The amount of people who attempt to learn how to play guitar far exceed those who succeed. That’s a fairly bold statement, but in musical circles the discussion about this predicament is common. The desire is there, but several things about guitar as a musical instrument have traditionally contributed to frustration with the learning process. The most common are lack of time, expensive lessons, or technical struggles. The guitar strings are notorious for causing tender finger tips, as pushing down the strings in the right places initially causes painful lines of red on newbie skin.
Enter Fret Zeppelin. This brand-new LED learning and display system offers a three-step system to help would-be guitarists learn to play easily with loads of fun promised:
- Step 1: Choose a guitar
- Step 2: Install Fret Zeppelin on the guitar
- Step 3: Jam
Fret Zeppelin is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Backers have pledged $42,631 of the $48,000 need to fund the project. The goals must be reached by Wednesday, February 2017 by 10:00 PM EST for the project to fund. Fret Zeppelin only needs $5,369 to reach its goal, and it only started fundraising January 2017. Backers are from countries all around the world, including the United States, India, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Austria, and France.
Fret Zeppelin: An Pretty Amazing App
The app guides players through a complete song the very first time. Play the first note, and Fret Zeppelin lights up the next one, and the next…and your fingers follow the lights. But what about chords? (Musicians want to know…) The answer is that the app provides information for a range of musical theory information with a suite of impressive, useful features, and uses its light array to guide learners. What’s included?
- Notes- the entire musical alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G and all the sharps and flats in between
- Scales- Major, minor, progressive and even more; each accessed with the most intuitive color scheme for the individual player
- Chords- a wide range of musical genres from standard to funk, plus custom tuning and capo chords, too
- Songs- choose favorites and start playing
- Styles- the app includes popular favorites such as folk, blues, classic and modern rock and more
- Light effects- choose from an array of favorite color combinations to fading, sparkling, lighting bolts, randomizer and most anything imaginable
The Fret Zeppelin Differences
Non-intrusive app design
In the past, companies have created guitars with built-in LED light systems. But, the guitars have horrible sounds. Fret Zeppelin allows each player to choose an individual guitar with the sound he or she prefers, because the Fret Zeppelin is designed to fit any standard, full size guitar. Whether it be a Gibson, Fender, Ibanez or any other brand, the slim design of the app will not interfere with the strings, and is less than half the fret height. Nothing about the app obstructs free movement as the hand slides up and down the guitar neck.
Non-distracting learning process
Traditional techniques require learners to look at sheet music, videos or books to see how to place their fingers on the guitar strings and frets. Fret Zeppelin removes this step, allowing players to concentrate immediately on the guitar itself.
- Beginners start with following the note displays to learn basic songs and chords.
- Intermediates learn to change keys, improvise, and add more songs and chords to their repertoire.
- Advanced players can compose their own songs using customized chord displays and tuning, learn to transpose from key to key, and add light shows to performances just for fun.
Meet the Makers
Brandon Borko designed the product and Shaun Masavage began the research and development project. It took 5 years from 2012 to 2017 for their design to be fully realized. They knew that their product would work, but they had to wait for LED designs to become small enough and cost effective enough to use in their app. They felt that it took an eternity to realize.
Here is their product development timeline:
- August 2012- The idea was born.
- December 2012- The first code was committed.
- February 2013-They created their first prototypes.
- March 2013- The project focused on a circuit board which had flexible design.
- April 2013- They tested their first full size prototypes.
- May 2013- The reality that ultra-thin LED prices would require extra high, impractical retail prices was disappointing.
- May 2016- The prices of LEDs drop!
- June 2016- They build a new test prototype.
- July 2016- They build a full-size version of their test prototype.
- September 2016- They write the LED control systems.
- October 2016- They start their App designs.
- November 2016- They implement User Testing.
The Year 2017- They start Crowdfunding in January, with expectations that March and June will result in final refinements on their design and manufacturing tooling finishes. July and August of will include Pilot Runs #1 and #2. October is the month estimated for first delivery of Fret Zeppelin.
Research and Development
Several engineering tasks were included along the way to the final app:
- Breadboard prototyping which provided proof of concept.
- Initial fiber optics testing proved that they were too thick for practical use on guitars.
- They developed a microcontroller which functions as a small computer to allow for full spectrum color changes on the LEDs.
- They tested for form and dimensions for the individual fret circuit boards.
- They included multi-fret testing to ensure proper displays.
- Experiments with flexible materials for the circuit boards, which are thinner than paper, required engineering which was complex and thorough.
- The final prototypes simultaneously tested all frets and were fully installed on guitars. Musicians, bands and first-time learners tested the product.
- Customizable light patterns
- Easy to install
- Ergonomic design
- Full spectrum LEDs
- Long battery life
- MIDI file compatible
- Phone and tablet support
- Play songs intuitively
Meet the Core Fret Zeppelin Team
- Shaun Masavage- CEO
- John Tolly- CTO
- Brandon Borko- Product Lead/Head of Manufacturing
- Chris Proctor- Marketing & Sales Director
- Elgie Magallano- Customer Relations
- Leo Zhang- Manufacturing Lead
- Felipe Melivilu and Pariss Yorker- Testing
- Hand Me Down Films- Video creation
- Giant Titan- Graphic Design & Website
The Fret Zeppelin will be priced somewhere around $200. Currently, the KickStarter project is offering a range of pledges:
- $5 – a huge Fret Zeppelin team Thank You! And promise to send manufacturing updates.
- $25 or more- the Swag Pack, which includes customized sunglasses with dual bottle openers on the ear picks and two custom Fret Zeppelin picks, plus a free cell phone stand for anyone who shares the campaign on Twitter or Facebook
- $50 or more- Deluxe Swag pack with a customized T-shirt, sunglasses, and 5 pics, plus free perks as listed in the regular Swag Pack
- $199 or more- one Fret Zeppelin with free domestic shipping
- $369 or more- The Double Neck- two Fret Zeppelins, free domestic shipping
- #399 or more- Quick Start Package – the Fret Zeppelin pre-installed on an Epiphone Les Paul Special II LTD Electric Guitar.
- Several other promotions ranging up to $1,500 or more and the best fun of all:
- $2,900 or more- Fly to meet the Fret Zeppelin Team from anywhere in the USA to Washington, DC with hotel accommodations included!
One of the best parts about the Fret Zeppelin is that it is completely removable from one guitar to another. The team is working on an amazing adhesive which will allow complete customization from one standard sized guitar to another. The team at Edge Tech Labs may have completely revolutionized the way people learn to play guitar. It is their hope that everyone enjoy the process and its looks as if the Fret Zeppelin is on its way to making guitar learning history.