I've owned a guitar of some kind since the early 60's, and a few have been Telecasters.
Until the last few years, I've never had the cash, or the talent, to justify buying a 'quality' US-made Tele, so they've all been Squiers (some good, some bad, and one 1989 Korean made gem that I'll never part with).
Then, around two years ago, I discovered Thomann, and Harley Benton guitars.
I caught the bug.
Although I kept looking at the HB 'Tele-alike' instruments (and as always was amaazed at the prices), nothing jumped out at me.
I didn't bother looking at the the more expensive instruments because to me, a Telecaster (or non-Fender equivalent) means basic.
I've always loved the simplicity : Flat, slab body, decent neck, pickups that sound the way they should, simple hardware that keeps going - decade after decade (if you look after the instrument).
The basics - but done well.
Then one day something did jump out at me - and it was this HB TE-20 HH BLK.
I suspect it was the colour and finish I noticed first as my brother-in-law had recenty bought a Charvel LP-type guitar with the same colour and finish, and it looked (and sounded) superb.
However, he paid well over £500 for the Charvel (and it needed 'work'), but I was looking at something under a fifth of that price - and if the reviews were accurate (as the Thomann/HB reviews invariably are) - was just as versatile and playable.
It was easy to confirm that - his Charvel was sitting on my workbench after being properly set up and having a string change (amazing how many players don't know how to change strings properly).
We played both guitars through identical Mustang GT40's (he brought his around), avoiding the things that the Harley Benton couldn't do - all that digital stuff, and push-pull pot setting trickery.
We kept is simple, and after a few hours both agreed that the HB came out on top.
Perhaps the clincher was the pinch-harmonics test. With the HB it was so so simple, but we both struggled with the rival instrument.
I've tried the same 'test' with my other HH guitars, and the HB wins every time - by a country mile.
In fact you'll find harmonics all over that flawless black fingerboard ! I don't know if the Thomann folk are aware of this added bonus, but for those of us who struggle with pinch harmonics, or harmonics generally, if what I discovered is 'standard', it could be another selling point.
I tried it on the neck, bridge, and both pickups, tone pot high and low.
Same results every time.
Another bonus is that on a clean amp setting you can find those typical 1950's/60's iconic Telecaster sounds - and that 'twang'.
And at the other end of the scale this guitar almost becomes the heaviest of all heavy metal beasts.
Inbetween the 'twang' and the 'metal' there are more pleasant surprises.
For example, the same Mustang GT40, but using a downloaded 'Comfortably Numb - Main Solo' tone setting, and yes - you can sound almost like David Gilmour (the 'almost' is because only David Gilmour can play like David Gilmour).
So, gorgeous finish, very responsive volume and tone, significant and positive differences with the bridge/neck/both settings (as we all know,
with some guitars costing five or even ten times the price, those diferences can be minimal).
Since the Harley Benton arrived, between me/my brother-in-law, and a couple of guitar-playing/gigging friends, we've compared my TE 20 HH with a Gibson Midtown and Les Paul, three Fender Strats, that Charvel, my battered but much loved and played Gibson LP Jnr, my 1989 Korean Tele, and a few others.
We all agreed (sometimes reluctantly) that compared to the above, this Harley Benton is either as good as, or is sometimes even better - but at a fraction of the cost.
Someone actually called it a ''Swiss Army Guitar'' because it was just so versatile.
Other points : Frets are perfect, tuners are excellent (so far - I know tuners are something that can deteriorate fairly quickly), pickups are better than most (unbranded but suspect Roswell).
The finish looks fantastic but could wear quickly. However this is a purely cosmetic thing.
Would I change anything ? Well, perhaps if the hardware also had a black satin finish it might look even better, but if we want the keep it at a very affordable price, I'd change nothing.
Please note that my opinion - and those of the others who helped - was done in relation to an entry-level instrument.
Over many decades we've owned and played hundreds of guitars, from high end familiar names to the very worst of the worst (ugly, badly made, and effectively unplayable instruments) that cost the same as this Harley Benton.
We think that the Harley Benton TE-20 HH BLK is much closer to the former that it is to the latter, and would be welcome in the hands of any player, from novice to professional.