there isn’t much more that a self-motivated
and disciplined student would need to
quickly advance on the instrument.
for kicking it up a notch for beefy, sustained leads sounds.
a tab, the Fretlight will offer several scale
options from the root of the selected fragment. And after you choose a compatible
scale, the guitar will light up every note in
that key and scale. I highlighted the first E5
chord in “Back in Black,” and several scale
options for an E root were suggested. Of
course, using this might suggest that you
know enough about music theory to choose
the right scale (though the Fretlight Lesson
Player, which we’ll look at shortly, will
come in handy for this). But a neat feature
of the scale display is that you can choose
to have only small portion of the neck
lit up, which is helpful for isolating that
uncomfortable scale position that’s been
driving you nuts.
Chord Diagram mode lights up the
selected chord if the tab uses a chord diagram. This is really handy for someone
who never got the hang of a conventional
chord diagram’s orientation (it’s common
for beginners to mistakenly read chord diagrams and tab upside down).
And when the school bell rings and it’s time
to just play guitar, the Fretlight as guitar
will more than suffice. The Alder-bodied
Strat-style FG-421 features two single-coil
pickups in the neck and middle positions,
respectively, and a humbucker in the bridge,
with a five-way selector switch.
The FG-421’s 25. 5"-scale maple neck
has a C-shape profile, an LED embedded
Those Who Can, Teach
As an educational tool a gimmick or a
godsend depending on how you use it and
how you prefer to learn. It can be a great
asset for someone just starting out or even
someone further along, though if you can
already get around the guitar and/or read
tablature, there’s a chance that adding the
Fretlight into the equation might actually
create confusion. Still, everyone learns
differently, and the Fretlight could also be
Between Lesson Player, the videos, and the tabs—short of
a training mode with computer-generated feedback, there
isn’t much more that a self-motivated and disciplined stu-
dent would need to quickly advance on the instrument.
Seeing is Believing
If tabs and lights aren’t enough, the soon-to-be-released Fretlight Player, which I
tested in its beta format, corresponds to
Fretlight videos produced in conjunction
with Hal Leonard Corporation. Every note
played onscreen in the videos will light up
in real-time on the connected guitar. The
videos can also be slowed down, which
makes this a very effective learning tool.
The Fretlight Lesson Player application,
which covers music theory, is impres-
sively thorough. It explains fundamentals
like scale and mode formulas, intervals,
rhythmic notation, the cycle of fifths, and
chord formulas (from triads to 9th chords)
and the guitar will light up whatever you
choose. For example, I chose a minor 2nd
interval from B%, and all of the B%–B notes
on the neck lit up. Between Lesson Player,
the videos, and the tabs—short of a training
mode with computer-generated feedback,
fretboard constructed of polymer, and a
very comfortable, flattish 12" radius with 21
medium/high frets. The guitar arrived in our
hands set up with a medium action. Out of
the box, there was some slight buzzing in the
lower frets but it wasn’t anything a minor
tweak of the truss rod couldn’t take care of.
Pros: Thorough software package offers just about all the
visual information you need to play guitar well if you are self-motivated and disciplined.
Fretlight FG-421, $499 street, fretlight.com
Cons: Can be confusing to integrate as a learning tool if you
can already play.