Musician's Friend question

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So, I keep getting ads for a store called Musician's Friend.
Question is:
Their low-end instruments of the "Rogue" brand; are they any good at all or is it a matter of 'you get what you pay for'? Because I am seriously tempted to buy a cheap lap steel off them ($80 US +shipping) but I'm curious if I'm just throwing money away.

Husband guitarist says an 80 dollar lap steel's gonna be an 80 dollar lap steel, and he's never heard of Rogue. (We get ads from them too in the mail.) Smile

I've had poor experiences with Rogue. But I hear they are hit and miss. Definitely getting what you pay for.

Musicians Friend is "Guitar Center", on-line.

Send a link of it, --- lets have a look with you?!

The great thing about Musicians Friend, or "Amazon" with them selling there, -- if it ain't "right", they pay the return shipping.

I've had as many as 6 Gibson flying V's on my living room floor, -- all went back. paid for. Gibson had a period of very questionable QA...
Also, I've had a many as 4 Cello's lined up on my back porch like "coffins" :)... waiting for pre-paid return pickup from Amazon (yes, you can buy a great cello on amazon... hard to believe... --it's what the local store does and you get what you get, so not as good? If it has to be order, be the one ordering, and be able to return it ez).

Here's another friendly, to me anyway, vendor:*0c1421a8d614cc26 (you probably have to copy, paste to get there, or search there for lapsteel. I think the links here come back here Smile )

-- near your Border I believe.

He's harder to return "not right" stuff -- however, I've got some amazing SX, short scale, fretless, "precision" Bass type guitars, other from him. I got a 5 String, fretless, Jazz Style that was Quarter Sawn Maple neck and just amazing... but, I did have to finish sand the Rosewood fingerboard at the bottom... litterally, the "Joiner" or what you might see as finish sander/planer... stopped just short of the bottom by a bit... -- me as a builder was not going to send it back since an amazing guitar. I have Radius Block Sanders, -- 10mins later, better than factory.

So, well, too, --sometimes you pay $600 and get an $80 guitar too, -- THAT"s what really bothers *"me".

So, there ugo.

If concerned, go with MusiciansFriend, selling on Amazon.... -- it goes back no matter what. And if not right... like way way cheaper than described, for me, they've always sent a Pickup call tag. Moreover, if that "cheap" upon arrival, -- there is usually something "wrong" with it, --it goes back. Try it!?

Nothing substitutes for walking into a music store and trying the instrument you want to buy. That said I've been buying oddball and harder to find stuff from Musicians Friend for years. Bought three guitars, a uke, my P.A., two DAW's, several mics, lots of strings, etc. and +1 on the experience @nutation shared. Rogue sells entry level learner instruments. A friend gets donations to buy instruments for kids in guitar class where the families can't afford them. I have a Rogue mandolin that my wife bought at an antique mall. Made overseas "stupid cheap" to borrow a phrase from @metalfoot who also has one. The Rogue works for me for occasional fun and play.

I had a rogue mandolin with intonation so bad it was unplayable. You couldn't tune the darn thing past the fifth fret. But I also didn't set it up, I just sent it back.

You are evil, @nutation. I've found a lap steel and a tele style that I want. And that baritone is tasty.

Since the mando was a gift with good intentions, I too had it set up, which cost more than the purchase price LOL. Are you supposed to play a mandolin past the 5th fret?

Edit, never mind, MF's house brand.

@metalfoot I just ordered a lap steel from that Rondo site that the Evil nutation suggested. I splurged for the second tier. But their lower tier is also $80 plus shipping. It looks playable. I'm not saying that Rogue isn't, but.... I'll let you know what this one is like when it comes in sometime next week.

Also, no laughing @Dragondreams!

I would wonder about anything named "Rogue"........just don't buy a car with the brand name "deathtrap"... but I didn't have anything constructive to say but felt like speakin up.

looks like rogue are 'famous' for small guitar amplifiers, too.

my attitude toward inexpensive gear is: if it's your last $$$$, maybe consider the purchase. on the other hand, if it's 'disposable' cash, it's probably worth checking out.

@Xiangqi Yeah, at that price point, it's not my last $$$. I have a mild budget for gear each year and that's well within it.

If you're anything like me, by the time you ask for advice on something you're considering purchasing, you've already got your heart set on it and are likely to purchase no matter what people say (unless what they say is "This item will literally eat your children. Literally.").

Or maybe you actually have more self-control than I do. Biggrin

FWIW, lap steels are a little less fussy than fretted instruments. The "frets" are just a visual guideline. Intonation is up to you. Whether the pickup tuners and electronics on an $80 lap steel are OK, who knows. My lap steel cost $100 used, and it's great, but that may have been before lap steels were cool.

Had a Rogue bass that was just OK

I gig on a sub 100 dollar SX Jazz bass though. All depends on what you want.

I've ordered from Musician's Friend a lot in my capacity as a teacher. They're okay. They're good about returns. I ordered a clearance lot of music stands and they were all broken. They had a replacement set at the school within a few days. Rogues... I don't play guitar but I have a lot of friends who do. Rogue was the guitar of choice for my fellow renaissance faire performers when they were working there. They're cheap, but they serve very well as beaters. They stay relatively in tune and can take a lot of outdoorsy abuse. If you're a tone snob like me, you probably won't enjoy playing on one, especially as a primary instrument.

I think if they have a return policy and you are not gonna be out much on return shipping or restocking fees, taking a chance on a house brand guitar is a fine idea! Most of these are made in China and I am honestly amazed at how good these guitars have gotten over the past few years. A couple of years ago I bought a rather expensive guitar at Sam Ash and, as a bonus, they included one of their $100 Carlo Robelli acoustics for free. I gave it to my daughter who gave it to her boyfriend but I wish I had kept it as it was a great little guitar! And, as @katpiercemusic said, they serve quite well as beaters. Go ahead and take it to the beach while your Martin stays safe at home in its humidor!

@OdilonGreen I was genuinely asking because I really did want the advice of the folks here before committing a plug nickel.

For the record, I think @johnstaples has it right. It's a great way to try something with low risk. You'll probably have to spend extra money to get a set up on cheap instruments, but that's normal. But being able to pretty easily return something is worth a lot.

Being based in Canada, there is no such thing as an easy return to a US based company. Customs, duties, etc.

Hey there! @tcelliott -- maybe if you have time you could review that here.

It's interesting, -- folks who know about him there, (I think it's new-ham-shire somewhere) know him well; many don't. For me, now, some of his "now" older stuff of "SX" Brand can be somewhat sought after. I'll never sell my short-scale fretless maple neck "precision". There just weren't really any issues with them (well that 5 string fretless many would have sent back... but I knew I'd never get a full quarter-sawn, fine wood grain neck again... and it just "rang" when tapped on it, and etc...)

I think I sent one thing back... but long ago. I think... not sure, he may have paid the return shipping since "not right". He, "Kurt" will just stopped selling to you Smile if you keep returning stuff for "stupid" things. Some models, not said, but, -- were sold to be rebuilt. E.g the SX. The necks were great and the bodies solid Alder, no more than 3 pieces, sometimes 2 (as good as the big guys). Put in Dimarzios, -- and done. I don't fuss with tone knobs on units, so rarely cared about'em. Even the expensive ones will scratch if moved by accident 1x a year. But, anyway, a pot and a cap if a pre-set tone freak with the pups and you had a great unit, for real, no one wanted to steal for the headstock sticker Smile

Feel and sound, wood is would Smile

I could talk all day about this... so won't.

So, anyway, yes, since you actually ordered, and it's coming soon or is there, maybe if you can, do a review... to bad we can't load pics here. But, maybe an online link if you're really psyched-o-bout-it Smile I hope it's a gud'n.

All the best again this year... yeah!!!

For the record, I did a ton of research before ordering my SX jazz, which I do gig on. What I read was that the quality could be dodgey, but if you rolled the dice and got a good one, they are fantastic instruments for the buck (and I got a great one). Not sure how they are related to the Rogue line, though, other than being cheap, as I believe they are different brands entirely(Rondo instead of Rogue). The Rogue bass I did get was setup poorly, very high action, but I just needed it to practice and never to gig, so it was fine for that.

@nutation - The lap steel arrived today. Sorely disappointed in that the high E string was broken and it looks like the bridge moved during shipping. Or else it was never set up properly to begin with.

The packaging seemed to be secure. It came with a gig bag and was wrapped nicely. It also comes with a stand. I'll get it out tomorrow to make sure all the parts are present and it works. After that I'll be going to get a set of strings and batteries for the tuner so I can set the bridge properly. After that I'll play it and see how it sounds. I'll update here afterwards.

Hey TC, -- which one did you get?

None of those bridges look movable. (Call Kurt, ask'em for a set of strings... Smile -- he can mail you a set?) ... anyway, --- they're either bent slab steel or the Wrap Around style with minimal intonation adjustment on the posts. A couple have saddle adjustment too, -- so should be able to get it spot on. Or like me with fretless bass, I sometimes adjust intonation for just before the "line"-fret since muscle memory kicks in and don't cover it where the note exists (makes a difference, well to me).

The P90's on the old SX's were built with steel and brass with the plastic covers, and medium to under-wound (pending how you define winding, not overwould unless he specs it). They had a nice range and of course were singles so pending your environment, -- hummed.

Humming an singles, rhetoric/fyi:
What I used to do, to these and the old Fender HM Strats too (which used large singles neck and middle) was copper foil shield the PUP route (bottom/sides), and "of course" ran a soldered wire to *ground (foil does nothing if not in the ground circuit!).

-- AND, what I'd do is, put a copper foil wrap around the bobbin of the P90 windings too, which had a soldered wire to ground (shielded pup itself). Of course one can foil the control area and make sure that has a touch to the ground circuit too.

Mine were amazingly quiet and if the bass of the PUP is brass, with that added copper wrap --that added a certain tone to it, to me, more mids (what else?), but a bit darker/warmer not taking from the clarity, or highs. You just have to be *quick/careful/strategic with soldering anything to the pup itself. The coil wrap, just pre-solder or leave a tab extension (one could argue the route is shielded, so enough... yes, except for the possible tone shift of wrap the winding between the layers. The wrap touching the brass bass (if there) is not a good ground circuit connection, -- just need a physical bridge of can get a touch of solder flow on the very edge.

Some folks went farther with the hum canceling, but leave it there, -- most won't do that, if even the copper foil shielding.

Anyway, the Bridge, Saddles? shifting... eh, prior to touching it, make sure, take a pic and send it to Kurt -- "IMO"... After "fixing" anyting... eh, most folks would have an issue rather than just unbox, pic and document it. (A treble-E at what guage? 12? sitting in a box from China... -- yes, I've have a few break upon tuning. I get 'em for like $.50 cents or so a piece so don't "see" stuff like that. (Again, you could always ask'em to send a set.)

The closest I came to a Lap was just putting a slab "V" over my Nut with notches and just used an old P90 Strat. I found what ever I would do with a Slide, I'd just do with my fingers, even in Standard Tuning... so wound up with a bucket of really cool slides I don't use. Smile

-- Well, I ran on a bit didn't I Smile ... oh well... a two coffee post!

this is my wheelhouse-- i own a dozen lap steels.

i own three rogue jersey lightning lap steels, which have been discontinued but are far superior to any other rogue product you can buy. i actually keep a jersey lightning search on ebay because i like them so much. i would not buy any other rogue product, ever.

you can buy nice vintage lap steels on ebay for cheap. you just have to watch the listings carefully and catch the deals as they come. the only lap steel i need yet, by pickup type, is a horseshoe pickup, preferably a 40s rick or stella, but i have not seen one the price i'm looking for. i keep many lap steels for the ease of learning different tunings.

i hope that info helps with the rogue line.

@nutation This is the one I bought.

The large screws that hold the bridge in place... on the treble side, it looks like has been scuffed, like the bridge was moved without fully easing off the screw. It sits at an angle, the set screw at the rear has a big gap (like if I released the large screw and pushed it forward, the back screw would rest properly) and the high string was broken when I opened the box. I haven't touched a tuning peg, yet. I have pictures but haven't posted anywhere. If I get a set (or at least new gauge .10 string) on it and can set the intonation quickly, then I'll be happy enough (assuming it works.) Otherwise, I'll be very unhappy. I'm already disappointed enough that every time I woke up last night I had a hard time going to sleep. But the margaritas and ice cream probably had more to do with that than anything. (Not a good combination.)

@tsunamidaily good information. If I end up being a lap steel guy (unlikely) I might be hitting you up for advice for future acquisitions.

Re: Rogue - they're sort of disposable instruments, but they're very handy for scenarios like "hmmm, I've always thought about playing mandolin, but I don't want to sink $500 into one if it turns out I hate them.".

So you get a Rogue mandolin, learn a Led Zeppelin tune and some REM, decide "this is really cool", then buy something more usable. They've got their place, but it's more like a rental you don't give back.

Unless it's un-tunable, then it's just pure frustration.

Tuning is a myth perpetrated by the man. Embrace eighth-tone scales!

But yeah, the "everything above the third fret sounds atrocious" thing is an issue.

Eighth tone scales imply some sort of structured intervals, I'd assume. Maybe we could go into microtonal music? But, yeah, not bag of tea.