Fret Zealot 2 lights up the fretboard for easier learning
Learning to play guitar is now much easier thanks to a wealth of online tutorials, but many find mirroring onscreen chops tough going. With Fret Zealot, students follow lights on the neck to learn fretting positions for chords, scales and songs.
Learning to play guitar is tough. Of course, there's no replacement for a good guitar teacher, but they're not always available when you are, and costs can soon mount up. Online tutorials, guitar tab, learning apps and even music notation can certainly help fill the knowledge and skills gaps, though having to constantly adjust your focus from screen/book to guitar and back can be exhausting.
Embedding lights in a fretboard and placing fretting fingers at illuminated positions to learn playing essentials is nothing new, and if you don't want to jump in and invest in a brand new instrument, there are LED-packing sleeves that can be installed on a guitar you already own.
We tried just such a setup back in 2017, but it was essentially limited to cowboy chords and now appears to be no longer available. At around the time of our review, a startup was shipping out a much expanded system called Fret Zealot to backers following a successful Kickstarter. Now the second generation has launched on Indiegogo.
The sleeve is designed to fit six-string guitars with scale lengths running from 24.75 to 25.5 inches, so should be compatible with electrics or acoustics from top brands like Fender and Gibson. It's backed by a gentle adhesive and features 15 LED-packing arms running from a top strip.
The first is positioned at the nut and each of the others just before the next 14 frets. The LED strips are about half the height of "average frets" and are coated, so shouldn't interfere with playing or strings. The strip connects to a battery-powered control box attached to the rear of the headstock with a supplied clip, via a new magnetic connector.
The company also says that the LEDs have been made 200% brighter than before, and gesture control has been added (tip the neck up for rewind, down for fast-forward and knock on the guitar body for play/pause).
The Fret Zealot 2 works with a companion mobile app for iOS/Android over Bluetooth 5 (a web app is also available for video lessons). This makes more than 10,000 chord shapes available to learn, including some in alternate tunings, students can practice any scale in any key, and can currently tap into 3,500 fully licensed video tutorials – with more added weekly – and a bunch of genre-specific courses are on offer too.
The song library has been stocked with 100,000 songs across many genres, but if students can't find the track they want to learn, files generated in Guitar Pro software (not included) can be uploaded to the system.
Selected songs can be slowed down for easier learning. Tricky sections can be looped. And the system can be set to detect whether you've picked the right note or strummed the correct chord with the help of built-in piezo/MEMs microphone before the lights move onto the next section. Different instrument parts can be selected within a song too, for folks who just want to focus on rhythm guitar or lead.
The learning system has content for beginners, intermediate players and more advanced noodlers, and the LEDs can animate live performances as well.
Early bird perks currently start at US$149. The usual crowdfunding cautions apply, but Zealot Interactive has successfully navigated six other funding campaigns in the past, and has shipped more than 15,000 units to players in 60 countries, so the risk seems minimal. If all goes to plan with the latest already funded Indiegogo, shipping is estimated to start in December. The video below has more.
Source: Zealot Interactive