Rocker RA-200 Acoustic Guitar Review

Rocker RA-200  dreadnought acoustic guitar, Made in China, surprisingly good quality

Rocker RA-200 dreadnought acoustic guitar, Made in China, surprisingly good quality

My friend bought this guitar and, due to lack of time, gave it to me. This acoustic guitar is a low end “Made in China” acoustic dreadnought, purchased here in Toronto, Canada. For the low price of $60CAD, this guitar is surprisingly high quality. It says in tune, sounds very good, is well finished and looks great. The neck is straight and intonation perfect. The action is high but can be somewhat lowered. I do hate the “Rocker” brand name. Whomever chose this name should be shot.

If you search for Rocker guitars on the internet you will find little information, even from the manufacturer. The full name of the company is “Rocker Music Tools”. The name “Rocker” is lame, as is the addition of “Music Tools”. Someone in China should be a little more creative. Rocker is imported into Canada by Audio One in Bolton, who also distributes Crate and Ampeg gear. The Rocker website is scarce on information but states the Rocker RA-200 has a spruce top, and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. I have no idea what wood they used for the body sides and back, and neck. I guess at this price point they don’t care, but I would like to know. All I can say is it is “brown wood”. How is that for specific technical information?

My friend purchased this guitar new for $60CAD from a no name music importer in Mississauga, suckered in on a supposed 50% off sale. They were lieing. The guitar comes wrapped in thin foam, encased in a cardboard box. An allen key for the truss rod was included.

Overall you can see that this guitar is not meant to compete with the higher end Epis and Fenders. The neck is thin, straight, feels smooth and is easy to play. The dreadnought size is a little large for me but acceptable. The guitar sounds pretty good and stays in tune. The wood is finished nicely with no defects, and shines up well. It is overall a nice looking guitar. The tuners do their job of keeping the guitar in tune. The intonation was checked with an electronic tuner and was perfect. The action was high and needed to be lowered.

Putting a capo on the first fret and pressing down on the 13th fret, height at the 6th fret was similar to the width of the high E, or 0.010″, so no change was required to the truss rod.

The frets are not jumbo and are skinny, forcing you to use extra hand force to get a note without buzzing, something quickly frowned upon my by eldest little weed. Still, she has gotten used to it. The ends of the frets are sharp and need sanding down. When running your hand up and down the neck you might scratch yourself. Varnish on the upper part of the fretboard, near the12th fret markers is prematurely chipping off, but is not sharp. The varnish is still wearing away. I know not why, because this is a brand new guitar with very little play time.

Rocker RA-200 dreadnought acoustic guitar. Made in China. Varnish is chipping off near the 12th fret markers. Macro 2.8x

Rocker RA-200 dreadnought acoustic guitar. Made in China. Varnish is chipping off near the 12th fret markers. Macro 2.8x

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Soundhole rosette, macro 2.8x

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Soundhole rosette, macro 2.8x

The soundhole rosette is pleasant but not excellent quality. Looking at the macro photo the quality seems worse than in person. I like the blue colour of the rosette, as it reminds me of JingdeZhen Chinese pottery and tableware. The dentile is a nice design, but there are some quality issues that are evident.

At first glance the “Rocker Musical Tools” logo on the headstock looks like inlaid Mother of Pearl, but this is untrue. With some clever Chinese trickery and a high tech pattern that looks like a hollogram, the label can deceive the eye. No doubt it is a sticker of some kind, but nicely done and then varnished. One cannot feel the logo on the headstock. It does reflect light in a similar way to Mother of Pearl.

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Logo is a high tech reflective material that looks like a hollogram. Definately not Mother of Pearl, but could trick you. Macro 2.8x

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Logo is a high tech reflective material that looks like a hollogram. Definately not Mother of Pearl, but could trick you. Macro 2.8x

The action on the RA-200 was high enough to give me a hand cramp when playing a song of predominantly bar chords. The big weed also complained. I loosened the strings and removed the plastic bridge. The bridge was sanded down until the action was lowered. This did not take much time. Note that the bridge is not flat on the bottom and sanding it flat will quickly reduce the bridge height, so do this carefully. Action before sanding: Low E = 0.197″, high E = 0.164″. Action after lowering: Low E = 0.163″, high E = 0.135″, measured with a vernier caliper and a magnifying glass. There is a tiny bit of excess buzzing on the high E, 12th and 13th fret, so the action cannot be lowered any further.

The strings included were acceptable, though when I was lowering the action the high E broke as I was tuning it with my electronic tuner. For a new guitar this should not happen.

When your guitar costs less than the hard shell case that protects it, you cannot complain too much. The Rocker RA-200 plays well, sounds good and looks good. It is worth $60CAD but cannot be compared to the more famous name brands. Still, I would rather play the Rocker than some of the ultra low priced “Made in China” Epiphones and other name brands. These days, brand name alone is usually not indicative of high quality. Buyer beware.

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Label in the sound hole.

Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar. Made in China. Label in the sound hole.

Specs  
Rocker RA-200 acoustic guitar
Upper bout 11 5/8″
Waist 11″
Lower bout 16″
Soundbox length 19 3/4″
Nut to Bridge length 25 3/4″
Total guitar length 40 3/4″
Action  
Original 1st string Height 0.164″
Original 6th string Height 0.197″
Modified 1st string Height 0.135″
Modified 6th string Height 0.163″

5 thoughts on “Rocker RA-200 Acoustic Guitar Review

  1. David Ing

    Don, the “Designed in Canada, Hand Crafted in China” photo from the Rocker guitar soundhole means that you got more Canadian content in the instrument than with the more famous American (or Japanese) brands. Certainly, having the woodwork done by Canadians would have made the cost prohibitive.

    It would be interesting to figure out what “Designed in Canada” really means. We do have some famous Canadian luthiers, so offshore production could be a practical way of scaling up.

  2. daavi yishid

    I have an RA-100. It sounds pretty good – action was abysmal. Finis is surprisingly good. Inside – not so good – poor wood work.

  3. Darryl

    I have the RA-100 as well, bought it because it came with a good quality hard case for $70. Planned on selling the guitar again for $50 but as I play it, I really like the sound and playability for a low end guitar. I have an Academy which I had to do alot of tweaking on and an Epi DR 100. All in all, the Rocker is just as good or better. I know a young fellow that has a Ibanez and wants to move up to a Martin or Taylor, honestly, I think you’re just paying for the name, but what do I know.

  4. Nor

    Hi, I buy and sell acoustics as a hobby. I can honestly say from experience that the Rocker RA-200 is a most acceptable acoustic guitar in it’s price range. The ones that I have bought are very consistent and are more than comparable to other low end acoustics.

    [Don: Hi Nor. I also thought that, for the low price, the Rocker is a pretty decent and acceptable guitar. The action had to be filed down a bit, but overall it was quite Ok. Of course it is not as good as a $500 guitar, but it also does not cost as much. Thanks]

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