Category Archives: portland oregon

Resources in Portland Oregon for music students, musicians and artists.

How To Buy a Guitar For Your Child

Buying A Kid A Guitar

Related Articles:

• How to buy a cheap beginner’s guitar
• How to buy kid’s guitar
• How to buy strings
• Recommended Music Stores and Shops in Portland Oregon: Where musicians in the know buy their instruments, get them repaired, and have them customized

When it’s time to go guitar shopping for a child, parents are often confused about what to buy. This is a guide for how to save money and make sure that your child enjoys his or her time on the guitar.

I recommend printing this list and bringing it to the store with you. If you can’t buy a guitar before your lesson, it doesn’t matter, because I have a ton of awesome guitars that you are welcome to use! 

If you’re in Portland Oregon, I recommend buying at:

  • Trade Up Music, located at SE Division and SE 47th in SE Portland. Tell them Amanda of Whirling Squirrel sent you! 503.236.8800
  • Old Town Music on SE 11th. Talk to Hank. 503.295.6808
  • Showcase Music and Sound at SE 34th and Hawthorne 503.231.7027

Purchasing Options: Ages 3-6

  • Buy the child a small, very inexpensive acoustic guitar, ukulele, or other instrument of deadly unintonated cacophony, and let them pound away at it, making noise. If you’re in Portland Oregon, I recommend signing the child up for Music Together: inexpensive group kids’ music classes at Community Music Center on SE Francis and 33rd in Portland Oregon. I wouldn’t spend time on private lessons until the age of 6. Joy in music is important. Do not expect much of the kid with practice at this time.

Purchasing Options: Ages 6-10

New/Used Small “Child’s Size” Acoustic Guitar: Inexpensive $100-$200, expensive $500-$5,000+

  • PROS: Cheap, easy to buy, no hassle in the store, so things “seem” okay at first purchase.
  • CONS: Much, much harder to play. Much less cool sounds. Kids tend to give up more easily when their instrument is an inexpensive acoustic guitar. You’ll end up replacing it anyway down the road. Kids will be very impressed by my electric guitars and their weird sounds. Inexpensive acoustic guitars are just about the most physically difficult situation a beginner could be placed in.
  • MODELS: BABY TAYLOR, MARTIN BACKPACKER, TAYLOR MINI, AND CORT, EPIPHONE, AND OTHER LOW-END MODELS. 

New Small “Child’s Size” Electric Guitar and Amp Package: $100-$200

  • PROS: Super easy to play! Inexpensive. The electric guitar can make weird sounds, and kids love cacophony.
  • CONS:  He/she will outgrow it. I do not generally recommend child size electric guitars. They have loads and loads of problems, including staying in tune. However, if price is a serious issue, take this option. Just remember that these packages are often new, and the guitar and amp that you just bought for $200 decrease in resale value by about $125 or more as soon as you leave the store. If you went to Guitar Center to buy this package, the price you’ll pay for these packages also goes to corporations that don’t support local musicians. You’ll also get terrible customer service, and chances are, that Guitar Center deal you got doesn’t include the guitar being intonated, so it won’t play in tune, so you’ll need to take it to another repair shop and spend more money and time.
  • MODELS: SQUIER, FENDER, EPIPHONE AND OTHER LOW-END MODELS.

RECOMMENDED: Used Regular Size Electric Guitar and Amp Package: $150-$250 on up

  • PROS: Super easy to play! Inexpensive. The electric guitar can make weird sounds, and kids love cacophony. The child will never outgrow it. It will not have intonation “tuning” issues like the smaller guitars do. The resale value will be great, because you bought used.
  • CONS:  You’ll spend $50-$100 more at the beginning. The child may simply be too small for the guitar (but this usually changes in about 2 months). Thankfully, Trade Up Music has a great refund policy and you can get another instrument at Trade Up for the same value within 1 week.
  • MODELS: YOU ARE NOT LIMITED. SINCE YOU’RE BUYING USED, YOU CAN GET A QUALITY INSTRUMENT AND BRAND. ASK THE STORE EMPLOYEES TO HELP YOU.

MAINTENANCE

Once you buy the guitar, you’ll need to know a good “luthier.” A luthier is someone who repairs and/or builds instruments. You’ll need to bring in your guitar to a luthier about once every three months for “intonation” and “adjustments” to keep the truss rod in shape. YOUR GUITAR WON’T PLAY IN TUNE UNLESS YOU TAKE IT TO A LUTHIER EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE. I recommend:

  • 12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop 2402 SE Belmont, since 1979. 503.231.1912. I used to work at the 12th Fret for many years. They are fantastic people and luthiers, nationally renowned experts. >>website

  • Ryan Lynn’s EastSide Guitar Repair at 34th and Hawthorne. I have known Ryan for 10 years or more when he was the master luthier at Trade Up. Ryan runs a great shop and he’s a good guy. >>website
-Amanda Machina
squirrel@whirlingsquirrel.com
503 577 2311 cell

Recommended Music Stores & Repair Shops In Portland Oregon

Recommended Music Stores & Repair Shops In Portland Oregon

Related Articles: • How to buy an inexpensive guitar • How to buy strings

There are a lot of great shops, here are the shops run by my friends. Here are the shops where you’ll get the best gear for a great price, and there are nice people there, too!

Portland Musical Instrument Sales Stores

Old Town Music – Portland Oregon

Where I teach. Best prices in town (ridiculously low) and nicest people. Old Town has been owned by the same person since 1994, and before that it was Denny’s Music, and Old Town is very kind to me. I have many years of experience working in guitar shops, repair shops and the like. Old Town does instrument sales, boutique and mass manufactured effects and pedals, synthesizers, guitars; instrument repair and custom electronic repair and buildouts.

TradeUpMusic – Portland Oregon

oodles of great, cheap, mostly used gear, with some new – guitars, amps, basses, synthesizers, pedals, ukuleles, PA systems, drum parts, drum kits, melodicas, harmonicas… friendly service, right next door to Stumptown Coffee. >>website

Trade Up Music 4701 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97206  *503-236-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map
Trade Up Music 1834 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211 *503-335-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map

Portland Musical Instrument Repair Shops

Little Trees Custom Guitar Shop – Portland Oregon

Dan runs a great little shop in SE Portland, I highly recommend him.

Home

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop – Portland Oregon

nationally renowned lutherie and repairs of stringed instruments of all sorts, serving the general public and prominent artists since 1979… friendly service, wonderful people who really go the extra mile. >>website

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop 2402 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214 *503-231-1912* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm Tue-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Saturday Google Map

East Side Guitar Repair

Guitar repair, amplifier repair, custom instruments >>website

East Side Guitar Repair 3341 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214  *503-232-0838* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm daily Google Map

Portland Custom Shop and Sour Sound

Amplifier repair, synthesizer repair and synth restoration; PA system repair, Pro Audio repair facility   >>Custom Shop Website  ::   >>Sour Sound Website

Portland Custom Shop + Sour Sound 1115 SE Morrison St. Portland, OR 97214 *503.227.9260* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Mon-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Sat-Sun Google Map
-Amanda ‘Machina

squirrel at whirling squirrel dot com

 

What kind of strings should I buy for my electric guitar?

What strings to buy for a guitar?

Related Articles:

• How to buy a cheap beginner’s guitar
• How to buy kid’s guitar
• How to buy strings
• Recommended Music Stores and Shops in Portland Oregon: Where musicians in the know buy their instruments, get them repaired, and have them customized

 

String gauge

This is the “thickness” or diameter of the strings. Musicians refer to guitar strings by the gauge of the high E string. A “set of 10’s” is lighter (smaller in diameter) than “a set of 12’s.” String gauge varies widely. You need to consider your guitar’s scale length before you choose strings.

If you’re a geek, click here for more about scale length. Otherwise, it just basically means, length of the string, and you can read on.

Short scale guitars : easier to play. Use heavier strings for thicker tone.

  • Gibson
  • Epiphone
  • Gretsch
  • Fender Duosonic
  • Fender Jaguar, Mustang, etc
  • Gibson basses

Long scale guitars : harder to play. Use lighter strings.

  • Fender
  • G&L
  • Parker Fly 
  • most Fender basses

Strings and tone

  • Lighter strings = lighter tone (generally). Best for more finesse players.
  • Heavy strings = bolder tone/harder to play (usually). Better for heavy hitters.

Don’t know? Ask your luthier or guitar shop. A reputable shop will know. Click here for Portland Oregon shops I recommend.

Geeky details

One of my favorite sites, frets.com, explains it as such, here:

Scale Length
© Frank Ford, 2/9/01; Photos by FF


The “scale length” or “scale” is a tricky bit to define. Generally, it’s understood to be the vibrating string length, from nut to saddle, measured like this:

As far as I can tell, most luthiers measure from the nut to the center of the 12th fret and double that measurement for the “scale length.” The only thing is that it doesn’t seem to fit a lot of manufacturers’ stated specifications if you do it that way. I like to measure to the 12th, double that distance, and call that the scale length, just to be consistent. Then, adding compensation for various strings, I’ll call each of those lengths “compensated scale length.” That way, at least I don’t go crazy right off.

Now, just to drive us all nuts, some builders shorten the distance between the nut and first fret to improve intonation in low positions. That, of course, messes with our ability to measure the scale length on a given instrument.

Precise measurements are critical in building an instrument, but for the practical purposes of comparing instruments as to their tone and performance, approximate measure is just fine. I don’t think 1/8″ one way or the other will have much effect.

article link FRETS.COM

How do I know?

I was trained in these matters by Chris Brandt, owner of the 12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop in Portland, when I worked there for about 3 years. Not only are they a great bunch of guys, but they are very knowledgeable luthiers, and kind individuals as well. They do everything from string changes, to refrets, to steaming apart necks of old Martin guitars and doing who-knows-what in there. Saul Koll of Koll Guitars, also used to work there and Saul is an amazing luthier as well (and a fabulous electric guitar player). The 12th Fret is a little shop who does repairs for the likes of Robert Cray, and Saul builds guitars for Sonic Youth. I think I was taught by the best (or close to it).

Since I didn’t know the scale length of Parker Fly guitars, I googled it. I found out that the scale of the parker fly has a 25.5″ scale. This is a long scale.  So my student should use lighter strings. I have taught this particular student for quite a few years, and he’s more of a delicate technician than a heavy hitter. Light strings work best for players who are more finesse focused. Hard and heavy hitters, use heavy strings.

And before you complain that your guitar buzzes, stop hitting it so hard.

– Amanda

 

Recommended Music Stores & Repair Shops In Portland

There are a lot of great shops, here are the shops run by my good friends (they also happen to be the best). 🙂

Trade Up Music

oodles of great, cheap, mostly used gear, with some new – guitars, amps, basses, synthesizers, pedals, ukuleles, PA systems, drum parts, drum kits, melodicas, harmonicas… friendly service, right next door to Stumptown Coffee. >>website

Trade Up Music 4701 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97206  *503-236-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map
Trade Up Music 1834 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211 *503-335-8800* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm daily Google Map
 

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop

nationally renowned lutherie and repairs of stringed instruments of all sorts, serving the general public and prominent artists since 1979… friendly service, wonderful people who really go the extra mile. >>website

12th Fret Custom Guitar Shop 2402 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214 *503-231-1912* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm Tue-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Saturday Google Map
 

East Side Guitar Repair

Guitar repair, amplifier repair, custom instruments >>website

East Side Guitar Repair 3341 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214  *503-232-0838* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm daily Google Map
 

Portland Custom Shop and Sour Sound

Amplifier repair, synthesizer repair and synth restoration; PA system repair, Pro Audio repair facility   >>Custom Shop Website  ::   >>Sour Sound Website

Portland Custom Shop + Sour Sound 1115 SE Morrison St. Portland, OR 97214 *503.227.9260* 11:00 am – 7:00 pm Mon-Fri and 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm Sat-Sun Google Map
 
Related Articles:• How to buy an inexpensive guitar
• How to buy a child a beginning guitar
• How to buy strings

Lessons for “ADD” people

 

ADD people … are they just bored?

I taught a 7 year old the basics of “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead yesterday. After that, another student, age 8, learned about key signatures and inheritance of accidentals in key signatures, and she said “YAYYY!! I get HOMEWORK and I get to fill out 3 key signatures!”  The day before, a teenage kid learned about sampling and beatmaking using Reason (a software program for beginning to intermediate electronic/rap & hip-hop music artists). All three music students chose their own lesson subjects; I had nothing to do with the choice of material covered in the lesson. It amazes me what people want to learn, and the mental connections they make when they are learning what they love.
People, given an opportunity to create, are rarely bored.

People learn best when they are empowered to interpret a lesson, in their own way.

Flow, a state we enter when doing something we love, is essential for mastery of any skill. That’s why my students pick their own material. ADD and ADHD people are often excel at flow; the physical, the unspoken.
Free play. About three years ago, I was given a book by a student, who later became a good friend. The book was called Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art.The book completely changed my life, and it completely changed the way I taught music as well. That’s where the name WHIRLING SQUIRREL comes from – I love to jump and play, I think the unexpected is absolutely hilarious, and I can provide a non-rigid framework for people to learn.
I specialize in teaching adults and children complex music theory and difficult mathematical concepts; ADD and ADHD people really “get it.” ADD and ADHD people have exceptional abilities which shine when those abilities are respected, nurtured, and allowed to grow. More linear and logical folks are fun to teach as well – they just have a totally different approach. I have one young student who refuses to play until she learns all about key signatures and theory. She says she loves math, so … cool!

Amanda

squirrel@whirlingsquirrel.com
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art:
Author Web Site

Buy the book on Amazon