Guitar Hero, Rock Band and all the variations of electronic music video games have two things in common: They can make players feel like rock stars, and they don’t teach a lick of music. Ok, maybe the drumming games do a bit, but you certainly can’t compare a Rock Band guitar with a real one, for all that they look the same.
And while it might be old fashioned, there is quite a bit of evidence that learning to play a musical instrument (that is, a real one), can have long lasting benefits. Studies show that kids who play instruments do better in school, have greater self-discipline, and lower levels of stress.
Believe it or not, a decent beginning guitar setup won’t cost much more that the Guitar Hero game. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Start with an acoustic or classical with nylon strings. They are much less painful on the fingers when starting out.
- Don’t buy a toy guitar – buy a real guitar. The Honor student series or Yamaha student series are good examples. Guitars from Hasbro are not. For an electric, you can even go with a real Fender Stratocaster for under $200. You can by online, but before you do – try it out in a local music store. But buy it at the store, and they may toss in some music lessons.
- The strings should not be so high as to require a great deal of force to push down, and should not buzz when played. And the guitar should sound good.
- Get an electronic tuner. The Korg GA-30 can be found for under $15 and is virtually foolproof. Making tuning easy will help beginners sound good – and sounding good will encourage more practice.
- Get some lessons, and try to find a teacher who focuses on helping students to play real music quickly, without bogging them down too much in theory to start with.
Guitar Hero is a fun gadget. But a real guitar is an investment that can last a lifetime.