The Rogue name is shrouded in a decent amount of mystery, having no official website or any accessible information about the manufacturing company, location, or… basically anything else.
But after speaking with some Guitar Center employees and performing some dedicated Google searching, it became clear that Rogue guitars are the house brand for Musiciansfriend—an online musical instrument retailer. In 1999, Guitar Center purchased Musiciansfriend, meaning Rogue is linked to both Musiciansfriend and Guitar Center’s brands.
Rogue has been making music equipment for at least a decade and produces budget gear including guitars, basses, ukuleles, banjos, effect pedals, amps, mandolins, and more. One particularly beginner-oriented aspect of Rogue’s business plan is their pushing of discounted Value Packs.
The Value Packs include an instrument, a case/gig bag, a book and/or DVD explaining the basics of how to play the instrument, and sometimes some other gear such as a strap or picks. The most expensive Rogue product hits just about $300, and the highest priced Value Pack reaches just around $370.
Rogue seems to be an all-around beginner brand with no high-end options for intermediate or professional players. Basically, the only people who should purchase a Rogue instrument are total beginners. While they make tons of different instruments, this review will be on a particular electric guitar by Rogue, called the Rocketeer Deluxe
Rogue Rocketeer Deluxe Specs
- Body: The Rocketeer body looks like some kind of hybrid of a Stratocaster and a Rickenbacker, with a broad tail end and narrow curvature leading up to the short, rounded horns. The body is made of basswood, which is a decent tonewood—yielding good midrange response and sustain—but it is a bit lightweight and soft, making it susceptible to denting pretty easily. The upper-backside and front-right of the guitar have slanted cuts, making it an extremely comfortable axe to play. The Rocketeer comes in two sunburst finishes, vintage and gray, of which the vintage looks a bit nicer and more professional.
- Neck: The neck is made of maple and is bolted on, topped with a rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays. The fact that the neck is a bolt-on may take away some potential warmth from the guitar and instead lend itself to somewhat of a twangy response. But the maple/rosewood combination adds some warmth to the guitar’s overall tone and boosts the low end, which keeps the tone more balanced than it otherwise may have been. The neck has 22 frets, the higher of which are easily accessible thanks to the huge cutaway. The neck curvature is ultra-thin, meaning it’s pretty fast and lends itself to quick soloing and smooth playing. The headstock resembles a Stratocaster headstock with smoothed, rounded edges, which appears aesthetically consistent with the curvature style of the body.
- Pickups: The Rogue Rocketeer has an H-S-S arrangement of no-name pickups, with an open-faced bridge position humbucker. What’s a bit surprising about it—given that it’s a budget instrument—is that the humbucker has coil-splitting capability, which is activated by the push/pull tone knob (similar to the Yamaha PAC112V). The single coils are a bit buzzy and overly bright, but the humbucker is pretty good and surprisingly hot. Using just the humbucker or the humbucker-middle single coil combination relieves the buzz pretty effectively as well. With the 5-way pickup selector switch, tone control, and coil-splitting, there is a wide variety of tone options at your disposal, although across the board the tone lacks some harmonic complexity and overtone response, sounding just a bit dull. But for a budget guitar, the pickups are sufficient.
- Hardware: The Rocketeer hardware looks nice and is of decent quality. The white tortoise shell pickguard adds a vintage aesthetic to the guitar and definitely makes it look more expensive than it actually is. The volume and tone knobs distinctly resemble Fender top hat knobs in white, and the pots they control feel smooth to the touch. The 5-way pickup selector switch feels strong enough, as long as you’re not thrashing it around, and the ¼” jack feels reliable, although it does get loose every once in a while. The tuners could be better and do detune somewhat, but they’re not terrible and are fine for a beginner. The bridge has a through-body tremolo bar with adjustable bridge saddles, which is a nice addition for a budget instrument. The tremolo arm does feel a bit cheap though, so being gentle with it will be a necessity.
So, how does it sound?
Overall, the Rogue Rocketeer sounds good for the price. For a beginner, the guitar provides exactly what you want: versatility, tone control, and an easy-to-play neck.
The sound is a bit thin, as is expected of budget pickups, but does have nice dynamic response, largely thanks to the humbucker with coil-splitting capability. The bridge position humbucker is hotter than the two single coil pickups and adds some mid and low range power where the single coils are lacking.
One area where the Rocketeer excels is in its versatility. The guitar sounds best with some distortion or overdrive—because the fuzz adds some overtones that are lacking from the clean tone—but the clean channel has a decent amount of character on its own as well, especially when the humbucker is being used.
- Stylish, sleek design
- Humbucker with coil-splitting
- Versatile for many genres
- Pickups aren’t great, especially single coils
- Cheaper hardware, could be better
- Tremolo bar feels cheap and unreliable
Overall, I give this guitar a 3.9 out of 5.
Despite the helpful addition of a coil-splitting humbucker in bridge position, the low quality of the pickups means that I can’t fully back the Rogue Rocketeer and recommend it with a super high rating. It is, however, a great instrument for a beginner and especially for the mega cheap price
The hardware is mostly fine, with the exception of the pickups and the tremolo bar, although if you were going to be serious about modding this guitar out, you would definitely want to replace the tuners and the tremolo system as well… at which point you may as well just buy a new guitar!
The versatility of the Rocketeer is really its greatest appeal, sounding presentable across a variety of genres from jazz to rock, funk to metal, and so on. The pickups respond best with some overdrive or distortion, but the clean tone production is not bad and is passable for a beginner.
This is perfect for new guitar players who haven’t yet decided what genres they would really like to pursue and can be used for a beginner to explore genres until one sticks out. Then the next guitar you buy can more specialized for your interests.
With this guitar, the name of the game is beginner. The Rocketeer is great for someone who is brand spanking new at playing guitar. But for someone who is still somewhat new at guitar but is looking for a slight upgrade from their first instrument, this is not the guitar for you.
Opt for something a little bit more pricey, in the $200-300 range even, and you will be more satisfied with the reliability and quality of the guitar.