I don't need help, just sympathy -

One of my 3rd grade students needed help getting her "guitar" in tune. I had her bring it in.

It's plastic. All plastic. The neck is plastic. The body is plastic. The stupid tuner covers (more in a moment) are plastic. The fretboard is plastic.The only metal things are the strings and tuners.

The strings had been barely inserted into the tuning posts at the factory, and then cranked like crazy to wind them on. The b and high e strings had at least twelve full winds around the post, and had slipped out anyways.

The tuners have plastic snap covers that hinge to the side, like an old persons daily dose pill box. These covers make it really hard to get any kind of access to the posts, but then, who the hell would bother with changing a string on this piece of garbage?

The design is SO weak that you can bend notes a whole half step by simply flexing the headstock. The scale is so short that you cannot possibly tune the lowest strings. The zero fret is lame. The action is sky high, but then the tension is so low it doesn't really matter.

I fixed it up the best I could, made sure everything would stay on, and sent her on her merry way.

If I go to hell, I think I have a pretty good idea what I'll be doing there - repairing these abominations.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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Every once in a while a parent will bring one of these things in to my shop, and I find the kindest route to be honesty. 

 What they have there is a MISP (Musical Instrument Shaped Product). There is as much sense in trying to make one of these functional as there is trying to hook up a Fisher Price toy cell phone for service. They fall in to the same category of non-fuctional toys which resemble a product, and trying to make it into what it isn't is as much a waste of their time as it is of yours. 

I won't even offer to tune them, because it's futile to think that they are suitable to try even beginning to learn with, and in my opinion it does more harm than good. Even if you can bring some aspects close to basic functionality, it is still so insufficient that if a child is interested in learning it will do much more to deter than encourage. The difficulty in playing or getting any notes to sound fair will prevent kids from recognizing even the most basic positive steps of progress, and most often deter them from wanting to try any further. 

Best to be honest that although shaped like a guitar, it was not really built suitable for playing or learning. No sense even trying to make one of these toys in to something it isn't. There are plenty cheap student guitars (usually at music stores rather than toy stores) which can be found for under $100, and be quite playable and very suitable for learning on. If they want to learn, they're just going to have to get something else. 

It's astounding to me how many parents do no research at all on a guitar before they purchase one for their child. It's also astounding how many instruments seem to be designed to insure that a kid will never learn to play. 

 A gent at work called me and said he had dropped off a guitar at work asking me to tune it for him. It was one of these. 

 Brand new out of the box , both the neck to the body join was gone, and the heal cracked from side to side meating at the fretboard. The owner said his wife had bought it for $35 bucks.

It was a 'guitar shaped object', and nothing more. The wife may as well as flushed the money down the toilet. Even after I told the guy, he still didnt understand. 

I'm not even sure that the neck would have enough strength for nylon strings - it's just amazing. It's like tuning a rubber band on a tissue box, except that the sound is not as pleasing.

What really completes the hilarity is the sticker to put on the tuner covers that show what note to tune to - as if you can do anything approximately like tuning on that thing. Tune one string, the other 5 change pitch.

I think you did the right thing mark. While truth is usually the best thing, I don't want to be the guy that made some little girl start crying because i told her that her guitar was junk. I dread situations like this. 

Yeah, she's in my class for the next three months. I'll put a note on her report card the last day of school. "By the way, your guitar sucks." :)

How much cheaper can it be than a bottom of the line, wood guitar? 

You can get a 1/2 size for $30.  A full size for $50.

Slip her parents a note with some options.

The other day I saw some for 10 guitars for $500.  I was sorely tempted to buy them for the local school.

First Act pink guitar is $40 at Toy R Us.  sigh.

IMO- the least you can pay for a decent new 'student/beginner' guitar is a bit over a hundred for one of Oscar Schmidt's 1/2 or 3/4 size guitars.  They go up to about $175 for the upper end models in this class.  Very easy to set up & afterwards they play great, stay in tune and sound pretty decent.

BTW:  I bought 3 of my grandkids First Act guitars about 3 years ago.  They ONLY wanted a guitar because grandpa plays one.  I knew they'd be neglected and/or destroyed so I invested in the least expensive POS GSO I could find.  The First Act "instruments" met all my criteria.  Each guitar fell apart within 2 weeks.  Oh well, they weren't really 'interested' in learning anyway.  At least they're honest enough to sell them in the "Toy Section" at Wal Mart.

On May the 23rd, 779 B.C., the phrase 'caveat emptor' was coined.  The very next day, First Act began making 'guitars'. (:

Oh, I get these objects once in a while... Usually I take a deep breath and try do educate the customer in a most polite way about what to expect from those things and offer various alternatives. Most times they simply don't care, but at least I get to keep my conscience clear (on that subject).

This is why I would never have a store-front shop where someone could just walk in, at any moment, with something like that.


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