Harley Benton is celebrating its 25th Anniversary by decking eight of its most-popular electric guitars and basses in a special Firemist finish and a commemorative neck plate, and digging deep for some top-quality specs on a range that looks high-end but goes easy on the budget.
The deep gold of the metallic Firemist paint job is complemented by the use of roasted Canadian flame maple for the necks and selected fingerboards, with dark Indian laurel offering an attractive rosewood alternative on other models, and chrome hardware.
There are six guitars and two bass guitars in the series, all ship in deluxe gig bags, and come with a commemorative lanyard. A 25th Anniversary motif has been engraved into the neck plate.
Quality hardware has been used throughout, with locking tuners keeping the electric guitars nice and stable. You’ll find stainless steel frets, Wilkinson bridges and vibratos, and all of this and more from instruments that offer plenty of change from £500.
Let’s take a closer look, and this being 2023, a year in which offsets have scarcely been cooler, we’ll start with the JA-25th, an absolute peach with a tortoiseshell pickguard.
Harley Benton JA-25th Firemist
Harley Benton describes the JA-25th as a “surf rocker on a special night out” and it certainly looks equipped to give you Dick Dale vibes just so long as you have enough spring reverb and, ideally, a nice tube amp to hand. It has an American alder body, a 25.5” scale, a 12” radius dark laurel fingerboard with block inlays and 21 frets.
The neck has been fashioned into a D profile and joins the body in a four-bolt joint. There are a pair of Roswell JM-N-ADIV Alnico V soapbar pickups at the neck and bridge, and while we can all recognise the influence here, this offers a more slimmed-down set of controls, with a three-way pickup selector, and volume and tone knobs. Completing the fuss-free offset-platform we’ve got a Sung-II BM003 Deluxe bridge and tailpiece.
As Harley Benton guitars go, they do not look much better than this. And it's priced just £256.
Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th Firemist
The Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th Firemist is the archetypical 21st-century T-style, a high-performance take on the ultimate workhorse guitar. As such, it features an abundance of contouring on its nyatoh body. Its neck is a modern C profile, with the roasted maple reprised on the 12” 22-fret fingerboard. Glow-in-the-dark side dot markers should aid navigation nicely under stage lighting.
It comes equipped with a pair of Tesla VR-3B Alnico V humbuckers, with master volume, master tone, and a push/pull coil-split for added versatility. It has a set of Jinho JN-07 locking tuners, a Wilkinson 50IIK 2-point vibrato, a Graph Tech TUSQ nut, and a lot of potential for a shredder on budget. It'll set you back just £399.
Harley Benton Fusion-III 25th Firemist
The Harley Benton Fusion-III 25th Firemist continues on a similar vein, applying the go-faster ethos of the Fusion series to an S-style body with an HSS pickup configuration.
Like its T-style sibling, it too has the Tesla VR-2B Alnico V at the bridge, with a pair of Tesla VR-1M single-coils at the middle and neck positions offering tones that should cover all bases. One for the fusion cats, the prog metal guitar set, the shredder, and more. Hardware and build is largely as above for the Fusion-T 25th, but this has 24-frets. The price is £399.
Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Firemist
The Harley Benton Enhanced 25th Firemist is a four-string bass with a double-cut alder body that's slightly offset at the waist. It's roasted maple neck joins the body with a six-bolt join, and black block inlays give its roasted maple fingerboard a real classy look.
Those inlays are matched by a black three-ply pickguard. A Roswell GMA2 preamp system offers a 2-band EQ plus the switchable active and passive modes, with HB fitting this with a powerful Roswell MFR4 ferrite humbucker at the bridge and a Roswell PM-4 ferrite single-coil at the middle position.
It is fitted with a WSC SK4 four-saddle bridge, WSC JB45 tuners, and has a Black TUSQ XL nut measuring 39mm. Other vital statistics? Well, you've got a 34" scale, a 14" fingerboard radius, 22 frets, and a price tag of just £443 via Thomann.
If the Enhanced bass skews a little modern for your low-end tastes, the JB-25th might just be what the Benton ordered....
Harley Benton JB-25th Firemist
The Firemist finish looks the bee's knees on all of these models but few wear it better than the JB-25th Firemist. This is an old-school four-string with a tortoise 'guard, controls mounted on a chrome plate, and a pair of Roswell JBA single-coil pickups offering an uncomplicated but classic range of tones.
It's a passive bass. No batteries needed. Other elements of its build are similar to the Enhanced, with the body comprised of US alder, the 34" scale and bolt-on neck, but at 38mm, it has a slightly narrower nut, and a 12" dark laurel fingerboard with dot inlays.
There is a Wilkinson WBBC bridge with brass saddles for extra top-end zing, and at £265 it is ridiculously competitive on the price front.
Harley Benton SC-25th Firemist
The SC-25th is another 25th Anniversary Special Edition model that invokes a bygone year of classic guitar design – y’know, for all your blues guitar needs, rock and all that jazz. It has a solid okoume singlecut body, topped with maple, with, again, a Canadian roast maple neck that is glued to the body. It has a D shaped neck, a dark laurel fingerboard with a 12” radius, 22 stainless steel frets and block inlays.
But it has a few tricks up its sleeve – or under its hood – with a control circuit that allows you to split those Roswell PAF-alike humbuckers for some single-coil action. The dual volume, dual tone setup will be familiar, so too the TOM-1 tune-o-matic-style bridge and tailpiece. A cream pickguard sets this £265 budget electric off nicely.
Harley Benton ST-25th Firemist
And now for an S-style… And the ST-25th is quite the S-style, complementing the Firemist finish with a three-ply mint green pickguard. It has a dark laurel fingerboard with a 12” radius, a Sung-Il BS-213 synchronised deluxe vibrato unit, a Roswell SHR Alnico V hotrail pickup at the bridge and a pair of Roswell STA single-coils at the middle and neck positions.
There will be lots of tones available here. That stacked bridge ‘bucker is splittable via a push/pull on the volume. A pair of tone pots will let you fine-tune your sound. Like the SC-25th, this is priced at a very accessible £265.
Harley Benton TE-25th Firemist
Last but by no means least, the TE-25th takes the design principles mentioned above on the ST-2th and applies them to a pleasingly under-evolved T-style format. If the Fusion-T looks like it’s a little quick and easy for your tastes, this dials things back.
Sure, it’s classy, with the three-ply white pickguard, the dark laurel, and all the trappings of this deluxe special run, but it’s nice and primitive, too, with a Wilkinson WTB ashtray-style bridge seating a trio of compensated brass saddles that should help with the intonation nicely.
It has a Roswell TEA-B Alnico V single-coil at the bridge, a Roswell TEA-F-CR single-coil at the neck, controls for volume, tone and pickup selection all mounted on a chrome plate. Very nice. Very neat. Altogether, it’s quite the bargain at £239.
One more thing to note and it's big news: all of these Special Edition models are available left-handed too. This is one anniversary party we are all invited to. For more details, head over to Harley Benton. To order, just pop on over to Thomann.