New York - Fretlight Guitar will introduce acoustic and bass versions of its teaching guitars later this year as the company looks to expand its direct business into retail.
The company, founded by Rusty Shaffer in 1989, said the new instruments will join the five electric guitars now on the market. The acoustic model will ship in September with the bass following in December.
Fretlight's guitars use lights built into the fret board to show students where to place their fingers. The guitars, which range in price from $299 to $799, come with Fretlight Studio software that uses videos and other teaching tools to instruct beginners. The same methodology will be used with the new products, said, Shaffer.
In addition, Fretlight is working with the makers of Guitar Pro instructional software. The publisher's newest title, Guitar Pro 6 released in March, has a version dubbed Fretlight Ready that works with the Fretlight system. The player simply plugs the guitar into a PC or laptop via the USB port. There are also plans for a version that would work with the iPad.
Shaffer said that while the guitars have primarily been sold direct to consumers it has appeared in a few catalogs and in stores like Brookstone. However, he is looking to expand into Best Buy and guitar stores. The issue now is to develop an in-store display that will be easy for customers to use and for the stores to maintain.
Best Buy has installed music departments in about 90 of its locations.
"It's hard to sell through guitar stores because they are not big on letting customers plug in," Shaffer said, adding it is difficult to come up with a demo display for other stores because he wants to ensure it is always functioning properly.
Fretlight is even considering hiring its own in-store personnel to operate the demo, but Shaffer said that is just one idea among many.
Any deal with Best Buy is also far down the road due to the above mentioned issues, Shaffer said.