I've been messing around with LED-embedded guitars since the original GTar. Designed to help beginners learn and players look like all supersonic freakadelic on stage, they have quickly become commonplace if expensive. Now Fret Zealot has something that can turn your guitar into a laser light show in a few minutes.
Designed as an $199 add-on to any acoustic or electric guitar, this kit sticks right onto your fretboard and connects to a small wireless box that receives signals from your phone. The app is straightforward. You can play various songs included in the system and it lights up the associated frets. You can slow down playback so you can practice each lick methodically and it also helps you learn chords and scales. There are also light show features that make you fretboard glow like a KISS concert.
The kit probably isn't great in a gig bag but it is a great learning tool. The system sticks to your fretboard and stays there without much mess but I found some of the strings would buzz a bit against the LEDs when they pulled away from the wood. The entire system is quite rugged, though, so if you're adding it to your guitar it will stay in place for a long time. The team sold 1,288 of the devices when it ran its Kickstarter earlier this year and they're accepting pre-orders to ship this month.
These sorts of learning and effects systems are hard to do right but Fret Zealot seems to have nailed the formula. Because the LEDs are embedded into the fretboard you have the choice of using or removing the entire system. You can add this kit to any guitar including acoustics, classical, and electrics and it is unobtrusive when not in use. I suspect the average user will play using the lights for the first few months of guitar education and then pull them off when they're more comfortable with guitar concepts but I could also see this as a fun addition to your practice guitar.
Again, this isn't the kit that Steel Panther would use on the road. It is, however, a clever and usable solution to the problem of guitar education.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.