CD & Book Reviews
By Ralph Firth
I received my black Risa today; Rigk set it up CGDA for an extra EUR20—the nut slots need to be widened for the string gauges needed for this tuning.
What a great little instrument this is; it certainly doesn't feel like a toy. The general fit and finish of the instrument is excellent; the frets are nicely finished (not at all unsubstantial like I'd imagined), and the rosewood fingerboard feels real nice. Though I'd studied the specs of the Risa, I'd somehow imagined it to be bigger, 'cos of the 17" scale—it's actually just about the same overall length as my StewMac solidbody electric, which has a 14" scale—in other words, the Risa feels comfortable and mando sized! Tonewise it sounds great, and though the single pickup doesn't have a huge tonal range, it can (especially with the help of digital EFX), cover the ground between bright single coil to mellow and slightly jazzy sounds. Those who want more tonal options might find the twin pickup, semi hollowbody more suitable—though it is more expensive! Having only the one pickup doesn't make it at all second best though, and I actually prefer the black Risa aesthetically. However, the red twin-lipstick-pickup Risa has through-body stringing, and the black single-pickup version doesn't. Sustain is fine on the black, but sustain on the Red might be further improved.
Recommending instruments is difficult—what feel and sounds nice to me may not suit someone else, but in this case, considering the price and the fact that some of you are already interested, and intrigued by its potential, then I'd have to say go for it!
I live in the UK and it cost me approx £228 including postage and set-up etc. It comes with a nice lightly padded gigbag and a couple of allen keys (for the bridge setup, I presume). Though I paid EUR20 for the set-up, Rigk enclosed a neat leather strap for free, which was a nice gesture—don't take that bit for granted though, as I don't think it's part of the standard deal!
Finally, for those of you who are used to a low "C" string on a standard(ish) scale electric mando: the 17" scale makes all the difference to the "C" and it sounds good all the way up the neck!
Hope this little review helps.