Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th: What is it?
Okay, a 25th anniversary is typically silver but don’t anyone tell Harley Benton, because to mark the occasion the Thomann-owned giant of budget guitar gear refinished some of the most desirable models in its collection a metallic-gold Firemist finish and we are 100 per cent okay with that.
There are eight models in the 25th Anniversary collection, two bass guitars, and six electric guitars, all of which retail for under £500, and the one we are taking a look at today is the Fusion-T 25th, a 21st-century T-type whose design owes as much to Charvel, Suhr et al as it does to the Fender Telecaster.
That Firemist finish makes us think of Charvel’s Pharaohs Gold, albeit in a deeper shade. The clean modern lines and the contouring on the body betray an influence of John Suhr’s luthiery.
But then this is a very different proposition. At £500, it is positioned as a player’s first serious guitar, the one you step up to after an introduction to the instrument via a cheap electric guitar. Depending on how the light catches it, the Fusion-T 25th can look all the one colour – as though fashioned from one material, the roasted maple neck and fingerboard match the paint job.
Most of the models in the series have a special engraved neck plate but here the sculpted four-bolt neck joint precludes a neckplate. We don’t miss it. There’s a celebratory lanyard in the gig bag and, besides, the spec itself is where the party starts.
The Fusion-T 25th has a solid Nyatoh body, with a generous belly carve that no doubt helps keep the weight down (this one weighs under 7lbs), and further contouring to the lower cutaway.
The neck has a modern C profile that is very easy in the hand without being super thin but is carved from such an attractively figured piece of maple that it is hard to take your eyes off it.
We did say this was a 21st-century T-style with airs of the boutique so you will be relieved to learn that this has stainless steel frets, the fretwork is impressive, as is the build, and there are Luminlay glow-in-the-dark side markers just as you find on more expensive models from upscale rivals.
Harley Benton has kitted this out with a very tidy Wilkinson VS-50 IIK two-point vibrato. There are staggered height locking tuners, too. A pair of Tesla Alnico V humbuckers occupy the bridge and neck positions and there is a push/pull coil-split. Again, this guitar retails for under £500. It’s quite remarkable.
Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th: Performance and verdict
With its lightweight and easy neck, the Fusion-T 25th doesn’t take long to turn up the charm. The build is excellent for this money, and even if we do have to adjust the truss rod and give it a bit of TLC before its setup is bang-on, that only calls attention to the contemporary design motif of positioning the truss rod adjustment wheel at the top of the fingerboard. It makes on-the-fly adjustments quick and painless.
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The 12” radius fingerboard and stainless steel frets contribute to the slinky feel, and the tones come easy too. Perhaps it is the budget brand’s imperative that the pickups on Harley Benton guitars typically have a crowd-pleasing voice. The bridge humbucker will eat up the gain, even if it is a little sharp in a solo setting, which could well give you the edge in a mix.
You can always roll some off with the tone pot. Or engage that neck pickup, where there is a lot of potential to take the Fusion-T 25th out of its comfort zone.
There is a degree of nominative determinism when you name a guitar series “Fusion” but, all the same, this is the sort of high-performance T-style that can take you from rock to jazz-funk and back again – particularly if you make use of those in-between sounds, or those coil-split tones that are actually useable.
MusicRadar Verdict: That great neck feel and lightweight build allied with a very respectable range of tones is what makes the Fusion-T 25th a credible choice for the money. It’s an inspired-by-boutique electric that’s built for all styles and priced for all budgets.
Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th: The web says
"Sound-wise, it’s no slouch, either. There’s plenty of beef here that really suits a cranked Marshall, and the sound from the bridge ’bucker combines a crisp bite with a woody midrange. The neck is thick and surprisingly vocal, and the coil-splits (which voice the single screw coils of each humbucker) really aren’t bad."
Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th: Hands-on demos
Harley Benton Fusion-T 25th: Specifications
- ORIGIN: Indonesia
- TYPE: Solidbody electric guitar
- BODY: Nyatoh
- NECK: Roasted hard Canadian flamed maple, model ‘C’ profile, bolt-on
- SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
- NUT/WIDTH: Graph Tech Tusq/42mm
- FINGERBOARD: Roasted hard Canadian flamed maple, black dot inlays, 305mm (12”) radius
- FRETS: 22, medium/jumbo, Blacksmith stainless steel
- HARDWARE: Wilkinson VS-50 IIK two-point vibrato, staggered height locking tuners – chrome-plating
- STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52.5mm
- ELECTRICS: Tesla VR-3B Alnico 5 (bridge) and VR-3N Alnico 5 (neck), 3-way lever pickup selector, master volume and tone (w/ pull switch coil-split)
- WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.16/6.95
- LEFT-HANDERS: Yes
- FINISH: Firemist satin metallic body; satin neck back and face
- CONTACT: Harley Benton