Loog Guitars wants to teach your kids to play guitar by pairing hip little 3-string guitars with a gamified app experience. Does it work? I got a chance to review a Loog Mini and see if it helped my 4-year old daughter learn guitar.
Test Driving the Loog Mini
I got a chance to test drive the Loog Mini this holiday time. Well, my 4-year old daughter, specifically, actually did the test driving.
For Christmas, she received an aquamarine, 3-string “Loog Mini”. She loves music, singing, and dancing (as so many 4-year old’s do), so this seemed like a good opportunity to see if this unique, kid-friendly approach to learning guitar would work for her.
The Loog Mini (Ages 3+), $79
- Award-winning design approved by educators
- Perfect intonation and low string action for enhanced playability
- Fully assembled and equipped with classical nylon strings
- Includes flashcards with chord diagrams and full access to the Loog Guitar app (iOS and Android)
- $79 on www.loogguitars.com
About Loog Guitars
Loog Guitars wants to help children learn guitar. To accomplish this, they offer a unique style of guitar that comes in kid-friendly colors, a small, ergonomic size, and (perhaps most crucially) only has three strings.
These three strings are tuned in a relationship the same as the top (i.e. highest pitched) strings of a standard acoustic or electric guitar.
The idea is that if kids can learn strumming, simple chord shapes, and even single-note playing on three strings, they will be able to expand to a traditional 6-string guitar in the future if they choose.
Loog Guitars offere several versions of their guitars:
- Loog Mini: for ages 3+
- Loog Pro Acoustic: for ages 8+
- Loog Pro Electric: for ages 8+
- Loog + Paul Frank: Paul Frank designed versions of the Mini, Pro Acoustic, and Pro Electric.
Another critical piece of the puzzle is the ‘Loog Guitar’ App:
The app contains all the materials needed for learning on the Loog guitar:
The free Loog Guitar app has everything you need to play songs: video lessons, a tuner and even a digital songbook so you can learn guitar by playing real songs (Beatles, Stones, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and more). Designed with kids in mind, the app is structured as a game in which little monsters help you form chords, those chords unlock songs, and those songs unlock new worlds of awesome 🙂
NOTE: The Loog Guitar app received a much-needed revamp in mid-December. Previous versions of the app suffered from some glitches. If tried the app previous to December, it is definitely worth re-downloading and using the updated version. The experience has improved immensely.
So, how did it go?
Well, it’s a mixed bag. Let me break it down by the different pieces of the puzzle. And it’s important to note, our experience was strictly with the Loog Mini for younger kids. I did not try out the other guitar models.
The Guitar Itself
The Loog Mini guitar itself is well-designed and well-manufactured. The size is great for a 3+ (or in my case, 4-year old) person, with a narrow neck, small acoustic-chambered body, and scaled down fret-length.
The colors are cool and fun – one could imagine Fender copying this color scheme for a beginners guitar line (I particularly like their new Yellow version).
It plays in tune, and has decent tension on the strings. Anyone who has tried kids toy guitars will know they are NEVER tunable, and the strings always go right from totally slack to super-tight when you tune them – there’s never a proper middle-ground. The Loog Mini actually tunes and maintains proper string tension you can fret the notes and play in tune.
As noted above, the app has come a long way from it’s previous versions. The new version of the app is very stable, and performed well on several different iPhones (I did not test Android installations).
The design is very “gamified”, with a pet monster on the home screen and small room that they can explore to discover the video library, tuner, song library and more.
And that’s the point. The idea is that kids are going to want play apps – so why not put that to use playing music stuff on the app?
The app experience is set up so that every time you explore the app – watching videos, tuning your guitar, or performing other little tasks – you earn points. The points can be used to “buy” new clothes and accessories for your pet monster (the little mascot that’s always front’n’center when you open the app).
And this is where it went off the rails for us…
It turns out, my daughter is much more interested in playing monster dress-up in an app then in actually learning how to play guitar. Hmm.
In retrospect, this should not have been a surprise.
Instead of exploring the app and watching any of the videos or being interested in the song library (side note: Are kids interested in songs by Rolling Stones and The Beatles?), she would hand me the app and say, “Dad, can you get me some more points? I want to put this hat on my monster.”
I wonder if the app experience would be more successful if:
a) …She were more obsessed with playing guitar to begin with. Right now, she likes music and playing instruments but was not screaming, “Get me a guitar for Christmas!”.
b) …She were older. It may simply be a cognitive thing. Being a few years older would better equip her to understand how to fit the lessons and app features together and, more importantly, give her the extended concentration neccessary to watch a 3-4 minute video on how position your fingers on the guitar.
The Loog Mini is the best children’s guitar I’ve seen yet. Whereas most kids guitars are simply toys with no serious intent to be played, the Loog Mini is truly playable. It’s cool looking, well-made, and just fun to have around. Even as an adult guitar player it’s a fun little guitar to have around to strum on.
The Loog Guitar app, in it’s most recent edition, is great. It’s professionally designed and programmed – no amateur stuff here. It’s a fun app with lots of resources on how to actually get started playing your Loog.
Truth be told, though, I have not seen the magic of accelerated guitar learning happening with my 4-year old (sigh). She likes the guitar a lot. And she likes dressing up the monster in the app. But, alas, the two experiences don’t seem to create a guitar-learning feedback loop (yet….).
Get the Loog Mini
The Loog Mini is available from www.loogguitars.com.
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