We’ve all seen it, and wondered just how it works – it’s that guitar with the little red lights in the fretboard that shows you where to find chords and scales
We’ve all seen it, and wondered just how it works – it’s that guitar with the little red lights in the fretboard that shows you where to find chords and scales. This month we took a look at the Fretlight FG-451 Pro from Optek Music Systems, to see how it works as a guitar and as a teaching tool.
The Frelight is a unique instrument, featuring a 21-fret LED grid buried underneath an advanced polymer fretboard – plugging the guitar into your computer, and using the included software (more about this later) causes the LEDs to light up and display various chords or scales, depending on what you would like to learn.
There are four options of the guitar you can purchase at different price levels, meaning that the Fretlight is feasible for those looking to get into guitar without much initial outlay. The model we received is Optek’s top-of-the-line model, the Pro. It features a Swamp ash body, with curved flamed maple top in a natural finish. Humbuckers in the neck and bridge, a middle position single-coil and locking, sealed tuners rounded out the package.
The guitar plays fairly well for having an non-conventional fretboard – the maple neck in a “C” shape felt smooth, and the fret job was respectable – but the sum of all parts results in a somewhat mediocre guitar tone when plugged into an amp. I found the tone to be a bit underwhelming, and it was hard to keep the sound from becoming muddy in higher-gain situations. That being said, most musicians would not approach this as a gigging guitar – with the Pro’s comparitively high entry price ($899.99), one might be better off getting one of the cheaper models for something that will probably never see a stage.
Of course, it would be easy to sit and point out how the Fretlight compares to a Classic Player Strat or Tele, but that’s unfair; all models of the Fretlight line, the Pro included, were designed to be robust teaching tools. When combined with the included and optional software, the FG-451 turns into a powerful instrument.
Setup and installation of everything was a breeze, and there’s a DVD video to help you out if you get stuck – even the most computer phobic users should be able to figure this one out. The included cable plugs right into a USB port on the computer and there is an input for an optional footswitch to control different features of the software. One note – the Fretlight software was designed for a PC, so if you run Mac, you’ll have to find another solution, or just use the guitar with an amp.
There is so much with the software that is beyond the scope of this review for me to go into it with any detail, so I’ll just give you a brief overview.
Some of you may know about Guitar Power – a scale, chord and arpeggio reference tool. This is essentially the same product with the added feature of being able to light up frets on the guitar. The interface is quite intuitive; you basically pick the root note and it’ll give you choices for all the chord shapes, scales and arpeggios your little heart desires. There is also a chord finder feature, which you can use to build chords and see what they sound like. Guitar Power will play the chord and show you on the neck – it is exactly this kind of interactivity the Fretlight was made for. This software was very useful, and the best part is that Guitar Power is free.
Fretlight Lesson Player
The lesson player is used to play the included and additional lesson packs. The Fretlight comes with 30 lessons, and additional packages are downloadable from Fretlight’s website. The packs come in various styles as well as in different playing levels and run $49.95 each.
Each lesson has some text and then a track that will play, while showing you everything on the guitar in real time. The lessons have many helpful interactive images, as well as additional tips from your official Fretlight instructor, Nate (he’s good people). These are great in breaking up the lesson because, at least in this first pack, there’s a lot of reading – not necessarily what users might want to do. All in all, given the amount of money one would spend on live guitar lessons, this software is a fair way to get some home instruction at your own pace.
The M-Player ($39.95) plays MIDI versions of popular songs you can play along to. It displays the chords and scales as the song plays, and lights up on the guitar as well. The software also allows you to change the tempo without changing the pitch, so you can find a speed that is most comfortable for you. Songs are available online and can be bought individually for $2.99-$3.99 or in bundles at various prices. This is a fun idea, but it might become a bit expensive if you have a long list of songs to learn.
Guitarz ($59.95) is a lot like Guitar Power, but allows you to easily build chord progressions that will light up on the guitar – a good tool for composing and soloing over your own songs. The interface is not as intuitive as Guitar Power, but there are a lot more options.
By far the most exciting feature is the ability to open up any tab file and have it light up the neck of the guitar. Of course, not all tab on the Internet is correct, so Guitarz will allow you to go in and edit the file until you get it right. Of all the software available for the Fretlight, this is definitely the most impressive program.
AxMaster ($34.95) is a guitar fretboard diagram creation tool which allows you to make custom diagrams and display them on the neck of the guitar. This is great for creating voicings and inversions in every position. You can also choose a scale and have it show all the notes on the neck of the guitar. You can add or remove sections of notes, just show notes on individual strings and even save your diagrams as images for use in other programs. The interface is a bit more advanced than other software and it takes a little longer to learn, but it seems to be the next natural step after you’ve exhausted the capabilities of Guitar Power.
Overall, I had great experience with the Fretlight Pro guitar. My only gripe is I would have liked the guitar to the sound a bit better plugged in for the price tag, but the real value of this guitar is not in the guitar itself but in the software that interacts with it. Unfortunately the software and additional lessons can be a bit pricey, so how much value you’ll get out of it depends on how deep your wallet is.
Nevertheless, if you’re set on learning, this is a great way to go.
Optek Music Systems
Our expert has stated his case, now we want to hear yours. Log on to premierguitar. com, click on “Forum” and share your comments and ratings.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.