Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series
$144
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TE-52 NA Vintage Series
micoli 30.10.2017
The sound of Telecasters has never really impressed me but I just wanted one to fill a gap in my collection, which is mainly hollow bodied, (with the exception of a Tokai strat). I play as a hobby so my guitars never leave the house and I really don't demand top-class instruments, although I would certainly be happy to own one! I first researched the options from different makes and suppliers but wasn't impressed with what was on offer for the £200 mark. As I've bought Harley Benton's before, I was confident I could find a Tele at the right price. After comparing them I ordered the TE-52 but to be honest, at just £122 including delivery, my expectations were not that high, despite glowing reviews on the Thomann site and on YouTube. After all, it's a guitar that sells for £113! It was ordered on a Friday evening and received in the UK on Wednesday at 10:00am, tracked all the way.

My first impression was that this was a stunning looking and a very well made guitar. When I checked it over and played it this is what I found:

~ There were no blemishes on the finish and it was pretty perfect.
~ The neck relief was perfect with the strings just sitting above the frets at the 7th fret.
~ The intonation was perfect on 4 strings and slightly off on the D & G strings, which took 30 seconds to put right.
~ The body looks like a 2 piece body, judging from the join at the base.
~ The neck looks like a one piece neck.
~ The dot markers are sitting central on the edge of the fretboard.
~ There was no shielding inside the control panel, pickups and jack socket.
~ The tuners are fine and hold the strings in tune, but I do find there is some slack spots in them,
~ The control panel is 34mm wide so buying a new control panel would be hard to find, (the American version is 32mm).
~ The pickguard is also not a standard American size so it would be harder to find a replacement, to align the 8 screw holes and have a 34mm gap for the control plate.
~ The cavity at the neck position beneath the pickguard is large enough to fit a humbucker or mini-humbucker at the neck. So if you want a new pickup set-up you will need to find the Asian version of the pickguard, (see above).
~ The C shaped neck plays like a dream.
~ The nut is plastic.
~ The neck was seated into the body perfectly, with not the slightest gap.
~ The Roswell pickups sound good enough to me to keep them in the guitar.
~ The guitar strings were slightly corroded.
~ The frets were not polished - so initially no string bending!

I have had the guitar just over one week and I have replaced the bridge and saddles with the Wilkinson compensated brass version. I was just going to replace the saddles but thought it easier to replace the whole bridge. This upgrade isn't really needed but I like my guitars 'just so'. It has had an effect on the sound and it has now, to my ears at any rate, more of a Telecaster 'twang' . While I was at it, I also shielded all the cavities with black shielding paint and replaced the string trees with roller string trees. I fitted a bone nut which was re-cut to eliminate the sharps on the first fret. The strings were initially cleaned up with some WD40 on kitchen towel, which worked fine, but I put another set of 9's on when I replace the bridge. I polished the frets at the same time. If anything the tuners could be replaced, but at a much later time.

This guitar far exceeded my expectations. It's great looking and it was playable straight out of the box. The quality is amazing for the the price paid - if it was twice the price it would still be good value. There are some very small faults but nothing that can't very easily be put right. Most new guitars need properly setting up but this one didn't. Although I fiddled around with it to get it playing exactly how I like it, my upgrades were not really necessary but for the cost involved, I think they are an improvement.

This is my 4th Harley Benton. I've never had anything except the smallest problem with the build quality on HB guitars and this one is about the best I've ever had. So, from being indifferent to Telecasters I am now a convert and I really love this guitar. It's great value and a great player.
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c
A Brilliant Buy
chrisalis 11.03.2020
I must say that my first and overall reaction on receiving this guitar was one of pleasant surprise. There has been much written about this particular Harley Benton but I wanted to make my own mind up and tried to be objective as I could. I would add modestly that my guitars are all top notch models from premium makers so my bar is set high. What is undeniable is that a so called ‘budget’ guitar has been taken to another level. The wood on the particular guitar I received is excellent. The fit and finish of the component parts impeccable. My tuners are all good and functioned without fault with no issues whatsoever. The pots turned evenly and the selector switch had good resistance. I was surprised too at the fair quality of the hardware. Not perhaps the best money can buy but far from being cheap and nasty that would need immediate replacement.. In respect of the neck, arguably the most important part of any guitar, all good. In fact very good indeed. The profile is more of a medium u shape. The frets were installed perfectly with no low or high spots anywhere on my fretboard. My example played perfectly straight out of the box. Some people may wish to polish the frets but this is a personal thing and not a criticism and on my example certainly not necessary. Perhaps I may give them them a light polish when I eventually need to change the strings. The strings were D’addario 9’s and in perfectly new condition without a sign of rust and rang clear and true. I had a new set ready to install but was simply not necessary. I was impressed by the resonance that I could feel vibrate through the ash body of this guitar. I would add that thought that the action at the factory had been set a little high for my personal preference. I used my allen key and lowered the six saddle screws one complete anti clockwise turn and now for me, was much better. I will fine tune this when I get the time. I’ve read that the TE-52 is heavy but I certainly don’t find this. Certainly not light but prohibitively heavy? No.
I am not going to comment with regards pickups as this is purely subjective and with so many variables. Many purchasers of this guitar will certainly keep the stock pickups and many may change. Voila!
This is a good guitar. I get the impression that perhaps Thomanns have been sensitive to previous criticisms of Harley Benton guitars and have taken these on board and have resolved them with the factory and as I said before, bringing ‘budget’ guitars to another level.
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Amazing guitar for unbelievable money
Vuk77 09.11.2021
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.

THE GOOD
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 BAD
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.

OVERALL
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
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P
T sound at bargain price!
Paul7701 20.03.2020
Having recently popped my Harley Benton cherry with the Fusion T EB BK, (which I absolutely adore) , I decided to go try out the TE52, which is one of the really affordable HBs on offer, to see if the quality is comparable across the range, plus the fact that I love T style guitars!
Straight out of the box, the guitar is stunning and (not too) heavy, the finish is beautiful, the grain on my model is really nice, 3 large sections for the body and a 2 piece maple neck, which is chunky, but VERY PLAYABLE (and I have quite small hands for a guy), so don't be put off by people saying the neck is too thick! The setup was ok out of the box, action needed lowering, and I swapped out the saddles for compensated brass ones, but honestly, this is my preference, and I would not consider this upgrade as necessary, as the supplied saddles work just fine; as do the machine heads on my particular model, nice smooth action, holds tune perfectly.
The frets were well finished, like most posters here, they did need a good polish however, but that is all,,,, no sprout or sharp edges on this one, and all the frets are beautifully level: btw, the edges of the fretboard look and feel "rolled in" and is very comfortable, a feature usually reserved for much more expensive instruments!
At some point I will probably swap out the nut for a Tusq, but again, personal preference, as the supplied plastic nut is cut and set perfectly, no issues.
The main thing that has once again impressed me no end, are the Roswell AlNiCo-5 T-style pups, which are a revelation. I have owned MANY T guitars down through the years, I just love em, and have played them professionally and for fun for over 30 years, and I assure you, the sound from the TE52 is PURE TELE! The sustain is amazing (that weight in the body helps) , there is just the right balance of twang, honk and grunt, which is astounding, given the price of this thing; £125 including delivery at the time of purchase!
The TE52 is a comfortable, accurate and pleasing T style guitar to play; something I've realised with both of my HBs is that, more than anything, it's that these guitars are so much FUN TO PLAY! ,plus, with a few minor tweaks you will have an instrument that is going to sound, feel and play like a "F" guitar at a fraction of the price; certainly their MIM or Squier offerings.
Good on you Thomann and HB, keep knocking it out of the park like this, and you'll start giving the "big boys" nightmares! I can definitely see more HBs in my collection!
Rock on!
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Move over Mexico, here comes Harley Benton.
S. Walker 31.03.2020
This guitar rocks. I mean genuinely honestly properly rocks. It's a great sounding, great looking, great playing guitar.

Ostensibly the 52 in the name is because this aims to be close to the spec of a 1952 T-type guitar, in other words the original from which the formula was derived. In that, it succeeds, and does so well.

Obviously, it's vying with many competitors for a place in that crowded market, and despite its low price, it punches well above its weight. You'd need to pretty much add a zero onto the price tag of this guitar before you would see a significant improvement in what you were holding in your hands, and I mean that.

The neck is nice to play, mine came with a reasonable finish to the edges of the frets, and the action was pretty much there. Not sure how Thomann does the setups but this one was good. The strings, which are d'Addario ones (at this price and all!) are well matched to the guitar and felt fresh, recent, and still full of life. The whole combination made this great fun to play straight out of the box. That said, modern guitar players might be a little surprised by the neck itself - it's chunky, but it's supposed to be! This is not a shredding machine, but hey, neither is an original '52.

In terms of build, the transparent finish is pleasant if a little thick, the body is two-piece but with a nice grain, the hardware is good, the knobs are real metal with some weight to them, and the tuners are proper vintage style ones too, which is a nice touch. They aren't branded but they aren't far off what you'd get from a name brand version of the same item. No, they aren't locking tuners but they're not meant to be, neither were the ones on the original '52.

Does it feel like I'm repeating myself a bit here? If so, that's because most of the obvious "complaint points" I could see a typical guitarist coming up with after playing this are simply due to it being faithful to the vintage T-type formula - a simple, no-frills, hard driving twang machine, using components that come close in spec to 1950s technology.

Speaking of twang, the pickups are, perhaps unexpectedly at this price, really good. A warm, bluesy neck pickup, and a gritty, punchy, raw sound at the bridge make for some great choices of tone, and they're spot-on for the money. Proper old-school paired saddles too, which keep that really distinctive pinging bridge tone, unlike many other options at this and several price points above which opt for more modern-player friendly but tone-sacrificing independently intonated saddles. Minus one point because they're not brass, but otherwise everything about the bridge plate and pickups is complaint free and very traditional.

Moving around to the control plate, as mentioned in passing before, the quality "above deck" is good. The switch tip feels nice, the switch itself moves cleanly and firmly, and the knobs are sturdy. The jack socket on the side of the guitar is a plate, not the traditional cup, but this is one modern trait worth rolling with, because, well, it absolutely is an improvement of the one thing that sucks about the original without sacrificing look, feel, or tone. Underneath the control plate, the story is, actually, not bad either. No, you don't get full size potentiometers but there's space for them if you wanted to upgrade later. Otherwise, the soldering and assembly is neat, and the cavity is clean of debris. There's no shielding, but then, the original '52... you know what's coming here.

The pickguard is thick, proper 1-ply, dark black. Only word of warning - it isn't quite the standard size! The control plate is marginally wider than usual, and so the semicircular cutout for it will come up snug on aftermarket guards if that's the direction you go in. Why the control plate isn't exactly standard size, I have no idea. It's a little irritating but not a disaster.

After playing it for several months, mine has exactly two things altered. Firstly, and least obtrusively, the strap buttons. The stock ones are fine but they don't have much taper and they're huge. Really huge. Almost in the region of "you could moor an ocean liner using them as capstans" huge. This meant that some straps didn't "close" as they sat around the base of the buttons since they were just too thick. I swapped them for some vintage replica strap buttons, which have a slightly smaller head and a much more drastic flare, so the strap sits far more securely at the base of the button. Not absolutely necessary, but a personal preference satisfied.

Secondly, and more drastically, I replaced the neck pickup altogether, routing out the body and pickguard to take a vintage type gold-foil, a very different shape and sound to what it replaced. This was not a like-for-like swap to rectify an issue with the stock neck pickup, which was fantastic, rather I bought this guitar intentionally as a platform for this modification. A gold-foil equipped T-type was something I wanted as an option but I didn't want to buy a much more expensive guitar in the first instance to slice up in case I didn't like it. As it stands, this was a better guitar in the first place than the other options anyway!

What am I getting at here? Well, I suppose really it's the versatility of this guitar, particularly the fact that the classic design is easy to upgrade and modify to a player's preferences, as well as its ability to compete in much bigger leagues than its price tag might suggest.

Is it a guitar marketed at beginners? Undoubtedly, and this would be very high on my list of recommendations for a beginner electric player, because it's simple to use, competitively priced, but also a genuinely good option that will last a beginner well beyond where most "starter" guitars can take them.

Does that make it a "beginners guitar"? Not at all, and that's the rub, really. If you are an intermediate or even advanced guitar player looking to scratch that T-style itch, this should be choice number one. Actually, it's good enough that for anyone less than a professional touring musician who can afford to add a zero to the price, it could be guitar number one in general too.

Likewise, it's a fantastic serious modding platform. The price is low enough that it leaves a lot of headroom for other parts in a budget, and what you get in the box is of good enough quality to make those modifications worth doing. Again, an effect of the price for sure, is that you feel confident actually taking on something more major with this guitar than just a like-for-like part swap. Additionally, there's enough modularity in the original formula preserved here to give you options for natural upgrades over time rather than replacing the guitar. For example, you could easily swap out the potentiometers or pickups, even with no prior experience of soldering work (and no better guitar to first get your hands dirty), and see the results of your efforts take shape. The saddles scream out to be swapped for compensated brass ones. This design is one that makes such tasks easy, and although that's not unique to this guitar, the combination of can-do and worth-doing is near unmatched. For not a lot of extra time and money, you could push this guitar even further in the quality stakes. None of this needs doing, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the guitar as-is, but knowing those options are there definitely heightens the appeal.

This guitar then, shines as an example of how far "cheap" or "affordable" guitars have come, and that something great to play and great to hear can be mass produced and available for all. In some ways, that ticks the boxes that the original '50s formula proposed better than anything else.
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Just Awesome!
BrianSkeezer 01.01.2020
I've always liked 50's Telecasters, and after seeing the "In The Blues" review, wanted one of these. I like the thicker necks, and even though I love my Classic Vibe, the thinner neck is the only thing that disappoints me with that guitar. Shane and many reviewers here said that this one had a nice thick neck feel.

This one arrived faster than expected, and upon opening, it struck me as beautiful. The 3-piece body on mine is matched nicely. Man, is this thing heavy, though. 10-1/2 pounds on the scale. Make sure you have a nice wide and padded strap. The weight is all in the body, and it sits perfect while strapped.

First thing I did was feel the neck for thickness, and, unfortunately, this one doesn't feel as thick as I was expecting. It is a little thicker than my Classic Vibe, but not by much. It does have a very nice satin finish on it, that is very slick while playing, and the fret ends are not sharp (not yet anyway), although the bevel put on them is very shallow and further into the fretboard than I would like. Like other reviews have said, the frets themselves are rough, but I think that's just some of the finish from the neck. A few minutes with a fret eraser (or micromesh, or steel wool, etc.) takes care of that. I had to loosen the truss rod a bit to get a little relief in the neck for no fret buzz. the dual action truss rod worked well.

The hardware is not bad at all. The nickle-plated tuners are the vintage style, and work well. 2 were tight, but loosened after turning a few times. The bridge is decent, and I don't mind the 3-saddle. I had no problem with intonating the strings, and didn't have to touch the saddles to set the height yet. One nit-pick I have is that I wish the string ferrules had been recessed in to the back of the body, but they are straight and that is only a preference of mine.

All electronics work as they should, and although I haven't pulled the control plate yet, I know that the switch is one of the cheap pcb-type. It works well, but feels weak. The pickups are ok. The bridge pickup is the better of the 2, and is nice and bright. The tone pot takes care of any shrillness that some may experience. The neck pickup is kind of dark and muddy to me, but that's not my preferred sound. Both pickups are not microphonic, which is great. They take gain well and no squealing.

Just to summarize:

PROS:
Looks great
The neck feels great
No high/low frets and ends are not sharp (again, yet)
Everything works as it should with minimal setup (quality is good)
Price!!!

CONS:
Very heavy body
Neck pickup is dark and muddy

I'm very happy to have this one in my arsenal, and would recommend the TE-52 NA to anyone looking for a Telecaster-style guitar.
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Top notch quality. All the way!
Motherspot 19.10.2019
Fabulous! In september i ordered the Harley Benton TE-40 TBK...After a brief try-out i decided to send it back and swap it for this TE-52.For the same price. I'v never been happier i did this. Return policy at Thomanna's is very easy and smooth. The TE-52 was'nt available at that time so i waited 3 weeks. It came to Thomann a little more than a week ago. A few days later, after, quality check it was send to me in Rotterdam, Holland on a tuesday. Next day, wednesday in the afternoon, it arrived at my home. The guitar was very well packed. The strings were wrapped with paper too. I immediately fell in love with this wonder. Before, after reading the reviews, i was a little bit worried that this guitar would be too heavy and that the neck would feel too chunky. Non of this is true! It feels very solid yes but no way too heavy. And the neck feels wonderful...like a 50-ies Fender indeed. It feels very well balanced. The TE-52 arrived in tune, Only the high e-string was a little off. Intonation was spot-on.Quality-check did a great job. No sharp fret-ends. My copy has good tuners non of them feel loose or don't work well...the guitar stays in tune.i find the hardware, knobs, switch & bridge material feeling very solid and it doesn't feel cheap at all! I read somewhere that some folks were worried that this guitar is now made in Vietnam...not in China anymore. Well i can tell you the Vietnamese workers know how to make a Fender-style 50-ies Telecaster. The woodwork is beautiful and the glossy finish fits this guitar. Time to plug it in. Wow the sound..i do love both pickups...the twangy bridge and the darker neck pickup. The sound is Fender Tele-quality. Separate and together they sound very, very good. When holding and playing...it's feeling almost as solid & sturdy as my Duesenberg Starplayer special...an amazing guitar costing almost 10 times more.....although a totally different built style guitar. The pleasure i get from playing this TE-52 is on par. it's a fantastic guitar.I own two other HB guitars, The Jazzmaster copy and the Mustang ...i love those two but the TE-52 is in another league i.m.o...Can't wait to start gigging with it.
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LG
Wow Wow Wow
Lloyd G 20.10.2022
After reading so many good reviews about HB guitars, I decided to take the plunge & buy this stunning looking Tele. I have been playing for 20 years, both professionally & for fun. I play electric & acoustic when I am at shows, but this is my first ever tele style guitar. I will try & be as levelheaded as possible when writing this, as I only have about 2 hours playing time on it so far.

Straight out the box, the set up was spot on for my preferences. No action required there. I notice a lot of people mentioning the weight, but as a seasoned Gibson Les Paul player, I can honestly say the weight is not an issue for me at all. It is pretty much the same weight, so I have no complaints on that front. Another thing I noticed people mention a lot was the tuners. To test this, I tuned it up & played for 10 - 20 minutes with LOADS of bends, hit the strings hard & to my amazement, still perfectly in tune. Unreal! The final thing I was slightly worried about was the amount of people saying the frets desperately needed a polish. Absolutely not the case (with mine anyway). There was no "scratching" at all. It is unbelievably smooth. I will even go as far to say this plays better than my GLP, albeit that has not had a service for a while. This thing holds sustain really well!

The only downsides from what I can tell (this is probably more personal) is the 3-way switch & when playing at lower volumes. I keep hitting the switch when playing & it seems to move very easily. I will learn to get around that. Also, when playing on the E higher than the 12th, it feels a little "weak" but again, I suspect this is a personal thing & may well change once I crank the volume up.

Overall, I am so impressed with the guitar. It sounds like a Tele should & feels like a Tele should. I tip my hat to Harley Benton.

I am not a brand snob at all. If it feels good / sounds good, I'll play it. I've already filled my basket with 3 other guitars & will look to buy these without hesitation as soon as funds allow me & I cannot wait to start a serious collection of these amazing guitars. Cracking job.
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Fender Eat Your Heart Out!
jphillips 26.03.2019
I received my Guitar yesterday. It was packaged quite adequately. It was double boxed and had plenty of those plastic pillow fillers to keep it from moving around.
Pros:
Fit and Finish are perfectly done
The quality of the wood grain (ash) shows through brilliantly.
Sound Quality is every bit as good as a real Fender
Fretboard has just the perfect amount of radius to it.
Hardware seems very well made and should last.
Pickups have just the right amount of spank to them like a Telecaster should.
Overall this is an excellent purchase.
Cons:
The only things I could find that were a little less than desirable is
The action was higher than I iike, but that is something I can adjust myself to my liking (I am picky when it comes to the action).
It could use Brass Compensated Saddles (something else I can change)
This is my second purchase from Thomann and a Harley Benton. They have totally delighted me on both purchases.
Harley Benton Guitars are very much on par with their American Forerunners. The Chinese are really pumping up the quality of their Guitars and with the Harley Benton Guitars, it really shows through.
I have been a professional musician, now retired but still playing local gigs and session work. I would not hesitate to use these on a stage or in studio. In my 45+ years of playing, I've played some of the best instruments made, and I am well acquainted with quality Guitars. I would not hesitate to recommend these Guitars to beginner and pro alike.
Thank you Thomann for providing such a high quality in your Workmanship and Customer Service as well.
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N
A proper Tele
Neilski 17.02.2022
I actually got this in 2015, and didn't get round to doing a review, so this probably won't be much help to anyone, but apart from the pickups (mine came with Wilkinsons) I don't imagine much has changed.

As many reviewers have noted, these are very heavy guitars: I haven't bothered to weigh it, but trust me-it's heavy. It is also absolutely beautiful, the finish is high gloss on the body, and a sort of satin vintage tint to the neck.

I have my reservations about HB quality control, I have three, and have had to do a bit to them all, (but never anything major, or damage etc). The neck fit on mine is great. I had to do the usual stuff, truss rod, action, intonation etc, but none of it was miles out. The nut was ok ish, but I had a bit of an issue with the high E slipping off the neck sometimes. I have seen others mention this on youtube reviews, I think John Robson mentioned the string spacing at the bridge being to do with it when he had a FLT 90. I prefer heavier strings than were supplied, and changing these and fitting a Tusq nut sorted that for me. The tone pot was loose on arrival. The original saddles have been replaced with compensated brass ones, and I have fitted roller string trees. Oddly, mine arrived with only one string tree. The tuners were pretty cheap, but actually worked ok, if a bit stiff, but it stayed in tune pretty well. One of the tuner buttons broke about six months ago however, so I have replaced them for split post Wilkinsons.

With a little work and a fret polish it is now a really lovely guitar. It looks great, sounds like a Tele should, and plays beautifully. Oh, and it's cheap as chips.
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Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series