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Best Harley Benton guitars 2022: cheap and reliable electric and acoustic models

Close up of Harley Benton Pro Series headstock on textured grey background
(Image credit: Future)

Harley Benton is Thomann’s own brand, and they make a massive range of musical instruments and accessories. They’re also Thomann’s best-selling brand, growing in popularity year on year, so we thought we’d compile a list of the best Harley Benton guitars available to players.

Harley Benton manufacture a bunch of great musical products in various different factories within the Far East. These factories also make stuff for some of the biggest brands in the world. So, though you might be less familiar with the Harley Benton name, a lot of their gear is made in the same place, by the same people that manufacture brands you do know. 

There’s so much on offer, and because Thomann cut out the middle man, they can offer Harley Benton goods at an amazing price. So, what are the best Harley Benton guitars? We’ve had a look at all their acoustic and electric guitars and picked out some of the big-hitters; from classic styles to more contemporary axes. 

Whether you’re just starting out and you’re looking for a cheap but reliable beginner guitar, or you’re a seasoned pro looking to expand your collection, this list of the best Harley Benton guitars is for you.

Best Harley Benton Guitars: Music Radar's Choice

The best Harley Benton guitar will depend on what you want as a player – however, if we had to pick one electric guitar, we’d probably go with the HB35 (opens in new tab) Plus. It’s a classic and timeless body shape, fitted with a decent pair of humbuckers, plus you’ve got the ability to split the coils giving you an even wider range of tones. It looks amazing too!

Acoustic-wise, we really like the Harley Benton CLD-30SCM-CE (opens in new tab). Sporting a dreadnought body and all solid-wood construction, it’s a great-sounding guitar at an even greater price point. 

Product Guide: Best Harley Benton Guitars (Electric)

Best Harley Benton Guitars: Harley Benton HB35 Plus

(Image credit: Thomann)

1. Harley Benton HB-35 Plus

The classic twin humbucker, semi-hollow body shape with a cracking flame top

Specifications

Body: Maple, semi-hollow
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Pau ferro
Pickups: 2 x Roswell LAF Alnico-5 vintage-style humbucker pickups, with split-coil
Finish: Lemon, Vintage Burst, Cherry, Metallic Blue, Metallic Plum

Reasons to buy

+
Classic body shape
+
Nice flame top
+
Great sounding pickups
+
Split-coil adds versatility

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite big for some players

Featuring a semi-hollow body, a pair of versatile and dynamic humbuckers, set neck construction and a lovely flamed maple top, this ’35’ style guitar offers players full, rounded and airy tones for a great price. Whether you’re playing blues, jazz, rock, or indie – this can cover it all.

These humbuckers can also be split via the tone knob to give you more single coil-like tones, making this a really versatile guitar – it’s essentially got the best of both worlds when it comes to pickups. You’ve got a really wide range of tones available at your fingertips with this guitar. In the middle position with the coil splits engaged, you can get some really nice, snappy percussive sounds. Then at the flick of a switch, you can go to searing crunch tones from the bridge humbucker. The semi-hollow body allows you to get some nice open and airy tones but doesn’t feed back too much when used with gain. 

It’s a beautiful-looking guitar and, given the price, it’s no wonder it’s one of Thomann’s biggest sellers. 

Read the full Harley Benton HB35 Plus review

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton TE-52 Vintage Series

(Image credit: Thomann)

2. Harley Benton TE-52 Vintage Series

If you think this is just for chicken pickin’, think again!

Specifications

Body: American ash
Neck: Canadian maple caramelised
Fingerboard: Canadian maple caramelised
Pickups: 2x Roswell TEA Alnico-5 vintage TE-style single coils
Finish: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile pickups
+
Affordable
+
Vintage vibe

Reasons to avoid

-
Tuning pegs aren’t the best

Based on the 1952 electric guitar that pretty much started it all, this Harley Benton T-style guitar has all the twang, bite and mellow warmth that you’d expect. While the sound isn’t going to be as refined or detailed as the real thing, it gets pretty close – especially for the money!

It’s a timeless body shape, in a timeless finish. The ash body lends a nice figuring to the look of it, and the neck profile is fairly chunky, as you’d find on the guitar it’s based on. The two single coil pickups give you the classic ’T’ sound; it’s a versatile instrument, which is why so many different styles of player look to this kind of guitar – it’s so much more than just a country guitar!

As with many budget guitars, the tuners leave a little to be desired, but everything else on the guitar is impressive. It’s not breaking any new ground – it’s based on a guitar that’s 70 years old – but sometimes you can’t beat a classic!

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton Fusion III HSH

(Image credit: Thomann)

3. Harley Benton Fusion III HSH

One of the best Harley Benton guitar for fusion, shred and metal players

Specifications

Body: Nyatoh
Neck: Roasted maple
Fingerboard: Flamed maple
Pickups: Roswell HAF-B AlNiCo-5 humbucker (bridge), Roswell S74-C BK AlNiCo-5 single coil (middle) and Roswell HAF-N AlNiCo humbucker (neck)
Finish: Roasted FBB, Trans Flame Blue Burst, Roasted Flame Natural, Roasted FCH

Reasons to buy

+
HSH configuration and coil-split unlocks loads of sounds
+
Looks more expensive than it is
+
Great finishes
+
Nice neck profile

Reasons to avoid

-
On the dearer side

For those looking for something a little different, the Harley Benton Fusion III HSH could be a great option. It’s clearly aimed at replicating some of the popular high-end, high performance boutique style guitars that you see in the hands of seemingly every guitar influencer.

A beautifully flamed veneer sits atop an ergonomically shaped body, making it really comfortable to play both sat down and stood up. The roasted maple neck looks great and, combined with the Modern C profile, makes for an incredibly comfortable playing experience. The HSH pickup combination is great too – it’s amazing for fusion, metal, pop, rock, everything. The five-way pickup selector and coil-split gives you access to a great range of sounds; from powerful lead tones with the humbuckers to lovely, glassy sounds using the middle single coil.

The Wilkinson trem works really well too – you won’t quite be able to dive bomb in the same way you would with a locking trem unit, but it doesn’t feel like it needs that. The locking machine heads help it hold tuning well, and further add to the premium feel of this guitar.  

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton DC-DLX Gotoh

(Image credit: Thomann)

4. Harley Benton DC-DLX Gotoh

A decent spec and classic double cutaway design make this a solid rock machine

Specifications

Body: Nyatoh
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Pickups: 2 x Tesla VR-2 AlNiCo 5 humbuckers, with coil-split
Finish: Pelham Blue, Black, Shell Pink, Daphne Blue

Reasons to buy

+
High quality hardware
+
Decent humbuckers
+
Classic colours

Reasons to avoid

-
A little neck heavy

Another classic design, reimagined by Harley Benton. The early ’60s style double cutaway is synonymous with rock and roll, and this budget offering serves up everything you’d expect. From crunchy, raucous classic rock tones in the bridge position, to mellow and warm, smoother tones with the neck pickup. 

The pickups might not have the same kind of power and presence as you’d find in the real deal, but then again, that would set you back nearly 10x the amount that this costs. For the money, you’re getting a decent spec – nyatoh body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, Gotoh tuners that hold tuning well, Graphtech Tusq nut, plus the humbuckers can be coil split via the tone knob for even more versatility. 

A modern C-neck profile makes for comfortable playing – it’s not too thick and not too thin. We also love the colours that it’s available in, especially Pelham Blue.

Read the full Harley Benton DC-DLX Gotoh review

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton ST-62 Hot Rod

(Image credit: Thomann)

5. Harley Benton ST-62 Hot Rod

A Hot-Rodded S-style guitar with a very modest price tag

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Vintage caramelised Canadian maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: 2 x Roswell STA Alnico 5 single coils (neck / middle), 1 x Roswell SHR Hot Blade ceramic humbucker (bridge)
Finish: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap
+
Great pickup configuration
+
Has some of the classic ’S’ sounds

Reasons to avoid

-
Tuners not the best

Whilst it might not be the most adventurous choice, this S-style guitar perhaps has a bit more going on under the hood than you might think, making it a really versatile, yet affordable guitar.

The neck and middle pickups are regular single coils, like you’d expect to see on this sort of guitar – these are great for everything from mellow blues tones to choppy funk sounds. You’ve then got a Hot Blade ceramic humbucker in the bridge position that has a much hotter output, giving you access to some searing rock sounds. Having both single coil and humbucker pickups available at the flick of a switch makes it ideal for a load of different playing scenarios. 

It’s comfortable to play, it isn’t too heavy. The neck has an inoffensive C profile which pretty much any player should get on with.

Product Guide: Best Harley Benton Guitars (Acoustic)

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton CLD-30SCM-CE

(Image credit: Thomann)

6. Harley Benton CLD-30SCM-CE

An all solid wood guitar, with the classic dreadnought body shape for a staggeringly good price

Specifications

Top: Solid cedar
Back & Sides: Solid African A-Grade mahogany
Pickup: Fishman Sonicore / Presys-II with built-in chromatic tuner
Scale length: 650mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great tone
+
Classic dreadnought looks and sound
+
Decent pickup on board

Reasons to avoid

-
Dreadnought not for everyone 

A solid cedar top is matched with solid mahogany back and sides to give you access to some fantastic tones. Add to this a Fishman Sonicore pickup system, and you’ve got a really high-spec instrument for a very reasonable price, making it one of the best Harley Benton guitars there is.

Expect some soft, mellow and warm sounds from this guitar, and a dynamic response. The dreadnought body shape will help you deliver strong lows and crisp highs, making it a great guitar for using alongside vocals. With it being made from all solid wood, the sound of the guitar will actually improve over time. The built-in pickup system lets you plug in and play at gigs, plus there’s even a tuner on the side. 

You would probably normally expect to see this sort of spec on a guitar at least double the price of this, so you’re getting a lot for your money. If you’re after a great sounding workhorse dreadnought electro-acoustic guitar for not a lot of money, then look no further.

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton D-120CE

(Image credit: Thomann)

7. Harley Benton D-120CE

A great starter guitar or for those on a tight budget

Specifications

Top: Laminate spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate mahogany
Pickup: Pickup with preamp with volume knob and 4-band EQ
Scale length: 650mm

Reasons to buy

+
Super affordable
+
Doesn’t sound half bad
+
Built-in pickup

Reasons to avoid

-
Fret edges can be rough
-
Worth remembering it’s a budget guitar

Now, we’re not saying that this guitar is the best in terms of how it sounds, but in terms of value for money, it’s difficult to beat. It boasts the classic dreadnought body shape that dishes out a nice, balanced tone, with plenty of low-end and top-end detail. If you’re looking for a good beginner acoustic guitar, and don’t want to spend much, then this is a great option. Many guitars around this price can feel almost like toys, whereas this doesn’t.

It’s got a fully laminate wood construction which means the tone isn’t quite as rich, but it will withstand changes in temperature and humidity well. There’s even a pickup on board, which is usually unheard of at this price point. It’s a basic preamp and pickup, but stick it through an amp or PA system and you can instantly amplify your guitar, making it perfect for those just starting out on the open-mic or gig scene. 

Put up against a guitar three or four times its price, it might not look as good, but when talking about the best Harley Benton guitars, it’s hard to ignore this one just for the sheer bang for buck it offers. There are some reports of there being a few sharp fret edges, but these can be quickly sanded down and to be honest, is quite a common fault on some lower-end guitars. 

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton GS-Travel-E Spruce

(Image credit: Thomann)

8. Harley Benton GS-Travel-E Spruce

Harley Benton’s take on the classic travel-sized acoustic

Specifications

Top: Laminate select spruce
Back & Sides: Laminate mahogany
Pickup: Bellcat AP-55 Active Powerjack built-in pickup system
Scale length: 596mm

Reasons to buy

+
Nice and compact
+
Suits a variety of playing styles
+
Great for players who travel a lot

Reasons to avoid

-
Solid top would have been nice

This is Harley Benton’s take on one of the biggest selling models from one of the most popular acoustic guitar brands in the world. It’s a travel-sized acoustic guitar with a built-in pickup that allows you to plug into an amp or PA system for when you need more volume. 

It’s got a slightly shorter scale than a full-sized guitar, but it’s still comfortable for adults to play. Whether you’re just starting out and want a more compact acoustic, or you fancy something that’s easy to travel around with, this has you covered. It’s got a nice, bright sound with plenty of articulation and attack. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides make for a classic wood combination.

It comes shipped with a gig bag, which gives it even more bang for your buck and really does make it one of the best travelling guitars around this price point. 

Best Harley Benton guitars: Harley Benton CLA-15M Solid Wood

(Image credit: Thomann)

9. Harley Benton CLA-15M Solid Wood

One of the best Harley Benton acoustic guitars for rootsy, earthy blues tones

Specifications

Top: Solid mahogany
Back & Sides: Solid mahogany
Pickup: N/A
Scale length: 643mm

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely, warm tone
+
Will improve with age
+
Perfect for fingerpickers

Reasons to avoid

-
No pickup

Made using solid mahogany for both the top and the back and sides, this guitar is perfect for fingerpickers, soft strummers and singer-songwriters. Expect warm, woody, earthy-rootsy sorts of sounds with plenty of response to your picking hand. 

The all solid wood construction helps deliver a strong and rich tone and will develop over time. It’s based on a model by probably the biggest name in the world of acoustic guitars, and for the price, gets remarkably close. Of course, when you pay £1000 more than this, you’re going to get more detail and clarity, but this Harley Benton really does give you a great tone.

The body shape is popular with a range of players; it’s in that sweet spot of not being too big so that it’s comfortable for pretty much anyone, but not so small that you can’t drive some decent volume from it. 

Best Harley Benton Guitars: Harley Benton CLP-15E Flame Koa Exotic

(Image credit: Thomann)

10. Harley Benton CLP-15E Flame Koa Exotic

Stand out from the crowd with a striking Koa top

Specifications

Top: Laminate selected grade-A solid koa
Back & Sides: Laminate mahogany
Pickup: Sonicore pickup with Fishman Presys II preamp
Scale length: 628mm

Reasons to buy

+
Looks superb
+
Good pickup
+
Something a bit different

Reasons to avoid

-
The parlour tone isn’t suited to everything

This is a parlour-sized guitar, which is on the smaller side. but is still a full sized acoustic. It’s great for younger and/or smaller players, but that’s not solely who it’s aimed at. Parlour guitars have a distinctive tone and are really popular amongst folk and blues players. However, if you’re looking for a great looking acoustic guitar that has a really nice, unique tone then this could be for you.

The guitar is made using grade AA Hawaiian bar Koa which has a beautiful and distinctive look. It also helps enhance the top end frequencies and mid range, adding a really nice sparkle to the sound. This does mellow out a little after time and usually results in a really nicely balanced tone. There’s also a pickup on board so using this at gigs and open mic nights is no problem at all.

Buying Advice: Best Harley Benton Guitars

Close up of Harley Benton headstock

(Image credit: Future)

Of course, the best Harley Benton guitar will depend on the individual. The first question to ask yourself is whether you want to go electric or acoustic. For players just starting out, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this; some players start on acoustic, some start on electric. 

Electric Or Acoustic?

If you want to jump into playing hard rock classics as soon as you can, then you’ll probably find that the electric guitar holds more appeal. If you’re wanting to strum a few chords, maybe start putting together your own songs, then an acoustic might do the job for you. Worth remembering though is that whilst an electric guitar does make some noise on its own, you’ll get more out of it when pairing it with a guitar amp.

Body shape

If you’re choosing one of the best Harley Benton acoustic guitars, then two big things to think about are the shape of the body, and the wood used. The shape of the body of an acoustic guitar does affect the tone you get. Bigger bodied guitars can lead to more volume, and often suit heavy strummers or fingerpickers that like a lot of dynamics. Smaller bodies lend themselves nicely to players with a softer touch as they can control the volume a little better. The voicing of the actual guitar can vary with shape too.

Another thing about the shape of an acoustic, and indeed an electric, is how comfortable it is for you to play. If you’re of a smaller stature, then a really big bodied guitar might not be the one for you. A smaller and/or thinner guitar body might work better in this instance.

Body wood

Acoustic guitars made with all solid wood will usually yield a stronger, richer and more balanced tone. As you might expect, these tend to cost more, but some of the best Harley Benton acoustics boast all solid wood for a great price. This is opposed to laminate wood that you’ll find on cheaper acoustics – if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure if you’ll carry on and want to keep the cost down, there’s nothing wrong with an all-laminate guitar. A nice in-between is a guitar with laminate back and asides, and a solid top – the top is where a lot of the tone comes from anyway. 

Pickups

For electric guitars, the pickups are the most important factor when it comes to tone. There are various different styles out there, but they can essentially be broken down into two categories – single coil and humbuckers. Single coils often sound brighter, glassier, have more bite and twang to them and usually put out a slightly lower output. Humbuckers sound warmer, thicker, rounder and generally have a higher output (so can be driven into overdrive quicker). In terms of music that they’re good for; it’s all down to personal preference!

Some electric guitars might even have a combination of pickups, giving you the best of both worlds.

After spending a decade in music retail, Richard is now a freelance writer for MusicRadar, Guitar Player, Guitar World and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When his head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, Richard runs a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and plays bass in an alt-rock band. Otherwise, you'll probably find him out walking the dog!