INS (Musical) Reviews
Photo of author

Rogue RA-090 Review (Best For Balanced Tone & Durability)

Looking for a balanced tone and durable acoustic guitar? Check out our Rogue RA-090 review! See why it’s a great choice for beginners or anyone on a budget.

The Rogue RA 090 is a standard 6-string, dreadnought acoustic guitar. It has no cutaway, comes with medium gauge steel strings, and is made of laminate wood. It’s under $200, in fact, some stockists have this model for under $100, so it’s very affordable. It’s a great first guitar if you’ve always fancied trying to learn to play, either on your own or with a course of lessons.

It would also suit you if you’re the type of person who travels with their 6 string on their back, Bon Jovi style, or likes a campfire sing-along. I’ve heard of guitar teachers who keep one as a backup for students who don’t yet have their own instrument, or if they need a replacement for any reason. 

At A Glance

9.5out of 10

Body And Neck9.5
Fretboard and Bridge9.5
Hardware and Finish9.5
Value for Money9.6

Best For Balanced Tone & Durability
  • Enhanced body depth and width generate a balanced tone
  • It also brings out plenty of projection across the room
  • The whitewood body generates a serious amount of mid-range punch
  • Without losing any strength, the nato neck adds more sustain in tone
  • Spruce top with Nato neck
  • Slightly Curved Fretboard with durable strings
  • Balanced tonal quality and produces rich and solid sound
  • Tuners are well-functioned and build quality is also reasonable
  • Light-weight, easy to hold, and good for travel
  • Available in 3 nice finishes that look good to beginners and experienced players
  • The laminated whitewood construction gives a smooth touch
  • Super affordable and great for an introductory guitar
  • Not Suitable For Kids
  • Quality control issues
  • Requires constant tuning
  • Action will need to be adjusted

History And Origin

Rogue has a good name for affordable acoustic guitars. They are laminate construction, standard size, easy to play, and above all, affordable. This particular model is right-handed, but Rogue also makes left-handed models.

The instruments are designed in South Korea and manufactured in China, supplied to the US market by Musician’s Friend. 

Body And Neck

For a guitar of this price, all woods used will be laminates. The body of the RA 090 is whitewood (tulipwood) with a mahogany back. The C-shaped neck is nato, with a radius of 16 inches, and the top, at least in some models, is spruce. In others, it appears to be whitewood. There is no cutaway on this model. There is a black pickguard or scratchboard, which gives the guitar a timeless look. 

Fretboard And Bridge

The fretboard is made of rosewood with white inlaid dots and is slightly curved for ease of movement. Generally, the frets feel good when you’re playing, unlike some budget acoustics which I have found to have rough frets. This may be a budget model, but it doesn’t feel like it at times. There are 20 frets, with a 25⅜ inch scale length.

View On Amazon

The nut width is 1⅔ inches, while the bridge looks like painted maple on some models and is definitely plastic on others. 

Hardware And Finish

This is a steel-string guitar. Steel strings are great for shredding fingers when you’re learning but are durable, so less likely to break. They will last you, on average, about a year before you’ll need to think about replacing them. I’d be inclined to change them sooner though, as that’s one really good way to change the sound quality.

The hardware is nickel-covered, and the tuners are set in two rows of three on either side of the straight headstock. They can be a bit stiff to turn, which is a potential issue when you need to change the strings.

Sound Quality

Despite being an entry-level model, the RA 090 has decent sound quality. It sounds best in mid-range, with a bright, rich sound. However, the bass could be a bit stronger, and it doesn’t have much of a high-end presence. This, I suspect, is because it does not have X bracing. There is a bit of a disagreement between reviewers about whether the top is laminated spruce or whitewood. It seems like the current batch uses whitewood, like the one I played. Whichever one it is, it’s not designed for use in a large venue, although it does have an adjustable truss rod to help optimize the sound quality. This is usually found on more expensive models, so it’s something of a bonus on such an affordable guitar.

Sound Demo

View On Amazon

Build Quality

The build quality is what it is for the price. The laminate has no binding, and there is a lot of plastic around, but if you’re only wanting to play it for fun or family entertainment, then that is perfectly adequate. It is a well-balanced guitar, and generally comfortable to handle.

It weighs around five and a half pounds, which is lighter than many other guitars of a similar spec. The use of whitewood in the construction gives it strength, but somewhat at the expense of sound quality. 


As you would expect, the Rogue RA 090 is quite playable, at least for adults. It’s a bit too big for children, but a teen could manage it. You could pick it out of the box and play it straight off (more about that later) but generally, guitars will need tuning on arrival and acclimatizing to their new environment. Personally, I always like to let a new guitar sit for a while once I’ve unboxed it. 

The slightly curved, C-shaped neck is supposed to improve playability, but I wonder whether a cutaway wouldn’t be a better idea. Some players could struggle to access the upper frets without one. 


The Rogue RA 090 is a standard dreadnought, so it can handle jamming and strumming easily, especially in the country or folk style, indoors or out.

It would suit a teenager or adult best, due to its size and the lack of a cutaway. As it has an audio jack, you could plug it into a preamp if needed. 

Design And Looks

The Rogue RA 090 has no particular distinguishing features. It’s a utilitarian guitar made of laminate wood with plastic and nickel hardware. For the price, that’s about all you can expect. No fireworks, no eye-catching looks, just a functional piece of kit in traditional ‘guitar colors’ for a beginner to learn with or for a more experienced player to take on their travels. 

View On Amazon

Available Options

This acoustic comes in a variety of classic timeless guitar colors: Natural, Black, Mahogany, Sunburst, and Satin Sunburst. 

It is a right-handed model, full-size, dreadnought acoustic with steel strings. 

Customization Tips

There doesn’t appear to be much scope for customization with the RA 090. That could be seen as a bad thing, but on the other hand, if the guitar is played by several different people in your house or a group of musicians, then it will offer a similar experience to all of them.

You might fancy swapping the medium gauge strings it comes with for a lighter gauge, then see if you like the changes that make to the sound. 

Value For Money

The undoubted selling point of the Rogue RA 090 is its incredible value for money. It is extremely affordable, and while it may not be top of the range, it is a perfectly acceptable instrument. It has a decent sound quality and smoother fretting experience than some models, although you might prefer to look for a guitar with a cutaway for better playing comfort.

What Sets Rogue RA 090 Apart From Its Competitors  

Somehow or other, Rogue has managed to produce an acoustic guitar for what many see as a ridiculously low price, without making it sound like a kid’s toy. Technically, you can play it immediately on taking delivery, as long as you tune it first.

The one thing you may not be expecting, as a new owner, is the ‘fresh, new’ smell that my guitar appeared to have. I had to leave it to air for a couple of hours before I could play it without catching my breath. 

Choose Rogue RA 090 If

  • You want this amazing price. 
  • You want greater playability as the slightly curved fretboard helps playability. 
  • You want durable steel strings.
  • You want a good mid-range tone.
  • You need good build quality even if the materials are cheap laminate tonewood. 

View On Amazon

Don’t Choose Rogue RA 090 If

  • You are getting this for your children as this is not suitable for them to play with due to its large size. 
  • You want a cutaway acoustic due to greater playability.
  • You don’t want any limitations as it can only be used as an acoustic or with a preamp. 
  • You definitely want an X bracing in your piece. 
  • You want strap locks.


Ashthorpe Thinline Guitar Package
  • Incredible sound, impressive tone, standout projection, and incredible sonics.
  • Fine hardwood construction: X-braced, A-grade Spruce wood, known for resiliency and versatility.
  • Thinline cutaway design full-size (41") guitar for better access and more comfortable playing.
  • Includes the Ashthorpe guitar, a soft nylon "gig bag" guitar case, 3 celluloid picks, onboard 4-band pickup EQ, cable, a shoulder strap, an extra set of strings, and an owner's manual.
Jameson Thinline Acoustic Electric
  • Classic acoustic guitar design
  • Electric-acoustic versatility
  • Perfect for students and all levels
  • Designed for comfort
  • Sold as a complete kit
Rogue RA-090
  • 6-string
  • Dreadnought design
  • Whitewood body
  • 25-3/8" scale length
  • Nato neck


Is Rogue Guitar a good brand?

The Rogue brand has a name for cheap, entry-level guitars. There’s nothing flashy about them, they just do the job they have been designed for. For affordability, they are probably some of the cheapest guitars you will see if that’s what you’re after.

Is the RA 090 A Good Guitar for a Child to Learn to Play?

The Rogue RA 090 is almost certainly too big for a child to play with. It is a full-sized dreadnought, so there are a lot of guitars there. For a child to have the best experience, you would be advised to find a scaled-down model. A teenager or young adult could play it though.

Does the RA-090 Acoustic Guitar come Pre-tuned?

The RA 090 does not come pre-tuned. Many guitars are shipped untuned to protect the instrument in transit. You will need to tune it before playing it for the first time.

How is Rogue’s RA-090 Guitar Packaged for Shipping?

The RA 090 I received was packed well, using two layers of cardboard boxes, and extra packing material, and well sealed. That’s probably why it definitely smelled new when I first unpacked it.

Does the RA-090 Acoustic Guitar come with Pre-installed Straplocks?

There are no strap locks preinstalled on the RA 090. The strap is attached via a strap button at the base and the other end can be tied to the neck.

Final Words

The Rogue RA 090 is so affordable, yet also rated highly in most reviews. It typically scores 8/10, which is pretty good for an entry-level model targeted at new players. For the price, everything is just a little bit better than you would expect.

Leave a Comment