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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.
Overall, the Rogue Rocketeer sounds good for the price, coming in at a super affordable $130 (check this listing for the latest live prices). 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.
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 of just $130 (check this listing for the latest live prices).
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.