Gear Review: Harley Benton TE-52

Please note that some of the links within the gear reviews are affiliate links and I will earn credits and/or commission if you purchase through those links. These partner sites are known to have credible ethos, which center on serving the needs of musicians.The products reviewed are items that I have acquired, tested and found to be exceptional in value. The income generated from the links will go a long way towards supporting this page(and my quest for tone). I hope that by sharing these recommendations, I can help musicians make informed decisions when purchasing that next piece of gear.

The TE-52 is Harley Benton’s take on the most iconic electric guitar design, the Telecaster.

It is widely accepted that a ’52 type is the standard whenever a Telecaster tone is referenced. Consisting of an Ash body mated with a maple neck, the 52 Telecaster also has a versatile bridge pick-up which has usable tones from clean to dirty. The middle position, a combination of the neck and bridge pick up, is where the ‘twang’ is. Then there is the odd neck pick-up which is usually an afterthought and only exists to make the middle position possible.

Harley Benton’s TE 52 has all the above factors and then some. Its quality Canadian maple neck has a 13.78″ fretboard radius in a C-shape profile. That is just enough curvature to finger chords and enough clearance for easy string bending as compared to a vintage 7.25″ radius. Enough chunk on the neck for a strong mid range.

Another modern touch to the instrument is the choice of medium frets on the the fret board. This feature coupled with the flatter fretboard radius greatly improves the playability of the guitar. You also won’t have to worry about an expensive fret job anytime soon.

The tone is distinctly telecaster, with its default Roswell manufactured pickups. Bridge pickup gives you twang when combined with the neck, screams with expressiveness when slapped with gain and cleans up nicely with the volume knob. Going into my a Fender Twin Reverb setting on a Joyo American sound, there is no ice pick at all. The neck pick-up is quite the surprise here, as it is less muddy then a typical vintage lipstick pick up on a tele, and handles mildly overdriven tones well.

The TE-52 is certainly a workhouse and can cover a wide range of tones. However, it falls more on the vintage side of things. Led Zeppelin? Yes, but maybe not so much Metallica.

The guitar came shipped ready to play from the box. However, with a plastic nut, default bridge and saddles, the hardware is just passable. This is probably where Harley Benton tried to keep their costs low. Inexpensive upgrades like a bone/TUSQ nut, and a nickel bridge with brass saddles will take the guitar to another level in playability and tone.

Furthermore, the Ash body and smooth satin-like finished neck were tightly fit together in the neck pocket. It is an incredibly solid platform for modding. After installing a Wilkinson by Gotoh WT3 Chrome Telecaster bridge, it suddenly feels and sounds like a much more expensive instrument. Bends were easier and the brass saddles on the WT3 reinforced that Tele twang.

Whether you are a budding musician or seasoned gig player, the Harley Benton TE-52 is a worthy addition to your gear arsenal. One caveat though, this T-style guitar might weigh closer to a Les Paul- the early telecasters were similarly weighty. If you have no back issues and own a comfortable strap, this will be less of a concern to you. This is quite a no brainer for anyone who wants a taste of the telecaster tone at a very affordable price.

Check out the demo and hear it for yourself.

And this is the rig used. It goes into a DAW with no mixing.

0:00:00 Jazz: Just the Nobels ODR-Mini
0:00:27 Pop: Nobels ODR-Mini
0:01:07 Rock: Mojo Hand FX Socrates for riffs, stacked with the Nobels ODR-Mini for solo

Get a brand new TE-52 from Thomann here:

Or search for a used one on Reverb: