A few summers back, my daughter decided she wanted to learn to play the ukulele. Being a supportive father—and a man who looks for any reason to add another instrument to his arsenal—I decided to do the same. Not only was this a great bonding experience for us both, but it also instilled in my youngest a real love of music-making. From there she joined the school band as a flutist, and this year, after much diligent practice, was even accepted into the program’s more advanced honor and region bands.
Further, even with her mastery of the flute and growing skill on the uke, she can’t seem to resist the urge to noodle on our home’s many other instruments. Unfortunately, my electric basses, even my short-scale Jaguar, swallow her whole, and she can scarcely lift my awkwardly weighted Les Paul Jr!
What she needed was a child’s instrument, but few things demotivate an eager young musician more than being relegated to the kids’ table. No, what she needed was a full-featured axe that was small enough for her hold, carry, and play and wasn’t festooned with Hello Kitty branding. What she needed was a real guitar. What she needed was a Loog mini guitar.
Loog’s miniature acoustics have been on the market for a while now; you might even remember their initial 2011 Kickstarter. Since that time, though, Loog has grown along with its fresh-faced players, recently evolving into a new electric line.
While the Loog Pro VI series brings the same bright sounds (and colors) to the traditional six-string, Loog’s real showpiece, whether acoustic or electric, continues to be the Mini and Pro models—innovative three-string guitars that are small enough for dainty hands, but, as I discovered, versatile enough for even more seasoned adult players.
We were provided a Loog Pro Electric model for review, the larger of Loog’s three-string instruments, in a striking green color. (Though it’s really more of a teal, similar to the favored hue retro brands like Danelectro employ in both their classic and more contemporary products.) This eye-catching guitar quickly proved a win on multiple fronts; its 18-fret maple neck and uniquely blunted paulownia body give it a similar footprint to the concert ukuleles we already own, and a single nine-volt battery ably powers its integrated amp/speaker combo for electric sound on the go.
While certainly more robust than the speakers in the aforementioned department store beaters, the Loog Pro Electric doesn’t exactly crank out studio-quality sound on its own. However, Loog did include a proper output jack—just like the big boys.
In fact, slightly tinny speaker aside, the Pro Electric is positively chockfull of actual guitar components. There’s a capable little lipstick pickup, a three-saddle fixed bridge, and an honest-to-goodness slotted nut. These combine to keep the action super low, making for easy playing without creating annoying fret buzz. (And despite the fretboard’s single-inch width, there is enough space to get in a solid bend for emphasis.) Its two barrel-style knobs control volume and gain, and, in place of a pickup selector, there’s a toggle switch to turn your mini-axe off and on.
While the base model we acquired didn’t come with a lot of additional bells and whistles like a strap or extra strings, I was happy to see those appear to be fairly standard components too. Loog sells its own specialized strap, but the strap buttons themselves should accommodate any extra one you have lying around your music room—though be prepared to cinch that sucker way up! The same goes for strings; Loog sells their own tiny-sized string packs (three sets will set you back $19 or so), but if you don’t mind trimming down the excess, half a standard set of ultra-lights should work too.
And this, at last, brings us to tuning. When I was first approached with the idea of a three-string trainer guitar, I simply assumed that the three strings in question would be the low end, the thicker E, A, and D strings. As any garage rocker worth their salt can tell you, these three are used to make what we proudly call the power chord—one finger on the root note on the E string, and the other two a couple of frets higher on the A and D.
Power chords are great, with many a punk band making an entire career out of ’em, but with only those three strings, they are sorely limiting. This is why, in their infinite wisdom, Loog instead outfitted their instruments with the high G, B, and E strings. This way, players begin by learning the higher—musicians typically say “top” even though, yes, these string are lower on the neck—string positions of standard chord forms.
To aid in these first tentative steps on your new rock ‘n’ roll adventure, Loog provides both digital and physical teaching aids. There’s the free Loog Guitar app, which includes a tuner and metronome alongside various games and exercises aimed at teaching real chords and, even better, popular tracks from a digital songbook.
The app itself is nicely gamified, with a customizable mascot avatar (which older kids may not exactly dig, but I found wonderfully charming) and various unlockables that actively encourage not just practice but experimentation. My daughter found the app especially helpful, despite its candy-colored aesthetic, but, knowing how often modern parents worry about ballooning screentime, I was pleased to see the app’s easy chord chart replicated on a bundled set of real-world flash cards.
These cards are alphabetized and color-coded, with yellow monsters for the A chords, orange on the B, pink for C, and so forth. Each displays finger placement for a complete chord on the inset diagram, with the simplified three-string triad outlined prominently in red and reflected on the corresponding monster’s guitar fretboard. This means that the majors, minors, sharps, and flats learned with the Loog Pro can eventually be transposed and fleshed out on a full six-string as your young player advances.
Suffice it to say the Loog Pro Electric has allowed my tween to fully experience the world of guitar music without compromising quality or being forced to wrestle with an instrument oversized for her meager frame. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I play our Loog at least as much as she does. This ukulele-sized instrument is wonderfully portable—I vastly prefer it to the various oddly-shaped travel guitars I’ve used in the past—and while I likely won’t be busting out any Sepultura on it, bright, trebly tracks from acts like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sound right at home on this diminutive but somehow still nicely resonant guitar.
At an MSRP of $179—available from both Loog’s website and their official Amazon store—you can surely find a cheaper alternative for an electric trainer guitar, but Loog’s blend of quality components combined with its unique, light-weight design makes it a perfectly playable axe for any member of your household who’d care to learn the instrument, further hone their skills, or just rock out around the den, backyard, or campfire. Sometimes craftsmanship (and fun) is simply worth spending a little bit extra.
Review materials provided by Loog. This post contains affiliate links. Don’t forget to let that simplified D chord really ring out when you play “American Girl.”
This post was last modified on May 5, 2021 10:12 pm
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