Harley Benton TE-20MN BM Standard Series

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Not a modding platform
Peerlesstrat, 04.11.2019
First off let me say that, at €78, the TE-20 is remarkable value for money and is pretty good out of the box albeit with a slightly too high action.
Bought as a gift for my 11 year old son, it is our second Harley Benton guitar, the first was a HB-35+ which is a great guitar and a wonderful upgrade platform.

TE-20 - the Neck:
The neck has a nice satin finish. It is not thin but also not as heafty as the HB-35 or a Guild Starfire. Sustain is really good and this may be a contributing factor. It looks to be 12 to 14 inch radius with what looks like a well cut plastic nut. Frets are smooth and there is no fret sprout. With the truss rod fully lose it would be nice to have a little more relief from the stock 009" gauge strings. You may do better with heavier gauge strings.

There are no "body through mountings" or ferrules for the strings on the TE-20, strings mount through the back of the bridge. The finish on mine is metallic blue and while I can't fault it, I won't praise it either ... it needs more "sparkle" and depth to be truly metallic. Lets say its a VERY fine grain semi-metallic. Even in the sun it looks more like a solid colour than metallic. Nice blue though.
QC on mine was not good. The pickguard was mounted skew as was the jack plate. The jack socket was loose before even plugging in. The switch is WAY too stiff which naturally leads to the knob coming off too easily.

Sonically the pickups are both OK but unmatched. It was impossible to lower the bridge pickup enough or raise the neck pickup enough to achieve balance. The reason for this was later found to be a very close bridge pickup route with a sloping wall making it harder to lower the bridge pickup as it went down. The bridge pickup is "bold" with plenty of tele bite and some nice punch. The neck has a bluesy tone but is too woolly for my taste. Also the cover is a lot more curved than the fingerboard so you can't raise it too far. The middle position is hum cancelling and quite usable. The 3 way switch is both stiff and electrically noisy - could need replacing but WD40 did help.
There is no cavity screening.

Modding platform?
Talking of replacing, the TE-20 has been said to be a good modding platform.
I totally disagree. It is not. If you want better ... buy better ... and here are some reasons why ...

Other Harley Benton TE guitars have Wilkinson bridges with brass compensated saddles, so it stands to reason that this is a simple ten minute drop in replacement to upgrade right? - Wrong! A massive gap between the bridge and the scratch plate would be present IF you could get the pickup to fit back into the rout while lining up the tailpiece mounting screws - which I couldn't.
Swopping the ceramic bridge pickup for a more traditional alnico would also be easy eh? ... NO! - ROUTING was required! The stock Harley Benton bridge pickup is small and it would seem that the rout is specific to it's size!
Incidentally, the neck position is pre routed to take a humbucker so that pickup swop was easy. I put in an Iron Gear alnico. Better, but watch the screw lengths!
I decided to rout more space for an Iron Gear alnico bridge pickup, keep the bridge plate and install the Wilkinson compensated bridge saddles, screws and springs.
Unfortunately I was then unable to intonate the guitar due to the bridge position. HB had gotten around this by using unusually long M3 saddle screws. I had remove the Wilkinson screws and springs and reinstall the HB ones - luckily all were M3 so at least the saddles got upgraded and intonation finally achieved.
On removing the pick guard I discovered that the neck does not fit all the way up to the body - suspiciously by the same distance that prevented intonation earlier.
I also reversed the control plate and the controls and did a little rewiring to achieve this.
All in all it took over 5 hours to swop out the bridge with the pickup in it !

About two weeks later I again removed the pick guard - this time to replace it with a Vanson white pearloid guard. The experience was exactly the same. I could only get one out of 8 screw holes to line up - and this only AFTER I had filed the pick guard so that it would fit the neck pocket. This admittedly could be Vanson’s error but without filing the pick guards “horn” was almost sitting off the edge of the body. I had to plug all the original holes and re drill for the Vanson - some holes were about 2cm different.

No. Don't buy the TE-20 to mod ... rather get a more expensive model like the TE-90 and save yourself the grief.

Impossibly affordable - can’t even get a kit cheaper!
Good body paint and neck finish
No fret sprout
Good bridge tone
Good choice as a beginners guitar
Lovely neck “feel”

Poor quality control
Poor Neck tone
Awful choice as a modding platform
Metallic - isn’t very
Action is a tad high and won’t respond to truss rod

I persevered and did my mods. This TE-20 now sounds killer and is fun to play. The action is still a bit too high for my taste (I like it very low) and the D string buzzes - even though it is set higher than the two on either side of it and they don’t buzz!
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Harley Benton TE-20MN BM Standard Series

88 € 420,26 RON
Include TVA plus 20 € transport

Prețul în RON este doar de ghidaj!

Disponibil in 7-8 Saptamani
Disponibil in 7-8 Saptamani

Asteptam acest produs in stoc curand si va putea fi expediat imediat.

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