My take on Rondo electric guitars
I sometimes get asked on what I think of Rondo guitars.
That answer depends on the kind of Rondo guitars you're talking about, because they basically make, well, everything.
Rondo has several brands of guitars they make, such as SX, Agile, Hadean and Sprite. As far as where Rondo guitars are made, my guess is that they probably use a few different guitar factories across the world. As far as build country of origin, that I don't know. But it wouldn't surprise me if they used Korean and Indonesian factories.
The price range of Rondo goes all over the place. They make cheap kids guitars for under $50 all the way to pro-level guitars like the Pendulum Pro that are just under $1,000.
On top of all that, Rondo even offers what they call "Semi-Custom" Agile guitars, which is their version of a guitar custom shop.
Now as far as my personal opinion of Rondo guitars, I don't know them all, but I know some, so here's my take on them.
Solid-body classic designs
The only two good brands Rondo has here are SX and Agile.
The Furrian Tele copy and the Hawk Strat copy in full-scale models are at the same quality level as Squier Vintage Modified and sometimes exceeds it. When you go above the $200 range, you start seeing some really good stuff.
On the Strat side, the best SX model is any LEO model, and the best Tele is the Furrian "MN Ash NA," which means "Maple neck with North American Ash body." The SX LEO is the better looking of the two.
For most people, this is the only brand from Rondo worth checking out.
When you go above the $300 range for Agile axes, you start getting into pretty-darned-good territory.
When you go over $400, you see Agile Les Paul copies that have a Floyd-Rose tremolo system on it. Yes, Agile does that. On a Les Paul.
When you go over $500, which is Agile AL-3200 model territory, you get things like 5-piece neck-through design, contour "belly" cuts in the body for easier play, AlNiCo magnet humbuckers, mahogany body (arched,) binding everywhere, flame top, nickel-plated hardware, graph tech nut, ebony fretboard, real mother-of-pearl inlays (not pearloid,) the works.
The AL-3200 model in particular is, without question, the most Les Paul copy for the money you can buy. Feature-wise, nobody else makes a Paul that even comes close for the price it sells for.
What about Strats and Teles that are Agile-branded?
There are no Teles that Agile makes, and only a handful of Strats which are nice, but not all that better than the SX models. I would only get an Agile-branded Strat if you specifically want a baritone guitar in a Strat shape, which Agile does make. It's a 30-inch scale and weird, but yeah, they make it.
Multi-scale guitars (8-string and above)
I'm not into multi-scale guitars and have no use for them. But I do know one thing. For players that are into multi-scale guitars, it's Agile or nothing because it's the most affordable brand that actually delivers the goods.
The question is not "Why buy one?" for multi-scale players, but rather "How could you not buy one?", given it is such an obviously good choice for multi-scale players on a tight budget.
At the time I write this, these are the lowest-priced offerings per each string configuration:
8-string: Starts at $399
9-string: Starts at $699 (although can be had for under $600 with "B stock")
10-string: Starts at $995
If you think the prices are high, they're not.
The lower-cost 8-string Agile makes (Septor 827) is the same price as an Ibanez RG8, and is arguably the better guitar.
The 9-string Agile makes is way more affordable than the Ibanez RG9 by a mile.
In the 10-string department, that's pretty much Agile-only territory. I'm sure there must be other makers who build 10-string guitars, but Agile makes one that's readily available right now at a price that's below custom shop level.
Is Rondo better than Fender, Squier, Gibson or Epiphone?
I'll split this into separate questions and answers.
Better than Fender?
No. At best, what Rondo makes is on par with Squier Classic Vibe Series as far as Fender copy guitars are concerned.
Better than Squier?
Yes and no. Yes, in the respect you get more choice and more configurations. No, in the respect that there's nothing Rondo makes that captures what I call "Fender essence."
What I mean by that is that if you bought a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster '50s, that's one bitchin' Telecaster that totally feels and sounds like a Fender Telecaster should be. You're not going to get that kind of Fender essence out of a Rondo.
Better than Gibson?
Yes and no. Yes, in the respect you save tons of money and get all the goodies. No, in the respect the neck feel is different. Agile Paul copies use a very-flat fingerboard radius, and the neck isn't asymmetrical like on a Gibson.
For the player that likes to solo a lot, the Agile is the better guitar because you fret out less on a flatter fingerboard. One could arguably say the Agile Paul copy is the "best shredder Paul" that exists. I don't shred, but if that's your thing, the Agile Paul copy is the better guitar for that sort of thing.
Also, for the player that likes a Paul "how they used to make 'em," most of Agile's Pauls are solid-body, as in no chambering, just like Gibson used to make them.
Better than Epiphone?
Concerning the Les Paul guitar, yes, Agile is better than Epiphone.
Epiphone makes nothing that comes even close to the goodies and features you get on an Agile Paul copy for the price it sells for. Epiphone simply cannot match the price point of an Agile AL-3200 and never will because they don't sell direct like Rondo does.
Concerning the SG model, Epiphone is still top dog for "correct low-cost SG guitar."
Concerning the Explorer model, Epiphone makes the better guitar - when they're in production, that is. The most recent two models were the Epiphone Explorer Pro and the 1984 Explorer model. Both are now out of production, but can still be bought new at the time I write this until the remaining stock is all sold out.
Rondo makes good stuff. They make the best Les Paul copy and for multi-scale guitarists, Rondo's Agile brand is basically the only game in town.
As for the Paul, I think the best way I can describe this is that most Epiphone Les Pauls have a nasty habit of feeling toy-like, whereas an Agile AL-3200 goes up so many levels above what Epiphone can make. The AL-3200 is the kind of guitar where you don't feel like you settled for less.
For multi-scale stuff, it's like I said, for most players who like axes of that kind, it's Agile or nothing. Rondo has the balls to produce relatively low-cost multi-scale guitars that are available right now.
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