Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Review

Recently I was feeling inspired and I wanted to find an acoustic guitar without spending much money on a beginner's instrument. The RA-090 from Rogue, a simple $70 guitar, turned out to be the best option. Here's how I made the decision and why I chose the 090.

Things to Consider Before Buying an Acoustic Guitar

By far the most important factor is the wood. There are many different woods that can be used to build the body and the neck of the guitar. You also need to look at the quality of the tuners and bridge and the overall build quality. A poor guitar will have flaws like sharp frets, bending, or chipped wood.

The Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought

The RA-090 delivers a good balanced tone that is more than enough for any beginner to be happy with their sound at the expense of a few shortcomings in the build. The woods are better than most at this price level and contribute significantly to the tone.

Pros

  • Produces solid sound with some simple set-up
  • Light-weight and good for travel
  • Nice finishes that look good to beginners and experienced players

Cons

  • Some fret issues reported including sharpness and rusting
  • Possible shipping issues: check the guitar for cracks, holes, and other damage as soon as it arrives
  • Made entirely from laminate; even the rosewood fretboard is synthetic

Features and Benefits

Construction

Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

The woods in the body of the 090 are mahogany and whitewood. With most of the competition here using laminated woods instead, the difference in sound is very noticeable. The top surface is spruce and the neck is nato. The tone is clear and simple. The sound also projects better than many similar guitars can manage. The fretboard is rosewood, which is standard at most levels. The neck has 20 frets. There are no cutaways but 20 frets is generally not long enough to need them.

Secondary Elements and Design

Rogue built the 090 with inexpensive parts without compromising sound quality, which is a difficult balance. The hardware, like the tuners, is nickle. Higher-end guitars tend to use chrome. The bridge is an attractive maple. Many budget guitars have bolt-on necks but the 090 has a set-in neck, which adds considerably to the sustain. Despite being a generic brand, the tuners are responsive and stable. It is important to note that the frets might stick out slightly on the sides, poking out from the neck. This is a design flaw that results from the machinery that places the frets into the neck.

Ambidextrous Shape

A major advantage of the dreadnought body shape is that the 090 works perfectly for both right and left-handed guitarists. This is a rarity in the guitar world because most body designs are asymmetrical. The only required setup is to restring and retune the guitar so that the strings and notes have the correct intonation for the player. This is a quick operation that doesn't take much effort or knowledge.

Rating

Design

4

Performance

4

Construction

4

Value for the Money

5

User Satisfaction

5

Alternatives

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar

Most guitar makers have at least one introductory model in their acoustic line, and Fender is no exception. The FA-100 costs $120 and has the same dreadnought design as the Rogue 090. The biggest differences are the iconic Fender design elements, especially in the headstock, and the fact that it comes with a soft gig bag for portability. The sound quality is not quite as good due to using agathis wood rather than mahogany.

Comparison

Fender FA-100

Price- $120

Body Wood- Agathis

Gig Bag Included- Yes

Rogue RA-090

Price- $70

Body Wood- Mahogany

Gig Bag Included- No

Epiphone PR-150

Epiphone PR-150

Epiphone's PR-150 sells for $160. It has mahogany and spruce construction like the 090, which are good woods to use in an acoustic for reasons already mentioned. The tuners and bridge are house Epiphone gear. It has a dreadnought body, which is common for acoustics. There are two finish options: natural and sunburst. The biggest differences are the price and the brand name. If you have a reason to be drawn to the PR-150 like the finish or because you love Epiphone, then it might be worth the extra money, but aside from that it is a fairly basic choice.

Comparison

Epiphone PR-150

Price- $120

Body Wood- Mahogany

Gig Bag Included- No

Rogue RA-090

Price- $70

Body Wood- Mahogany

Gig Bag Included- No

Fender FA-135CE

Fender FA-135CE

The FA-135CE is an acoustic electric option. These have the tone and projection of an acoustic guitar, but they also have the ability to plug into an amp or other device to modify your sound or to record more easily. The 135CE comes with a preamp and a tuner. It costs $150. The construction is basswood and nato. It has a single cutaway at the base of the neck to access the lower frets. The 135CE has a gloss laminate top and 20 frets. The controls include volume, tone, and phase.

Comparison

Fender FA-135CE

Price- $150

Body Wood- Basswood

Gig Bag Included- No

Rogue RA-090

Price- $70

Body Wood- Mahogany

Gig Bag Included- No

Final Thoughts

The RA-090 from Rogue makes a great choice for anyone who is interested in learning about or exploring the acoustic guitar and does not want to spend a lot of money. It uses advanced materials to deliver a quality sound that you typically only hear on guitars at the next tier up. It is also completely ambidextrous, so lefties have nothing to fear. This is a guitar that you can keep for years without needing a replacement, and replacing it is inexpensive.

Stephanie Su
 

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