For those of you who – like me – love the idea of being ‘able’ to play the guitar, but just can’t get the hang of where to place your fingers to get the guitar to make those beautiful sounds, then this deck is for you. The ‘Chord Cards’ deck is now being funded on Kickstarter with funding closing on 15th August (2015).
The idea behind this deck is nothing short of genius. And the genius in question is the younger brother of Logan Kennedy, the deck designer. Of course I jest. The genius is Logan himself, but as with all great inventing stories, inspiration had to come from somewhere, and in this instance it was the kid. Sitting strumming away on his guitar one day, Logan’s brother decided to try and copy him on his own little ukulele but couldn’t quite grasp the finger placements. Because of this he became distracted and ended up taking a playing card and sliding it between the strings and the neck of the ukulele. Logan noticed that a card is roughly the same width of the neck and so drew lines on the card and used stickers to show his brother where his fingers should go, and voilà!!! a brilliant idea was born.
With 52 different chords to choose from, this deck caters for not only the complete novice but also the more experienced player keen on learning new chords. Choose any card you like and simply slide it in between the neck and the strings. Then line the card up with the strings and put your fingers in the designated spots – now you’re playing guitar!! There’s also an uncut sheet available to either simply frame and have as a cool piece of art, or to use as a reference guide.
One of the tiers on this Kickstarter campaign that I really like is, for $25, you get a deck of the cards with anything you want written on it (your name, someone else’s name, a random cryptic message…) which will then be taken to one of Los Angeles’ famous tourist attractions, and a photo will be taken of YOUR cards which will be posted to you along with your deck.
Of course, as this deck is mainly for learning chords, the only playing card references are the indexes in the corners. No fancy Ace of Spades and no arty-farty face cards. Which is absolutely fine. There’s nothing worse than when someone designs a deck of cards with a ‘dual purpose’ that really caters to neither purpose to any degree of success. But with this deck, once you’re fed up of practicing your chords, you simply gather up the cards and play a hand of poker with your mates. Actually, even without the ‘playing card’ aspect, these would be a great idea for guitar beginners. But of course, being a playing card collector, I’m perfectly happy that these are exactly what they are, because otherwise I wouldn’t have happened across them.
To sum up, this is a truly fantastic deck of cards which was born out of passion and dedication. (If you need proof, read the interview below.) This is one guy who knows what he is doing. And he is determined to succeed. If Logan gets the full funding for these – and why wouldn’t he? – he plans on releasing not only a ukulele version, but also a bass guitar version, and a banjo version. With patents applied for, this is surely going to be an accomplished venture, and I certainly wish him every success with it.
Logan Kennedy has very kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me about the deck. So if you’re wondering whether a left handed deck will be available, what the Jokers look like, or how he became interested in playing cards in the first place, then keep reading…..
iCollectPlayingCards – I always ask this one, so I’ll get it out of the way first… A lot of deck designers these days aren’t card players, cardists or magicians, they just love to design playing cards. What’s the deal with you? (pun intended) :)
Logan Kennedy of LoAdCartoons – I always kind of thought that I was a bit of a cardist, but after being exposed to the higher levels of real cardists and magicians online it’s hard to say that’s the case anymore – maybe a card groupie is more applicable. My mother was a card collector and loved playing card games so that’s where my initial interest comes from. As well as from my grandmother in Indiana who has ancient, beautiful decks of cards from long gone road side attractions and volumes of Edmond Hoyles books collecting dust on her shelves. They were never referenced because she always knew the rules better anyway, especially if she was winning. So I spent many afternoons being taught games and playing cards. If that makes me a cardist on some level maybe. It should explain my love of cards anyway.
iCPC – I’m not familiar with CustomizedPlayingCards.com’s products so forgive my ignorance here, but what is the quality and handling of the cards like for cardists and magicians and more ‘serious’ card players?
Logan – I became associated with Customizedplayingcards.com through my dad, who worked for the owner (Charlie Levin) years ago in Orlando making decks of cards for attractions there as well as in Las Vegas. When I brought the idea up to my Dad he immediately told me to call Charlie and start the process. They have done decks of cards for everyone from World Poker Tour to Ben & Jerry (as well as some other crowdfunders, I’ve been told) also custom games, dice and so on. Charlie is like one of those old school business guys who if you tell him you need something he convinces you almost immediately that he can get it. And I guess they expanded their facility in central Florida recently as well so I’m dealing with a place that if I needed to I could stop by and talk to them. Charlie, and his right hand guy (another good family friend Stephen Sherrin) immediately encouraged me to try a Kickstarter. I came to them and explained that I wanted to make the decks as per the widest suggestions and consensus’ I can gather from the real experts here online. But Charlie and the guys shushed my concerns because apparently they make any and every type of card known.
iCPC – Obviously this deck is ideal for the beginner, but there are a lot of chords in there – 52 in fact. Would you say that the deck is also for the more experienced player wanting to learn complicated or lesser-used chords?
Logan – I suppose that’s the case. I don’t use anywhere near 52 Chords myself playing guitar, but I’m hardly Jimmy Page. But just the experience of assembling these cards has exposed me to the magnitude of chords that are out there. Maybe it’s like having that sports car that can go 200 miles an hour – you’ll never go that fast, but it might be nice to try once in awhile. There’s a great interview with Paul MacCartney where he talked about how hard it was in the 50’s to learn rare chords, and the challenges to find people that could teach them to you. Now with the internet and other resources it makes it so much easier. Anyone who has ever had to look at chords in a book or watch a teacher sitting across from you as you try to learn, knows how tedious it can be. With a deck like this it makes it much easier, at least in my opinion and the opinions of the people I’ve shown it to. Guitar players can get pretty obsessive about learning chords, like any other collector.
iCPC – If this proves to be a success, and you do end up releasing other decks (banjo, bass & ukulele), will you be developing a left-handed version of any of them?
Logan – Absolutely, this one of those things that we would like to tell ourselves we would have thought of at a later date but our online friends and guitar pros pointed this out to us before we got there. We would actually like to try and offer them ASAP. For sure this is the starting point.
iCPC – …..and will there be different sizes, for example for smaller hands and smaller (learner/junior) instruments?
Logan – Yes, the Ukulele deck for instance, excluding the baritone uke, (because it is tuned differently) would be appropriate to the neck and string placements, as with all the instruments we hope to pair chord cards with, the decks would have to meet those specs. Luckily any alternate sized cards we would need already exist. What’s interesting, (on a side note) and kind of took us by surprise, is how there is already an association with playing cards to the guitar. After all the bridge on a guitar is approximately 2.5 inches wide, so guitar makers shim it with cards and use them to reference the build – Johnny Cash and other musicians would weave a card into the strings to create a unique sound. Guitar collectors use a card to check the distance between the 7th fret and the strings to tell if the neck is bent too much on an old guitar, and so on. So it seemed like a natural pairing.
iCPC – To me, the back design seems to be a wave playing a guitar, so I’m guessing that you’re a surfer in your spare time when you’re not playing guitar or designing playing cards……..?
Logan – No actually not a surfer. But more of a fan of the the Japanese woodblock print of the wave by Katsushika Hokusai. When I’m not distracted by other things I’m an animator and make online games with my brother Adam, who likes surfer movies (does that count?)
iCPC – Ah, well… ‘Suppose I can’t be right about everything :D You are one half of LoAdCartoons, creators of “online games, cartoons, inventions, messes and comics”. Are there any plans to release any more decks featuring some of your own cartoons/artwork?
Logan – My brother Adam is the other half of “LoAd”. We have a great time doing our things. If there was an interest to do some cards outside of Chord Cards we might. I would really like to nurture this to it’s fullest potential first before we think about that. I’m having a great experience learning from everyone, and the home run would be to hear from that person later who learned to play because of this product. We also want to satisfy those die hard cardists and pass their inspection as well. There’s some great cards out there already, the bar is pretty high.
iCPC – What’s the story with the Jokers……?
Logan – As for the jokers, well we emphasized the key cards and information on what color indicates which finger. We figured those cards were important for the presentation, but it wouldn’t be a deck of cards without jokers.
As you can see the jokers are basically impossible chords, just for fun, any guitar fan would know that a “J” chord doesn’t even exist.
iCPC – Once again Logan, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for us. I expect you’d be very busy with the project, so I really appreciate this. Congratulations on your success so far by the way. I’ve no doubt this deck will get the required funding and I’m definitely looking forward to getting my decks :)
So, what do you make of this deck? Are you a guitar player and you wish there was something like this around when you were trying to learn? Would you buy a deck of these for your kids or partner or anyone else who wanted to learn guitar?
Feel free to leave me some comments in the box below. Or if you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them.
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