For those of you that didn't know, Rover mandolins are owned by the same parent company that makes Kentucky mandolins. They also have some similarities, but they remain distant cousins rather than siblings.
I have been asked numerous times if the RM-50 is really just the same as the KM-150, only cheaper. The short answer is no.
Are these two brands made at the same location? No again.
Is the Rover RM-50 as nice as the KM-150? Nope.
Noticing the trend here? These two mandolins are very different, though they do share a lot of the same specs. These are both hand-carved instruments. They both use solid spruce and maple. They both share a lot of basic mandolin construction techniques such as dovetail neck joints. The difference is in the details.
The Kentucky Mandolins will use better grades of tone woods. The same types of wood, yes, just higher end pieces. The hardware is of a better quality. The bridges, tuners and tailpiece are all better on the Kentucky.
The Rovers have good tone, especially at the price points. They still don't quite match the Kentucky mandolins.
Fit and finish is much better on the Kentuckys. Rovers are made well enough and I haven't really experience problems with them. Still, the level of detail work on the Kentucky is a step or two up.
Anyone on a budget that still wants a good sounding mandolin. If the Rover's are in your price range and you put tone first, they should be among your top choices.
If the extra cost is within your budget, there is a lot to be gained by choosing a Kentucky. The build quality, tuners, and tone are all an upgrade over the Rover's.
Both are great values and popular among players.
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