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Thread: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

  1. #1

    Default Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I bought the Recording King ROST-7-TS tenor guitar from Sun Valley
    Guitars after seeing their name as forum sponsor. I am a beginner,
    and after shopping around for a mid-century cheap guitar I decided to
    purchase the Recording King. I may tell the story of how I came to
    that decision, but first about this guitar.

    The appearance is neat and clean. The guitar looks like the finish was
    applied prior to assembly, and it was assembled from a kit of parts.
    The entire back, sides, and neck have some kind of black plastic finish.
    The top looks laminated with a printed wood grain finish. It is realistic
    enough that I can't be certain the pattern is printed, but it looks like
    a laminated furniture top. The trim around the top lines up everywhere.
    This guitar looks fine for the price. I have seen a couple $200 imported
    mandolins that don't look as good.

    One disappointment is the frets are as cut. They have sharp burrs on the
    ends. All of them. While I have not hurt my fingers on them, I think
    if labor was cheap they should have filed the ends. It would have been
    easier I think if they had done that before finishing.

    The neck is straight up to fret 14 where it joins the body. Then there
    is a little angle difference with the frets over the top. The angle of
    the neck is slightly back which lowers the action a bit. The string
    height at fret 12 is about 0.085". If this were a mandolin I would want
    the strings a bit lower, but this feels all right to me. The tuners look
    all right and work smoothly.

    Though the top looks flat it arches out to a maximum of about 1/4 inch
    just south of the bridge.

    The guitar comes in a cardboard box. It was double boxed as I received it.
    It does not come with any instructions or papers from Recording King, but
    it does comes with a 4mm Allen wrench which fits in a fitting inside the
    sound hole. there is no plate next to the nut for adjusting a tension rod.
    This is is suggestive, but I don't know.

    When I received the guitar and tuned it up, starting with the low strings,
    the A string broke. I sent the seller a message. They quickly responded
    by calling me. They said this is not uncommon and volunteered to send
    me a set of strings right away.

    I tried playing with 3 strings just to see. I don't know many songs that
    use all 4 strings or courses. One thing I noticed is a sharp corner at
    edge of the fret board. It is not sharp enough to cut, but it digs into
    my index finger. That might be due to using sub optimal technique, but
    my mandolin has a slight bevel on the edge of the fret board. Looking
    at the construction I can see why they did that, but I consider this to
    be a design flaw.

    I will try to attach some photos here. The photos were taken without the
    A string. Let me know if there is something I missed.

    I will report about the sound later.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thanks for the unboxing review! I look forward to your sound/playing report! I, too, am looking for a relatively inexpensive tenor. While I like the idea of the old Martins and Gibsons, I am not sure I want to deal with neck resetting, etc..

  4. #3

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 2

    How did I decide to get a tenor guitar? I will tell the story.

    Some of the tunes I want to learn feel like they sound better when played
    lower. The mandola scale would be about right. My mandolin teacher told
    me it would be like a viola. They are not popular because the melody line
    is usually written for violin, and the violas get to play rhythm or harmony.
    Even so I should feel free to play in the range I like.

    The mandola market seems pretty small, and I am a beginner. It is difficult
    to justify spending a lot on an instrument I don't know. I listen instruments
    on line, and still have the dream. I started searching for mandolas.

    Meanwhile I want to start learning the tunes. As you know the tenor guitar
    has, or can have, the same tuning as the mandola, CGDA.

    This post inspired me to look at tenor guitars. Check it out.
    Used my tenor in a school project

    There are the mid century cheap guitars. Currently the asking price for
    a 1960s Harmony tenor guitar is about $300. At that price they don't
    appear to sell quickly. I found one on craigslist, and went to try it.
    The Harmony I tried was straight and the action was pretty good for a
    beginner. The sound was all right. The seller was friendly and let me
    pick on it until I was satisfied. The thing about the Harmony is it was
    not as resonant as my mandolin. I need it to resonate to motivate
    practicing. It did not motivate me. I thanked the seller, but I decided
    to pass on the Harmony.

    Then in a couple weeks the Recording King tenor guitars announced
    availability. I prefer to listen prior to purchase, but I decided to try it.
    As I mentioned earlier the A string broke when tuning up the first time.
    Sun Valley guitars, a forum sponsor, sent me new strings right away.
    I read up on how to put on a new string, and did not have trouble.
    Useful Tip For Changing Strings (sblock)

    The Recording King is a cheap guitar, which is what the Harmony was
    in its era. I am a beginner, but I have heard a lot of guitars played by
    professional musicians. What I hear is pretty good. The Recording King
    is way more resonant than the Harmony. I can feel the vibrations. It
    sounds live, but is not "boomy". The A string sounds live when picked,
    but is not as responsive as the others. Overall the A sounds good, but
    it does not ring like the Gibson in the post I linked above. I suppose the
    body is tuned differently. Of course, I did not pay for a vintage Gibson.

    One thing I noticed is the G string has a twang when picked open. It
    doesn't buzz, but it is not a pure note like the other strings. I got out
    my flashlight. To me it looks like the string lightly touches the 1st and
    2nd frets when picked, exciting those notes.
    The guitar came with these strings:
    A4 = 440 Hz - 0.010
    D4 = 293 Hz - 0.014
    G3 = 196 Hz - 0.022w
    C3 = 131 Hz - 0.032w

    I think I will get a 0.024w, and see if the extra tension clears up that
    note. It isn't bad, but it isn't right.

    Over all, I am satisfied with the Recording King. I like the sound
    more than the Harmony. It is noticeably better. The action is good
    for a beginner, though one negative is the sharp corner on the neck.
    I would make this purchase again.

    Right now I am not set up to make a recording, but I will try to do that.
    I am also a beginner. I need to practice a tune to show the tone of the
    guitar. I also need to keep practicing on the mandolin.
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

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  6. #4
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thank you for the review!

    One note: the allen nut in the soundhole is the truss rod adjustment. It's available in the sound hole rather than behind the nut. When I first read your post about the string height, I thought it was a tad high for a tenor. I was going to suggest you check for excessive relief and adjust the truss rod. I usually shoot for 1/16" (.625") at the 12th fret on a tenor. But .8ish is still playable! But it also sounds like your G is slightly low. I'd be hesitant to adjust the truss rod if you've never done it before, and I think adjusting the rod to reduce relief (which will lower the action slightly) would make your G string buzz worse.

    It's possible that the G string nut slot is cut too deep. I have used the "baking soda and super glue" trick many times to solve this problem on instruments. You basically fill the nut slot with baking soda, and then drop in liquid super glue. After it dries, you can recut the nut slot (not so deep this time!) That *should* fix the not-quite-buzz you're having. You can probably test this by putting a thin piece of paper under the string in the nut slot. Make sure the paper doesn't touch the string on the fretboard side of the nut, though. If that fixes the buzzing then the nut slot is probably too low. (I have found more than one guitar in my day with the paper used as a permanent solution, at least until you have to restring!)

    You can also address the sharp fret ends with a file. There are specialty files for frets, but you can also tape off the neck to protect the wood and then lightly use a file held straight to fix those sharp ends. It won't take more than a few swipes, usually.

    (Lots of information on YouTube I am sure about these different setup techniques.)

    Besides an increase in quality of materials and craftmanship, one additional thing a more expensive instrument gets you (especially if you purchase it from a music shop with actual humans interacting with the instruments) is a good setup. If you take to the tenor, it might be worth spending $50-75 to have someone do a setup for you down the road!

    I had really been eyeing one of these as a "knock-around" tenor, and that might still be something for down the road (I already have a knock around tenor, but it's a 12 fret tuned GDAE, so when I capo at 5 to be in CGDA I really miss the access to those two extra frets a 14 fret model would give!) Your review confirms that this would probably be a good fit! I've liked the tone I heard in a few videos I've seen, and your description helps confirm that. (I've also liked the tone of the RK Dirty 30s parlor guitars, too.) For me, picking one of these up will have to wait since I just drained my instrument fund for an archtop tenor. (More on that in another post soon.)

    Thanks again!

  7. #5

    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Thank you for the suggestions.

    I looked like the slot was maybe too deep on G. The top of the string
    was below the level of nut. I tried putting paper in the slot. Thin paper
    seemed too compressible. I used a piece of card stock. Now the string
    sticks above the nut a little bit. I think that has cleared up the open G,
    no more twang. That was helpful.

    I do wonder about filling and filing the string slot. When tightening
    the string the paper gets pulled back by the windings on the string.
    I wonder if that would abrasively remove the filler material. Maybe
    someone could provide a detailed description of that operation,
    especially finding and cutting the slot.

    After practicing with all 4 strings I think the notes on A do not resonate
    much, at least not like a real guitar. Otherwise it sounds all right.
    I can feel the lower lower two strings when I am trying to play a tune.

    What do you think would be the effect if the 0.010 A string were
    replaced with a 0.095 ?
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

  8. #6
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I also purchased the recording king tenor recently. The shop i bought from in Salt Lake City indicated that while the fret ends were not sharp when I bought it that they expected them to be sharp shortly as Utah is a dry climate and the fretboard will shrink and the frets will not. This is very common for instruments in dry climates. I have a fret end file and can fix this, but the shop (shout out to Guitar Czar) recommended I bring it back in once it got bad.

    Otherwise I'm loving the guitar, although mine came tuned GDAE - but the strings seem slack enough that I may try tuning up to CGDA.
    Addicted to 4-string instruments - Ukulele was the gateway drug, followed by bass and now onto the hard stuff - tenor guitars and banjos (plus a little mandolin on the side)

  9. #7
    Registered User MarkusSpiel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    I got mine today. Pretty good for 189 Euro and I will post a video in the next few days.
    Gibson F2 1916
    Northfield F5s 2016
    Hartmann A Oval 2017
    Hartmann Two Pointer 2018

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  11. #8
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recording King ROST-7-TS - part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by sounds_good View Post
    What do you think would be the effect if the 0.010 A string were
    replaced with a 0.095 ?
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    Checking it on my favorite string tension calculator, a .009 would be just fine. A .0095 might not break as often (my .009s historically break because of mechanical issues like 6 year olds with vigorous strumming action, rather than string tension.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    FWIW, here it is with a .010 for the A and a .024 for the G - that tension might be too much for the G. I usually try to keep things at around 20lbs/string. Your .010 is currently at 23lbs, so I personally think it'll feel better if you drop it to a .009.

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