Here’s a traditional mandolin that’s well-built using quality materials—and all for a very affordable price, making this one of our favorite mandolins on the list for a beginning player. It’s ideal for bluegrass-style players, though it’s certainly not limited to that genre. With its smooth action and bold sound, the RM-100A is a great choice […]
Here’s a traditional mandolin that’s well-built using quality materials—and all for a very affordable price, making this one of our favorite mandolins on the list for a beginning player.
It’s ideal for bluegrass-style players, though it’s certainly not limited to that genre. With its smooth action and bold sound, the RM-100A is a great choice for aspiring mandolin players of all stripes.
Let’s start with the sound.
The tone out of this little guy has some bite to it. One of the challenges with a mandolin is to balance it against typically louder instruments, like guitar and banjo, in a bluegrass ensemble. The Rogue RM-100A has a bright edge that helps it cut through other instruments, with enough projection and power behind it to make sure it’s heard in the mix.
While the sound is certainly important, it’s the playability of this instrument that really makes it ideal for beginners (and enjoyable to play for experienced musicians, too).
The neck is set at the perfect angle for easy, comfortable play. Even if you’ve never played a string instrument before, just pick yourself up a lesson book and you’ll be able to teach yourself on this instrument no problem.
The bridge is adjustable so you have a lot of control over the action. Some players do feel the action is set a bit high when you first get the instrument.
Most likely because they haven’t yet built up much finger strength. This is an easy adjustment, though, and they’ll do it at any music shop for pretty cheap if you don’t have the know-how to do it at home.
Once the action’s where you want it, it’s an easy instrument to play. We have the build on the neck and the nickel-plated frets to thank for that. They’re tall enough to prevent buzzing but not sharp or otherwise hard on your fingers.
Here’s the deal:
Any instrument this cheap is going to make compromises somewhere.
The main one you’ll notice on the Rogue RM-100A is the body is made of a somewhat thin plywood, instead of the thicker hardwoods used on pricier instruments. The soundboard is noticeably thinner than those on more expensive instruments. The finish is also less precise and doesn’t have quite the same deep colors as the sunburst finishes on other mandolins.
In our estimation, though, these are largely aesthetic concerns, and are minor concessions to make for the price.
The build quality is solid where it matters.
The tuners are chrome-plated and solid for maintaining the intonation, though they can be a bit stiff when you first take the instrument out of its box. Top to bottom, you’ll get way more than you paid for when you buy the RM-100A from Rogue.