“ Brand: Early Learning Centre / Type: Guitar / Age: 9 months / Type: Musical Toy „
Where did this come from?
My daughter was given this by a friend for her first Christmas. She was about three months old and was too small to hold it properly, but five or six weeks on and she had kind of got the hang of it.
What did baby think?
My girl liked playing with this for short spells but it didn't really grab her attention. It would play nice little tunes which she liked. She struggled to press the bar at the bottom which also made a noise. The colours were nice and bright, which I think she also liked.
What did mummy think?
I was unimpressed with this toy. I think the thing which I really disliked about it was the fact that I really couldn't see how this item related to a real guitar. It looks as though you should be able to press different bars and make different sounds, but it doesn't really work like that. You press a bar and it starts to play a tune, press another bar and the tune changes.
This item is currently advertised at £7.50. I think that is a fair price.
For our boys first Christmas, Mr Lools and I got quite excited about musical toys. I'm not sure what provoked this but maybe we were secretly hoping it would encourage our little cherubs to consider a lucrative career in music from an early age. Therefore to subtly push the idea of a "band" to our 11 month old boys we bought the ELC My First Guitar alongside some other musical type instrument toys.
***What Is It***
As you would expect from the name of the toy this is guitar shaped toy with musical functions. The guitar is made from brightly coloured hard durable plastic, the same type of material most ELC toys are made from. The guitar is about 30cm long from guitar body to the end of the neck. The neck of the guitar is bright blue and the body of the guitar a bright red colour.
Rather than having strings the My First Guitar has four long buttons to mimic strings positioned centrally on the guitar which are very sensitive and make different noises when pressed to emulate notes. There is also a "demo" button which when pressed, a variety of tunes are played. There is also a white "swing" bar which when pushed, more demo tunes are played. As the toy plays sounds there are light panels which light up and are attractive especially for younger children.
The guitar is operated by a button on the neck which rotates to the on or off position, which is very easy to operate. My boys who are 13 months can do so.
The toy is operated by 3 size AA batteries which are supplied with the toy.
ELC state that this toy is suitable for children 9 months + . My boys were 11 months old when. I would say that because this is a durable toy and made from quite hard plastic I would ensure children between 9-14 months are supervised (especially if other children are around). The long guitar neck means that if children hold the toy this way around it is very easy to wield around and cause damage. This issue aside, ELC My First Guitar is a very well made safe looking toy with no parts that could be detached or any sharp edges which is great for younger children.
The sounds made are quite basic therefore I feel for older toddlers over 2 years old, the toy is slightly limited in its appeal. My friends children who are around this age do not really seem interested in playing with this toy when they come to visit us.
My First Guitar is available from ELC both online at ( www.elc.co.uk ) and in store. Mothercare and Boots also stock ELC toys and you can purchase this toy both online and in selected stores.
ELC state the RRP is £15.00 for the My First Guitar however there are often special offers on this toy. I purchased this toy for £7.50 in November 2010 from ELC online. The toy was also included in the Christmas 3 for 2 offer at Boots.
The ELC My First Guitar is very simple to use. After battling with the packaging and removing the plastic tab in the battery section the toy is simply turned on using the on off button. I turned the toy on for my boys for the first few uses but they soon figured out how to rotate the switch to the on position.
Playing with the toy is very simple. To make different sounds you simply hold the guitar as you would a normal guitar and slide your hands over the string type buttons. Even for tiny hands this is very easy as the buttons are very sensitive and even a gentle touch triggers sounds to play and which in turn sets off the flashing lights.
Size wise it does appear quite large for younger children but my boys are a lot smaller than the average child their age so most things look large when they are holding them! However they had no problems holding the guitar and making sounds.
The boys enjoy pressing the buttons and get quite excited by the lights flashing and sounds played. But this is short lived, after about 30 seconds they crawl off and play with something else that holds their interest and engages them for longer. Even the demo tunes which are quite fast paced do not really interest my boys. They usually will press the demo button or flick the swing bar once which triggers the demo tunes to be played, and then play with another toy rather than repeating to listen to more tunes.
I found this was the case for older children too. When my friends brought their children to play, the ELC My First Guitar is not a popular child. My friends three year old picked it up, played with it for 30 seconds then threw it down with quite a disappointed look on her face.
Learning wise the guitar does have some educational and developmental benefits. Simply holding the guitar and pressing the various buttons allows a baby to develop their hand eye coordination and are rewarded by different sounds being played and the lights flashing.
As your children get older this is a great toy to encourage their creativity and imagination as they can pretend they are a rockstar or more relevant to a child like the Zingzillas band (check out the Cbeebies channel for all you non parents out there!). However this is a very basic "guitar" and it is quite difficult for children to make sounds on the guitar as the notes and chords played are very limited which for more creative children will want them leaving more. A more traditional first guitar is probably more desirable once children want to try and make tunes.
The ELC My First Guitar does not have a volume switch. Once the toy is turned on the volume is quite loud and this is a noisy toy, especially if you have another child playing in the room and my children like to drop the guitar so in addition to the guitar tunes you get to hear the guitar banging off the floor. The guitar plays five different demo tunes which I think is enough as the tunes are not over repetitive but repetitive enough for children to recognise. I think the guitar would benefit from having a volume switch like other ELC toys have.
Initially I was a little apprehensive, because although the toy is made from quite durable plastic. I did think the body of the guitar felt quite light and flimsy. I now think this is a very well made toy. My boys are extremely rough when they play and the guitar has escaped in full working order and with no scruffs or marks on the plastic. This also includes being dropped from a highchair onto the tiled kitchen floor. Even being chewed on by two teething toddlers has not marked the toy.
I would potentially say for younger toddlers and babies it is definitely worth supervising at all times when they play with this toy. I do not feel that this is a toy you could leave a child (or children) alone with as it is quite heavy and makes a great "weapon". If your child turns the guitar around in their hands when they are lying on their back and holds by the neck of the guitar it is very easy to drop onto themselves . By holding in this way it is also possible to hit another child with too. Mr Lools had the misfortune to be looking after the boys one afternoon when they discovered this, cue wanabee rockstar wielding toy guitar at his twin brother. As you can imagine it ended in tears!
The batteries have not yet been replaced in the toy which we have had for two months now, although it is not a toy that is played with regularly by my boys.
As you would expect from ELC, the My First Guitar is a good quality, well-made durable toy which encourages learning and creativity. Personally however I do not feel it is one of the better ELC toys we have in our vast collection. My boys seem to lose interest in it very quickly due to the limited sounds it makes and their older friends do not seem too keen on it when they come to visit. After a quick survey it is usually cast aside in favour for another toy.
It is a toy which for younger children needs constant supervision. One of my twins really seems to get into the spirit of being a rock star and wields the guitar round often injuring himself and/ or his brother in these excitable moments.
A great looking toy just sadly not the most engaging of toys for my boys and their groupies.
Santa was especially generous last year and among the masses of presents he left for nine month old Freddy was this the ELC My First Guitar. Mummy had helped Santa chose it before Christmas when it cost £15 when purchased separately or £10 when bought as part of a two toys for £20 deal. If Santa had waited until after Christmas he would have been able to pick it up even cheaper as ELC is now selling it for £7.50 in their sale.
==Looks Are Everything==
Billed as being suitable for babies and young children from nine months of age, the ELC My First Guitar looks almost exactly like an electric guitar (surprisingly enough). At approximately 12 inches in length it may appear a little large for the very youngest of these children to hold, but as it's remarkably light, Freddy hasn't had a problem accessing it. The neck of the guitar is made of fairly solid pale blue plastic and features an on off switch that is easy for both parents and baby to operate. Instead of strings there are four large, sensitive buttons each of which produces a different chord. There's even a whammy bar at the bottom of the neck, which is again easy for baby to operate and cycles through the demo tunes that are accessed via a button on the neck.
The body of the guitar doesn't feel nearly as solid as the neck, being made of much thinner plastic and hollow, it actually feels quite fragile, which disappointed me a bit. The battery compartment is securely closed with one of those teeny screws and holds three AA batteries, of which the first set is supplied. As well as playing sounds, there is also a red light that flashes in time with the beat or when the baby presses a key.
Although the sound level cannot be adjusted it's not too loud. I would say it's loud enough to be heard over the television but not so loud that it can be heard in the next room through shut doors. As far as the annoyance factor goes, well we all know that with 'musical' toys, it's always the more repetitive and mind numbing tunes that attract baby's attention and this is no exception. The classical demo tunes are fine the first few times that they're played but after five or so minutes they really do start to get into your head and turn your brain to mush. And the sounds the keys make aren't anything recognisable as music, they're more like the noises that used to emit from electronic games in the 80s. There's no hoping that the batteries are going to run out any time soon either, the demonstration set are still going strong, with three weeks of regular use (perhaps an hours total per day).
==Rocking All Over The World==
When he unwrapped this on Christmas day, Freddy was slightly under whelmed. But this was perhaps to be expected as he had already opened many far more visually exciting toys. Luckily this gave us time to remove the guitar from it's box, which was the usual rigmarole of undoing plastic ties (when will toy manufacturers realise that babies don't understand the concept of waiting). On handing the guitar to Freddy we only had to show him how it worked once and his face lit up as soon as he realised that he could make lots of noise.
Although we do generally turn it on before giving it to him, I have caught him turning the on/off switch himself. So thumbs up, for a baby toy that a baby can actually switch on, although it might not be such a good thing when Freddy is a little older and can take toys out of his toy box. Freddy finds the guitar easy to hold, swing about and hit against different surfaces (and I must say so far it's survived being hit against the floor and table), and he loves making lots of noise with it.
He finds pressing the buttons easy and will spend quite a few minutes just pressing on the buttons and watching the red light flash. He also has no difficulty setting the demo tunes off and then 'playing' along and changing which tune is played using the whammy bar. In true rock and roll style, he not only uses his hands, but also finds his feet are great for making music as well as bashing the guitar on the floor.
Being a typical curious nine month old baby, Freddy has explored every surface of the guitar, including the battery compartment, which I'm glad to report he was unable to access no matter how hard he tried. He's also explored the guitar with his mouth, and so far there has been no sign of his rather sharp teeth causing any damage. One potential problem is that this is made from hard plastic, so it does hurt slightly if it hits me when Freddy is being slightly over-enthusiastic. But that hard plastic does mean it's easy to wipe clean after it's dribbled on.
Although this is in no way Freddy's favourite toy, it is one that he play with daily and one that he so far hasn't lost interest in. It also a toy that he will try to get at through the side of his see through toy box, which can be amusing for adults to watch as he tries to work out why he can see the toy and not actually touch it.
==Learning through Musical Play==
As with all of The Early Centre's own brand toys, this is marketed as a toy that will help your child learn through play and although it is perhaps not as versatile as some of Freddy's toys it does have various features that achieve this. The ELC themselves state that this will help your child develop their imagination and encourage them to enjoy uses their senses. Now, at nine months old, Freddy is still far too young to really develop his imagination, but I can see that this will make a great prop in make-believe play as he gets older. It's the perfect size for a young child to hold and use as an 'air guitar', but an air guitar that actually makes noise. The fact it looks so much like a real guitar means that Freddy will really be able to play along when listening to music. And Freddy does love music, so I can see it being used like this in the near future.
The guitar does also have a lot to encourage Freddy to improve his fine motor coordination. All of the controls are easy for Freddy to use, he gets instant rewards for pressing on buttons, turning knobs, pressing buttons and pulling levers, which of course encourages him to keep practising these skills. And all the while he is rewarded by the guitar's sounds and flashing lights.
I would say the suggested lower age range of nine months is just about right, Freddy has absolutely no problem playing with this. Of course, as with the majority of toys, younger babies would be able to play with this with adult help, and I can't see anything about that would be dangerous. There are certainly small parts that a baby could put in their mouth. As to an upper limit, well the ELC doesn't actually recommend one, which I can understand as I would imagine that Freddy will be playing with this in one way or another for at least the next couple of years.
==Do You Want To Be A Rock Star?==
Although this is a noisy toy that does fall quite high on the adult's annoyance scale, it is also a toy that brings so much enjoyment to Freddy. He finds it easy to make it work, which means he doesn't get frustrated when playing with it. Yes the tunes do soon become repetitive, but that's what all babies like, that they know what's coming next.
So far the guitar has withstood all of Freddy's rough play, including being hit against hard surfaces and chewed on, without a sign of damage. And we're still on the first set of batteries, meaning that it doesn't cost a fortune to keep running. Add to this the fact that this is a toy that will, in all probability still be played with in a couple of years time and you have a toy that was well worth the £10 Santa paid for it and even better value at the current asking price of £7.50. I'm therefore giving the ELC My First Guitar a healthy four stars out of five, with it only losing that one star because it is battery operated and a little noisy.