Harley Benton’s new resonator costs less than $200 – and looks surprisingly classy for it

Harley Benton Custom Line N-150CE NT
(Image credit: Harley Benton)

If you’ve had the chance to sit down and tap into your inner Southern blues icon on a cheap resonator guitar, you’ll know their shonky charms cannot be replicated. As such, the announcement that Harley Benton is debuting a new acoustic-electric resonator – the Custom Line N-150CE NT, priced at $199 at that – seems like good news.

This is all in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from Harley Benton – the firm is the affordable in-house brand of European mega-retailer Thomann – but it also has a reputation for punching above its price point.

Certainly, on paper, the specs look decent enough: it’s a mini Jumbo body format, with a sapele body and Okoume neck. Both of those tonewoods are common affordable substitutes for mahogany in lower-end guitar builds and are generally accepted to achieve a similar warmth and resonance to the real thing. 

Then there’s a purple heart fingerboard, which has a rosewood-like look but is similar to hard maple in its tonal characteristics, plus 20 medium jumbo frets and a 43mm bone nut. 

Cast your eyes around the shoulders and there are some subtle f-holes cut into the singlecut body, alongside a Rising P3004 mini humbucker, should you want to augment the sound from the JM-02 cone with some plugged-in tones. 

Harley Benton Custom Line N-150CE NT

(Image credit: Harley Benton)

The chrome hardware, including some tastefully minimal volume and tone control knobs, plus DLX die-cast tuners, sets off brilliantly against the shining cone and the chocolate tones of the wood grain – and it’s all given a smart outline thanks to the ABS binding. 

We can’t tell you what it sounds like, yet, but it’s a promising spec for such a low price point, and it looks like it’s put the budget where it counts, i.e. the resonance – and with the bone nut and smart tonewood choices it's looking good on that front.

Either way, in the era of $1,500 Epiphones, $200 is a crazy price and, frankly, even if it’s poorly finished, there is certainly room for a bit of imperfection when it comes to making rough-edged blues, country and folk – all of the places in which a resonator typically finds its feet. 

Even taking into account the EU to US postage costs, we think this could win a few hearts. The price point (with postage) almost halves that of the current go-to entry level resonator, the Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog – and, as such, could prove a huge temptation for anyone taking their first steps to dobro-style prowess.

If you want more information on the Custom Line N-150CE NT, head to Harley Benton.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.