As you delve deeper into the reviews, you start to get the picture that it is more of a love/hate relationship. Where people are not 100% happy with the mandolin, yet nearly everyone agrees it is a great value and few regret purchasing it.
No, not the kind you build a house with, but a musical grade ply, which means they do use actual tone woods. This means it is more feasible to steam press the top and back into the arched shape of a mandolin.
All else being equal, an all solid mandolin will sound better than laminated one. Since l things are rarely equal, it is a bit more complicated than that.
You see, I wouldn’t want an all solid instrument priced this low. Meaning, they stay in tune but are not the smoothest tuners.
There is no better way to improve the Rogue RM100A mandolin that changing the strings out. I am surprised they use such poor grade strings to begin with.
Most mandolins you buy need some tweaking to play great and the RM100A is no exception. Yes (after tuning it), but just keep in mind that a little work will drastically improve the mandolin (much like the string upgrade).
Past these two things, the mandolin really isn’t bad at all. Even if you upgrade later, you may find yourself keeping the Rogue around as a backup or campfire mandolin.
It is always nice to have a beater, so you don’t need to abuse your high-end mandolin. You just won’t find a low-priced mandolin that is better than the RM100A.
No small feat, considering the amount that must have been sold and the fact that people are using them as beaters. Those two things aside, it will still make a great camping mandolin.
But if you take a little time to think about what you want from your new instrument, you will find that answering just a few key questions will make it easy to narrow down your selection. Before you ask yourself “What mandolin should I buy?” you’ll first need to make some general choices about the style and quality that fits your goals and your budget.
The best mandolins generally have a soundboard made from solid spruce, a wood that is lightweight but strong. Spruce is in high demand, not only for mandolins but also for the soundboards of guitars, pianos, and other instruments.
This means that many intermediate and budget level mandolins use mahogany or cedar instead, which give the instrument a deeper tone and may make it harder to cut through the sound of a full band. The most inexpensive mandolins typically have a top made from laminate, in which several layers of wood are pressed together rather than carved into shape.
The sides and back of the best mandolins are typically made from solid maple, a stronger wood than spruce that violin makers have used for centuries. Many less expensive mandolins opt for a solid wood top but laminate sides and back.
The mandolin’s neck is susceptible to bending, which can cause major problems in playability and tuning. While electric mandolins are typically more expensive than purely acoustic models, your intended use of the instrument should determine your choice here.
The problem arises when playing with a band: your instrument’s body may cause the other sounds around you to echo and feed back into the microphone. With the least expensive models costing between $50 and $100, the mandolin can be an excellent instrument for anyone on a tight budget.
Challenging to tune accurately Playability is harmed by inconsistency in the level of the frets and various other design details Looks nice enough, but the design is bland if you want to stand out from the pack Sports a laminate top, so its tone quality can be a bit tinny and does not match up with more finely developed instruments The finish is thick, which makes it nice and shiny but detracts from the tone quality Does not have a truss rod, so if the neck warps with time the instrument will eventually become unplayable No one will write home about the beautiful tone quality of your RM-100A, but it offers an excellent entry point and a good mandolin for beginners.
If you are set on buying an F-style instrument and want to find the best starter mandolin, the RM-100F is a workable choice. Based out of Nagoya, Japan, Baez started out in 1957 and has since become one of the leading instrument manufacturers in the world.
Some materials may not be of the highest quality, including the pick guard and the tuning pegs While the quality wood gives a nice tone, other corners have been cut to keep prices low Like most mass-produced instruments, requires some professional setup to achieve a high level of playability Dimensions are atypical, so the instrument might not fit in every hard shell case. While some of its materials are better than others, its unique appearance and satisfactory sound make it a great option within a low budget.
Due to the difficulty of constructing an F-style mandolin’s body, it can be difficult to find a quality instrument anywhere below $500. While the M522 doesn’t offer the superb tone quality or consistent construction of more expensive models, it does provide a safe option for anyone who wants to play the best mandolin for the price when it comes to F-style instruments.
While it may not have a cutting-edge design or visuals, this solid top mandolin is nice on the ears and highly playable. Its vintage style, unique tone, and more make this an intriguing option for many starting mandolins who want to set themselves apart from the pack.
Kentucky’s focus on traditional American instrument design means that they are able to put out some interesting, classic models like the KM-272. Founded all the way back in 1883 by a 27-year-old German immigrant, Wretch is known today for its quality range of mid-level electric guitars and drums.
Back in the 1950s, however, Wretch had a notable line of mandolins and other acoustic instruments that they have recently resurrected. By applying their classic American design to modern production techniques, they have achieved a high-quality but affordable line of throwback mandolins.
This A-style mandolin, with a vintage mahogany finish, two F holes, and Wretch’s typical aesthetic quality, can stack up with any model in its price range. While some hardcore bluegrass aficionados may want a sharper bite from its tone, the G9310 is an ideal instrument to learn on.
At nearly $600, some beginning players will want to start off with a smaller investment Narrow fretboard can be challenging for a beginner or anyone with large fingers While the G9350 may not fit into everyone’s budget, if you are looking to dive in right away with the best intermediate mandolin that you can plug in, it will be hard to find a better instrument than this one.
If price is your primary criteria, then the Rogue RM-100A can serve as a perfectly acceptable beginner’s instrument. If you are looking for an instrument that you can stick with for a longer time, however, the Kentucky KM-150 is the best mandolin for the money for the average beginning player.
As you learn more about the mandolin and better understand the style you are looking for, you may find that a more specialized model suits your needs. But, to get your new life as a mandolin player started in style, the KM-150 offers an excellent balance of quality, affordability, and versatility, with enough attack to hold its own in your first band.
Registered User I bought a couple of these for beginner students. One came with a decent set-up and one I had to re-cut the nut slots to make it playable.
The bridges aren't great, and they are put on with double-sided tape which makes moving the bridge to get the intonation correct a little difficult. Yeah, I plan to take it up to the “Guitar Room” to have the guy there look it over and set it up.
I figured to start out on I would go with something that wasn't pricey but at the same time I didn't want to get a pace of junk. As Don said the bridges are sorry & prone to break at the 90-degree corner on them.
At your convenience file a radius in that corner & superglue it.......it will probably never break with that preventative treatment. Registered User I have the impression, but no facts to back it up, that some Rogue line might be made by Johnson.
I had a Rogue acoustic/electric resonator guitar that looked exactly like the Johnson model, with a slightly different pick-up. It played well, but I traded it for a completely acoustic model.
I grab them one bay with a hard shell case when they are just too cheap to resist. *For the record, the only reason I keep one of these is for our local mango teacher who has students that can afford no more.