Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar Review
When looking for your first guitar, the name Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitars might have crossed your path. And for good reason; they are extremely popular among learners and beginners. But have you tried them out? Are they an epic bang for the buck or just another guitar scam waiting for you to fall in?
I don’t mean to be a spoiler, but they are closer to the first option than the second. Nevertheless, we are going to go through the main 4 points that these guitars have in common and let you make your own mind about it.
Read on, make an informed decision, and walk the guitar path with grace playing a well-made, nice-sounding instrument right from the start.
A little bit about Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars
Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars are a creation of the prestigious musical instrument retailer Sam Ash. Many stores, the size of Sam Ash, create their own brands to sell according to the need of their clientele. If you think about it, they know exactly what customers need because they have hordes of people coming in every day. That information is valuable and allows them to build the exact instrument to fulfill their needs.
Although they have been around for decades, little is known about them. One thing is certain though; they are created and crafted by a company that knows what a beginner looks for in an acoustic or electric instrument.
Are Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars any good?
The sound quality found in Carlo Robelli guitars is right up there with the competition. They sit comfortably among the brands that offer entry-level guitars meeting the budget of the average aspiring player. Indeed, you’ll find good Carlo Robelli 6-string steel-acoustic and nylon-classic guitars. The brand also offers good-quality electrics in different configurations.
Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars are not a top-notch instrument, but it is a great acquisition to learn how to play; they fulfill their duty. We are going to go deep and thoroughly into what that affirmation means. So, if you want to know everything about Carlo Robelli guitars before you go shopping, you’re in the right place; just read on.
The way this post works
First, let me introduce you to what is about to happen by telling you that in my 20+ years of guitar playing, I’ve been lucky enough to have many Carlo Robelli Guitars in my hands. In fact, I’ve tested every incarnation of them (Japanese made, Korean made, Chinese made) and the evolution in the past decade or so was great.
So, with that in mind, I’ll try to help you get a clearer grasp of what a Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar sounds and feels like. For that purpose, I’ve put together these four crucial points any guitar needs to fulfill to be called a good instrument. You’ll read about categories and I’ll introduce some of the models in my description.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Point number 1 – Neck and fretboard
If there is something that every guitar player takes obsessive care with are necks and fretboards. While some prefer the so-called baseball bat necks (50s style, round and chunky), others prefer the thinner incarnation. Let’s see what happens with Carlo Robelli’s guitars.
Well, all models by Carlo Robelli Guitars feature necks that are on the thinner side. These are the best choice for players who are learning how to play. Later on, when you have mastered some of your skills, you can gravitate towards bigger necks and enjoy the difference in sound.
For example, a guitar like the Carlo Robelli F-460-N is wonderful to learn your first chords and can accompany you all the way to your first songs and gigs. Every Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar features a well-built, thin, and round neck in what we call a modern c-shape. This allows the arch of the hand (the skin between the thumb and the palm to sit comfortably against the wood.
Moving on to the fretboard, the wood used by Carlo Robelli is dark rosewood. This is not at all a minor feature, because it provides all the guitar line with a very sweet-sounding tone. You won’t find the dark low end that you’ll find in an all-mahogany guitar that is worth ten times more, but you’ll definitely find a great tone to work with.
Finally, the frets on these guitars are thin and the crowning job was clearly made by professionals in every guitar I’ve tried from the brand. In this particular case, the Carlo Robelli F-460-N features binding throughout the neck, making every fret perfect to touch.
Point number 2 – Action and Finish
To begin this section, it is fair to say that not only Carlo Robelli Guitars but all guitars in any price line come from the factory with a standard action that might not suit your taste. Let me explain to you why very briefly:
Most acoustic guitars feature a plastic saddle in the bridge (the white plastic before the pins). This piece determines the height of the strings.
- If you want the strings to be lower, then the only way to achieve that is by sanding the saddle down.
- On the other hand, if you want the strings to be higher, then there is no other choice but to change the saddle for a higher one.
Imagine, for example, that instead of playing chords, arpeggios, and fretted notes, you buy a Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar such as the G640 to play with a slide and need an extra-high action. You guessed it, you need a new saddle. That is the reason why most guitars come with very high action, to accommodate every player.
Action is something that will fluctuate every year on your guitar and a matter you need to address with a trusty guitar tech or luthier. If the guitar the salesperson brings to your hands has high action, bear in mind that, if you like the neck and the sound, it can be changed to suit your taste.
Moving over to the finishing department, the finish on Carlo Robelli instruments is flawless. The one thing that mass-produced, Chinese-made guitars that work on a tight quality control feature are that there is not a great disparity between instruments.
This is to say that most Carlo Robelli guitars have a similar finish quality. For example, going back to the Carlo Robelli G640, that beautiful rosette ornament, and sunburst finish is consistent from one guitar to the next.
Although no guitar indeed looks or sounds exactly like the next, it is also true that consistency is crucial for the reputation of a brand (and Carlo Robelli guitars crush this category).
Point number 3 – Sound
I dare to say that this is the most important point when it comes to purchasing a guitar. What do I mean by this? I mean simply that the action, the finish, the neck, and the fretboard are nothing if a guitar doesn´t sound good.
Moreover, when trying a comfortable guitar that looks good like the F-600CE by Carlo Robelli Guitars, for example, we want it to sound great because we have already ticked all of the above boxes. Click here to learn more about the F-600CE.
Let’sdivide this point about Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitars into two different scenarios: plugged and unplugged.
Acoustic guitars featuring a dreadnought body like the F-600CE have a great low-end projection. In the case of Carlo Robelli instruments, they are mostly made of agathist back and sides, a tonewood that is a more affordable replacement to mahogany retaining the low-end clarity and punchiness.
If you have a very well-seasoned ear like mine (after 20+ years of guitar playing you refine it a lot) you’ll find the upper registers a little harsh or too brittle. This is very common in this price range and I dare to say there are no brands manufacturing guitars in this price line that don´t suffer from it.
The overall result of the F-600CE and the rest of the Carlo Robelli acoustic instruments is a balanced tone that doesn’t excel or hurt. This is a lot to say for an entry-level acoustic.
When you have worked on your chops enough, you’ll surely want to face the crowd. As the line goes, when gigs go big, guitars go electric.
The electronics on the F-600CE by Carlo Robelli feature a much-needed spec: a three-band EQ. This equalizer is utterly important because it allows you to fine-tune the sound of your guitar live. As you might know, acoustic guitars are hollow instruments and as such, they gather air in their interior.
This physical phenomenon can lead to feedback in the form of a low rumble or a high-pitch squeak. In both cases, just reducing that frequency in your EQ might solve the problem.
The resulting overall sound is crisp and balanced with round lows and highs that don’t hurt your ears (or the audience’s). You shouldn’t expect to find the tonal clarity and punchiness of guitars in a different price range like Martins and Taylors, but it will get you through most case scenarios.
You can check out this video of the unpacking of a G600CE beginner package that features everything you need to get started.
Point number 4 – Tuning & reliability
A very important aspect of any acoustic guitar is how precisely it can be tuned. Moreover, this is extremely important for beginners because ears need to be taught precisely to distinguish in tune from out of tune sounds. Also, a reliable guitar is such that will not break soon after you’ve bought it and that will stay reliably in tune for years to come.
Every Carlo Robelli Guitar I’ve tried in this rally has been a great experience. They feature high-grade, closed-back, steel tuners that work at a great ratio with a precision that matches many entry-level brands in the market.
For a seasoned player like me who’s had many treats in his playing life, coming across a beginner’s guitar that can be perfectly tuned is a blessing. As years and gigs go by, out of tune instruments become more unbearable. I think it’s safe to say that by buying a Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar, you won’t encounter such a problem.
To measure a guitar´s reliability, you need to test it over time. Some parts are usually the most fragile across brands such as tuners, electronics, finish, and nut. On the other hand, these shouldn’t be confused with accessories such as strings or the effects of normal use like frets wearing out.
Reliability on Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars is decidedly good. Indeed, manufacturing sides and back from agathist, a type of wood that is hard and light (used for laying down railways and building boats as well) assures the user years of usage with no problems.
Moreover, you can check this video in which a guitar technician receives an abandoned Carlo Robelli guitar, changes strings, gives it some love, and the guitar looks and sounds like new.
What about Carlo Robelli electrics?
We’ve been through the Carlo Robelli Acoustic Guitar line quite a bit and hopefully, by now you have a better idea what they are all about.
Does the company manufacture electric guitars? Are Carlo Robelli’s electric guitars any good? While it is a longer subject than we can cover in this piece, we can say that some of the electric, archtop models that the company has manufactured and sold in the past are collector’s pieces usually compared to the originals they were trying to mimic.
A good example of this is the UAS920F, a guitar with a jazz profile that is many player’s affordable favorites. For a guitar in its price line, it sounds remarkably well. Actually, you can check this video of a clerk at Norman’s Rare Guitars (the collector’s mecca) playing one as his personal favorite.
If you happen to come across an electric Carlo Robelli acoustic guitar at a good price, I suggest you give it a try; it might surprise you.
The world of guitars is full of entry-level acoustic brands. If you walk into any major musical instruments retailer, you’ll find a plethora of options. That being said, I urge you to try out one or several Carlo Robelli acoustic guitars before you make your final decision.
Moreover, I would even suggest you search and try a Carlo Robelli acoustic guitar before buying an entry-level acoustic. They are usually flooding Sam Ash’s aisles and guitar hangers.
Buying a good entry-level guitar is a must if you want to build your playing on solid foundations. As you’ve seen above, these guitars are not top-notch instruments with astronomic price tags but very good for their price. Moreover, they fulfill the four basic points any instrument you use should.
If on the search for a budget-oriented acoustic, go and try a Carlo Robelli acoustic guitar. Starting out with the right foot can lead to a lifelong passion.
We also compared these three guitars in case you’d like to explore more options. If the guitars in the review above are out of stock, or not quite what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with either of these 3 guitars below.