so my Candy Apple Red and Metallic Blue TM20 arrived today. Outer cardboard box was slightly knackered, but inner boxes were okay, except for the styrofoam neck rests, who gave their structural integrity to protect the guitar inside.
No more plastic fillers, but only crushed paper, which I like. Try folded cardboard for the neck rests, you might get rid of those plastic pieces, too.
Have not received any goodies with the guitars, no stickers, no picks, nothing.
From the first looks, the guitars might even come from different factories. The metallic blue guitar is significantly heavier than the red guitar. Haven't had them on the scales - yet - but I'd say the difference is at least 1 kg.
Paintwork is more than acceptable. The blue is a tad lighter than expected, but the red one is that kind of deep "Oooh Yeah!" red that gives me an instant ... cough. Let's leave it there.
The blue one actually has a three ply scratchguard, so that's a pro. The chrome bridge looks better in reality than on the photos. I will check intonation and - yes, it's a Tele, you won't be able to intonate it properly - if it's okay, the chrome bridges may even stay.
Can't say anything about playability yet, as the guitars need to settle down a bit and adjust to the climate here, but so far I'm not disappointed.
Well, there are niggles, though. The neck for instance is cheap. Feels good, but it's not, what you would expect from a proper Tele neck. A maple fretboard Tele neck is hewn from one piece of maple, the truss is set in from the back, hence the prominent skunk stripe. With this neck, they just slapped a maple fretboard on. I know, it is possibly cheaper to use the same neck blanks for all of the HB Teles and then just use different fretboards, but, well, it's not THAT important, but I just noticed it.
Both guitars have a nice first feel. The neck is definitively NOT Tele,, it is wider and flatter than the usual Tele neck. Fret sprout is absent and the narrow thin frets are looking okay -n even though they are not polished. Switches and potentiometers feel solid. Tuners feel and look cheap, but they might do their job.
The red guitar has some issues with the strings not lining up properly, the strings are shifted about 2 mm to the bass side, but this might as well be dealt with by adjusting the bridge, there is enough travel there and then it might even align better with the pickups. The strings are not THAT far off, it's more a bit of a niggle.
Oh dear, the blue guitar REALLY is a heavy one. Don't want to wear that for a long gig ....
Both guitars fell off the production line and passed QC at the 15th of July 2019. Both were checked by Alan.
So, what is my verdict after just ogling over the new TE20 from Harley Benton?
Hardware is better than expected. Triple ply pickguards may stay. Chrome bridge is not too bad, but will be changed to a proper string-through-body part later. Not as soon as expected, but at a later stage.
Paintwork is as good as any Fender.Impressive.
I wish we had guitars of that quality at that price when I was younger. Now I'm in my mid 50's, but when I started guitars, we have had proper sh!t for ridiculous money, you have it good, you don't know how bad we've had it.
Am I happy? If the rest - playability, sound - is up to par, I could not be more happy. Buy the red one - the blue one is too heavy - help yourself to a 5-way super switch and some better pots, caps - without looking at those, they can't be good - and tuners, and you will have a modern Tele. Drop in some better pups if you have to and for way less than 200 €/£/$ you will have a fine, gigworthy instrument. If you ask me "Buy a TE20 HB, pimp it up and put the difference between that and a MiM into gear, lessons, beer?" my answer will always be "Fuck, yeah!"