Harley Benton TE-90QM HH Trans Blue

Electric Guitar

  • Chambered body
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Top: Quilted maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Neck attachment: Bolt-on
  • Fretboard: Amaranth
  • 22 Frets
  • Scale: 648 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Fretboard inlays: Abalone dots
  • Body binding: Ivory-coloured
  • Nut: Bonoid
  • Pickups: 2 Roswell HAF Alnico-5 humbuckers
  • 3-Way switch
  • Controls: Master volume and master tone
  • Hardware: DLX chrome
  • Hardtail bridge
  • Machine heads: DLX diecast
  • Strings: .010 - .046
  • Colour: Trans Blue High-Gloss
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Audio Examples

 
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  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Rock

Further Information

Colour Blue
Body Mahogany
Top Maple
Neck Maple
Fretboard Amaranth
Frets 22
Scale 648 mm
Pickups HH
Tremolo No
Incl. Case No
Incl. Bag No

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92 Customer Ratings
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TE-90QM HH Trans Blue
micoli, 23.01.2018
This is my 5th Harley Benton guitar, so I now consider myself a loyal Thomann customer as they have never delivered a bad guitar to me. The TE-90QM was ordered as a Christmas present to myself on the 12th December. After a few days I hadn?t had any progress confirmation and the money hadn?t been taken from my account, so I decided to cancel the order and reorder after the Christmas period as I didn?t want the guitar to be held up and knocking around a warehouse for a week or more over Christmas. Just after I sent the email, I got an email from Thomann that the guitar was actually going through quality control so I phoned Thomann and told them to ignore the cancellation email, (so full marks for the English speaking and helpful staff at Thomann!).

The guitar was received several days before Christmas and thank you Thomann for delivering at the busiest time of the year. My first impressions was of slight bewilderment as my guitar isn?t actually blue as shown on the web site but a deep sea green. You will have to believe me on this as I?m an artist and illustrator and work with colour all day! Although it is not what I expected, it is a very nice colour all the same. In fact I like it more than the blue and it is certainly more unique and it looks great.

First the bad points.
* On inspection there was a small amount, (and hardly noticeable), over-spray in one of the F holes which I removed by very carefully using the finest grade wet and dry paper I had.
* The fret ends were a little sharp so I let the guitar acclimatise for a few days and then lubricated the fretboard, which was a little dry, to help it to expand. That improved it a lot but a few days later I had to gently file some of the fret ends to take off the remaining sharp edges.
* Then I noticed the strings were not centred on the fret board and I originally thought the bridge had been positioned off-centre. However, after asking the question on the Harley Benton forum, it was suggested that the neck screws needed to be loosened and the neck held in position and the screws re-tightened, and a video showing that exact same problem was posted for me to view. So I followed the video and a few minutes later the neck was in perfect alignment. It was commented that this is a very common fault with bolt-on necks but this is the first time I have come across the problem, but you live and learn!
* The strings were a little tarnished with what looked like rust spots on a few areas. When I worked on the frets I loosened the strings and run some wire wool soaked with WD40 along them. Problem solved!

And now the good points.
* The general finish is excellent, allowing for the small imperfections stated above.
It has an amazing top and has nice quality binding around the body and inside the F holes, and is a great looking guitar.
* The strings at the 12th fret were perfectly set at 1.5mm for the high E and 2.00mm for the low E, and the intonation was spot-on for 4 strings, with the other 2 slightly off and easily rectified.
* The Wilkinson pickups are perfect for me, and they have a nice vintage tone, darker than a normal Telecaster but brighter than a Les Paul, and have enough individuality.
* The machine heads are cheapish but work fine and hold tune well but, if I do any modifications, the tuners would be the first thing to be changed.
* The neck is what I would call a shallow D and is very comfortable and has a light varnish. It is also a one piece neck.
* There was no buzzing on any frets at any part of the neck.
* I changed the nut to a bone nut, (as I had one laying around), but the original plastic nut was perfectly fine.
* The truss rod didn?t need any adjustment and the strings were correctly set at a fraction off the frets at the centre of the fret board when capoed on the first fret and the string was held down at the highest fret.
* The hardtail bridge is comfortable with its? rounded edges. And while the guitar is fitted with ?through the body? string ferrules, the bridge will also allow for the strings to be slotted through the bridge?s base if you so wish.
* The combination of the through body strings and the internal centre block gives this guitar quite some sustain.
* The control knobs work smoothly, but as the potentiometers are the small 16mm type, I might eventually change them.

The TE-90QM HH is a budget guitar that exceeds all expectations. For only £155 the build quality is excellent and in my opinion, far outstrips it?s competitors in this price bracket. The bad points I found were easily rectified, and not only would any experienced guitar owner be able to do the same, I know that top branded guitars also need adjustments when received, so this is almost to be expected, particularly at this price point. It would also be a nice guitar to modify!

In conclusion, the TE-90QM HH is well built and plays well. I?m very happy with this guitar and I know many others would be too.
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The times, they are a changing
Karsten aus C., 22.02.2019
So, this is the second review as I have now received the replacement TE-90QM HH

I have to admit I am a fan of cheap and cheerful Harley Benton guitars. What?s not to like? They are incredibly well priced, offer a good value and usually, they fit the bill.
Or, I should say, they used to fit the bill?

I?ve bought a lot of HB guitars over the years. Few have been really bad, some have needed some tweaking or better hardware in places, but most Harley Bentons have been just plain and simple good guitars.

Since I already own 20+ guitars, my schedule for buying new guitars is slow. The last HB electric guitar I?ve bought was a HB TE-90QM in trans red with the soapbar P90s. Still with Wilkinson hardware and by all means, it was - and still is - a very reliable and well sounding guitar right out of the box. The only niggle was a slightly wobbly pickup selector switch that got replaced with a better quality item down the road. Other than that, nothing to fret about.
Single coils are noisy. Nothing one can do about that and given the fact it?s a semi hollow without a maintenance cover in the back, shielding and rewiring would be a bloody ...erm? PITA.
So, to fight the hum - and, to be honest, add more guitars to my collection - I opted for the trans-blue HB TE-90QM HH. Being a few years from my first TE-90QM, I expected it to be a more refined and honestly better guitar and boy, was I wrong!

The first TE-90QM HH that I?ve ordered came with a big ding in the back. There was a big crack in the cardboard box as well. So, what happened to QC? In the olden years, every instrument shipped by Thomann used to get at least a visible inspection. But given the increase in volume, this is history by now and the final QC agent is the customer. Well, I called Thomann and without further ado, they sent an RMA and a prepaid shipping voucher and the guitar went back to Thomann. A few weeks later, the second TE-90QM HH arrived and this is, what the review is about.

Now, the TE-90QM HH on Thomann?s product page is a nice looking guitar that looks like is has got some quality hardware. It looks a bit like a Telecaster, but it got rid of a lot of the idiosyncrasies of Leo Fender?s original design. For instance that ashtray bridge and the three-post bridge design that is impossible to intonate. The bridge on the product page is a well rounded, massive and very comfortable design. No sharp edges, very nice to intonate, a well thought out design. The quilted maple top is just a veneer, but on the product page it looks nice. And in the flesh, the TE-90QM used to be like that. But ...

Do not expect your guitar to look like the one on the product page.
Do not expect your guitar to be equipped like the one on the product page.
Do not expect your guitar to be of the same build quality like the one on the product page.

Over the years, a product either gets better with constant refinements - or it gets cheaper with every single fraction of a cent being squeezed out. Unfortunately, the TE-90QM belongs to the second category. Should you receive a new TE-90QM HH today, do not expect to see the same nice quality hardware, you see on the product page. The bridge no longer is that quality item, it?s now more akin to a Squier Affinity/Bullet Telecaster bridge. Not as nice, not as high quality. And, unfortunately, not as well placed. To get the guitar intonated, I had to cut the E6 spring in half because the bridge was placed just a bit too close to the neck and I could not move the saddle sufficiently far back without the spring being in the way. The veneer on the top isn?t as nice either. It?s just a blue wash. The pickups are misplaced as well. The bridge pickup leans too far to the bass. Not easy to correct, as the holes for the mount screws would show once you move the mounting frame sufficiently to fit. Well, a bigger mounting ring would solve that and I am going to print me one on my 3D printer. Too bad, if you do not have access to one.

There?s not only bad with the guitar. The new Pau Ferro fretboard is excellent. Looks like Rosewood, but feels like good quality Ebony. I will take Pau Ferro over Rosewood all the time. Good choice! Nut and fretwork are of the usual good quality. No fret sprout, nicely crowned and levelled, as good as it can be. Switches and potentiometers are okay, they work as expected. Tuners are not Grovers, but doing the job well enough not to have them immediately replaced. The string trees are cheap, but a bit of graphite will keep them going until one replaces them with nicer roller string trees. The guitar is a bit lighter than the old WIlkinson based TE-90QM, but I believe that weight is one of the variables and it depends on the log the guitar was cut out from.

Soundwise, it?s nothing to write home about. Quite generic middle-of-the-road humbucker like and if you are looking for Telly twang, you?re riding the wrong horse. It covers all the bases well enough, but could do with some modifications depending on what you want to achieve. An easy mod would be to replace the pickup magnets with slightly weaker AlNiCo 2 magnets to give you a more bluesy/jazzy sound. You possibly won?t go for hotter pickups, it?s a semiacoustic after all and you won?t be using it for metal.

So, unfortunately, I have to join the choir of the people who say ?they don?t build them like they used to anymore!? I am not saying that it is a bad guitar. Given the price point, it still is a reasonably priced guitar. But it no longer is a guitar that is standing out of the crowd. It?s nice, but no longer great. It?s okay, but no longer exceptional. Or, in other words, I am disappointed. Maybe, if I would not own one of the ?original? guitars of better quality, I would still love it ? but now it just leaves a stale taste in my mouth. I had expected more than what I have got. Mind you, I will still keep it as I like the quietness of the humbuckers, but I will have to try out stacked noiseless P90 in the transred TE-90QM and if those retain the P90 sound and stay quiet, the trans blue TE-90QM HH will possibly end up in the dusty depth of the back row of my collection as Harley Bentons do not have any resale value.
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A beauty, but needed some work
12.12.2016
Let me start with saying many things said here are copied form my review of the Tans Red version, because these guitars have many things in common.

This guitar costs 179 euros, but looks like a guitar that could easily cost 10 times as much. The finish looks nothing like the picture on Thomann's website. It's actually more green than blue; the perceived color varies, depending on the light. This guitar would look even more great if it would have a matching headstock.

The body has a flawless, seamless binding all over the guitar. I don't know it it's a real binding or just paint, but I couldn't care less. Even the F-holes have the same binding!

I have another semi-hollow guitar, a Höfner, which is as light as a feather and quite loud when played acoustically. This guitar is not lightweight by any means. It actually feels rather heavy, and when you look into the F-holes it's clear why: there's a massive center block in the middle, and the sides of the body are solid wood too.

The lack of a scale prevented me to weigh the guitar. In any case, this is not a flimsy construction, which I appreciate very much.

The 'string-through' system has definitely something to do with the above-average sustain. Just like the Trans Red version this guitars is acoustically just above average, the guitar doesn't 'push much air'. It's enough for practicing though.

The neck is typical for a Telecaster model. It's not as thin as your typical Ibanez shredder, nor as thick as the ones found on a Gibson Les Paul. I think it's just perfect. It's a one-piece neck, so there's no scarf joint. Instead Harley Benton opted for two string trees to get the necessary angle. The string trees are the cheapest you can buy, but they appear to work well.

The neck was perfect out of the box. Not perfect was the position of the bridge, which was 0.5 centimeters closer to the last fret than the Trans Red version. As a result the guitar was impossible to intonate properly. I had to move the bridge slightly, and cut some of saddle springs in half to get it right. Fortunately I like to fix things.

The tuners were a bit stiff at first, but accurate. They loosen up quickly. The nut is well cut for strings up to 010-046. For anything beyond that all bets are off.

The fret board can use some lemon oil or, even better, Dunlop 02 'Deep Conditioner', which will bring back the beautiful rosewood color. In the end I even used a generic 'dark wood conditioner' which made the fret board even darker. Just a matter of taste.

On almost all guitars I own the action was too high for comfort 'out of the box' and this Trans Blue is no exception. Just take your time to adjust the saddles to your own taste and don't forget to keep the radius of the neck in mind.

The sound of the Wilkinson humbuckers comes reasonably close to what you would expect from a Tele, Slightly on the bright side when compared to a Les Paul, and with enough character of its own. Nice.

In short: apart from the misplacement of the bridge it is a keeper. If you are not comfortable doing work on your guitar yourself and the guitar is obviously faulty, just send it back. Thomann will do everything to make you happy.
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Stunning looking guitar...
LarryBoy57, 06.04.2021
Was blown away with the looks of the guitar I received. WOW. Tuners are quite good and hold tune good. Pickups are ok. Don't plan to change them out at this point. Build quality appears to be quite good. Biggest negative is when I swapped the output jack for a puretone jack, the screws holding the plate holding the jack are garbage. Had to find some replacement screws. Otherwise very happy with this guitar.
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