I have been playing for 30+ years and have owned around 40-50 guitars (I lost count) and still own 11, from cheap to custom shop models. This guitar is simply unbelievable for the money. It feels and plays like a guitar 5x or 10x the price. I was skeptical at first, having owned three Bentons prior to this and selling all of them super fast. First was a Harley Benton DC copy of an SG some 7 years ago - which was a "cardboard" disaster. Other two were Strat types, both failing because of pickups and electronics. Mind you, this was years ago and Harley Benton now makes much better instruments. This guitar is a keeper, but It does have it's downsides too.
Construction quality is great, so is the paint and neck. Electronics are surprisingly good, pickups are simply great. True vintage tele tone both positions and sweet sweet sounds in middle position. PUPs are quite hot! Also very pick attack responsive and volume knob responsive. They sound amazing on my EL84 powered amps, not so much on the EL34 Marshall, where they can sound thin and brittle. EQ fiddling and a good equaliser pedal can fix that though. Pickups sound great through a TS9. Paint job is great, neck is very comfortable to play and very straight. I compared this guitar AB to a J&D tele with upgraded Dimarzio pickups and the difference is light years in favour of the Harley Benton. Coming from a J&D to this TE-52 is like a quantum leap in overall playing experience. I wasn't expecting I'd be saying the Roswells sound better (they sound more telecaster correct) than Dimarzios, but they absolutely do. The ash body looks great and gives the guitar that fast sound attack with crisp mids and highs and tight bass. The sustain is very good, but I imagine it will improve further if I swap the bridge, tuners and nut which is what I plan on doing in the near future.
THE NOT SO GOOD
Guitar is heavy as a mo..erfu..er! I may try to shave off some weight by making a belly carve and arm rest contours. As with almost any mass production guitar (PRS SE excluded), this guitar will require some intermediate luthier skills. Truss rod adjustment, nut adjustment or better nut swap, fret levelling and polishing, fret edge polishing, bridge adjustments are a must on this guitar. Frets are properly seated, but very harsh and uneven. Action way too high, truss rod too loose, nut slots high and uneven. It will take some work, but I can do all of this myself luckily with many years of experience and all the proper tools. But a luthier would easily charge what the guitar costs just for the work. If it makes any future buyers feel any better, my 1500 eur Gibson SG was no different in this aspect.
The only thing really bad (as mentioned by others) are the vintage style tuners, which go out of tune if you so much as look at them in a bad way. These will of course be replaced.
With some minimal luthier skills, new tuners and proper adjustments this guitar is far better than Squiers and can easily rival guitars at 10 times the price. Considering the price I cannot believe this guitar is as good as it is.
Harley Benton have really stepped up their game and I will be checking out some other more expensive HB models in the future...but first I need to sell some of my other guitars