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
“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
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.