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Thread: Rover rm 75 (under $400)

  1. #1

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    I'm going to look at a used Rover RM 75 later this week. Any knowledgeable advice gratefully received.

    These mandos are PacRim made - right? All solid wood - right? Tone =

    Bottom line: Are they "good value" - like, say, Eastmans. Or are they really just fancy firewood - best left alone . . . ?

    thanks

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    Rovers are made by Saga, who also make Kentucky. Kentucky seems to be pretty good in the low end market. Reviews of Rover mandos don't seem to indicate quite the consistent quality, but they are mostly good. Do a search.
    "First you master your instrument, then you master the music, then you forget about all that ... and just play"
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    Registered User Brad Weiss's Avatar
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    I've played some good ones- very comparable to a KM-675, same graduation specs, but less figure in the wood (and darker finish to cover it up) If it sounds good to you, it's worth it.

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    If they are carved instead of pressed they may be in the same ballpark. Some all solids are pressed and some are carved. Like Brad said, if it sounds good and plays well, go for it. Try and get an approval period.

    Jamie
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  5. #5

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    My travel/camping mandolin is a Rover RM50 A model. It's easy to play and sounds real good for the money. No complaints.
    '02 Collings MF5

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    Registered User Bill Snyder's Avatar
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    I would not pay $400 for a used one. You can get a NEW one from Elderly for $375.00
    Link to Elderly.
    Bill Snyder

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    Registered User Greg H.'s Avatar
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    I agree with Bill, $400 is too much to ask for a used Rover. I'd say offer $200, and if they balk at that order one from Elderly (instruments from Elderly are also far more likely to have a good setup as well).
    Greg Henkle

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    Registered User Ace's Avatar
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    My second mandolin and I still have it is a F style Rover RM-75 and EVERYONE (pros) that played it was very impressed with it! I only paid 179.00 with HSC when they first came out and I wouldn't take 400 for it now! I would have to ask for more because it has a GREAT sound and really good bluegrass bark but then again, it's not for sale! I also like the dark finish and frankly speaking, I don't think it's to cover up anything! It's just a pretty color to me!
    Ace

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    Registered User otterly2k's Avatar
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    Sounds like you'll have a chance to play it, which is good. It could be a dud or a gem, and you'll have a chance to find out. If there is ANYTHING you don't like about it, pass. There will always be another.
    Karen Escovitz
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  11. #10

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    The RM-75 just went through an upgrade. Saga has improved the quality and raised the list price to $695.00. I just received one a few days back and there is a noticible difference in the finish and workmanship. There has not been very many of the newer version made yet. I believe they just started shipping this January. If you can get a hold of one of these for less than $400, it is a steal. I would estimate the new "average" street price at a little over $500.
    Robert Fear
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    I have a 375.00 Rover RM75 that I played side by side with an 1000.00+ Eastman 515, actually liked the Rover better regardless of price. It is very loud and barky, no flaws in the fit and finish that I can find. I play a Scruggs banjo and a Songbird Deluxe, but this mando does just fine in such good company...
    The older I get, the better I was...

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    I have owned four RM75's and I loved them all. They are all carved solid wood, not bent or pressed. Great tone, chop, bark, etc. I bought them because I was able to get them wholesale at the time, I could have gotten Kentucky mandos if i wanted, but the Rovers sounded way better. Only the RM75's were this special at the time, all the other Rovers were nothing special.
    Now for the bad, The fit and finish was nowhere near the level of an Eastman, not even close. Since I don't care about looks, I thought the RM75's were the bargain of the century. However the playability was also not as good as an Eastman, even after a professional set-up, only so much you could do without replacing the fingerboard and nut.
    Remember, it will have a rosewood bridge and fingerboard with sh***y frets and a plastic nut. Eastmans and some others will cost a bit more but might come with ebony, bone nut, and nicer fretwork.
    Having said all that, I think the tone can't be beat for the price.

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    I just can't see the RM75 having "great" tone. I haven't seen one that was more than adequate. If "great tone" could be had at $400 we wouldn't see folks plunking down $5000+ for instruments.

    Lots depends on taste. Tone pleasing one player or another isn't necessarily "great." The ones I've played have adequate to surprising tone for that price point. So these can be an excellent value regarding tone. Generally the people who really like low-end instruments don't have sophisticated taste in mandolins. This isn't a bad thing. High-end taste tends to lead to high-end instrument envy. But just because one individual can't distinguish any quality difference in tone or response between two instruments doesn't mean the next fellow won't find a world of difference.

    Tone isn't the only thing in the playing arena. Speed and consistency of response, clarity, response up the neck, dynamic range, tone color range, etc. Some of those aspects tend to be where low-end instruments really fall down.

    Most of the low-end instruments startle me when I look inside and at the detailing.

    "Carved" is sometimes a misnomer, too. I don't know specifically of the Rover, but many instruments seem to be made of pressed wood that is then carved. I don't see a problem with this, but find tagging such items as "hand carved" a bit misleading. I don't have a list of which instruments use initially pressed tops and backs.

    Doesn't mean these aren't a good buy for the money, but they aren't the equal of the more expensive Kentucky line, the Eastman line, the Gibson line, the Weber line, etc.
    Stephen Perry
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    Registered User ApK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (giannaviolins @ Jan. 25 2008, 06:57)
    I just can't see the RM75 having "great" tone. I haven't seen one that was more than adequate. If "great tone" could be had at $400 we wouldn't see folks plunking down $5000+ for instruments.
    Do you really believe that? With instruments that involve as much craftsmanship and artistry as mando or violin, people are paying for more in the $5000+ range then just tone, as you know better than most, and I'm sure we could come up with accomplished players who achieve great tone on some surprisingly inexpensive instruments.

    But even if someone with as admittedly unsophisticated an ear as me can recognize the difference between 'truly great tone' and 'less than truly great tone' I think it's pretty clear to all that when discussing a $400 instrument, a relative and mostly subjective term like 'great' means 'great in the context of a $400 instrument.'

    Besides, isn't 'truly great tone' just the luck of the log?

    ApK




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    Heard of a pro violin player who dropped somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 mil on his Strad (read the article long ago and far away, so exact details escape me but it was a load of cash)...it was the only one he could find that had the "tone" he really wanted, and to him it was more than worth it. To my ears, the guy's a superfreak musically on recordings both before and after the Strad, and I really couldn't tell a big difference in pre-post recordings...BUT, I'm not a professional violinist (or even a violinist at all).

    I tend to agree with Steve, in that in these instruments you tend to get what you pay for. I can certainly tell a difference in tone between my Kentucky 675-S and higher end mandos (Gibsons and a few private makers at a local shop), but for what I do my mando's sound is fine. The same store has a Rover RM-75 for $375, and it sounds fairly comparable to mine...if you like the one you play (and playability is key when you're starting out), go for it; you can always upgrade later. BUT, you're not going to get 2000 buck tone...1000-1500 if you get a "gem," maybe, but that's probably OK.
    Chuck

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    Registered User Bob Visentin's Avatar
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    Check out this review of Rover RM75

    http://www.folkofthewood.com/page5257.htm

    I bought one used for $300 with a Metalone tail piece (very nice). Sounds as good as my Gibson A-40 from the mid 50's. Can't read the serial number anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (MandoBen @ Jan. 24 2008, 23:31)
    They are all carved solid wood, not bent or pressed...
    Then the new model is a downgrade. It has a solid carved top but no mention of a solid carved back or sides.

    RM-75

    Unfortunately it's what they don't say that is all telling and chances are these are pressed tops anyway with some carving. It's a matter of economics. Beyond that there are pressed top mandolins that don't sound all that bad. Look at the bulk of the Strad-O-Lins.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (BebopBob @ Mar. 30 2008, 15:55)
    Check out this review of Rover RM75

    http://www.folkofthewood.com/page5257.htm
    I'm really not sure how much people here will pay attention to a Folk-Of-The-Wood review
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #19

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    Stephen is right. The RM75 is pressed. Then they carve it a bit and pass that on as carved. That came to me through a regional Saga sales rep. If you really rationally think about it, it would have to be that way. How are you actually going to hand carve a mandolin and sell it for $400.00? They are OK for the money, but they won't stand up to an Eastman or higher end Kentucky. And they certainly are not in the Gibson, Weber or Collings league. But how could it be, really? You get what you pay for in this world.

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