Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Banjo And Mandolin Review

Let’s face it: the banjo isn’t the most popular instrument on planet Earth. However, it does have its place in the industry, and thousands of new players master it every single year. In this article, we’ll review not only the Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Banjo, but also talk a bit about the lovely mandolin from the same manufacturer. Morgan Monroe is a well-respect company and they’ve been making some of the best musical instruments on the market for a very long time. And while the MNB-1 banjo is their most popular model, Rocky Top is the most user-friendly option and it will be perfect for the beginners and the fans of affordable-yet-solid offers.

ModelRatingFretsScale lengthOur topCheck
1Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Banjo 1926 3/8″1 Check

2Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Mandoline 2413.75″2 Check

Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Banjo
Frets 19
Scale length26 3/8″
Our top1
Check Check

Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Mandoline
Scale length13.75″
Our top2
Check Check

It comes with 24 brackets and a 5/8-inch rosewood fret. The resonator, the neck, and the 3-ply rim are all made of mahogany, which is a common choice for a banjo. All the experts in the field claim that if you’re new to this and are just looking for an all-around decent 5-string banjo to practice, the RT-B24 is a great starting point.

Besides, the tuning machines are open-geared, and you usually get that with much more expensive instruments. The tailpiece is adjustable, by the way, and the scale length is 26 3/8-inch. These numbers might not say anything to you right now, but rest assured that they turn the Morgan Monroe Rocky Top 5 String Banjo into a must-have. Keep in mind, however, that in order to make it affordable, the company had to save a bit on the tailpiece (it’s still solid, though).

Getting To Know The Rocky Top Banjo Better

Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Banjo

Rocky Top comes with a 10-year guarantee, which means it will serve you at least twice as long. For a price of 300 dollars, you’ll be getting a great bang for the buck, and it might take you one look to fall in love with it. RT-B24 is friendly, straightforward, easy to play, and, again, looks like a million bucks. The materials they used are of the highest quality. Build quality is also quite impressive. As an entry-level instrument, Rocky Top certainly deserves the highest praise. The tones it generates sound like Heaven on Earth. The open-gear tuners are very easy to tune and they will stay tuned longer than most competitors out there.

Tip:If you’re looking for that big, wide, open sound that fills up the entire room, this Morgan Monroe Rocky Top axe will be right up your alley. And since this is one of the newest additions to the series, you can rest assured that the company put everything it has learned during all those years into this new, near-perfect banjo. The fact that it comes with a resonator means you’ll get an even bigger sound than, say, with an open-back banjo. This is especially great if you’re planning on playing Bluegrass music. Don’t believe the “experts” that claim you’ll have a hard time mastering a banjo with a resonator: the learning process will be the same as with an open-back instrument.

Not a bad banjo just not a great one.. But cant beat the price.
Kelly L. Golen

Learning More About The Morgan Monroe RT B-24 Banjo

The fans of the three-finger style of playing will appreciate the way this thing feels in ones hands and sounds. Obviously, Morgan Monroe also offers quite a few amazing open-back banjos, but our focus today is on the B-24. Generally, pull-offs and hammers are easier to perform on this company’s banjos because of the unique body design.

Plus, they feel more “alive” – that’s what the customer reviews claim. In a bluegrass band, you’ll be able to make yourself heard without ever going aggressive with the instrument. While not a high-end banjo, it certainly does sound and look like it. Brightness and “crispness” are very important here, and you’ll get enough of that.

It is a great starting point
Easy to play
Build quality
Cheap tailpiece

Checking Out The Morgan Monroe RT FM1 Rocky Top F Style Mandolin

Ok, now that we’ve learned everything we needed about the RT B-24 banjo, let’s discuss this Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Mandolin. This is another wonderful instrument from these guys and will cost you only 146 bucks, which automatically makes it an affordable option.

Please be advised that it is one of those classic F-style mandolins and you’ll equally enjoy it whether you’re a pro or a beginner. The top neck, back, and sides are made of basswood – an obvious choice for an instrument like that. The Morgan Monroe RT FM1 Rocky Top F Style Mandolin comes with:

  • Frets made of nickel silver;
  • An extended fingerboard;
  • An adjustable truss rod.

Sounds great, looks great… has to be retuned every so often but for the $ a great buy.
Kristie A Day

The bridge, by the way, is also adjustable, and you can fine-tune it to fit your playing style. Just like its banjo sibling, this work of art comes with a 10-year warranty. It weighs 2.8 pounds, which is only 1.3 kilograms! So, the bottom line is – if you’re looking for a low-budget mandolin for practice and some small-venue gigs, this model will be a good pick.

Again, for a price of ~150 bucks, you’re getting a good-looking, beautifully-sounding mandolin that puts quality first. The tuners are open-geared; the fingerboard is nice and smooth. I still need to tell you that the factory strings are so-so and you’ll need to replace them with something more decent.

The “snobs” usually like to criticize Morgan Monroe for some minor setbacks here and there; yet, you they can’t deny that their line-up is still among the most popular ones. Furthermore, the RT FM1 is great as a present: if there’s a special someone among your family members or friends who loves to play the mandolin, this “mando” will be the best gift in the world!

It will be perfect for the beginners
Looks solid
Some complain that the frets create an unpleasant “buzz”

Summing Up And Checking Out Some Alternatives

Ok, that’s pretty much it for our Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Mandolin review.

  • It’s safe to say that both the RT Mandolin and the RT-B24 banjo are equally well-built and affordable. Now, if you’re looking for something more high-class, make sure to check out the more expensive offers from this company. Go to their official website and see what they have to offer;
  • The RT-B18 is pretty much the same, only it comes with 18 brackets. The Hoedown series is also quite well-known among the international musicians for the affordable price-tag (starts at 160 dollars) and the ability to choose between the resonator and open-back models;
  • The MM RT Mandolin is available as an A-style instrument and costs 140 dollars. Plus, there’s the MM series that includes a mandocello, an electric mandolin, and more;
  • Oh, and don’t forget to take a look at the Morgan Monroe Rocky Top Guitar models! Yes, the company makes some decent guitars as well.
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