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Fender Squier Mini vs Ibanez Mikro vs Peavey Iron Man Guitar Showdown, The Best Electric Guitars for Kids

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Best three mini guitars
Squier Mini, Ibanez Mikro, and Peavey Rockmaster pictured from left to right.

If you’re searching for a guitar for child just starting out, regular guitars are just too big. They’re too heavy, the necks are too thick, and most importantly, they’re TOO LONG.

That’s where the 3/4 size guitars come in. They resolve all the problems that kids have with the normal sized guitars while still sounding great. My sons have played all three of these a bunch, and through watching them and using them myself, I can finally put together an extensive review here. This review covers about a 3 year use case, so it’s definitely not like I picked them up yesterday and am now writing a review, we’ve had these things for a while. We were using them almost exclusively with Rocksmith 2014, if you haven’t heard of that I recommend you check it out as it’s an awesome way to learn.


Fender Squier Mini

This is definitely the most popular choice of the three mainly because its brand is so much stronger than the other two. If you see a 3/4 size guitar at a store, it’s likely to be this one. One of the good things about it is that it comes in a variety of colors, from pink to blue to black. We’ve got a the red one, it’s really nice looking in person.

Fender Squier Mini 3/4 Guitar
Fender Squier Mini 3/4 Guitar

This was the first of the three that we bought. My son became interested in Rocksmith about 3 or 4 years ago and I bought this guitar for him to start with. He played this thing for over 100 hours without any issues, and in fact still looks brand new. It worked really well with the game as well, registering tones very well.


Probably the biggest downside of the guitar is that it doesn’t sound particularly good when compared to a full size guitar. The rest of the construction is on par with a full size guitar of similar price.

Ibanez Mikro

The Ibanez Mikro is kind of like the darkhorse of the 3/4 electric guitar scene. Not nearly as popular as Fender, the Ibanez Mikro makes up for that with a higher build quality and better sound overall.

Ibanez Mikro 3/4 Guitar
Ibanez Mikro 3/4 Guitar

I got the Ibanez about 2 years ago when looking into getting a 3/4 Bass (check out the Ibanez Mikro Bass if you’re interested in that at all, it’s a good mini bass). Based upon the reviews I had read, they said it was a higher quality version of the mini Squier. After my son and I have used it over the past couple years, I think I would agree with that sentiment.


In general, it’s a better sounding guitar with more frets too (24 vs 21). The design is slightly more edgier as well, looking more grown up than the mini Squier which looks kind of like a toy sometimes with the bright colors. Honestly though, both of them are very close in performance, I don’t think you could go wrong with either of them. I can’t say the same for the Peavy though.

Peavey Rockmaster, Iron Man Edition

The Peavey Rockmaster is series of guitars themed for kids, with guitars featuring Iron Man and Captain America. That in itself gives them a huge appeal for kids wanting to play, my youngest loved that his guitar had Iron Man on it. The actual quality of the guitar though left a lot to be desired.

Peavey Rockmaster Guitar, Iron Man edition
Peavey Rockmaster Guitar, Iron Man edition

When I first got the guitar, out of the box it was a mess. All the strings were broke or unusable, and the neck was bowed so badly that it was unplayable. It took some severe truss rod neck adjustment in order to get it playable.


After I got it adjusted and added new strings, it became somewhat playable. It’s not the worst guitar, but it’s well below the Squier or Mikro in terms of quality. However, my son will not part with it, to him he’d rather have Iron Man on his guitar than play one that’s of better quality. He’s only 9 though, and I think as he gets older he may change his mind.

Probably the best way to describe the difference is that the Peavey Rockmaster feels like a toy while the Squier Mini and Ibanez Mikro feel like real guitars. I wish the quality was better so I could give it a good recommendation, but I would steer clear of it if at all possible. It’s just not on the same level as the other two.

Best Mini Guitar for Kids

Out of the three, the Ibanez Mikro is the one I’d recommend the most for kids. It’s just a better quality instrument than the other two, and since their prices are so similar you might as well go for the better one.

Second place would go to the Fender Squier Mini Stratocaster. It’s the most popular version and isn’t a bad choice by any means. It comes in a lot more styles and colors than the Ibanez, so if your son or daughter likes the look of it more than the Ibanez, it’s not a bad choice to go with it instead.

In a distant third place I’d put the Peavey Rockmaster. It’s just not a good enough guitar compared to the other two to recommend. I probably would have returned it if I wouldn’t have gotten it for my son as a gift. He just loves it too much in spite of the flaws.

Hopefully this article has helped you decide which mini guitar to start your child on. I know I had a lot of questions when I started out, wish there would have been an article like this to give it to me straight (which is why I wrote this). If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Pinball Rubber, Tips, Tricks, and the Best Brands

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White Pinball Rubber
White Pinball Rubber

Pinball Rubber

The one thing that every pinball machine needs every few years is new rubber. Much like the rubber on your tires, once it gets 5 years old it starts to deteriorate to the point where it likes to fall apart. On top of that, you have white rubber, black rubber, and now silicon rings which play like rubber but are something totally different. I’m going to run down all the different types, what I recommend and where to buy everything.

White Rubber

White is the original rubber that was used on all pinball machines. Super bouncy, it bounces better than all other colors. Bet you didn’t know that different colors bounce at different levels? Usually, the lighter the color, the more it bounces. So white is typically the bounciest, while black has less bounce and offers more control.

The problem with white is dirt. While black hides all the dirt, white can get dirty pretty quickly, making your new rubber look like it’s old. A quick wipe down fixes that, but it’s still additional time. On the flip side though, white rubber produces far less dirt than black rubber, meaning the playfield stays way cleaner with white rubber. So basically, either way you’re going to be cleaning something more often.

The one place white rubber is typically never used is the flippers themselves (except for on 40 year old or older games). On newer games the rubber gets too dirty and bounces too much to make it a good choice.

I typically put white rubber on all of my games when I replace all the rubbers. I find they last longer than black most of the time, and keeps the game cleaner. For the flippers, I usually match the color to what would look good on the game (red, yellow, orange, purple, etc). Some of those colors like orange though are really bouncy and make the game very hard.

Black Rubber

Black is the standard which all new games are shipped with. Because it hides dirt so well, operators prefer it so it makes their games look newer longer. It offers a pretty good mix of durability with looks and playability.

As far as aesthetics go, some games look better with white and some look better with black. I think most of the newer Stern games look better with black while some of the older titles look much better with white. The color scheme makes a big difference with which one looks best.

Generally, black is the most common rubber on modern games. I used to prefer black for a long time until I did white on a Star Trek: The Next Generation machine. The white on it played better so I switched from black on all future games.

Silicone Pinball Rubber

Silicone pinball rubber rings are the newest innovation to the pinball hobby. Unlike regular rubber, Silicone pinball rings have a lot of advantages over the traditional rings. Those advantages are:

  • Longer lasting in home use (typically don’t dry out like rubber)
  • Less dirt

They also have some disadvantages, mainly:

  • More expensive
  • Can change gameplay

I’m still on the fence whether I like them or not. On the flippers, they can cause some unnatural grip and bounce that’s hard to get used to. There are two major players in the Silicone space, Titan Pinball and Perfect Play. Titan is generally thought of as the leader in the non-rubber category.

Green Superbands
Green Superbands

Superbands

Superbands are made from polyurethane and are very similar to the silicon rings, so the descriptions above still work for them. They are less popular than Titan’s rings mainly because they change gameplay more than Titan’s. They’re also more expensive than Titan’s but they do last longer to make up for that. I had some Superbands on the flippers of Creature of the Black Lagoon and I definitely did not like the feel, so your mileage may vary.

Rubber Wrapup

I think if I were to a game in new rubber that I was planning on keeping for a long time, I’d probably go with Titan Pinball silicon rings. The overall look is better and the additional cost is minimal. I’m probably going to have to do some of my older games here in a year or two, and that’s probably the direction I’ll go.

What I would suggest is getting flipper rubber from all the different brands and then trying them out. That way you can see exactly what you personally like better before investing a bunch of money.

Super Kixx Pro Released

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In 1984, ICE first tried to go beyond Hockey and Chexx to make a soccer game, Kixx soccer.  It was a mild success, but not enough to continue it.  Fast forward 35 years, ICE has decided to finally bring a new version of Kixx to sell.

New Features (Kixx vs Super Kixx Pro)

Compared to the old version, the most obvious upgrades are to the sights and sounds on the new color screen.  Most of the surrounding plastics on the fields have gotten an upgrade as well.  Gone also is the turf from the earlier games, it’s now replaced by a flat green surface similar to the hockey games.  I think this is a big improvement in speeding up the game.

Also new are the dual LCD screens, one in each corner of the the field.  Instead of the overhead scoreboard, ICE put them in the corners.

To launch the ball, ICE added an elevator mechanism to bring the ball up to the field.

You can also order each game now with your favorite teams right off the bat.  Unfortunately, the game is also pretty expensive at over $4000.  But if you like soccer more than hockey, it could be a really good option.  You just have to decide whether you want this for $4k+ or a regular Foosball table for under $1k.  I think that’s part of the reason it hasn’t came back before now, Foosball is more popular and probably hurts sales since it’s cheaper and in the same sport.

I’m hoping to play one of these eventually on location but I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty hard.  I don’t expect to see very many of these around, as Super Chexx games are pretty hard to find on location as well.

 

Is Crackdown 3 really that bad?

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Crackdown 3 Xbox One X
Crackdown 3 Xbox One X

If you’ve been reading the reviews of Crackdown 3, you’d think that it’s the worst game ever, lol.  Every major gaming website has been ripping on it for not doing things that are now standard in 2019.  I’ve been playing it quite a bit and can offer some insight on the subject.

First Impressions

When you first fire it up, you’re greeted by a pretty cool intro view featuring Terry Crews.  Unfortunately, you won’t see too many videos of him after this, although he is character you can select to play with.  The graphics are ok, not great but also not horrible.  It kind of looks like a cartoonish hi-rez 360 game honestly, behind today’s standards but not awful.

The gameplay is pretty good when you first get into it.  It uses a lock on aiming system like Red Dead Redemption 2.  Ironically most of the reviews rip this game for that system but gave RDR2 a pass for the same thing, total double standard.  The action in Crackdown 3 is way better than RDR2 though, with a nice variety of cool weapons and enemies.  Some of the explosions you do are pretty awesome, with one car blowing up to chain into another and another.  In fact there’s an achievement for blowing up like 5 cars in 5 seconds.

Later On

As you get into the game, it pretty much turns into an open world game with like 100 different things you do in just about any order (although it may be pretty tough to accomplish the harder ones to start).  From there you can just pick and choose what you want to do.  It’s lot like Far Cry games only you get a lot more powerful in this game and the map is a lot smaller.

The objectives for the most part pretty fun.  Some of them are kind of annoying with all the platforming you have to do.  There are a few bugs too with the missions, I’ve accidentally completed some and been unable to temporarily complete others due to things not working correctly.

Once you complete a bunch of the easier missions of a certain group, you get to do a boss fight.  These fights are pretty fun for the most part, most of them have a lot personality which is sometimes lacking in open world games.

Conclusion

Is the game greatest thing?  No, for sure not.  But it’s also not nearly as bad as the reviews say in my opinion.  I think that the long development cycle led to it having mismatched expectations, which in turn led to awful reviews.  I think if it would have been a normal release without all the hype it would have reviewed a lot better.  It reminds me of Ryse a little in the fact that it’s a good game that got kind of blasted in the reviews for no real reason.

The best reason to play Crackdown 3 is if you have game pass.  I’m not sure if I would spend $60 on it, but on game pass it’s a no brainer.  I’d probably give it a 7 or 8 out of 10 just because of the fun factor.  Definitely not because it does anything technically that great, it’s just a good throwback game.

Top Game Room Gift Ideas for 2019

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Holidays are rapidly approaching, so it’s time to start finding gifts for all those people who love game room stuff.  This list contains all the best items you’re going to find for Christmas and the Holidays 2018.

#1  Red Dead Redemption 2

The #1 anticipated game for 2018 is finally out in stores.  Was it worth the wait?  It’s a little slow in places but the storytelling is great and it has a huge expansive world to explore.  As of this writing it has a 97% on metacritic.  I’m not sure I would rate it quite that high, but it’s definitely worth playing.  Also to note, this game is rated M for mature, not a game you’re going to give a young kid.  It’s available through my Amazon affiliate link below:

Red Dead Redemption 2

#2  Super Chexx Pro Bubble Hockey

The new version came out last year and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  If you have hockey fans in the house, there’s no better game for them.  In my game room of foosball, ping pong, darts, pinball, etc, bubble hockey is my most popular item for two people to play by far.  It’s almost in constant use when kids come over because it’s such a unique item that isn’t seen very often.  It’s available through ICE directly only, my affiliate link is below:

Super Chexx Pro Bubble Hockey

#3  Tornado Foosball Classic Edition

If you’re looking for a foosball table that’s going to last 40 years and stand the test of time, there’s no better choice than buying a Tornado Foosball Table.  They make 4 different models, but I think the classic is the best overall value.  The T3000 looks are undeniably awesome, but it’s hard to pay that much more for marginal functionality gain.  My Amazon affiliate link is below:

Tornado Foosball Classic

#4  Spiderman/Forza Horizon 4

If you own a PS4, then Spiderman is a great choice.  If you own an Xbox, then picking up Forza Horizon 4 is a no brainer.  I own both these games on these each console, and they’re two of the best games on each console.  Unfortunately they’re exclusive so you have to own the right console in order to buy them.

Both of these are family friendly, so they’re good choices for kids.  My 9 year old has played through most of Spiderman, loves the game.  I’ve spent like 20 hours going through Forza Horizon 4, they’ve done a good job of making new challenges this time.  My Amazon affiliate links for both games are below.

Spiderman for PS4

Forza Horizon 4 for Xbox One

#5  Gran Board 3

The new Gran Board version keeps on with the excellence from the previous two versions and adds all new led lighting to the outside.  The effects are pretty awesome overall.  I’ve made some video on my Youtube channel for the Gran Board 2, the dart boards are identical other than the LED light addition.

The dart board allows you to hook up to a cell phone or ipad to display all the current scores for the game.  You can even pipe the video to a TV screen off the phone if you want, I’ve done that as well.  My Amazon affiliate link is below for the Gran Board 3.

Gran Board 3

#6  Roku Express

If you want to stream shows but your built in smart TV functionality is lackluster, the Roku Express is the perfect solution.  After our older LG WebOS TV didn’t support SlingTV, we got a Roku Express to go on it.  Not only is it faster than WebOS, it supports way more apps.  Now that we’ve got it, we run everything through it.

The best part?  It’s only $29.99, which is bargain for all the functionality it gives you.  Highly recommended for those TV’s lacking things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.  Roku Express is available through my Amazon affiliate link below.

Roku Express