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Review of a Fantastic Acoustic Guitar Starter Kit

Updated on November 28, 2012

"For Dummies" Beginner Kit

The components of the kit that I now use most often. The product also comes with a gig bag and two other picks.
The components of the kit that I now use most often. The product also comes with a gig bag and two other picks.

Complete Acoustic Guitar Starter Kit

A few months ago, I decided to try to learn the guitar. A starter kit wasn't actually my first choice, but after 10 minutes of questions like, "How do you press down the string?" and trying to strum the instrument across the neck, my friend/teacher gave up and recommended a complete starter kit. Taking her advice to heart, I consulted the Internet for a good acoustic set.

I was looking for a kit that would let me learn from scratch (as in a "how do you hold a guitar?" kind of scratch), was at good price, and included a decent guitar. I eventually decided on this product, and I'm happy enough about the result to be writing a hub on it.

If the news that I'm happy with it is enough, then that's great. You're welcome. But if you want more details (and I get pretty detailed), read on!


The Product: "For Dummies" Acoustic Guitar Set

Just to make things as clear as possible, this product contains:

  • An acoustic guitar
  • Three 0.7mm picks
  • A "traveling case" (which is more like a dust cover)
  • A "For Dummies" beginner's acoustic guitar guide
  • An electronic tuner

I'll go through what I thought of each of these components individually, as well as what I thought of them altogether as a "complete starter kit". Comments are welcome, and I hope you find this useful!


The Guide / Course

Because this is a For Dummies set, it comes with a book course teaching acoustic guitar from the very basics (how to hold it, how to tune) to basic chords and progressions. There's also a CD included in the back.

I appreciated how the course assumed nothing and started from the really basic basics; I had no idea how to finger a guitar, or even hold it! The diagrams are quite clear and the explanations are generally easy to understand.

Personally, I like the corny jokes that constantly pop up, but some out there might not find them as charming as I do. (See graphic on the right. Haha, get it? :D) If you don't like them, it won't be much of a problem. The book is short enough that I now only refer to it to practice progressions, or to to occasionally remind myself of a chord. I found that I graduated from the course fairly quickly, but I haven't had a problem finding great free info on the web now that I have some basics down.

So overall, I'd say the book laid out a good foundation and allowed me easier access to the wealth of info on the web, but there wasn't anything in there that I couldn't have found on the Internet with a little digging. My satisfaction wasn't hurt by the course (because the overall product is a damn good deal, see guitar), but it didn't boost it much. I give the book a 3 out of 5.


The Electronic Tuner

I have no complaints about this tuner. It works great, is fairly intuitive, and has no excess buttons to confuse a non-tech person like me. One button turns it on, the same button turns it off. The batteries took a little while for me to get in, but that's most likely just my problem. No matter how many times you tell me, no matter how clearly you mark the charge, I will always begin by putting the positive end on the negative side.

The display is quite intuitive, with 3 LED lights to represent "too flat", "on pitch", and "too sharp", with the green for "on pitch" between the two reds. Really makes a whole lot of sense; not much to complain about there.

Quick story

It took me almost a week to figure out why following the tuner's cues was creating awful noises on the strings, but there's no one to blame but myself. It seems completely ridiculous now, but I'll share the story as I suppose it might happen to someone else. Someday.

Having fit my batteries into the little black tuner, I immediately put the tuner near my guitar to fix the horribly off-key strings. It took me a minute to figure out where to put it (too far and it doesn't work), but eventually I got it nicely settled onto the pickguard. I strummed the string nearest to it and the red "too flat" light started flashing. Perfect. I fiddled with the tuning keys for a bit and learned which way was to tighten and which was to loosen.

Awe-inspiring video of me tuning

I tightened the thinnest string (the high E string) a little, then strummed it for the tuner. The red "too flat" sign was still blinking. I tightened a turn more. Now the tuner began blinking "too sharp". Having never played guitar before, and having no natural ear for pitch, I thought that the pitch couldn't possibly be too high yet, and decided to give it another turn. And lo and behold, I strummed and the red "too flat" light came on again.

I thought that the tuner must be glitchy, but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt for the rest of the strings. I watched for the little green light while proceeding through the rest of my strings, and when I could strum each string and only get the green light, I turned off the tuner and jumped straight into the first chords.

I carefully placed my fingers identically to the diagram, double and tripled-checked, then decisively strummed through all 6 strings. Worst sound I've ever heard, like a screeching cat flailing about on an off-key organ. After unsticking my expression from the wince it was stuck in, I checked my fingering. Nope, completely correct. Buzzing? Nope, not that either.

Eventually, I decided to recheck my tuning. Strumming carefully through each string, I still got the little green light of "on pitch". Now very uncertain about the electronic tuner, I thought about going to check the pitch on a piano, but decided that I had enough of guitar for that day. I put it away for a bit and didn't play for a couple of days.

A few days later, I pulled out both the guitar and the tuner. Picking up with the first chord, I had the same problem as before - screeching cat flailing on organ. Rather frustrated, I angrily stared at the tuner. Trying to note every detail on the device, I suddenly noticed something. There was a second row of LED lights underneath the pitch lights, marked with the 6 names of the strings.

The strings were so far off pitch when I first received the guitar that the tuner thought I was trying to tune to an A when I was going for an E, or a D. I tuned the strings to a perfect pitch - just the wrong pitch for that string. Cat-on-organ mystery solved! Sigh... I suppose it says something about the strings, at least, seeing as none of them broke!

Generally speaking, though, the electronic tuner seems to be very intuitive and easy to use for most. I personally had quite the odd experience with it in the beginning, but it's serving me well now! I use it several times a week, and after about 3 months the batteries haven't faded at all. No complaints! 5 out of 5.


The Picks and The "Case"

The Picks

I don't have too much to say about the picks, simply because I'm not good enough to feel any difference between sizes that are anywhere close to each other. These picks are 0.7 mm thick, which qualify them as "medium".

I can tell you that they've worked great for me, and that they feel very comfortable to use. I lost one (the set comes with three), and am thinking that it's probably a good idea to get a few more. Basically no problems at all, rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The "Case"

The case is a different matter. With no padding, hopelessly thin fabric, and zippers that break after a week or two, the bag is effectively just a cheap free throw-in. While possibly handy for keeping dust off the guitar, I tossed mine after the zippers broke, about 4 weeks in.

Usable as a dust cover until the lousy zipper breaks or the thin fabric tears - 1 out of 5 stars.


The Guitar

Like I said previously, I'm not an expert judge of anything guitar, but this instrument seems very decent to me. While I'm fairly new to guitar, I do know what a good instrument sounds like, and this acoustic guitar feels pretty good.

The guitar is from Kona, which is a big enough brand that I'd heard of it before knowing about this particular product. As far as I've heard, Kona has a pretty decent rep for quality guitars, and this acoustic is no exception. The sound is clear and rich, the strings are sturdy (see tuner story), and I have no complaints about how it looks. After looking at some of the guitars being sold in music stores, which often go for over $200, I feel like I got a pretty great deal - without even counting anything besides the guitar itself.

When the guitar first arrived, it was well packaged and completely undamaged. As far as I can remember, it came exactly as described - no surprises.

A couple of friends have said that the action (the height of the strings above the fretboard) is a little too high, making it rather challenging for a beginner's fingers, but after the first couple of weeks I callused up and had no further problems. That might be something to note, though, especially if you have very sensitive fingers and/or have no idea how to adjust the action on guitar strings.

Besides that, though, I honestly have zero complaints about the guitar. It looks good, sounds good, and is a pretty great deal. 5 out of 5 stars!


Rating for Beginner's Acoustic Guitar Kit

4 stars for "For Dummies" Acoustic Kit!

Video of a few chords

Learning Guitar With This Kit

As a complete kit, this set allows you to get started from scratch quite smoothly. Like said previously (see course), the book begins from the very basics. I highly recommend going through the first chapter thoroughly rather than just leaping in, as it will seriously help a great deal. Trust me.

After that reading assignment and after sticking batteries in the tuner and tuning the strings, you're basically ready to begin learning your first chords! It took me a couple of weeks to get the first chapter of chords completely memorized, but the second chapter of dominant chords went by much faster. There are also sections on melodies and example songs.

The course takes you to double-stopping, but that's about as far as it goes. Any additional info will have to be gained from the Internet, a friend, or a teacher. I personally bought the product thinking it was a fairly good deal just for the guitar (and picks/tuner), so I viewed the course as more of a throw-in. I'd always planned to mostly use the Internet, and after maxing out the book, that's what I eventually ended up doing.

The course gives you a solid base to expand from, which can be very valuable for total beginners like I was, but this isn't the course for someone looking to become an expert from one kit. I've had a great time with it though, and I felt like I've learned quite a bit more than I expected. I also didn't need to go out and buy picks or a tuner, though I did have to get a new case.

I'm very happy with the guitar itself, and I think that it's going to stay with me for at least another year or two. It isn't just a throwaway guitar - my original judgement (I bought this mostly for the guitar) was pretty sound. The product allowed me to really learn from scratch, and also gave me a guitar that will last a while. I'd say that this acoustic starter kit lives up to its name as a complete starter kit - 4.5 out of 5 stars!


Buy this product?

Guitar For Dummies Acoustic Guitar Starter Pack (Guitar, Book, Audio CD, Gig Bag)
Guitar For Dummies Acoustic Guitar Starter Pack (Guitar, Book, Audio CD, Gig Bag)

I try to be as fair and honest as possible, so I'll let you know that if you click through this link and buy the product, I get a bit of a commission. However, my endorsement is completely genuine - I actually love this product and think it was a great deal. Look around at other starter kits! I did, and I think that this was the best to be found. If you do buy it, let me know what you think!

 

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    • livewirez profile image

      Romel Tarroza 3 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Sea

      Very interesting hubs.. Thanks for sharing....

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you, and welcome to Hubpages!

    • KenDeanAgudo profile image

      Kenneth C Agudo 4 years ago from Tiwi, Philippines

      congrats for winning ;-) nice hub

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Glad you found it helpful, texshelters!

    • texshelters profile image

      texshelters 4 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Thanks for the tips. I'm saving this.

      PTxS

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Hahaha, technology has made this a good time to learn! Thanks for your fantastic story, and just for stopping by!

    • Roadkillstu profile image

      Michael Johnson 4 years ago from Wilmington, De.

      ....what a great time to be a beginning guitar player...my first guitar was a Harmony Sovereign...some forty five years ago...my sister bought it for me for $89...do the inflationary math...hand made by someone somewhere....cranky, hard to tune, frustrating....no electronics then...action?....you got to be kidding....now....parents of my students ask me if the less expensive readily available guitars are a good buy....i gotta laugh...robot made, accurate, stable, inexpensive in your hands begging to be played....purists can sniff and snort about tone wood and the like....but you can give a kid all a kid needs for a hundred bucks or so....then all you have to do is give that kid your time...

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thanks, twentyfive. Glad you found it handy.

    • twentyfive profile image

      twentyfive 4 years ago

      I always wanna learn the guitar. This hub made it all easier. Awesome review!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Monica Kay - I've really had a good time with it, so definitely recommended if you're starting from scratch. There are several other good beginner kits out there (like the one Crystal Tatum mentioned, the Yamaha beginner kit), but this was the best one at the best price that I found. Good luck!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      You're certainly quite welcome, nannasin! Not entirely sure what you're referring to, though :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • Monica Kay 215 profile image

      Monica Kay 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I've been thinking about learning to play the guitar for a while. I'll look into this kit.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Thank you, Denise! Great of you to stop by.

    • profile image

      nannasin 4 years ago

      Thank you for compliment.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Congratulations, Bob, on your hub of the day. :) It's nice to see it there.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      whonu - Thank you, hope you found it helpful. I've enjoyed several of your poems - keep writing!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      CZCZCZ - I was actually thinking about moving into electric, but I probably should get my acoustic to sound right first. My barre chords are still refusing to come smoothly. Good to hear that the transition wasn't too bad! Thank you for your comment and compliment.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      RTalloni - Thank you! I just discovered the HOTD and it's really a nice way to start the morning. Nothing new to you, of course :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 4 years ago from United States

      Very nice hub and well organized. Thanks for sharing this and making it easier to enjoy. whonu

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

      Great well written hub. The first guitar I learned to play was an acoustic. I found it very helpful to start there and then move into an electric after I was comfortable playing a traditional guitar. Congrats on earning the hub of the day honors for this excellent in depth article.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award--I should've seen it coming!

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Denise - Thank you so much for the compliment, and just for stopping by. Your collection of hubs seems incredible - I'm looking forward to reading some!

      AliciaC- Thank you! Congrats on your win as well, definitely well deserved. As a vegan, I was seriously excited to learn about that Manna bread - planning to buy some as soon as possible! Thanks for stopping by.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very useful hub for someone interested in learning how to play a guitar, with lots of helpful details and interesting photos! Congratulations on your contest win, Bob.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Bob, very interesting hub. I have a guitar, but no longer play because it is in another state (Michigan) from where I live.

      Very useful, loved the thorough review, and the photos were great. Rated Up/U/I Congratulations to you on your win. Eight months new to HP-that is an awesome win. :)

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      No problem, Crystal. First time, absolutely no experience is exactly how I was when I bought this kit - no regrets! I looked at the Yamaha kit while I was searching, actually, and I thought that it looked pretty decent as well. To be honest, the primrary reason I went with this one is that it was cheaper. :)

      The Yamaha's gig bag and teaching guide will probably take you further than this Kona one, but if you plan to get some info off the Internet and/or take guitar seriously enough to later buy something better than a beginner's guitar, this kit will save you 50 bucks.

      You can't go too wrong with these two. :) Good luck with guitar, and let me know what you decide!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for this. I am looking to buy an acoustic guitar myself. First -time, absolutely no experience. I've been looking at a Yamaha beginner's kit that is a bit more expensive, but I'm undecided, and your hub has given me another option. Voted up.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Ha, you're quite welcome! I tried using a tuning fork on a friend's guitar once - not pretty. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this. All I had was a tuning fork.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      Lorne - Thanks for the info! If anyone is looking for online lessons, check out Lorne's profile page.

    • Bob Zermop profile image
      Author

      Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

      RTalloni - The kit is really nice for a total beginner; if your husband is interested in learning he might want to give it a shot. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Lorne Hemmerling profile image

      Lorne Hemmerling 4 years ago from Oshawa

      There are many great starter packages out there, however, steer clear of half size or three quarter size electric packages for kids. Most of these guitars are not tuneable, no matter how much you adjust them. The ONLY good one I have seen is the Ibanez Micro, and they are not that cheap! They also market this model as a travel guitar, and it definitely stands up to both labels (starter and travel). If you are looking for some quality lessons, please see my site on HubPages. I have recently added some easy to play Christmas tunes. Take care!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Your guitar is so nice--very interesting that it is from a kit. Thanks for posting your experience. My husband will very much enjoy reading your hub and seeing your vids.