We all know that quality does not come without a cost. This is especially true with mandolins. Most F-style mandolins go for over $500 while the A-style ones (the quality models) average $300 and higher. So if you do not have a couple of hundred bucks stacked away you might struggle to find a good mandolin. While there are a lot of package deals with string instruments like ukuleles and acoustic guitars, you don’t really see that as often with mandolins. That is why Rogue Learn-the-Mandolin Package Sunburst, while not being a top-notch instrument, is definitely a bargain deal that will be a perfect fit for beginners.
When discussing budget-friendly instruments you have to take into account the price. I mean, it would be just unfair to compare an under $100 package model to something that sells for over $400. With that in mind let’s proceed to discuss this mandolin. While one of the bigger selling points of this mandolin is that it comes in a package (and, let’s be real, we all like extra accessories even if we never use them), the build is what really matters.
This Rogue model does not offer anything high-end but it certainly brings quite a lot to the table. The instrument is lightweight and comfortable. These factors really play in when it comes to beginner instruments. While the material used is not that great, they somehow end up producing a very solid build that yields nice sound. The finish and some of the minor details were a lot better than I expected. Overall, for an instrument that goes for under $100, accessories included, this mandolin does not look cheap.
Since this is a beginner mandolin you should be aware that you need to do quite a bit of setup. With cheaper hardware comes more maintenance. For instance, the action was too high and I had to change a couple of things up to reach a nice sound and intonation. The strings are pretty cheap. Not only do they last for a very short time but during that time they just ruin the sound.
So I would highly recommend buying a new set of strings, something that is much better in quality so that you won’t end up with broken strings. Strings are a minor issue and I don’t think they are a big deal. Plus, I usually recommend getting more “high-end” minor accessories for cheaper instruments. These small details make for a big difference. This is a package so naturally, we have to discuss what comes with the package. The biggest surprise was the padded gig bag.
To be honest I was expecting a flimsy bag that would just fall apart in a week and do more harm than good but I was a delight to find a sturdy bag that serves well for transportation and protection purposes. The package also includes a mandolin method book and mandolin chords plus book. While you can find a lot of online resources for learning mandolin, these books will offer a pretty nice introduction to the instrument.
Rogue Mandolin Sound
When it comes to sound, this beginner mandolin offers a lot more than what you would expect but first let’s talk about some of the problems. The first one that you will notice is the issue with strings. They are low quality and in case they even last you longer than a week they will probably ruin the sound so I suggest changing them right away. Apart from that, there is a little bit on the frets but this issue is also fixable. If this is your first mandolin – which is probably is – I would suggest taking it to a professional and have it set up in-store so that they can fix these issues. Once this is done this mandolin achieves a nice, sweet sound, nice tone, and pretty damn good volume. I would not go as far as comparing it to a high-end mandolin, but for a beginner, it is worth the money.
Rogue Learn-the-Mandolin Package Sunburst is one of the best mandolin packages that I have seen in a while. Of course you have to judge it within the context of the price, otherwise, it will be pretty unfair. All in all, this is an instrument that sounds and feels pretty good while also coming in a package with a sturdy gig bag and learning accessories that you might find useful.
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