I received a ChordBuddy Jr Guitar to facilitate my review, all opinions are mine and mine alone.
Several years ago I purchased a Yamaha acoustic guitar with case online for around $100 dollars with free shipping. I remember sharing this purchase with one of friends who has played guitar for years and he thought that the price was too good to be true. The guitar arrived within a week or so and after opening the box and taking out the guitar everything seemed to be normal. I remember strumming the strings for a couple of minutes and it sounded pretty normal to me. However I really didn’t know how to play guitar so who was I to judge.
After mentioning this purchase to one of my coworkers who happened to be a professional classical guitar player in addition to a lab assistant, he asked me to bring it in to the job. I was eager to have someone with expertise check out my purchase and of course give the guitar a good tune up. After taking it out of the case and tuning it up for a minute or so he began strumming the strings and beautiful tunes started emanating from my guitar. After several minutes he stopped and asked, “How much did you pay for this guitar again?” I told him it was only $100. After several minutes of him jokingly accusing me of lying about the price he said, “This guitar sounds like a $1000 guitar”. Upon hearing that a big smile came across my face, as I was ecstatic to hear that my frugal purchase was not a bust.
After hearing the good news about my guitars musical abilities you would think I would then go out and learn how to play the darn thing. Well that didn’t happen until several years later. About a year or so ago I started taking guitar lessons in my house from a really great teacher named Marc Fox. He patiently took me through many of the chords and strumming techniques. I even got up to the point of learning the chords to some of my favorite rock songs. I have to say one the most challenging parts for me in learning to play was the fingering of the chords and the up strumming. For the first month or two my fingertips were in pain. After several months of lessons and making good progress I got busy with some things at home and work so I decided to put off the lessons for a while. Well needless to say I haven’t gone back to the lessons or picked up the guitar since then. Of course this has nothing to do with my teacher this is all on me.
A month or two ago my wife and I were watching one of our favorite programs “Shark Tank” on ABC. A guy came on with a guitar and a device that you put on the guitar to help you play the most common chords. The name of his device was called the “Chord Buddy”. He claimed that the Chord Buddy was the fastest guitar learning system out there and that he could have basically anyone playing songs in no time. He made it look easy enough on Shark Tank and he eventually accepted and investment offer from one of the Sharks.
Since I have some knowledge of guitars and how difficult it can be to learn the chords we decided to get a ChordBuddy Jr for our kids. The website sells a junior real guitar made especially for kids ages 4-10 years with a smaller version of their Chord Buddy for $169.95.
They also provide you with guitar picks, a music book, a vibration-tuning device, and a DVD instructional video.
After it arrived at our house my daughter was very excited to give it a try. After several minutes of following the DVD instructions I was able to tune the guitar using the included tuner. I then put on the Chord Buddy attachment device and continued with the instructional DVD.
The DVD is good, it teaches you about the different parts of the guitar and eventually talks about the strings and each note. It then goes into how your can play each chord just by simply pressing the appropriate colored button on the Chord Buddy attachment and strumming the corresponding strings. I have to admit after following the instructions and playing several of the chords I was getting excited. I was remembering how difficult it was for me to play these chords using my various fingers on the strings. After a couple of minutes of playing and my daughter complaining I remembered whom the guitar was purchased for in the first place.
I gladly handed the guitar over to my daughter who watched the instructional videos. After helping her out a little bit with the proper way to hold the guitar and strum the strings she was ready to play her first chords. By following the video she was sort of able to play some of the chords. For some reason I notice the chord buddy attachment didn’t fully press down on some of the strings (see below). When playing some of the chords some strings sounded either muted or twangy. We watched the instructions again and again but couldn’t really get the perfect sound out of the chords. Even with me putting more and less pressure on the chord buddy buttons the chords didn’t sound perfect. My daughter was eventually able to play some of the basic songs from the book but they just didn’t sound right to me.
Watch the video of the ChordBuddy Jr. in Action!
I tuned and re-tuned the guitar using both the supplied vibration tuner and my own electronic tuner. I noticed for some reason after playing the guitar for 10-15 minutes some of the strings would go out of tune. I don’t know if the chord buddy caused this or if it was the poor quality of the guitar. Overall I have to say I have mixed feelings about the ChordBuddy Jr.
On one hand I think it is an ingenious device to help little kids to just be able to pick up a guitar and play some basic songs. On the other hand I found the ChordBuddy device itself to be cheaply made and unable to properly replicated the pressure your own fingers could put on the guitar strings. I also learned that you need to put a heavy pressure on the ChordBuddy buttons that may be difficult for little fingers ages 4-8. Then finally after I was able to tune the guitar perfectly I still didn’t like the sound quality and got frustrated with the buzzing noise on certain chords. For these reasons I give ChordBuddy 3 stars out of 5.
On the positive side you and kids are still learning about musical notes, guitar strumming, rhythm, and timing.
What do you think about ChordBuddy Jr?