets stolen I won’t be too far out of pocket.
I am fussy when it comes to how the action is on a guitar as well as how the fret edges feel and I am yet to have any complaints with the Harley Benton guitars that I have played.
Because of these guitars being so affordable and playable, there’s nothing to stop you buying one as a backup option or maybe even as an upgrade from something else you already own. I have played a lot more expensive guitars than the Harley Benton’s but that doesn’t mean they played or sounded any better. A great example of this was a $5000 Gibson Les Paul a few years ago. Sure it was nice to look at but I was fighting the “off-the-shelf” set up more than any Harley Benton I have played so far. This goes to show the factory setup is done with care and attention to detail.
How Does Harley Benton Guitars Compare with other Brands?
As I mentioned earlier Harley Benton guitars compare very favorably to the higher end Squier Classic Vibe guitars. They also compare extremely well to the PRS SE Guitars. I know what some of you are thinking, “NO WAY!” right?
My experience with the Harley Benton CST-24T is that it is so close to my PRS SE custom 24. Visually, I think the Harley Benton might have the edge. The Harley Benton does sound different from the PRS as well. It has a thicker and fatter tone from the pickups especially on split coil mode while the PRS has a bit more of a top end chime to the pickups.
The Roswell pickups that Harley Benton fit stock in their instruments are right up there with anything else on the market. I don’t even care what the price point is, the fact is they work great.
In terms of how the guitars compare in terms of feel. The PRS plays a little bit better but there’s not much in it. The PRS also has a slightly better tremolo system in my opinion. That said, the Harley Benton use Wilkinson Bridges that are widely regarded as quality bridges.
What is My Favorite Harley Benton Guitars?
I don’t write reviews about guitars I haven’t seen in person or actually played. This list is my 5 favorite electric guitars from Harley Benton.
Value for money this is a no-brainer. It’s built like a tank, has a nice fat neck, and sounds like any top-notch Telecaster. I wrote a full review of the TE-52 that you can check out if this guitar interests you.
The reason this is on the list is that it is the lightest guitar of all the Harley Benton range I have tried. It also sounds great and is loaded with Gretsch-style humbucker pickups.
This is a total beast! The CST-24T is comparable to my PRS SE and sounds arguably just as nice. Not only does it sounds great but the top looks amazing and the 24 frets are a lot of fun!
This is essentially the same guitar like the one mentioned above but it is loaded with quality sounding P90 pickups.
Like Les Paul tones but don’t want to spring for an Epiphone? This is a great alternative to the Epiphone Les Paul. We were lucky enough to try this guitar in Germany in 2018 and tone wise we were both blown away. There were zero complaints tone or quality wise with the SC-550.
There are a few things to mention to keep this article fair on both sides. Harley Benton guitars are quite heavy. I’ve now been able to see 8 and play 4 and all but two of them were quite heavy. The only one so far that wasn’t backbreakers was the Harley Benton Fusion-II and the TE-90FLT VW Deluxe Series.
Another downside is you can only order them online and then “hope for the best”. I am a big fan of being able to test guitars prior to buying them even though this is the “old way”. If you are comfortable trusting online reviews and videos enough to warrant a purchase then go for it. My experience so far has been very favorable.
Another objectional downside is the fact Harley Benton hasn’t release too many of their own designs. A lot of their guitars are clearly “inspired” from other companies designs.
If you are buying a Harley Benton one thing I have seen people complain about is the return policy. There are no refunds or returns on these instruments. If you are not happy with the setup you will need to have it sorted out locally by a guitar tech (or yourself).
How are the Harley Benton Guitars So Cheap?
Most guitar brands that are inexpensive have usually had to cut corners to save on the price. This is really evident on brands like Squier and some of the entry level Epiphone guitars. Harley Benton guitars have quality wood including Canadian Maple, Ash, and Mahogany. The hardware on the TE-52 is more robust than the Squier Classic Vibe 50s Tele. It just feels and responds better. The switches and volume pots feel better and the bridge also looks a lot higher quality.
In all estimations, the savings come down the labor costs. These guitars are made in Asia and the cost of production is far less expensive. Prices will vary also based on your local currency and exchange rate.
So are Harley Benton Guitars any Good?
For their price point, there is not much that comes close to them. They out-perform a lot of guitars in terms of bang-for-buck. While most of the models are fairly heavy in terms of weight, it’s not a deal breaker when you consider how well they play and how great they can sound. It comes down to the player in the end and how you go about dialing in your sound. A lot of cheaper guitars will hold your full playing capabilities down but not Harley Benton guitars. There was a lot of hype surrounding these guitars a while back on YouTube and I can tell you a lot of it is justified.
There’s not a lot of people complaining online about the quality of their Harley Benton guitar these days. Early on when the brand was first released, you would see some comments with people clearly unhappy. It appears a lot of the early issues have been sorted. I am more happy with the Harley Benton guitars now than I am Squier or even my beloved SX guitars.
Check out the comments section on YouTube videos to see how many happy customers there are actually are. Harley Benton is the best of German engineering and Asia made guitar production in one. Check out the Harley Benton range online.