In this post, I’m going to be doing a complete Chord Buddy review. But if you want to skip straight to my overall thoughts, check out the overview below:
The Chord Buddy is great for children or people with disabilities that inhibit them from playing the guitar. I personally believe that unless you fall into that cohort you don’t necessarily need this device although it is a neat tool for getting you started on the right foot.
If you don’t know what Chord Buddy is, it’s essentially a beginner’s learning system that allows guitar players to press down a single button to produce a basic guitar chord instead of playing the chord with your fingers directly on the strings.
Now at first, you might be thinking what’s the point of that? If my fingers aren’t making the actual chord shapes how will I ever learn to play additional chords let alone the ones you can play with Chord Buddy?
When I first came across this product, that’s what I thought as well.
However, as I started to learn more about the product it changed my mind. One of the biggest reasons I’ve seen beginner guitar players give up on trying to learn how to play guitar has been because they just weren’t seeing results fast enough.
Pressing down the strings hurts their fingers, resulting in them not being able to press down hard enough to produce a clear-sounding chord. Some have the determination to practice and overcome this, while others might not have the same motivation.
With the Chord Buddy, however, beginner guitar players see immediate results as they can just simply press down a button and are able to play a great-sounding guitar chord. Now, they’re able to focus on some of the basic concepts of guitar and music such as:
- Strumming patterns
- Finger strength/dexterity
- Acquiring an overall better ear for what a chord should actually sound like
Furthermore, once beginner guitarist feels comfortable enough to move on, they can detach the Chord Buddy piece-by-piece to allow themselves to play the chords on their own.
The Chord Buddy was created by a gentleman named Travis Perry who saw his daughter struggle with learning how to play the guitar so he invented this device. He pitched his product on the hit TV show Shark Tank and sure enough one of the sharks invested.
In this Chord Buddy review, I’m going to walk through what exactly is included in the Chord Buddy learning system, how to install/use the device, and what I liked about it as well as what I think could be improved.
The Chord Buddy learning system basically comes with 4 main components.
- A 2-month lesson plan book
- An instructional DVD
- The attachment that goes onto your acoustic guitar
- A 60-song songbook
The first thing I did when I got the Chord Buddy was took it out of the box and try to attach it to my guitar. Now, I did do some reading prior to receiving the Chord Buddy and one of the biggest problems that came up was that people just weren’t able to attach it to their guitar properly.
Without reading the instructions, I, of course, had the same problem. However, once you know how to properly install the Chord Buddy (which I’ll explain in the next section), you should have no trouble.
As far as the other learning material goes (books and DVD) they both looked fine as far as readability and simplicity. Right off the bat, I did feel as though the whole learning system is more geared towards children (which I’m sure it mostly is) rather than adults.
How to Install the Chord Buddy
Properly installing the Chord Buddy on your guitar seems to be one of the biggest issues that come up with this device. However, if installed properly, it should function without any issues. Upon receiving your Chord Buddy you’ll notice that near the top of the device is a screw.
This screw must first be loosened so that the Chord Buddy will properly fit around your guitar neck. Once you’re able to fit the Chord Buddy around your guitar’s neck you’ll need to properly position it. To do this, line up the tab paddings from the blue button so that they sit just before the third metal fret.
Once that’s done, the next thing you’ll need to do is angle the Chord Buddy upwards so that none of the tabs are touching your strings (about a 30-degree angle). This will prevent any buzzing from occurring when you play an open note.
Now that your Chord Buddy is in its proper placement and angled upwards, all you need to do is retighten the screw. Be sure to make it fairly tight so that it doesn’t move around as you start playing. Once that’s done, try playing all of your guitar strings without pressing down on any buttons. If the strings all ring clearly, you’ve properly installed the Chord Buddy.
How to Use the Chord Buddy
Now that you have the Chord Buddy properly installed on your guitar, it’s time to start using it. Using it is pretty straightforward. Essentially, each button color corresponds to a different chord.
- Yellow = E minor
- Green = C major
- Red = D major
- Blue = G major
As far as which fingers you should use to press down each button, you should be using:
- Yellow = Index finger
- Green = Middle finger
- Red = Ring finger
- Blue = Pinky finger
You’ll also notice that each button requires a different amount of pressure in order for the chord to play properly. The further away the buttons are from the guitar’s nut, the less pressure is required. Alternatively, the closer you get to the nut, the more pressure is required (i.e. blue button requires the least amount of pressure while the yellow button requires the most).
Chord Buddy Learning Curriculum (DVD / Book)
The Chord Buddy also comes with a “2-month” lesson plan book and DVD. The lesson plan goes over some of the basics of guitar playing then has 3 units that go over using the Chord Buddy to play songs as well as applying different guitar techniques.
The DVD is an addition to the lesson plan and provides a more interactive setting where Travis explains certain concepts and tricks to using Chord Buddy. In total, the DVD is about 54 minutes long and contains 17 chapters. It’s pretty short and you’ll likely work through all the concepts fairly fast.
Personally, I would much rather recommend a quality online guitar lesson instead, which will provide you with much greater value.
Chord Buddy Songbook
The songbook that comes with the Chord Buddy contains 60 easy chord-based songs that are laid out neatly with color-coded chord changes and lyrics.
Although the songs may or may not be in the genre of music you prefer, they are fairly good examples to learn as a beginner guitar player. You can also check out the Chord Buddy site where they offer other songbooks in various genres.
Each song is very well laid out and easy to understand, especially for beginners. I recommend playing these songs along with a metronome so that you can also practice your tempo and rhythm as you begin playing guitar.
Removing the Chord Buddy Tabs
The neat thing about Chord Buddy is that once you feel comfortable with playing the songs in the songbook, switching between chords, and strumming, you can begin removing the tabs. This means that instead of just pressing down a button, you’ll actually be playing the chord with your fingers against the strings.
At first, this may still be a bit challenging for some players as little to no calluses have been developed yet. However, you should have already built up some strength in your fingers through using Chord Buddy and as you play more, the calluses will form.
According to the Chord Buddy founder, it is recommended to remove the Chord Buddy tabs one at a time so that you can focus on learning a single chord while still using buttons to play the others. The recommended order of Chord Buddy tab removal is.
- Red button (D chord)
- Green button (C chord)
- Blue button (G chord)
- Yellow button (Em chord)
Removal of the Chord Buddy tabs is pretty straightforward, you just need to angle the tab upwards slightly and pull it outward.
Once you’re comfortable playing the chord shape that corresponds to the tab you removed, you can move on to removing the next tab, the next tab, and the next tab.
Once all of the tabs are removed, the ultimate goal is that you should have a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts of how to play guitar and shouldn’t require the Chord Buddy anymore.
At this point, you can remove the Chord Buddy system completely from your guitar and you’re free to explore.
Pros vs Cons of the Chord Buddy
Throughout my own personal testing of the Chord Buddy learning system, I did find some pros and cons that I’d like to address. Like anything, there are ups and downs, but I just thought that you should be aware of both sides if you’re planning on purchasing this system.
- Gives beginner players the ability to focus on strumming and finger strength first without having to worry about making the actual chord shape.
- Keeps players motivated to continue practicing as it’s easier to see progress.
- Acts as “training wheels” for the guitar.
- Chord Buddy allows you to press down on 2 buttons at once to play chord variations outside of just C, G, D, and Em.
- Comes with a long list of songs to learn with great chord-changing visuals.
- DVD is easy to follow and provides useful beginner information.
- Great for children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and people with arthritis.
- The Chord Buddy system may get in the way as you start removing tabs and playing chords on your own, especially if you have large fingers.
- Not overly intuitive as far as installation goes (however once done properly works fine).
- Somewhat limiting as in you can’t really practice basic single note picking without having to remove the device.
- Does not fit on all guitars (needs to be a standard-size guitar or a slight variation).
Hopefully, this Chord Buddy review has given you some more information about how this learning system works and what it includes.
For children, people with disabilities, etc Chord Buddy is a great product as the player can start seeing results immediately. It allows people to enjoy creating music that otherwise may not have been able to.
It’s an interesting product and does have its uses. I believe there are still a few things that could be improved upon. However, Chord Buddy is certainly worth a try if you or someone you know has been wanting to learn the basics of guitar but just hasn’t been able to get there yet.