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Since I played acoustic guitar for a number of years I thought it would be fun to have a go on an electric number. There's not much chance of buying a funky model for less than £30 though; not unless you cheat a bit and buy a Paper Jamz.
There are a couple of different designs in the Jamz range, but the red one appeared the most female-friendly, so that was the one I chose. I liked that shape of it too: it looks like a genuine electric guitar, whereas some of the others are designed with novelty in mind, with their jutting edges and neon embellishment. Unfortunately the appearance of the toy is probably its best attribute.
The sound quality does not rival that of an electric guitar, but then for the price you can't really expect it to. For one thing, it is not possible to connect the guitar to the mains like you can with the genuine article - the sound is emitted from a speaker embedded in the body of the guitar, making it little more than a novelty portable sound system. The speaker has a habit of buzzing violently and subsequently making the entire guitar vibrate in your hands, but after a couple of seconds this annoyance usually subsides. Unsurprisingly, the music at times emerges tinny, whiny, and when at its peak volume, scratchy in a way that makes you want to bang your head merely to create some distraction from the racket. And yet it is fun. The fun under discussion however, comes from prancing up and down and, if you are familiar with guitar chords, emulating the notes you hear.
The toy comes with three 'Licensed Tracks' that you can jam along to. Well, you can if you're actually familiar with any of them. One of them is Two Princes by the Spin Doctors, and the other two similarly obscure. Considering that the guitar is aimed at young teens I would have thought it would make more sense to include more recent tracks they might actually be familiar with, but again this aspect is reflected in the retail price. The board includes what the box boasts of as 'Circuit Embedded Paper' which supposedly allows the wannabe musician to emulate professional play merely by touching it. This is a bit hit and miss. I found that some areas near the body of the guitar are super sensitive, whereas other portions at the top you have to slam on before they will register your request. There is a freestyle mode included as well, where you can forget about rhythm altogether and just jam as you please. If I were being critical I might point out that after doing this once or twice the strings are prone to flap about and not stay tightly in place for as long afterwards.
At a weight of 2kg you are not likely to mistake this toy for a genuine electric guitar, and neither is your audience if they are subjected to you playing freestyle mode. The Paper Jamz won Innovation Toy of the Year at Nuremburg Toy Fair, and it is true that this is a novel design that will inspire wannabe rockers. I think that with a bit of tweaking and a more extensive catalogue of tracks available this is likely to become a classic toy in future years.
3 x AAA (included)