• Buyers Guides, Drums, For Parents, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 31.01.2011 Comments Off on Drum Buyer’s Guide

    So you are looking to buy a set a drums but you don’t know what to get? If you’ve done an online search for drums, you’ve probably seen that there are thousands of parts and accessories! What’s the most important things to have first? We are here to help guide you through the basics.

    If you aren’t sure whether you want to invest in a full set, you can at least buy a practice pad.
    These are small pads that don’t make much noise, but let you get used to the feel of hitting a drum. Great for practicing drum rudiments and working on stick skills. Even if you have a full set already, this is a great, portable way to practice. The Vic Firth Single-Sided/Divided Practice Pad is a quality product. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Vic-Firth-Single-Sided-Divided-Practice-Pad-447607-i1139989.gc

    For younger drummers (age 4-8), a junior drum set is just what Dr. Rhythm ordered!
    Let’s face it, if your feet can’t reach the pedal you are going to have a hard time keeping a solid beat. While the junior sets are smaller and cheaper than the full sets, you can still expect to spend between $100 and $300 for a well made kit. Sound percussion has a great, low priced kit, and Ludwig offers a higher quality and more expensive set. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Deluxe-Jr–3-Piece-Drum-Set-108081902-i2556147.gc#customer-reviews

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ludwig-Junior-Outfit-Drum-Set-103999561-i1140093.gc

    For full sized kits, you’ll find that most are priced without the cymbals
    (and the cymbals are pretty important), so don’t be fooled by low prices on one given kit. One of the most economical sets is the Sound Percussion Pro 5-Piece (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sound-Percussion-Pro-5-Piece-Drum-Set-with-Chrome-Hardware-581099-i1455915.gc). While it may say Pro in the title, this isn’t really professional quality, but it has what you need to get drumming! For higher quality sets, turn to the names you can trust in percussion. Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Gretsch and DDrum. Expect a basic shell set (minus the cymbals) to cost between $300 and $700. Top quality sets will probably start at around $1000. It’s worth noting that putting new drum heads on a basic kit can dramatically improve its sound and only cost between $40 and $100.

    Cymbals (that usually aren’t included in the drum kits) are necessary!
    But you don’t need them all at once. A hi-hat is absolutely essential. What you’ll need is a hi-hat stand (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha-650-Hi-Hat-Cymbal-Stand-483425-i1421818.gc) and a hi-hat cymbal set (http://www.guitarcenter.com/Sabian-sbr-Hi-Hats-424112-i1527815.gc). After that, you can start adding various types of crash and ride cymbals to complete your set. Sabian and Zildjian are both high quality cymbal makers.

    If you are concerned about noise in the house, electronic drums can save your sanity!
    Don’t get me wrong, if you need volume, you can plug into an electronic drum amp and bam! you are making serious noise. But for when you don’t need to be loud, you can put headphones on and lose yourself in a little drumming world. We prefer Roland electronic drums. Their quality seems to far surpass their competitors in this field. http://www.guitarcenter.com/Roland-TD-11K-S-V-Compact-Series-Electronic-V-Drum-Kit-H82854-i2468066.gc

    Hopefully this has answered some questions for you. Good luck on your drum buying journey. Remember, your drum teacher is a great resource for ideas as well! Happy Drumming from 4/4 School of Music!

  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Guitar, Purchasing an Instrument, Ryan Casperson 30.11.2009 Comments Off on Guitar Buyer’s Guide

    As a beginner, or someone shopping for their first electric or acoustic guitar, there are several different categories to pick from.

    Which ever guitar you choose, make sure that…

    The strings aren’t really high off the fret board.  This is good. Twice this much space would be difficult to play.

    File:Guitare action.jpg

    It is comfortable to hold.  This Stratocaster design electric guitar is usually the most comfortable for beginners.

    $70 – $150

    Usually these guitars are smaller sized for smaller players. These guitars generally are not crafted to last for a lifetime. But if you are not sure whether or not you want to play for a lifetime, they can be a good way to test the waters. The Squire Mini Strat (SquireMiniStrat) is a good entry level model that gives the Fender feel without the Fender price. If you are looking for an acoustic guitar in this price range, Epiphone (EpiphoneAcoustic) and Yamaha (Yamaha Acoustic) have several quality instruments for the price. If you are confident that you (or who you are buying for) will play guitar longer than a few months, this range is generally not recommended.

    $125 – $250 – TOP PICK if you are NOT sure you will stick with it.

    In this category, Squire, Epiphone and Ibanez offer the best value. Most of these are full sized and can last the typical beginning student one to two years. The major factor to consider with this range is whether you want the Les Paul feel of the Epiphone Les Paul Special (EpiphoneLesPaulSpecial), the Stratocaster/Telecaster touches of the Squire Bullets (SquireBullet) or the rocker appeal of the Ibanez GRX series (Ibanez GRX). For younger girls, Daisy Rocks (DaisyRocks) offers surprisingly good quality guitars in shades of pink. For acoustic guitars, Epiphone (EpiphoneAcoustic) and Yamaha (YamahaAcoustic) have the best options for these prices.

    $350 to $750 – TOP PICK if you ARE SURE you will stick with it.

    These are our top recommendations for beginning students. It can be frustrating for a new player to practice hard and still not be able to get a good sound because their instrument is holding them back. Fender offers their “Made in Mexico” (Fender “MIM” Strat) models in this range and what you get is a quality guitar that can last a lifetime if you want them to. (I have an MIM Strat that I’ve owned for 25 years and still play!) Epiphone Les Pauls (Epiphone Les Paul Standard) offer high quality instruments and feel extremely similar to their Gibson counterparts. Ibanez (Ibanez RGA) has become a very reliable brand and offers many guitars that have hard rockability and looks.  Fender (Fender Acoustic) and Epiphone (Epiphone Acoustic)  are the most popular in this range for acoustic guitars but if you are looking for something a bit more unique, Breedlove Guitars (Breedlove Acoustic) offer high quality acoustic guitars at a great value!

    $750 and Up!!

    At this point, the world is limitless with options. You can spend thousands of dollars on high end guitars with premier tone and playability but aren’t necessary at all for learning the instrument. Once you’ve been playing for a while, you will get a sense for what your dream guitar is. You don’t need to start with the best. When you are ready to rock stadiums, you’ll know what to get.

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.

  • Buyers Guides, For Parents, Piano, Purchasing an Instrument 22.04.2009 Comments Off on Keyboard & Digital Piano Buyer’s Guide

    As a beginner or someone who is shopping for their very first digital piano or keyboard, there are four main categories from which to choose.

    $30-80 Keyboard for Kids

    Usually less than 61 keys and NOT touch sensitive. Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note. Only children under the age of 7 should consider these keyboards as they are an inexpensive way to see if your child is really interested in sticking with piano lessons for more than a couple months. If you feel pretty sure your child will be taking lessons for longer, don’t even consider one of these.

    $80-$200 Portable Keyboard

    In this price range you will generally find Casio and Yamaha brands are the best quality and value. Most of these have 61 full-sized plastic keys. This is the minimum that you really want.  Make sure to get a “touch-sensitive” model.  Touch sensitivity means that the harder you press the key the louder the sound of that note.  This is the most important thing to look for.  It is how a real piano works.

    Many of the keyboards in this range have lots of extra sounds and beats built in.  These can be fun but are not necessary to learn to play.  In fact you might choose to get the simplest keyboard so that you aren’t temped to waist time instead of practicing.  Practice is the only thing that will make you a better player! Make sure you like the “Piano” sound that the keyboard has to offer.  That is the sound that you will spend most of your time listening to.

    $350-$700 Digital Piano (Our Top Recommendation for Beginners)

    For around $450 or so you can get what many teachers believe to be the best value in terms of playability and sound. Again Casio and Yamaha rule the roost.  We have had excellent luck with the Casio PX series or the CDP-100 keyboards.  Here is a link to Guitar Center where you can shop around for them. www.guitarcenter.com We have many of these at our school and absolutely love them!  They feel great, are very small in total size and sound really nice.  88 full-sized weighted keys give these the feel and range of a real acoustic piano.

    $700 and up!  Digital Piano.

    There are so many options available in this price range and you can spend thousands on the state of the art models that literally play themselves but what fun is that?  In all seriousness, the extra high end features are not necessary to learn the instrument.  After you have played for a while and decide you want to score a symphony you can always upgrade to one of these beauty’s that have every sound in the orchestra, band, concert hall and more!

    Please call us at 425-485-8310 if you have any other questions about purchasing a keyboard or digital piano for yourself or your child.

    4/4 School of Music, LLC
    Seattle | Kirkland | Lynnwood | Everett | Bothell | Redmond | Renton Wa.

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