I started playing with integrated LED guitars since the original GTar. Designed to help beginners learn and players look like all supersonic freakadelic on stage, they quickly become commonplace as they are expensive. Now Fret Zealot has something that can turn your guitar into a laser light show in minutes.
Designed as a $ 199 addition to any acoustic or electric guitar, this kit sticks directly to your sleeve and connects to a small wireless box that receives signals from your phone. The application is simple. You can play various pieces included in the system and turn on the associated frets. You can slow down the reading so you can train in a methodical way and help you learn chords and scales. There are also light functions that make you shine like a KISS concert.
The kit is probably not great in a concert bag but it is an excellent learning tool. The system sticks to your sleeve and stays there without too much mess but I found that some of the strings were buzzing a little against the LEDs when they were moving away from the wood. The whole system is pretty sturdy, so if you add it to your guitar, it will stay in place for a long time. The team sold 1,288 devices when it launched its Kickstart earlier this year and it accepts pre-orders for shipping this month.
These kinds of learning systems and effects are hard to do properly but Fret Zealot seems to have nailed the formula. Because the LEDs are built into the joystick, you have the choice to use or delete the entire system. You can add this kit to any guitar, including acoustic, classical and electric and it is unobtrusive when it is not used. I guess the average user will play using the lights during the first few months of guitar training, then remove them when he is more comfortable with the guitar concepts, but I could also see that as a fun addition to your guitar.
Again, this is not the kit that Steel Panther would use on the road. It is however an intelligent and usable solution to the problem of guitar education.