The Rover RM50 is a budget-friendly instrument made with beginners and students in mind. The RM50 is also a great mandolin for guitarists who want to branch out without spending too much money in the process.
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This model isn’t a “cheap” mandolin, but a very well built one. You won’t find a less expensive mandolin with such high quality hardware and an all-solid hand-carved body.
I’m a music composer and mandolin enthusiast with years of experience producing folk, rock and soundtrack music. I try to add the mandolin whenever I can to my compositions, as this instrument adds a unique, natural feel to any track or song.
Join me as we explore the Rover RM50 and what makes it so popular around the world.
About the Rover RM50
The Rover Mandolin Company is owned by Saga Music Company, which also owns the Kentucky brand. Rover specializes in creating budget friendly mandolins while maintaining good quality and a great sound.
Under the Rover name, you can find several models such as the RM-75, RM-35S, RM-25 and RM50. The latter is often considered one of the best beginner mandolins on the market, as you can’t find any other hand-carved all-solid mandolin for a lower price.
The RM50 is probably one of the most famous models made by Rover, and this includes the RM75.
Although the RM50 is made in China, don’t let this discourage you to get one. Most Kentucky mandolins, which are very well respected even by the most professional players, are actually made in the same factories as Rover mandolins.
The Rover RM50 is one of the most recommended models for students and musicians trying to learn to play the mandolin. It’s a unique hand-carved instrument for a crazy low price.
The Rover RM50 has a solid spruce arched top and a solid maple back and sides. The RM50 has a typical rounded A-style body with few ornaments. The build feels very sturdy and reliable.
One of the most important features to have in mind is the hand-carved nature of this model. This is very rare to find on low-tier mandolins, and it provides a better sustain and projection.
This model comes with a sunburst gloss finish, and there’s also a black version called the RM50B. It has a simple but beautiful finish. I’d say it’s a minimalistic but effective design.
My personal favorite is the black finish, as the sunburst gloss finish is very common and can be found on almost all mandolins nowadays.
The Rover RM50 comes with a one-piece mahogany neck, which feels quite nice and has a decently fast action. It’s a well-balanced neck but is a little on the thick side. This is actually a good thing, as most beginners need a bigger neck to get better precision with their fingers.
It’s a common practice to start with a wide neck as you learn to play and then transition to a thinner neck as you get better, as thin necks provide better action and speed.
This mandolin has a very common bound rosewood fretboard. It’s quite comfortable and easy to use. It’s a standard fretboard that does what it’s supposed to.
To get a smoother action you can try to sand the frets, as it’ll help to get a cleaner tonality. My colleague actually did this to his RM50 and it really made it much easier to play.
The Rover RM50 has an adjustable rosewood bridge that can be adjusted to help with your action preferences. This is a very typical bridge you will find in many low-cost mandolins. This one actually feels really nice, and it’s very easy to adjust.
Some players have complained that the bridge comes loose with the package. This might be a problem for people unfamiliar with the mandolin. If you’re a total beginner, I highly recommend you find a professional luthier or mandolin expert to help you out.
The RM50 has a quite decent set of tuners compared to other models of the same price. It has slightly better tuners than most low-tier models, which is an important feature for a beginner mandolin, as you won’t learn much if you need to tune your instrument every five minutes.
Pros & Cons
My Experience with the Rover RM50
I’ve played the RM50 a few times, as one of my colleagues had one. This mandolin looks and plays very nicely. It was also very surprising for me to find that the RM50 is all solid and hand-carved. This is very rare for a mandolin at that price.
As for the design, I personally found it to be a very typical, almost bland A-style mandolin. But it’s a personal preference, and I find most A-style mandolins quite boring when it comes to their design and finish. But this is just my opinion, and many players actually love this simple design.
The RM50 is a great companion for beginners, as this instrument is very easy to use and set up. Although it might require some basic setup at the beginning, soon after that it will sail very smoothly.
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about the RM50 is that the factory setup is often very bad. This is why I recommend you look for special offers that include a professional setup. This will certainly save you some precious time that would be better spent in actual practice and rehearsals.
Be careful with changes of temperature and humidity, as this all-solid mandolin could start forming cracks on the body. This is the price to pay for a well-rounded sound and a hand-carved all solid body.
The Rover RM50 has a very balanced and clean sound. The tone is more on the treble and high-pitch side, which is very common with low-tier mandolins.
I’d describe the tone as smooth and mellow. This model might lack some chop and bark, but I personally like the personality behind its sound. The RM50 has a very crisp and loud tone, which is very surprising to find in an A-style mandolin.
The Rover RM50 is one of the loudest A-style mandolins I’ve ever heard. During our rehearsals, the RM50 was able to cut through the mix almost every time it needed to step up. The RM50 also proved to be a very good soloist instrument, as its high-range tone is almost tailor-made for that role in a band.
If you want to get a more balanced tone, changing the strings could really help you out here. Upgrading to a heavier gauge will give you more punch on the bass frequencies.
Rover RM50 Warranty
Most mandolins made by Rover are covered by a one-year limited warranty. This warranty only covers fabrication defects and defective materials.
Where to Buy the Rover RM50
Although Rover isn’t a huge brand, many of their models can be found on several websites and music stores. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Since it was founded, Amazon rose up like a rocket, becoming the largest retailer in the world. Their competitive prices and easy-to-use website revolutionized the world of online sales. On Amazon you can find numerous instruments, including the mandolin.
One of the most useful features on Amazon is customer reviews under the product description. Here you’ll find honest opinions about the product. If you want to know all the pros and cons of an instrument, look no further, as customer reviews will provide you with all the information necessary to make the right decision.
Nowadays there are many other online retailers that specialize in certain niches. If you’re looking for a particular model, it might be worth your time to look at other websites, like GuitarCenter.com and SweetWater.com. These retailers offer a unique selection of instruments for a modest price.
Your Local Store
In your local store you might not find the largest selection of instruments, especially mandolins. But if you’re lucky enough, you can stay there for a while and try out as many models as you can. This way you’ll know for sure if you like the instrument and if it fits your personal playing style.
I always recommend any potential buyers go in person and try the instrument if possible.
The Rover RM50 is an all-solid workhorse mandolin that has earned the trust of many players around the world. This model is very popular and is being recommended almost everywhere. It’s often compared to the bestselling Kentucky KM-150.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have any doubts, feel free to drop a comment about the Rover RM50 or any other mandolin. If you really liked this article, please share it on your favorite social media.
Stay safe, and as always, good luck with your sonic adventures!