New Gear: Recording King Dirty 30’s RPS-7 and RPS-9, Old-School Vibe and Modest Price Tagsby Acoustic Guitar Magazine   2 years ago


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I picked up the Recording King Dirty 30’s RPS-7 and RPS-9, not expecting much on account of their modest price tags. But an hour later I’m like, “What happened?” I can’t believe how much fun I’m having with these little troublemakers.

While there’s much to be said for the refined kind of playing that a fancy, high-end guitar can inspire, a bargain option can also be a good muse. You can pick up an inexpensive instrument and toss it around without even thinking about it; you can play it with abandon, not worrying about babying the thing, and this can be a setup for some magical moments.

A pair of new guitars by Recording King—the California-based company that pays homage to Depression-era fretted instruments—definitely fits the bill for fun and easy-to-play bargains.

Vintage Styling
The RPS-7 and RPS-9 are modeled after Dust Bowl–era Montgomery Ward guitars, and they share some basic specs: Each guitar has a compact, style-0-sized body with a 12th-fret neck junction and a relatively long-scale fretboard, 25.4 inches. The price difference reflects the use of a solid Sitka spruce top on the RPS-9, versus laminated spruce on the RPS-7.

Both guitars have a cool old-school vibe with their Tobacco Sunburst–finished tops. Interestingly, although the RPS-7 is the less expensive guitar, it looks fancier, having checkered purfling and stenciled, fragmented fretboard inlays. With no purfling and simple dot fretboard markers, the RPS-9 is plainer, but smart looking.

The workmanship on both is impressively good and consistent—especially considering these prices. Neither guitar has any over- or under-spray, nor, most important, their frets are cleanly dressed, with no sharp edges.

Effortlessly Playable
Both the RPS-7 and the RPS-9 have slim necks with relatively narrow nuts (1-11/16-inches) that will be good fits for all hand sizes, and definitely ideal for beginning students. When I play either guitar, my fingers fly from the nut to the 12th fret, and I don’t break a sweat. I miss the access to higher frets, but luckily, there are some good 14-fret 000 and dreadnought options in the Dirty 30’s series.

On the RPS-7, I fingerpick my way through Tampa Red’s “Boogie Woogie Dance” in open-E tuning (low to high: E B E GG B E) with some bottleneck slide. The guitar sounds great; with a quick attack and decay that lends a rough-edged vintage character. Normally, for fingerpicking, I prefer a chunkier and wider neck, but each guitar has adequate room on the fretboard—and in the saddle’s string-spacing.


Recording King Dirty 30’s RPS-7 and RPS-9

BODY 12-fret 0 size; spruce top with Cross Lap (X) bracing (RPS-7); solid Sitka spruce top with Cross Lap (X) bracing (RPS-9); whitewood back and sides; Revebond bridge with 2-1/8″ string spacing; satin Tobacco Sunburst finish (RPS-7 also available in Matte Black or Tobacco Sunburst with Golden Strings decal)

NECK Nato neck; Revebond fretboard; 25.4″ scale length; 1-11/16″ bone nut; closed-gear tuners with ivory colored plastic buttons; satin finish

EXTRAS D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze Light Strings (.012–.053); optional Recording King gigbag ($49.99 street) or Guardian hardshell case ($89.99 street)

PRICE $149 street (RPS-7)/
$199 street (RPS-9)

Made in China,