Rover RO10 review by Washburn

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.4 Good
  • Users' score: 7.7 (3 votes)
Washburn: Rover RO10
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Purchased from: Local music store, Rome, Italy

Features — 7
This was given to me as a birthday gift my wife in 2010. It has a solid spruce top & mahogany back, sides, & neck, with a rosewood fingerboard. Satin finish throughout. The body is tiny & takes a bit of getting used to to find a comfortable playing position - I find resting it on my left thigh with legs slightly apart, almost classical style works best. Scale length is 23 3/4" with 19 frets. The neck is thin, more of an electric profile than an acoustic & now the action is sorted it's a joy to play. It has a fitted hard case that is quite big for the size of the guitar but still fits easily in an overhead luggage locker. Also included was a cheap strap, spare bridge & shims & a wrench for the truss rod - which has seen a lot of use, more about that later.

Sound — 8
The sound is surprisingly good given the body size, obviously lacking in low end but reasonably well balanced with a sound somewhere between a regular acoustic guitar, a mandolin & a banjo. In fact I have used it in the studio to do a banjo style fingerpicking overdub on an indie/folk track & sat back in the mix it was quite effective! I use it as a travel guitar for practice as I now work in the oil industry so am away for long periods at a time. For this use its quiet output level is a godsend as I can practice without disturbing others in adjacent cabins. Generally it's more satisfying sonically when fingerpicking than when strumming. I'm giving it an 8 for sound in comparison to other travel guitars I've heard, not against a standard acoustic.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The general finish was quite good for a guitar of this price. Unfortunately the set-up was truly awful when I first received the guitar. The action was ludicrously high & the intonation was way off. I filed the bridge down quite a lot & tightened the truss rod which helped a bit but the intonation was still awful & the the neck was continually moving about. I took it on a couple of work trips but but after 3 or 4 attempts to set it up it was still far from good. I'm fairly good at setting up guitars but this one got the best of me. In the end I hung it on the wall & quietly forgot about it. Feeling increasingly guilty because it was a gift I took it down earlier this year & had another go at setting it up. I adjusted the truss rod again & left it a while to see if it was still moving about. When I went back to a week later it was still in good shape so I took it on my next work trip to see how it held up - the neck had finally stabilised so I had another go at giving it a proper set up. I'm glad to say that it now has a really low, stable action, the intonation is usable, not perfect but ok for practice.

Reliability & Durability — 8
It's pretty solidly constructed & its small size means it's not that prone to accumulating dings & scratches. The case is bullet proof & often I'll put it through checked luggage without any qualms. The tuners are not the greatest & I think these will be the first thing to give problems. This is not a guitar for gigging but should stand up well to the rigors of travelling. If I was backpacking I'd look into another (lighter & smaller) solution for a case even if I had to get a soft case custom made.

Overall Impression — 8
Before everything I was a bassist first & a guitarist second & have been playing off & on for 36 years. I was a professional studio/live engineer for many years & playing really took a back seat during this period apart from the occasional fretless bass session. Since changing careers I'm actually playing a lot more both for fun at home & in an acoustic duo/trio live. Now the action is sorted & the neck has stabilised this is a great travel guitar, perfect for a quick session to unwind after a stressful 12 hr work shift & for keeping the fingers in shape during my long work trips. I tried another one in a music shop a while back & it also had the same high action & terrible intonation so I don't think mine was a one off situation. If it was lost, stolen, or broken I would replace it but I think I'd look for a second hand one that had had a chance to stabilise. Come on Washburn, you've got a potentially great product here but you really need to look at the action / set-up; I expect to have to tweak the set up a bit on a new guitar but not to this extent & for this length of time. If it was not a gift & if I'd tried this in a guitar shop I probably would have put it back on the wall! Which would have been a shame as in the end it's a good travel guitar.

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