Which musical instrument to offer to a very-busy and yound father?
July 1, 2010 2:48 AM   Subscribe

BirthdayPresentFilter: looking for a a musical gift for my 35-yo brother (and possibly his son).


I'd like to get my brother a musical instrument for his birthday. Yay!

- he's already got a guitar and guides, but never finds the time to sit down and learn.
- I know he likes the piano, because he can start fiddling without learning the positions.
- he has a small apartment (so no piano :) nor drums).
- he's got a 2.5yo son, so it'd be cool if he could share this with him.
- he's already asked for an expensive, fruit-branded piece of technology, which everyone is the family is chipping in. So it'd be cool if the idea was not so expensive (say $150 max.)
- he likes gadgets, so techy things are a-ok :)
- we're in France!

I'd love yo hear your ideas!

Thanks a lot!
posted by XiBe to Shopping (10 answers total)
My money no object suggestion would be a Tonium Pacemaker.

If he's getting a piece of fruit-branded technology then a docking station is doable for less than $150.

Or perhaps something like Cosmovox , which costs the princely sum of $1.99. See also Thumbjam.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:49 AM on July 1, 2010

What about a keyboard? For something really cheap that would be good for the little one to mess around with as well, there's the Casio 37-Key Starter

For something nicer, right around $150, you can get the Yamaha YPT-220 61 Key Personal Keyboard with AC Adapter, Deluxe Keyboard Stand and Professional Headphones
posted by SugarAndSass at 5:31 AM on July 1, 2010

If he wants to sing songs with the boy and doesn't want to have to learn much technique, then what he needs is an autoharp. Many of them have the advantage of being nearly indestructible. (This is particularly helpful if his 2.5-year-old, like my 2.5-year-old, is in the I-wonder-if-the-juice-stays-in-the-cup-when-it's-upside-down Baby Scientist stage...)

That said, what it really sounds like he needs is either (a) one guitar lesson or (b) a reminder that you can get a lot of mileage out of three chords on the guitar (see previously and previouslier). 3-chord guitar rock is called that for a reason and most guides present a huge barrier to entry by being accurate instead of good-enough. I learned the three chords in She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain (I-IV-V) on ukulele in five minutes 2 years ago and have been milking them to support every song I've wanted to sing ever since.
posted by range at 5:47 AM on July 1, 2010

STYLOPHONE BEATBOX!!!!! Hands down. Hours of entertainment for both dudes: the big and the little....
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:54 AM on July 1, 2010

Ukulele; a basic-but-playable one from Kala is well under $100. In France, it's probably cheaper to get one shipped from musicguymic in Hawaii. Same chord shapes as a guitar, softer strings.
posted by scruss at 6:11 AM on July 1, 2010

Perhaps a Strum Stick.
posted by Sassyfras at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2010

Along the lines of what range said: What about a block of lessons for the guitar he's already got; trying to teach yourself an instrument armed with only books is hard and frustrating. It's easy to not find the time to do something that's hard and frustrating, but lessons with a good teacher do two things:

1) Give hands-on pointers about technique, and real-time feedback about progress or really any question related to the instrument
2) Set up goals for the next lesson, whether it's practicing chord changes, or a set of scales, or learning a song.
posted by usonian at 7:03 AM on July 1, 2010

Seconding ukulele. My daughter has taken guitar lessons, both acoustic and electric, but hasn't ever really gotten into it. Then I got her a (Kala!) ukulele for $85, and she's now obsessed. Your brother's guitar training will come in handy, but the instrument is much, much easier to play (and sized right for his kid, too).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2010

- It's very easy to learn to play; there are no "wrong" notes.
- Even the best quality ones are quite inexpensive.
- Easy to carry around and share some music almost anywhere.
- A great compliment to guitar.
- If you can breathe, you can play it, so it would be perfect for his son. (Although you might want to get a special one for his son... lots of spit and everything ;)

If he likes blues music or a bit of folk, a harmonica is definitely perfect. Hohner is probably the biggest name out there and they have some great-looking, classy harmonicas.
posted by Kippersoft at 1:00 PM on July 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for all your suggestions!

In the end, lakersfan's reminded me of the BlipTronic, which was pretty much what I needed, and was a great success, even in comparison with an iPad :)
posted by XiBe at 3:27 PM on August 19, 2010

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